CIRA has proudly invested nearly $12 million over the last decade through its Net Good Grants program, funding community-led solutions that address digital challenges in rural, remote and Indigenous communities across Canada.
OTTAWA, JULY 26, 2023 – Today, CIRA announces the recipients of its annual $1.25 million granting program, awarding funding to 16 organizations across the country that are delivering community internet access, improving online safety and engaging in internet policy work. This announcement marks a decade of investments totalling $11.7M in 217 digital equity projects that help address key internet challenges faced by Canadians.
CIRA’s latest 2023 Factbook research shows that threats to online safety continue to grow in volume and sophistication. In response, many of this year’s grant recipients are equipping Canadians with the skills, tools and resources needed to stay cyber safe. Examples include the Pinnguaq Association in Nunavut developing an open-source toolkit teaching northern, rural and Indigenous students about the risks of AI and the Investigative Journalism Foundation’s development of a program for post-secondary students to recognize and counter online misinformation.
“Too often, the conversation about the “digital divide” is one sided—northern, remote and Indigenous communities across Canada are not heard, says Ryan Oliver, CEO Pinnguaq Association. “This grant allows us to amplify voices from these communities, co-design culturally relevant digital resources, build understanding and foster safe engagement. It’s protecting people while also preserving culture, language and traditional knowledge in a digital world.”
A large cohort of grant recipients are also working to bridge Canada’s digital divide through community-led infrastructure projects—adding to the dozens of communities CIRA has played a role in connecting in recent years.
“The Canadian digital landscape has changed enormously in the past decade, with new opportunities and threats emerging daily,” said Charles Noir, CIRA vice-president, community investment, policy and advocacy. “CIRA Grants have played a unique and leading role in both funding projects that address community-based internet concerns and by supporting the essential work necessitated to connect underserved Canadians to the digital community. We’re proud to say CIRA Grant initiatives reflect the leadership, innovation and creativity of communities across the country all for the betterment of Canada’s internet.”
This year’s areas of focus are online safety, infrastructure and policy engagement. Here’s how the 16 grant recipients break down:
- 11 (68 per cent) focus on serving Indigenous communities
- 6 (37 per cent) funded projects are Indigenous-led
- 5 projects (31 per cent) serve Canada’s northern territories and provinces: Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, northern Manitoba
- 9 (56 per cent) serve rural and remote communities
- 9 (56 per cent) focus on serving students
2023 CIRA Grant recipients
Samson Cree Nation | Infrastructure
Samson Cree Nation will replace old and unreliable infrastructure in the Nation’s Administration Building and connect the Band Administration, which serves the 9,143 members of Samson Cree Nation, with fibre to provide stable internet access. This project is the first phase of building out the fibre and radio frequency infrastructure required to ensure connectivity in this central Alberta First Nation meets the 50/10 Mbps standard set by the CRTC.
TriCala, Tri-Community Adult Learning Association | Online safety
TriCala will create online safety educational resources for low literacy and low digital literacy community members in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and Parkland County in rural Alberta. They will use print materials, workshops and animated graphics and videos to reduce barriers to learning. This project will give vulnerable community members the confidence to navigate the internet safely and recognize online threats, scams and misinformation. Materials will be shared with all Community Adult Learning Associations.
First Nations Technology Council | Policy engagement
First Nations Technology Council’s Indigenous Digital Equity Strategy, first funded by CIRA in 2021, directly supports the implementation of First Nations’ inherent title, rights and treaty rights as related to digital equity. This Movement Building phase of the project will continue the Strategy work by informing, engaging, refining and sharing policy directions to benefit all First Nations people of BC.
Powell River Educational Services Society | Infrastructure
Powell River Educational Services Society will develop a unique, open source, competency-driven Internet Exchange Point (IXP) Hardware Training Program Outline for Indigenous students—modelled after BC Industry Trade Authority’s trades training programs—that will establish a set of required training outcomes for Indigenous IXP technicians who install and manage IXP hardware in their communities. This Outline will provide the basis for a provincially funded pilot training program that PRESS will deliver in partnership with WorkBC.
Lytton Area Wireless Society | Infrastructure
Lytton Area Wireless Society (Lyttonnet) aims to bring fibre to the Xwísten First Nation (Bridge River Indian Band), with each home offered fibre connection speeds of up to 10Gbps. This project will meet the rural community’s growing need for stable connectivity and higher speed capability to allow for increased educational and economic opportunities.
OpenMedia | Policy engagement
This project will empower Indigenous connectivity advocates to directly connect with policy makers and put Indigenous connectivity needs at the core of Canada’s connectivity policy development. OpenMedia will develop a targeted policy engagement training model that integrates with the Indigenous Connectivity Institute’s policy training program.
Ktunaxa Nation Council Society | Infrastructure
The northern section of the ʔaq̓am reserve of the Ktunaxa Nation does not have access to fibre optic services, limiting the digital capacity of those that live in that area of the community. This project will connect this section of the reserve with fibre infrastructure to provide the businesses and residents of the area with connectivity of at least 50/10 Mbps to meet the needs of the band’s population growth as well as future housing developments.
BC Civil Liberties Association | Policy engagement
The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will advocate for legislative amendments to Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act of 2022, with the aim of protecting the rights of children and young adults to maintain control over their collected and shared online personal data. Based on research, community collaboration and expert opinion, BCCLA will undertake advocacy work including development of a written policy position addressing Bill C-27 and delivery of a public advocacy plan with the aim to achieve adoption of legislative recommendations.
York Factory First Nation | Infrastructure
York Factory First Nation (YFFN) aims to set up a community-managed fibre optic network to strengthen connectivity and provide community-based, affordable high-speed internet for the 550+ members of the Nation. YFFN will recruit and train up to six youths in fibre optic installation who will install the new infrastructure, set up a community-based operation and maintenance crew, and develop a 10-year operation and maintenance plan. By creating opportunities for capacity and livelihood improvement, this project aims to make infrastructure a source of community healing and economic renewal.
Fort Smith Métis Council | Infrastructure
Fort Smith Métis Council will install a cell signal booster at the Thebacha Recreational Area, providing improved cell and internet service. This access will allow for greater safety through enhanced connectivity for the users of the area, including children and youth, Elders, land users and harvesters and campers and tourists.
Nunavut Arctic College | Infrastructure
Nunavut Arctic College aims to deploy upgraded wireless infrastructure providing access to low earth orbit (LEO) technology in their Community Learning Centers. This will improve access to education and resources for Nunavummiut and Inuit students and community members in five remote communities.
Pinnguaq Association | Online safety
Pinnguaq Association aims to identify, assess and mitigate the unique privacy and digital safety risks associated with AI and machine learning experienced by northern, rural and Indigenous communities by developing an open-source toolkit for K-12 educators across Canada, which will be made available in print, online and through a mobile app.
Students Commission of Canada | Online safety
The Students Commission of Canada will equip youth—and their adult allies in two remote communities—to identify and address online relationship violence, including online harassment, gender-based violence and cyberbullying, with the aim of mitigating risk factors and increasing youth online safety. Five youth from these two rural communities, including one First Nation, will form a committee to train their peers to identify and address online relationship violence.
KnowledgeFlow Cybersafety Foundation | Online safety
KnowledgeFlow Cybersafety Foundation aims to create a pilot program for high school students that accomplishes three intersecting goals: educates them on best practices for personal online safety, introduces professional cybersecurity concepts and terminology, and highlights potential and non-traditional career pathways into cybersecurity fields.
Investigative Journalism Foundation of Canada | Online safety
Investigative Journalism Foundation of Canada will develop three modules of ready-to-use classroom resources for teaching post-secondary students in the natural sciences and mathematics, social sciences and humanities how to recognize and counter online misinformation, particularly AI-generated misinformation.
Digital Moment | Online safety
Digital Moment will create a program for students K-12 that aims to increase awareness and understanding of cybersecurity threats and best practices by developing critical competencies in online safety, allowing youth to better access and utilize technology confidently and safely. Digital Moment will develop educational cyber safety content for youth and conduct research and pilot two educational workshops, both virtually and in person, one in schools and one in community settings.
CIRA is the national not-for-profit best known for managing the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians. Beyond that, CIRA offers a variety of products, programs and services designed to make the internet a safe, secure and accessible space for all.
About Net Good by CIRA and CIRA Grants
Net Good by CIRA supports projects, communities and policies that make the internet better for all Canadians. CIRA proudly funds Net Good by CIRA from the revenue CIRA generates through .CA domains and cybersecurity services. CIRA Grants is one of CIRA’s most valuable contributions to Net Good, with nearly $12 million invested in hundreds of community-led internet projects across Canada that address infrastructure, online safety and policy engagement needs.