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24 projects share $1M in funding to build a better online Canada

Ottawa, ON – June 9, 2016 – CIRA supports Internet-enabled projects from Canada's non-profit community
By Tanya O'Callaghan
Senior Manager, Communications

Ottawa, ON – June 9, 2016 – CIRA supports Internet-enabled projects from Canada’s non-profit community

Ottawa, ON – June 9, 2016 – The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) today announced funding for 24 projects that contribute to CIRA’s goal of building a better online Canada. This announcement builds on an existing $2.2 M investment since 2014 that is helping to create new online services, improve Canada’s Internet infrastructure, support digital literacy programs, and fund research on emerging digital issues.

Key facts

CIRA’s Community Investment Program was founded in 2014 with a mission to fund innovative technology projects from the non-profit and research communities that contribute to building a better online Canada. The program, now in its third funding cycle, has distributed over $3 million to 78 projects from coast, to coast, to coast.

CIRA supports its community investment efforts through revenue from products and services such as the registration of .CA domain names or CIRA’s D-Zone Anycast DNS offering.

This year’s projects include funding to support research on how Internet use transforms the lives of new immigrants, digital storytelling that maps cyberbullying experiences, as well as several projects to extend Internet services in rural communities.

Executive quote

CIRA cannot achieve our goal of building a better online alone. Our community investment program is designed to get funding into the hands of front-line organizations that are having an impact on the ground. These resources are critical to many of the projects we’re supporting today and I am pleased that CIRA is able to play the role of catalyst in Canada’s Internet community.

Byron Holland, president and CEO of CIRA

About CIRA and the Community Investment Program

Through the Community Investment Program, CIRA funds projects that demonstrate the capacity to build a better online Canada. The CIRA team manages Canada’s country code top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. A Member-based organization, CIRA represents the interests of Canada’s Internet community internationally.

Projects funded

Digital Security Centre

The objective of this project is to create a Digital Security Centre that will provide training services for issues related to privacy on the Internet. The Centre will be open to everyone, but will provide services to individuals involved in social organizations and to Francophones on a priority basis, in order to respond to a specific lack in this area. The training program will begin by raising awareness of the basic issues of IT security (passwords, security in social networks), and will then address more advanced subjects, such as the encrypting of communications and certain questions of public policy related to these issues.

Be the Choice
Building the Next Generation Breast Cancer Support Tool

Last year in Canada, an estimated 25,000 women and 220 men were diagnosed with breast cancer. New patients must navigate through an overwhelming thicket of new information in order to determine their course of treatment. Be the Choice is developing the first comprehensive, publicly available, breast cancer treatment decision support tool. The tool will enable people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to explore all treatment options on their own schedule, in consultation with family and friends, and in a supportive online setting that promotes more informed discussions with medical providers. Be the Choice will put treatment knowledge in the hands of patients, empowering them to advocate for the options that are the best fit for them.

Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies Society (CIIPS)
Best Practices in Internet Crowdsourcing for NonProfits: A Case Study

“Crowdsourcing” offers the potential to diversify information sources and access to information in order to advance democratic participation, and to further develop the Internet as a site for diverse discourses concerning Canadian society’s vital issues. This research study will utilize the case-study method to examine the practices of two non-profits on the leading edge of crowdsourcing. This study identifies best practices for Internet-based crowdsourcing that can be adapted by non-profits. Through a case study of multiple successful crowdsourcing campaigns by two organizations, the project analyzes how strategic adoption of crowdsourcing can improve freedom of, and access to, information; advance democratic participation; and further develop the Internet as a site of civil society communication, engagement, and decision-making.

Canadian Virtual Hospice
KidsGrieve2- It Takes an Online Village

Currently, there is little guidance available for adults who are supporting children who are grieving the dying or death of someone important to them. Through this project, communities, parents, educators, coaches, health providers and others will be better prepared to provide that support. KidsGrieve2 uses accessible interactive learning modules to provide guidance, strategies and practical tips for adults supporting children. Developed by grief experts and families who have “been there”, the modules will include how grief manifests in children; how to talk about dying and death in an age-appropriate manner; how to prepare children for funerals and memorials; how to recognize signs that children need more help. Children will benefit from a healthier, more open approach to end-of-life and death where they are encouraged to ask questions, receive honest answers, and are prepared and well-supported. 

CompuCorps Mentoring Inc.
TechCareers: Aboriginal Women & Digital Literacy

The TechCareers: Aboriginal Women & Digital Literacy 12-week program plans to increase digital literacy and expose IT sector career options to the Aboriginal community. 100 women between from different Aboriginal communities in Ottawa and the surrounding area will directly benefit from the initiative when the course is successfully completed. With a curriculum that encompasses the basic fundamentals of computer hardware and software understanding, as well as employable skills like MS Suite, CompuCorps Mentoring Inc. hopes to engage participants and ignite interest to utilize further community resources for a future in the IT industry.

Free Geek Toronto
Bridge: Moving Beyond the Gap

Over half of low-income Canadians are not online because the cost of both internet access and the devices needed to get online are often out of reach. The affordability of a computer, cell phone, and monthly fees are major barriers for these Canadians. The unconnected population also struggles with varying degrees of digital literacy ranging from those who are unaware of the full range of uses for technology, to those who are aware, but who lack the skills to use it to safely and easily. Free Geek Toronto will offer a 4-hour workshop, called the Bridge Program, to increase the digital literacy of low-income and marginalized community members and offer them ongoing support from a volunteer mentor network. The curriculum will be tailored to the learning needs of participants and will include activities such as teaching them how to set-up email accounts, search websites of interest, use social media effectively, and protect their privacy online. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will receive a voucher for an affordably priced laptop refurbished by Free Geek Toronto, making this both a digital literary and green initiative that is helping to both connect more Canadians, and give technology headed for the landfill a second life.

Governing Council of the University of Toronto (Faculty of Information)
Opening the IXmaps internet mapping platform for collaborative development and use

IXmaps will make the Internet better for Canadians by making visible the paths their personal data take over the internet, which companies carry their data and how privacy transparent they are. It will accomplish this by making IXmaps more reliable technically, improving geolocation accuracy, updating transparency scores and opening up the IXmaps platform to application developers. The initiative will update the annual Privacy Transparency of Canadian Internet Carriers reporting and integrate it into the IXmaps platform, so users may more readily find out about their carriers’ privacy transparency performance.

Kids Code Jeunesse
Code in the classroom- training teachers

In 2015, Kids Code Jeunesse (KCJ) piloted teacher training at workshops and conferences to over 500 teachers that provided them with an overview of the importance of computational thinking in education and hands-on experience programming. With the workshops’ proven popularity, KCJ will take the introductory model to expand it to 3 modules to provide richer, more in-depth training for educators that can be taught online and in-person. With this project, Canadian teachers will be provided with free bilingual online training materials, coding projects that weave into the curriculum and guides so trained KCJ instructors can host workshops at Education Conferences and at Professional Development days for school boards and schools.

Kitikmeot Heritage Society
Digital Return of Canadian Inuit Knowledge: The Fifth Thule Expedition Atlas

The Fifth Thule Expedition, which took place in 1921-1924, completed the first comprehensive recording of traditional Inuit societies in Canada collecting vast amounts of oral traditions, traditional place names, linguistic information, Inuit drawn maps, photographs, and over 2000 ethnographic objects. While some of this knowledge has been published in scientific reports, the majority of it remains stored in archives and museum collections, inaccessible to the public. The Kitikmeot Heritage Society (KHS) will develop an online version of the Fifth Thule Expedition Atlas optimized for Arctic bandwidth that: covers the Inuinnait and Caribou culture areas, allows users to view National Museum ethnographic collections, has evolved according to the advice of the people of Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, includes the contributions of Inuinnait Elders, and has a defined role in Nunavut secondary curricula.  The Atlas will be a powerful tool for research, discussion, and knowledge contribution for Canadian Inuit, Canadian secondary and post-secondary students, academic researchers, and all Canadians.

Ladies Learning Code
The Lead Instructor Experience

Technology touches almost everything we see and do. It’s critical that we give youth the skills they need to participate in building the future- we need to teach them to code, but also the important related skills like design thinking, problem solving and critical thinking. The Lead Instructor Experience will benefit teachers (and youth) across the country by providing educators access and training so they are confident and equipped to deliver critical computer science learning experiences to youth coast to coast. 

Mount Sinai Health System- The Cyril & Dorothy Joel and Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training
Dementia Talk App

Caregivers are indispensable in the care of people with dementia. Currently 12% of Canadians are providing care for a family member with dementia. Ninety percent of people living with dementia will experience behaviour symptoms throughout their illness that are often challenging to their caregivers. Tracking the occurrences of challenging behaviours helps to improve management by identifying patterns and triggers. Currently there is a lack of user-friendly technological methods of tracking dementia related behaviours. The project involves the development of a mobile app and website that will guide caregivers in the management and tracking of these behavioural symptoms enabling them to better identify possible triggers and patterns, as well as follow-up on their progress in managing the behaviour over time. The triggers and patterns can be easily shared with other care providers and health care professionals to develop a coordinated management plan. The data collected through the app will help drive research in dementia and caregiving forward which will benefit the larger population of people with dementia and caregivers.

Digital Creation Studio

SpiderWebShow will develop the Digital Creation Studio, an online virtual room that will use the internet to connect performing artists from across Canada in an accessible and shared studio space. This initiative grew out of Inuit artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory’s observation that, in the North, artistic practice was determined by the cost of distance, and that collaborations were limited by this reality. By providing easy to use equipment lists, set-up instructions and on-line protocols, the Digital Creation Studio will enhance artistic practice across Canada, and expand Canadian theatre’s use of digital space as an exciting alternative. In addition to migrating performing artists’ practice onto the internet, the Digital Creation Studio will address the isolation of artists living in remote areas and those with mobility issues.

North Island College
NICBotCamps and NICBotLab

North Island College will offer NICBotCamps during the summer, which will provide Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills to youth by providing robotics programming opportunities for up to 200 students throughout the North Island. Students will participate in fun, hands-on camps during the summer, learning basic digital literacy skills including LEGO robotics and be able to continue their learning all year long via the online robot lab.

North Queens Business Centre and Innovation Hub Co-op Ltd.
North Queens TVWS (Television White Space) Project

Internet to the Business Hub in North Queens, Nova Scotia is limited to DSL, whereas it needs a high-speed fibre connection to attract and serve clients. At the same time, areas around the village have only dial-up, or very poor fixed wireless service. There are plans in progress to improve service along main highways, but even if this happens there will be many outlying households and businesses with no improvement­- some other technology will still be required. The North Queens TVWS Project serves the dual benefit of improving internet to the Business Hub, and using that connection to test the range and efficacy of TVWS (Television White Space) hardware in field testing. This project will benefit the local community, decision-makers at government level, and industry.

Peace Region Internet Society
Bridging the Wireless Divide

Currently many members of the community in Saddle Hill County, Alberta are without internet, which delays their progress and development as a community overall. The Peace Region Internet Society (PRiS) has embraced a two-pronged approach when looking at the future needs of remote communities. Adopting new wireless technologies and utilizing licensed frequencies has enabled PRiS to complete Radio Tower and Microcell Access Point installations in communities where only high cost satellite services were available previously. PRiS will focus on equipping three towers in Saddle Hills County that are directly along the Alberta / British Columbia border. It is expected that installation of the initial equipment in Saddle Hills County will make internet access possible for all community members. A more vibrant, prosperous, connected community will be the outcome of the infrastructure development.

Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH)
Innovation Hub/ Digital Café

Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH), in partnership with Reboot Canada ( and the Repair Café (, will launch a pilot program bringing low cost access to digital and internet opportunities to the Jane Finch Community. This project will see the refurbished laptops for purposes of reselling them for a fraction of the market price so that low income families could afford to purchase such equipment. This project will benefit the Jane Finch Community in general where a preponderance of low income families are in need of information access via the internet for various reasons including employment opportunities.

Ragged Edge Community Network Society
Ragged Edge Community Network Stabilization/ Expansion Project

Rural and remote communities are seriously lagging behind others in remaining digitally current. Improving the Ragged Edge Community Network will allow enhancement of service to the twelve core communities the RECNS network serves on Northern Vancouver Island and in particular those on the very edge. A more robust network provides opportunities to build businesses and increase telecommuting employment. With enhanced upload and download speeds, updated infrastructure, current systems management software and a robust reliable network of community-based service, RECNS will continue to enhance the economic and social lives of people on North Vancouver Island.

SKETCH Working Arts
SKETCH Digi Lab Gallery

The new SKETCH Digi Lab Gallery will improve access to creative digital media opportunities for marginalized and homeless youth. It establishes designated space in SKETCH’s Creative Hub where over 800 youth participate annually; develops arts-based curriculum teaching digital and online technologies; pilots curriculum with established digital media creatives and youth; and connects youth with mentors in the digital media industries including students of Seneca College Faculty of Communication, School of Creative Arts & Animation. The project broadens possibilities for youth, creating a co-learning community and introducing them to post-secondary education career building in digital media arts and communication.

Textile Museum of Canada
Collective Threads: A Diversity Toolkit

The Textile Museum of Canada will establish a culture-rich, responsive resource harnessing the power of personal stories to enrich diversity and inclusion awareness with real-world experiences. Collective Threads will bring the voices of newcomers and refugees online along with a world-class collection of global culture to create a flexible Diversity Toolkit comprising thematic modules made up of engaging and accessible educational materials for use by schools, workplaces and the broader Canadian public. 

The Walter and Duncan Gordon Charitable Foundation
Fort Nelson First Nation and Mackenzie DataStream

This initiative enables Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) to join a growing network of communities using Mackenzie DataStream as a platform for collaboration and information sharing. Mackenzie DataStream is a new, open access tool for sharing water information in Canada’s Mackenzie Basin. DataStream was designed in a unique public-private partnership between The Gordon Foundation, the Government of the Northwest Territories and communities in the Northwest Territories. When Mackenzie DataStream launched in November 2015, it contained water data collected by 21 communities in the N.W.T. and there is strong interest in extending this initiative to other jurisdictions in the Mackenzie Basin. FNFN, located in B.C., is well-positioned to be the first partner outside the N.W.T. to test DataStream’s Basin-wide application and is committed to watershed-level collaboration and data sharing for effective water stewardship throughout the Mackenzie Basin.

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) – Département de communication sociale et publique
Using the Internet towards Greater Engagement and Empowerment of Immigrants in Canada

UQAM is seeking to answer the question, How are the lives of immigrants transformed with using the Internet? The objective of this project is to mobilize and engage immigrants to transform their lives by strengthening and targeting their uses of the Internet. The project will take a look at specific populations, including: youth, women, and new immigrants looking for jobs. The impact of this research will lead to the tabling of recommendations related to the needs of these immigrants, and to enhancing Internet-use practices.

Université Laval
Citizen Participation in a Knowledge Society

Civil society plays a major role in implanting a knowledge-based society that is in keeping with the 2015 United Nations’ sustainable development goals. Civic engagement with public institutions represents a guarantee of democracy and openness that governments must respect. The objective of this project is to develop new smart tools aimed at processing the opinions of citizens and extracting the required knowledge in order to convey it to decision-makers. Toward this end, the research team will conduct a literature review on existing citizen-participation tools. The literature will serve to highlight the advantages and limitations of these types of tools for the purpose of identifying any additional tools that should be developed in order to extract knowledge from citizens’ opinions.

Mozilla Foundation / Hive Toronto
CA.pture: Claiming Space for Community Stories

Working with educators and Mozilla staff, youth from Hive Toronto member organizations will develop open source digital skill-building activities designed to empower their peers to prevent and intervene in electronic bullying. Teens will leave the final workshop as peer educators, charged with sharing new understanding and tools for better digital citizenship with their peers. Built into the final phase of this collaborative project is professional development for educators to support youth promoting good digital citizenship through peer-to-peer anti-cyberbullying education. Aiming to improve the technical and psychosocial aspects of Digital Literacy among youth, Ca.pture leverages three powerful influencers: peer-to-peer education, youth-led tool design, and educator training.

York University
Facilitating Practices of Fair Dealing Online

Uncertainties surrounding the copyright status of complex multimedia cultural forms often constrain online public access to cultural works with great educational and research value, restricting the development of Canadian culture online. The researchers provide open source digital archiving tools to Canadian memory institutions and cultural organizations to manage and identify rights in digitized cultural resources. This will help shape public policy on digital archiving, providing memory institutions and cultural organizations with new strategies for avoiding difficult and time-consuming clearances and uncertainties about fair dealing while enhancing metadata on Canadian cultural history.