Opportunities for Information and Communication Technology Development in remote Northern Ontario indigenous communities in spite of COVID-19 physical restrictions

Infrastructure and ICT Development in remote Northern Ontario regions

  • Ruben Burga University of Guelph
  • Ciprian Pavel University of Guelph
Keywords: information and communication technology, institutional theory, remote communities, indigenous

Abstract

This article describes an opportunity to implement an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy in remote indigenous communities across Northern Ontario where access to the digital environment currently is very difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Academic research in the digital environment with indigenous communities has shown that implementation and development of ICT is a need for all communities and a right for each individual. We aim to show how the implementation and development of this ICT could be done by building on existing research on the adoption of digital technology by indigenous communities. Our research shows that using institutional theory in the context of indigenous self-determination and in connection with the United Nation’s Sustainable Agenda 2030, the enabling of ICT infrastructure can result in positive impacts for indigenous communities. Our article provides two tangible recommendations, that if implemented can lead Northern Ontario indigenous communities to sustainable ICT infrastructure development. One recommendation is to leapfrog current hardware infrastructure by leveraging advances in High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) that provide digital access where terrestrial digital environments does not.  The second recommendation is for Northern Ontario indigenous communities to leverage the current requirements by educational institutions in Ontario to enhance experiential learning through service and community-based learning through educational partnerships. We believe that through the implementation of these recommendations, the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to physically isolated communities in Northern Ontario can be alleviated.

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Published
2020-11-01