High-speed access to the World Wide Web is coming to Eeyou Istchee. What is little known, however, is the work the year-old Eeyou Telecommunications entity has done to bring fibre optics to the Cree communities.
It is a multi-stage project that will see Chisasibi being hooked up first and then spreading quickly to the other communities. The possibilities and benefits of this system are many, according to proponents. It’s also expected to create between 20 and 25 jobs once the network is established. And they are high-tech jobs, which require collegial training.
Alfred Loon said, “We’re hoping that services through online will be much faster. This will benefit anybody in telehealth, and tele-education.”
Loon said if there is a problem finding a math teacher or one that doesn’t want to come up North they can find a teacher anywhere in the world to teach students online in real time. He also expects schools will benefit because every kid will have access to information and its highspeed bandwidth.
The entities who sit on the board are the Cree Regional Authority (CRA) the Cree School Board, Cree Health Board, and James Bay Cree Communications Society. All are enthusiastic. There are the four founding members of the telecom committee: Alfred Loon, Buckley Petawabino, Francois Turgeon, Health Board representative Daniel Tufca and the president of JBCCS, Raymond Menerick. Hymen Gloustein is the general advisor to the telecom committee.
The committee is a non-profit organization that will own and operate the network. The company will manage the day-to-day operations, while the board’s responsibilities are to operate and manage the network. The network will ensure to provide services to the Cree communities. The services are tele-health, tele-education, and the high-speed Internet commercial and residential.
“Not every community has a doctor,” Loon observed. “Now nurses have to call doctors in Chisasibi and the doctors have to do everything by phone. But through the tele-health with the video images the doctor can see the patient, so this is how it will benefit just about everybody.”
Telehealth will likely be the biggest user of the telecom services, added
Loon. “But schools will also benefit because every kid can have high-speed access to information that’s out there. The owners will be the Cree people and the customers will be the municipalities. That’s how we set it up.”