Currently I am working on the two projects described below. For my completed projects, see: projects completed in Canada and projects completed in Ireland and the European Union.
First Nations Innovation http://fn-innovation-pn.com
First Nations Innovation is a major five-year initiative with four partners, including three First Nation organizations in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic region. Our research is exploring broadband communications in remote and rural First Nation communities in Canada. This includes how the First Nations are using and innovating with online technologies to provide a range of community services and activities – everything from e-health and distance education to e-administration, e-justice and social networking for community resilience.
We are also exploring new ways to work together in participatory research when partners are separated by vast distances. The project is always seeking ways to make the research as collaborative and participative as possible. We are collaborating with First Nations in each of the three regions to conduct the research.
Through our work, the First Nations Innovation project supports First Nation self-determination, treaties, and rights and responsibilities for lands and resources. We recognize the nation-to-nation relationship between each First Nation and the Canadian state and we acknowledge that First Nations leadership and communities are innovating in many ways to ensure their ongoing self-determination. We see our research and outreach work as supporting the transformative processes of decolonization that free us all from the colonial relations that are dehumanizing all of us and destroying our natural world.
The First Nations Innovation project is led by the University of New Brunswick with partners Keewaytinook Okimakanak, the First Nations Education Council and Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Helpdesk / Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. Our project is funded until 2018 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council with in-kind contributions from the project partners.
The First Mile – http://firstmile.ca
The First Mile project was developed from 2010 to 2013 and is now part of the First Nations Innovation project. The project website documents more than 50 First Nation initiatives across Canada that take a “First Mile” approach to broadband-enabled local community infrastructure and service delivery. To access these stories and videos, visit the First Mile website: http://firstmile.ca
First Mile approaches focus on and invest in local, rural development instead of the traditional corporate or institutional-centered approaches that are most often created by centralized, urban-centric agencies. For the many remote and rural First Nations without adequate broadband, the First Mile approach supports the community leadership to make decisions about the development and deployment of broadband networks in their communities.
Many different research investigations have found that services made possible by broadband win community support when they are developed under the leadership of First Nations. Of the many lessons learned, one of the most important is about control. First Nations must be in control of the service or application to ensure it will remain centred on the needs of the community and be supported by community members. To ensure local control, national and regional plans need to involve First Nations in the program design and implementation, including for broadband development.
The First Mile project is now a sister initiative to the First Nations Innovation project with partners the University of New Brunswick, Keewaytinook Okimakanak, the First Nations Education Council and Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Helpdesk / Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. From 2010 to 2013, the First Mile was a partnership with the same partners that also included Simon Fraser University funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.