A joint submission on ‘spectrum sovereignty’
The Indigenous Connectivity Institute leads a submission to ISED consultation
Photo © Angela Gzowski: Community Networks training program participants and community members in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories
At this year’s Indigenous Connectivity Summit, one of the main topics of discussion was ‘spectrum sovereignty’ — the idea that Indigenous communities should have the right to govern, manage, and benefit from the spectrum on and over their lands.
Indigenous Connectivity Institute advisory council member and spectrum sovereignty advocate Darrah Blackwater explains why spectrum is so important to improving connectivity in Indigenous communities:
ISED, the Canadian government department in charge of managing spectrum, recently sought comments from the public to guide how it will manage spectrum licensing in the years to come, presenting an opportunity for the community to make its voice heard and advocate for spectrum sovereignty.
Building on language developed by participants at the Summit, the Indigenous Connectivity Institute (an initiative of Connect Humanity) has submitted the below joint-response to ISED’s consultation.
Our response to ISED’s consultation on spectrum
1. These comments are based on the Calls to Action developed by the delegates at the 6th annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit, held in Winnipeg from October 24 to 28, 2022.
2. The newly created Indigenous Connectivity Institute, an initiative of Connect Humanity, presents these comments on behalf of the undersigned individuals and organizations.
3. Our comments pertain to Indigenous connectivity in urban, rural, and remote areas. Specifically, these comments pertain to Indigenous rights to spectrum during Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED’s) Spectrum Outlook window from 2022 to 2026 and beyond.
4. Our submission specifically addresses Question four (4) of the Consultation: “How can ISED’s spectrum management program best support Indigenous connectivity?” Section 8 of the Consultation clearly outlines connectivity challenges facing Indigenous Peoples across Canada but only offers vague plans that “ISED will consider ways of better engaging Indigenous peoples”. We ask for something more specific: recognition of spectrum sovereignty for Indigenous lands.
5. We call on ISED to immediately stop selling spectrum licenses and renewing permits on Indigenous traditional territories, and to acknowledge Indigenous rights to govern and manage the spectrum on and over their lands.
6. ISED should immediately and fully release unused spectrum licenses on and over Indigenous traditional territories for the use by and benefit of Indigenous Peoples.
7. If an Indigenous mandated organization chooses not to manage spectrum in their traditional territories, we call on the Government of Canada via ISED to acknowledge the inherent Indigenous rights to spectrum by continuing to manage spectrum on Indigenous traditional lands, to make requested spectrum available to, and to turn over any spectrum proceeds to the respective mandated organization.
8. We ask Government of Canada via ISED to acknowledge that Indigenous Peoples have myriad needs for the natural resource called electromagnetic spectrum (“spectrum”), including but not limited to climate change monitoring and modeling, food sovereignty and security, health and safety, especially pertaining to missing and murdered Indigenous people, mental health and wellness, emergency management, education, economic development, revenue, and more.
9. As a next step, the Consultation states “Going forward, ISED will consider ways of better engaging Indigenous peoples”. We also ask that ISED conducts an annual meaningful public consultation with Indigenous leaders and mandated organizations to discuss whether Indigenous needs for spectrum are being met by ISED. The Government of Canada should work with the mandated organizations in each traditional territory to find the best path forward.
10. In keeping with the spirit and intent of the Government of Canada’s commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action, we ask that the Canadian government take this action with full collaboration and engagement with, and accountability to, Indigenous peoples and the public. Though this Consultation is focused on the years 2022 to 2026, we believe recognition of Indigenous sovereignty needs to become a permanent feature of Canadian spectrum policy.
11. Contact: Mark Buell, Director of Indigenous Program Development, Connect Humanity
Download our submission.
Mark Buell, Indigenous Connectivity Institute
Natalie Campbell, Internet Society
Gregory Taylor, Associate Professor, University of Calgary
Israel Akpan, Engaging The Youths Through Creative Entrepreneurship
Corey Ashley, Indigitize Computer Science
Susanta Kumar, Balabantaray Prastutee
Jordana Barton-Garcia, Connect Humanity
Sally Braun, Internet Society of Canada
Lyn Brooks, Lyn Brooks & Associates – dHub Group
Geovanni Campos, EY
Rhea Dianne Doolan, First Nations Technology Council
Nkoro Nkoro Essang, CEO/MD Profbonny International
Crystal Hansen, Children’s Program
Travis Heneveld, Geeks Without Frontiers
Joseph Hickey, ROCK Networks Inc.
Derrick Houle, CEO, Smoke Signal Communications Inc.
Julien Jacobs, National Tribal Emergency Response Council
Dennis K. Kanahele, ALOHA FIRST
Niniau Kawaihae, Dept of Hawaiian Home Lands
Erin Knight, OpenMedia
Belyï Nobel Kubwayo, Free Tech Institute
Adriana Labardini, Rhizomatica
Rob McMahon , First Mile Connectivity Consortium
Sascha Meinrath, X-Lab
Bill Murdoch, Clear Sky Connections
Joseph Obore, Action for Development of Grassroots Communities (ADEGCO)
Dr George Rivera Jr, Yalti Telecom
Mahrinah Shije, Pueblo Development Commission NGO
Joel Templeman, Internet Society Manitoba Chapter Inc.
Paul Thompson, Capitol Technology University
Gerald Thunderbird-sky, Swan Lake First Nation
Tricia Toso, Concordia University
Alex Tveit, Sustainable Impact Foundation
Shirley Vidal, Fundacion Etnikos
Inez Vystrcil, IVS Connections Inc
Leonardo Wassilie, Salmonberry Tribal Associates
Tim Whiteduck, CEPN-FNEC
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