Indigenous Connectivity

A joint submission on ‘spectrum sovereignty’

The Indigenous Connectivity Institute leads a submission to ISED consultation

A joint submission on ‘spectrum sovereignty’

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.

The undersigned,

Darrah Blackwater

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

Rob Barlow

Jordana Barton-Garcia, Connect Humanity

Corkie Blackwater

Sally Braun, Internet Society of Canada

Lyn Brooks, Lyn Brooks & Associates – dHub Group

Geovanni Campos, EY

Tamara Cardinal

Adelina DiPalo

Rhea Dianne Doolan, First Nations Technology Council

Nkoro Nkoro Essang, CEO/MD Profbonny International

Raymond Flett

Sarah Graham

Charlene Gulak

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 

Amos Kasumba

Niniau Kawaihae, Dept of Hawaiian Home Lands

Erin Knight, OpenMedia

Belyï Nobel Kubwayo, Free Tech Institute

Adriana Labardini, Rhizomatica  

Deanna LaJambe

Amanda  Lathlin

Lwayiphi Mcameni

Glenn McKnight

Rob McMahon , First Mile Connectivity Consortium

Sascha Meinrath, X-Lab

Lavish Mensah

Hafiz Mohammed

Phil Mozejko

Bill Murdoch, Clear Sky Connections

Joseph Obore, Action for Development of Grassroots Communities (ADEGCO)

Dr George Rivera Jr, Yalti Telecom

Spencer Sevilla

Mahrinah Shije, Pueblo Development Commission NGO

Ula Shirt

Suzanne Singer

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

Steven Vanloffeld

Shirley Vidal, Fundacion Etnikos

Inez Vystrcil, IVS Connections Inc

Leonardo Wassilie, Salmonberry Tribal Associates 

Tim Whiteduck, CEPN-FNEC

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