Indigenous Connectivity

Mastercard Foundation partners with the Indigenous Connectivity Institute to advance Indigenous digital equity

Mastercard Foundation partners with the Indigenous Connectivity Institute to advance Indigenous digital equity

Photo by Chris Mitchell

Phil Mozejko is Community Manager at the Indigenous Connectivity Institute

The Indigenous Connectivity Institute (ICI) is the first organization dedicated to driving digital equity for Indigenous Peoples across the United States and Canada. The ICI will be a hub for Indigenous communities — urban, rural, and remote — to advance digital equity on our own terms.

Today, we’re thrilled to share that the Mastercard Foundation has made a keystone CAD $3.7 million (USD $2.7 million) contribution to support the growth of the ICI. Their endorsement not only facilitates the Institute’s path to becoming a standalone organization, it also puts us in prime position to substantively address the digital divide Indigenous Peoples disproportionately experience. Currently housed at Connect Humanity, the Institute aims to be its own entity within three years.

Equity and justice for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Connectivity Institute is a partnership between champions for Indigenous digital equity from across Canada and the United States. With Mastercard Foundation’s support, we will share knowledge as we cultivate skills, provide grants to help build broadband networks, and convene a movement of advocates that work together to shape a digital future in which our communities can thrive.

A major piece of our partnership focuses on expanding and generating workforce development opportunities. This will be achieved through a combination of training and capacity sharing programs, with activities ranging from policy advocacy and proposal writing to digital literacy, digital upskilling, and community network deployment. Collectively, our workforce efforts will address systemic inequities and move the needle towards justice for First Peoples. 

Elevating Indigenous voices, expanding our networks.

One of the Institute’s main goals is to elevate Indigenous voices. If we are to Indigenize and decolonize sectors of society, our perspectives need to be broadcast to wider audiences. We will achieve this through intergenerational outreach, youth mentorship, social media, as well as through webinars and events such as the annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit.  

The Institute will build networks with and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners across time, space and place. We will offer a platform for Indigenous people to share their truths, stories, and knowledge – not only with each other, but with the broader public.

The road to digital self-determination

Being guided by the principles of respect, reciprocity, relevance and responsibility, we strive to do our work in a good way, such that it protects and promotes the interests of the diverse Indigenous communities we serve. Our work is sensitive to regional, local and community contexts and centered through Indigenous lenses. This is a project to be done by, with and for the First Peoples of the countries now known as Canada and the United States. This is about taking—and making—space for ourselves in the burgeoning digital society.

Digital equity for Indigenous communities means we have a greater chance not only to meaningfully engage in an increasingly digitized world (a global but heterogeneous village), but also to have socio-economic justice. Working towards digital equity for Indigenous Peoples can be seen as acts of digital self-determination, having the effect of strengthening the sovereignty and restoration of our dynamic peoplehoods and cultures. 

Remembering forward

Our 2022 ICS Calls-to-Action inform our attitudes and speak to the broader impact we seek to have. We recognize there is an interconnectedness at the heart of digital (in)equity that touches on so many different pieces of life and society. The ICI seeks to braid these together and demonstrate how they all relate, and how they have deep social, political and economic implications for Indigenous communities if they aren’t soon addressed. But with each challenge there comes tremendous opportunity.

The Institute’s Indigenous-led Advisory Committee of industry experts, advocates, and leading minds are guiding forces who better position us to be in control of our digital futures. We ask you to join us as we embark on this transformative journey towards digital equity for Indigenous Peoples. 

Subscribe to our newsletter, join us at Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2023, and share word of our initiative among your circles.

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If your organization is interested in funding Indigenous-led initiatives, read our funders brochure and email to get started.

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