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The First Nations Innovation project has its roots in the RICTA project http://ricta.ca (2005-2006) that began with two of the current partners: the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and the Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) tribal council in Northwestern Ontario. 

RICTA brought together a network of academic researchers and community members to share information and experiences about research on ICT with Aboriginal communities. Beginning in 2006, the next phase was the VideoCom http://videocom.firstnation.ca project with another current partner, Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk (ACFNHD). The fourth current partner, the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) in Quebec, joined the project in 2008. The National Research Council of Canada was also one of the original partners in both RICTA and the VideoCom project from 2004 to 2011. The four current partners – KO, FNEC, ACFNHD and UNB – joined up with Simon Fraser University for a sister project – the First Mile http://firstmile.ca – that ran from 2010 to 2013. First Mile is now under the umbrella of the First Nations Innovation project that was launched in 2013 with the four current partners. For more information about the partners, see the Partners & Communities section of this website.

We began our research in 2006 by documenting and sharing information about how the First Nation organization partners are supporting the development and use of broadband networks and ICT by the remote and rural First Nations on their networks. In 2010, we began working with collaborating First Nation communities to conduct community-based research. To date we have published papers with four First Nations in the three regions covered by our project: Fort Severn First Nation and Mishkeegogamang First Nation in Ontario, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec, and Elsipogtog First Nation in the Atlantic region. For more information about this research, visit the Partners & Communities section of this website. The First Nations Innovation project will be ongoing until 2018 and we will continue to work and conduct research in collaboration with remote and rural First Nation communities in the three regions.

The four project partners are located in four Canadian provinces, across three time zones. Most of us are more than a thousand kilometres apart from each other. We use communication technology extensively to make our project happen. We use multi-site videoconferencing for our monthly meetings, which have been ongoing since July 2006. Our partner KO-KNET provides the multi-site videoconference bridge for our meetings. All of this technology is a portion of the partners’ contribution to the project for everyone to use. However it depends entirely on a broadband infrastructure and people to support it. For this, we have our project partner organizations and their funders and partners to thank.