Digital Technology Supercluster Announces Investment to Strengthen Economy of Coastal First Nations

Coastal First Nations Connectivity Network will connect remote Indigenous communities in coastal B.C. to the world

Vancouver, BC – The Digital Technology Supercluster is proud to announce its investment in the Coastal First Nations Connectivity (CFNC) Network project. Led by Coastal First Nations, this project will train a group of community leaders to help their rural communities access and leverage broadband. By training First Nations’ citizens as the leaders in building out broadband use, this will remove barriers to accessing work, education and health and empower Indigenous peoples to develop a path forward for economic development.

“Coastal First Nations hold the keys to transforming B.C.͛s future. As communities along the central, north coast and Haida Gwaii get connected through high-speed internet and gain access to today’s global economy, there is a wealth of cultural wisdom, prosperity and world-renowned stewardship leadership to be shared”, said Christine Smith-Martin, CEO of Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative. “As we build B.C.’s coastal economy while protecting our environment for future generations, the CFNC Network project will bridge the digital divide in our remote communities by supporting long-term careers and opportunities in technology to create Indigenous-driven connectivity services and innovative solutions.”

According to The Indigenomics Institute, Canada’s Indigenous GDP has the potential to be worth $100 billion over the next five years through strengthened economic capacity. As the global economy moves online, the lack of broadband access remains a severe barrier to many rural and remote Coastal First Nations communities. Furthermore, developing and maintaining connectivity infrastructure is costly, with urban-based technicians required to fly in to support these communities.

“Access to reliable broadband is a necessity to connect to work, school and family. Thanks to the leadership of the Coastal First Nations and industry partners, this new supercluster-supported project will improve everyday life in Indigenous coastal and remote communities by creating infrastructure that will last for generations to come,” said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“The Coastal First Nations Connectivity Network reinforces the Province of B.C.’s commitment to ensuring those living in rural and remote communities have equal access to digital tools that will ensure they can be connected to loved ones, as well as health, work, education and economic opportunities. Indigenous participation in the economy contributes to a stronger and more resilient B.C. and the CFNC Network is an important step to enhance broadband access in rural and remote areas throughout the province.” said Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services.

The Heiltsuk Nation, a partner in the project, is excited by the potential held in the Digital Technology Supercluster and proud of the early results they’ve achieved with CFN. “We see true prospects for transformative change through capacity building with ownership and local management of connectivity initiatives and all of the possibilities it opens, a leapfrog moment to grow sustainable economies that are empowered by tech partnerships and solutions. The Heiltsuk are already savvy tech users and consumers, now we seek to become makers and creators”, said Chris Lechkobit Carpenter, Economic Development Officer and Constitution Advisor with the Heiltsuk Nation.

“Working and living in the 21st century requires 21st century technology. Availability of broadband is the minimum requirement to access work and learning opportunities, to connect with community and increasingly, to access critical services like healthcare. Uneven distribution of broadband and broadband infrastructure remains a significant barrier to many rural and remote Coastal First Nations communities. Addressing this issue head-on requires collaboration across private and public sectors, working closely with organizations with roots in these communities,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft President.

Through the CFNC project, Coastal First Nations connectivity leaders will have the opportunity to work with partners such as Microsoft, LlamaZOO, Rogers Communications, First Nations Technology Council, Vancouver Island University, Innovation Island and Taking IT Global to:

  • Deploy digital infrastructure and on the ground IT training
  • Teach their community digital skills, and
  • Create community digital upskilling opportunities.

“This exciting cross-sector partnership shows what we can do when we bring together leaders in technology, connectivity, training and digital skilling so that we can support the foundation for long-term economic growth among Coastal First Nations,” said Sue Paish, CEO of Digital Technology Supercluster. “This project is just the start. We can expand this initiative and these kinds of partnerships across Canada, ensuring more Indigenous Citizens and First Nations communities can prosper in the digital world – on their terms.”

The current one-year project has a total investment of $725,000, with $525,00 invested by industry and $200,000 co-invested through the Supercluster’s Capacity Building Program. To learn more about this project, visit the Coastal First Nations Connectivity Network Project Page.

“Rogers is proud to be working alongside Coastal First Nations to close longstanding gaps in the digital divide and open new possibilities in local skills training. Our Rogers team will continue to build on our commitments in this area including the launch of our $1 billion Rural, Remote and Indigenous Connectivity Fund as part of our coming together with Shaw next year.” – Joe Natale, President & Chief Executive Officer, Rogers.

“As a Digital Technology Supercluster member since day one, we are excited to participate in this project with Coastal First Nations by digitally mapping – or twinning – their 10M Hectare area to help bring connectivity to First Nations in the region. ” said Charles Lavigne, President & CEO of LlamaZOO Inc. “By working with CFN and their member Nations, this foundational twin will act as a catalyst to launch further innovative projects specific to each First Nations’ needs.” Charles Lavigne, President & CEO of LlamaZOO Inc.

Media Inquiries:

For more information, please contact Elysa Darling at, or 587-890-9833. For media assets, click here. Interview opportunities with Sue Paish, CEO, Digital Technology Supercluster, are available upon request.

For media inquiries related to the Coastal First Nation, please contact Christine Smith-Martin, CEO, Coastal First Nations, at 604-340-6197.

About Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster

Ahead of the curve starts here. The Digital Technology Supercluster is building a better Canada by growing Canadian businesses, creating a digitally skilled workforce and positively impacting lives across our Country. We accelerate the development and adoption of digital technologies that keep Canadians healthy, address climate change and drive economic productivity. Through a powerful combination of co-investment, cross-sector collaboration, IP creation and digital talent development, we unlock the potential of Canadians to lead and succeed in the Digital world. For more information, visit:

About The Coastal First Nations

The Coastal First Nations promotes community self-sufficiency and sustainable economic development on BC’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. Our communities are working together to build a strong, conservation-based economy that recognizes our Title and Rights, and protects our culture and ecosystems. For more information, visit: