Manitoba Invests in Starlink for First Nations Connectivity

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In a major leap towards better connectivity for remote First Nations communities, the province of Manitoba has committed $100,000 CAD in support of SpaceX’s Starlink technology, according to an announcement made by Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen on Tuesday, reports Tesla North.

The funds, sourced from the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund (CPF), will foster a collaborative effort between the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO).

Minister Goertzen expressed optimism about the initiative, noting, “We are using the latest satellite technology to bring efficiencies and accessibility to the justice system in northern Manitoba.” He also highlighted the numerous advantages of the investment: “Through CPF funding, we can connect remote MKO residents to a wide array of services including virtual court appearances, victims’ services, crisis responders, MMIWG teams, and other community supports.”

Communities slated to benefit from Starlink internet are as follows:

  • Misipawistik Cree Nation, Grand Rapids
  • Chemawawin Cree Nation, Easterville
  • Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Pukatawagan
  • Mosakahiken Cree Nation, Moose Lake
  • Bunibonibee Cree Nation, Oxford House
  • Northlands Denesuline First Nation, Lac Brochet
  • Shamattawa First Nation
  • Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Split Lake
  • MKO Youth Healing Lodge

In addition to justice services, Starlink technology will enable residents and vulnerable youth to remotely access the MKO Youth Healing Lodge services. This will ensure that individuals recovering from tragic events can readily access the support they require.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak welcomed the collaboration, noting, “There has always been a significant need in our northern First Nations for reliable and adequate internet access.” He emphasized the quick deployment time of the technology, adding, “We can see the benefits in days, not years.”

Echoing these sentiments, Gord Schumacher, executive director of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police, stated, “Reliable internet access in isolated communities will not only support education and training but provide access to justice and enhance public safety.”

The enhanced access to technology will streamline numerous processes such as virtual court appearances, data exchange between policing agencies, and remote medical consultations, representing a notable stride towards achieving truth and reconciliation in the province.

Starlink leverages a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites, offering high-speed and low latency internet, allowing for rural areas to stream video, play video games and get more connected than ever before. All you need to do is plug in the Starlink hardware and aim the satellite dish at a clear sky (it aims itself automatically plus also heats up to melt snow), all managed from an app.

Right now, Starlink has an ongoing promo offering its hardware at $199 for rural areas (loosely defined), down from $759. Service costs $140 per month.

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