A new program called Connected North aims to bring interactive healthcare and education services to remote Aboriginal and Inuit communities in Canada.
Led by the government of Nunavut and Cisco Canada, the program uses satellite bandwidth and high-definition, two-way video technology to connect with schools and health centers in rural northern communities.
A pilot education program launched in September 2013 connected 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade classrooms in Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik with teachers, experts and other students across Canada in real time. Two other schools — the Deh Gah School in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, and John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat, Nunavut — are expected to join the program in September 2014.
Around the same time, another service will launch to bring psychiatric and youth mental health services to remote regions in cooperation with the Tele-Link Mental Health Program developed by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.
“This project will help young Inuit connect with larger communities in … southern Canada, and perhaps more importantly, it will help them connect with each other,” said Mary Simon, chairperson of the National Committee on Inuit Education. “It puts Inuit in the driver’s seat and helps us explore our surroundings in new and evolving ways. Such innovative partnerships are essential if we are to transform Inuit education systems and prepare Inuit students to succeed in a 21st century economy.”
Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada, added, “there is significant potential for transformational change and positive impact in the areas of health care and education in Canada’s remote Aboriginal communities. By leveraging our technology expertise and uniting key private and public sector partners, we are aiming to make Connected North a vital and productive component of northern communities that will bring new levels of opportunities to inhabitants. And what you see here today is only the beginning. The program’s results in Iqaluit will be studied and used to develop longer term strategies for sustainability throughout Canada.”