Pikangikum First Nation to be connected to Starlink’s satellite internet network
Tim Brody - Editor
Pikangikum First Nation will be the first community in Canada to be connected to Starlink’s satellite internet network.
A division of SpaceX, Kenora-based IT company FSET collaborated with SpaceX about the remote community’s need for internet, which helped to secure the project.
On November 26th, FSET’s work to launch the project and begin connecting the community got underway.
“Access to fast, reliable, and even the most basic internet services enjoyed by most Canadians is long overdue for Pikangikum First Nation; especially for its children, youth, and young adults who make up 75% of the population,” FSET founders Nicole and David Brown said in a statement. “We are thrilled with to work with SpaceX and the delivery of Starlink for Pikangikum – recognizing the community’s unique needs and the opportunities that connectivity will create to enhance community outcomes. With all regulatory approvals now in place, this important step towards equality of opportunity begins today.”
Kenora MP Eric Melillo, who serves as the Conservative Party’s Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs, reached out to Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains to stress the importance of the project.
Pikangikum First Nation Chief Dean Owen stated, “This is a significant day for the community of Pikangikum First Nation. The delivery of Starlink internet services will transform our abilities to deliver local services, create economic opportunities, access education, training, health and wellness supports, and improve the quality of life for our children, youth and families. We thank our local MP, and his colleagues who advocated for the project in Ottawa, our partners at FSET and SpaceX, and all those in Government who worked towards the approval of these services and the realization of this opportunity for Pikangikum.”
“Rural and northern Canada has been consistently underserved when it comes to internet access,” Melillo stated. “With everyday activities moving increasingly online, it’s clear that innovative solutions are needed if we don’t want to be left behind.”
Edmonton Centre MP James Cumming, Conservative Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, also worked with FSET and SpaceX to push the project forward.
“We’re not just talking about connecting a community to internet,” Cumming said. “We’re talking about connecting them to the rest of Canada, to a whole new economy, education and healthcare. This wasn’t just important, it was essential, and I can’t wait to see how this pilot project is going to launch the Pikangikum community forward.”
“Thanks to the collaborative work of FSET, SpaceX and Starlink, arrangements to connect the community to Starlink were put in place and were ready to move forward as soon as federal regulatory approvals were granted for SpaceX’s low orbit satellite constellation to provide high-speed internet for Canadians. With those approvals granted on November 6th, Starlink installation kits began arriving in Kenora immediately,” a press release informed.
FSET workers travelled to Pikangikum by plane on November 26th to begin Phase 1 of the installation project, which involved installing and connecting a collection of institutions and buildings that serve key functions for the community, such as the Mental Health Hub and Band Office. Phase 2 will begin connecting residences. Both phases are expected to be complete before the end of 2020.
“Starlink will be a game-changer for Pikangikum and will hopefully provide a model for ensuring internet access for all Canadians, regardless of where they live,” Melillo concluded.