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Pandemic highlights need for internet equality, First Nations chief says

Pandemic highlights need for internet equality, First Nations chief says

TORONTO — A First Nations chief from British Columbia’s Interior region says the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier to explain how important high-speed communications are for keeping small communities connected. Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars says artisans in his community have been able to use TikTok and Facebook to promote their products

TORONTO — A First Nations chief from British Columbia’s Interior region says the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier to explain how important high-speed communications are for keeping small communities connected.

Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars says artisans in his community have been able to use TikTok and Facebook to promote their products while physical marketplaces are shut due to public health restrictions.

But he says faster, more reliable internet can’t come quickly enough for businesses and people outside major urban centres.

Indigenomics Institute founder and CEO Carol Anne Hilton agrees. She says a number of digital platforms have emerged during the pandemic, including the ShopFirstNations.com portal that acts as a gateway between customers and Indigenous businesses.

But she says the pandemic has also illustrated the great disparity in digital technologies, which many rural communities cannot reliably access.

The remarks came during a panel discussion hosted by the Logic to discuss internet connectivity for Indigenous communities in British Columbia.

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