“Now after COVID-19 hundreds of thousands of Indigenous kids are not at school, or were not at school for at least the first round of the pandemic, [their] education was not continuing and they weren't able to do homeschooling like maybe some kids in Vancouver are able to do, or like in urban centres across the country. The issues were present before COVID-19, and COVID-19 exacerbated those issues and created new ones,” says Williams.
A reason why this lack of accessibility still occurs is how funds that are allotted at the government level, are dispersed. “Thankfully, government is working to be responsive to how to flow resources to underserved communities to address this, however, the challenge is that in an effort to do that quickly, often those funds go to the incumbent service providers - the big telecommunications companies - in Canada, and this is part of why the digital divide exists.”
Williams goes on to discuss in the episode that the companies that provide internet services in Canada often do not see the “return on investment” in bringing internet infrastructure out to remote, small communities being high enough to justify building it. But because of this, these remote, but many, communities still go without access.
For many of us with “digital privilege,” another factor that Williams mentions, the idea of not being able to access internet and some kind of device to communicate and “compute” on, whether that be a smartphone, tablet, computer or all the above, is unimaginable. Those of us with this privilege have been able to access these tools as soon as they were readily available to the general public, whether in our own homes or at least through schools and workplaces. Those of us in the Generation Z and Millennial generations have been using them most of our lives. Even before the pandemic pushed most of our lives online for the foreseeable future, education around and access to technology and the internet is required for the advancement of Indigenous sovereignty and economic reconciliation for Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is one of the (many) necessary steps to start repairing the damage that has been done to these communities.