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Connection that matters

Broadband Communications North

Broadband Communications North knows the real value of the internet

Reliable, fast internet service is something most of us—especially those in the urban areas—take for granted. While even in the city the internet can go down (just ask Rogers), most of the time when you want to surf the web or stream a show, you can. We also got a lesson in the value of the internet throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when we went home en masse to work, study, shop and entertain ourselves for many months. However, not everyone has access to a fast, consistent internet connection at home. In rural, remote and isolated communities in northern Manitoba, internet is not a utility—it’s a luxury. And for many places, it’s virtually non-existent.

Accessibility for all
“Broadband internet service is not ubiquitous in Manitoba. Not even close,” says Jason Neepin, executive director at Broadband Communications North (BCN), the province’s largest Indigenous-owned internet service provider. The non-profit organization provides service to over 50 rural, northern and remote communities in Manitoba and wants to connect even more. “Eight years ago, I was living in Fox Lake and my home internet service was terrible. I was forced to go to the band office to download my tabs just read the news which is unheard of in the city,” says Neepin. “The major internet providers did not and will never serve these communities because they aren’t profitable to reach. BCN is the only organization filling the gap.” While BCN has made progress to get Indigenous communities connected to reliable service, there is so much more to do.

Growing connections
BCN has made nine applications (in two streams of funding) to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) Universal Broadband Fund to expand high-speed internet service through LEO (low-earth-orbit) satellite and fibre. If the applications are approved, internet will arrive to over 30 northern, remote communities. As well, the company is conducting a six-month pilot project with a low-earth-orbit satellite provided by OneWeb UK at Manto Sipi (Gods River Cree Nation), a fly-in Indigenous community in northeastern Manitoba. “This project will provide quality internet and demonstrate its social and economic value to ISED,” says Neepin.

Jason Neepin, executive director at Broadband Communications North (BCN)
Jason Neepin, executive director at Broadband Communications North (BCN)

More than just access
Internet connectivity for remote communities is also about more than just being on the web. It’s about fairness, equality, and being able to participate fully in the world. “We live in the digital age,” says Neepin. “Unconnected communities are being left behind in the digital economy. We as Indigenous peoples deserve to have access to the opportunities that come with ‘city internet’ as does everyone in remote areas.” 

Neepin points to the pandemic as proof that internet is a necessity in modern life. “When students had to go home and study online, many children were left behind because they did not have access to internet at all, or the internet service was so bad they couldn’t participate in their education. It was infuriating to many chiefs, and points to the inequality we’re still dealing with.”

Taking up the cause
Beyond BCN’s work connecting communities and seeking funding from the government, the organization also advocates for the people it serves and wants to serve. “We are continually lobbying levels of government to address the country’s connectivity issues. We want others to join us too. Letters of support and talking to your MP or MLA can do a lot to advance our work. It’s about doing the right thing for our province and all its people.”

With Canada’s focus on reconciliation and attempting to right the wrongs of the past, ensuring all citizens, no matter who they are or where they live, have access to reliable internet is not a major ask. In fact, it’s simply giving people the resources to exist in a world that becomes more connected by the day—a mission that BCN lives every day.

Learn more about Broadband Communications North (BCN) at

Broadband Communications North (BCN)
Unit 24-30 Fort St.
1.888.92.GOBCN (1.888.924.6226)


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