Disrupting Digital Barriers On-Reserve

The Cause

City of Calgary has rapidly mobilized to distribute in urban communities, but the Library both serves and depends on all of Treaty 7. The Library is seeking support that we are uniquely positioned to deliver on behalf of Indigenous People on-reserve who are extraordinarily barriered from technology (laptops, internet access and support).

As Covid-19 forces Calgarians to rely on digital access, these communities are barriered from accessing adequate educational resources, schedule and arrange health and well-being appointments, and perhaps most pressing -- are socially isolated from family members and loved ones.

We seek funding to acquire, distribute and support Chromebooks, Wi-fi access via cards, modems and/or outfitting Library vehicles with mobile internet service to Indigenous Communities such as Tsuut'ina and Siksika Nations.

Who Will it Benefit?

Indigenous First Nations and those belonging to Treaty 7 do not exist within a settler's paradigm of municipal boundaries. Therefore Calgary Public Library, Canada's second largest municipal library system, does not necessarily have confirmed resources to serve Indigenous People who reside on-reserve and in settlements. That said, the Library regularly accesses Treaty 7 knowledge and Elders as we seek to support Indigenous community capacity, decolonize our public spaces, and deliver Indigenous services and programming on behalf of our 7+ million annual visitors. This also means the Library is accountable to these communities during times of crisis.

Indigenous Service Design staff at the Library in coordination with partners at Calgary Foundation and organizations such as Aboriginal Friendship Centre have identified a profound crisis of digital access during the current pandemic on reserve. In one Tsuut'ina classroom Kelli Morning Bull, Library Indigenous Design Lead, connected with, only four out of twenty school aged children in one classroom had access to both computers and Wi-Fi. When Internet was available, low capacity made video calls and family engagement severely stifled.

This proposal seeks to deliver laptops (Chromebooks), Wi-Fi access and digital literacy support via the Library's "Tech Mentors" program and Tech Support Hotline to these communities in which our relationships and connections permit and are appropriate.