Indigenous people seeking digital equity as BC enshrines UN Declaration into provincial law

November 29, 2019

The First Nations Technology Council applauds the BC Government for becoming the first province in Canada to enshrine the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People into legislation. Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples act, is a major milestone on the path to reconciliation with Indigenous people in BC in an ever-increasingly digital and connected economy.

Bill 41 sets the standard for Indigenous human rights in BC, and the Technology Council expects to see coordinated and cross-jurisdictional action to eliminate the digital divide currently facing Indigenous people. Roughly 75% of Indigenous communities in the province do not meet the basic standards of broadband internet connectivity, despite access to broadband being declared a human right by the United Nations in 2016.

As the sector council mandated by the BC Assembly of First Nations, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and First Nations Summit to advance digital and connected technologies for Indigenous peoples, the Technology Council has proposed the Indigenous Framework for Innovation and Technology (IFIT) to the BC government and Premier John Horgan. The IFIT is a strategic roadmap to achieving digital equity across the province and is envisioned as a driver of economic reconciliation in the digital age.

A lack of equitable, affordable and sustainable access to digital and connected technologies has resulted in Indigenous peoples representing only 1% of the BC technology sector and Canada’s rapidly growing digital economy. As the future of work becomes increasingly reliant on workers with digital skills, this lack of Indigenous representation could continue to perpetuate socioeconomic disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in BC.

The Indigenous Framework for Innovation and Technology identifies several areas of intervention including; connectivity and infrastructure, skills development, employment and business development, tech and innovation leadership, policy and legislation, and governance and self-determination. These areas of intervention were informed through province-wide engagement with Indigenous community members, innovators and entrepreneurs to support a nation-to-nation relationship and technological advancement as a driver of reconciliation.

The Technology Council is currently working with various provincial ministries to forward the advancement of Indigenous peoples in the digital economy. As a provincial action plan is developed to implement Bill 41 to align all provincial laws with the articles of the UN Declaration, ensuring Indigenous communities achieve digital equity is critical to ensuring basic human rights are achieved.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Trevor Jang, Communications Specialist

trevor@technologycouncil.ca