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Innovation is our Motivation:

From our early days introducing cthe community radio concept to creating small-system cable Internet service, we also generated community supprt forCanad's first long range fibre-optic network.

Above are Buckley Petawabano, a founder of the Eeyou Communications Network (ECN) and the founder of the James Bay Cree Communications Society and RTS Canada's first president, Fernand Fred Leclaire.

Innovation and Breakthroughs in Telecom

Bringing modern telecommunications to the North required many successful initiatives in technology, many of these experiments became "firsts" in Canada and models for the world.

Many were applications adapted by local technicians to overcome problems caused by isolation, weather, distance, language, available services, lack of materials - however, none of these obstacles overwhelmed the enthusiasm of the Cree participants and they succeeded; other innovations came about by trust and cooperation between local residents and telecommunications specialists.

Here are a few:

Canada's First Aboriginal Radio Network
(1980) Cree regional Radio had no delivery facilities anywhere, anywhere in the north. CBC North decided to introduce a program in 1980 but had no staff; together with local communities, it sponsored the first radio training course in the north in Mistissini.

Successful candidates were hired by CBC and worked in Montreal on the Northern Service short-wave service.

(1985) Local communities decided that they needed full-time radio t replace the one-hour a day CBC service. Twenty participants from all Cree communities gathered in Mistissini for a one-year course sponsored by the Cree School Board (Adult Education) to learn radio broadcasting and management. It produced managers and broadcasters for all Cree communities, many of whom are still at their stations today.
(1986) Mistissini FM signed on and the James Bay Cree Communications Society (JBCCS) was created.

First Use of Satellite for Radio Broadcasting
(1986-87) Satellite Radio - first use of satellite for radio in Canada (Canada was the first country in satellite broadcast technology with Anik systems). Experimenting with a small portion of the television band and a converted television transponder, JBCCS and Telesat were able to transmit radio from Mistissini on a dedicated channel to all Cree communities and to the CBC network in Montreal for retransmission on its short-wave service. As a result, they reduced significant communications costs and transformed a tinny long-distance telephone connection to Montreal with a high-quality FM signal.
(Ongoing) A significant but unplanned benefit from this innovation: by broadcasting only in Cree, these local radio services were the first use of radio broadcasting as a tool for language retention: Prior to the formation of JBCCS in 1984 and local radio societies in the late 1980s, northern communities could only listen to southern radio stations in English or French or the one-hour daily Cree broadcast from CBC. Cree stations were the first of the local Aboriginal broadcast stations to broadcast exclusively in the language of the community. With a successful training program from the Cree School Board, Cree is today among the leading successful Aboriginal spoken languages alive and well in its own communities.

First Small-System Cable-Internet service;
First Northern Canadian Internet Service
(1994-98) Internet. Creenet in Wemindji in 1995 was the first dialup service in the north, even before Val d'Or or Chibougamau while Chisasibi was Canada's first small cable system to begin 2-way cable Internet service. By 1998 ehrn Chisasibi began the Internet experiment, only Rogers and Cogeco offered the service in large urban centres. In Wemindji, by adapting toll-free long-distance and dedicated microwave technology and in Chisasibi by experimenting with satellite Internet delivery, the communities were the first in the north to be On-Line. Unique applications within the systems included a protective firewall invented by Oliver Rupert to secure television reception.

Rupert's Mound: How-To eliminate C-Band Interference from snowmobiles

First Independent Fibre Optic Transport Network
First Use of Long-Haul Telecommunications Technology
(2000-08) Fibre optic service. As a result of a protracted battle over telephone rates, the James Bay Cree Regional Authority concluded an agreement with Hydro-Québec to build the world's first long-haul fibre network using applications for technology ever before used in aerial transmission, including the use of submarine technology for transport. It is Canada's only Aboriginal telecom transport network that is fully independent from the telephone system and is the largest fibre network in Quebec. Significantly, it was also the first major partnership between Cree and non-Aboriginal local governments in Eeyou Istchee.
New projects include fibre to the Home and Community-Wide pubic access wi-fi Hot-Spots.

First radio signals to cover James Bay Highway, Route du Nord and Highway 113
(2010-ongoing) Highway radio and emergency services: expansion of radio signals from coastal communities to cover the James Bay highway with a series of very tall telecom towers allowed for the first time radio services of the Cree network to include the James Bay highways and hunting/trapping territories. Work is currently underway to include all of the James Bay and Highway 113 and, for the first time, applying D3 technology for Digital Display Systems for Weather and Highway Warning Systems and weather warnings. Next the FM system intends to expand to include French language services for highway travelers.

© RTS Canada 2012

A Salute to Canadian Innovation across the years

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