From Digital Divides to the First Mile: Indigenous Peoples and the Network Society in Canada

Rob McMahon


Indigenous peoples interact with the emergent network society in diverse ways that reflect the colonialism/self-determination dialectic. One area where this process unfolds is in the bridging of digital divides. I use the concept of the First Mile to show how First Nations and Inuit peoples in Canada’s geographic periphery are asserting their self-determination in the sphere of digital ICTs. While most digital divide literature presumes that a connection to the network society is inherently beneficial, when framed in the context of historic and ongoing processes of colonialism, integration alone is not adequate. An example of a not-for-profit satellite network cooperative demonstrates how three Indigenous organizations shaped the problem of the digital divide into an opportunity to establish a platform for digital self-determination.


Indigenous peoples, First Nations, Inuit, digital self-determination, network society, community development,al Self-Determination; Network Society; Community Development; Infrastructure; Broadband; Policy; Sociotechnical; Media; Communication; First Mile

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