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Community-powered connectivity in Ulukhaktok, Canada

Children in the Inuit village of Ulukhaktok, Victoria Island, formerly Holman Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

January 5, 2021

Researchers from UW’s Information School, Computer Sciences and Engineering, and the Information and Communication Technology for Development Laboratory will all partner on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant as part of the Navigating the New Arctic program.

The PI, Kurtis Heimerl is an assistant professor with Computer Sciences and Engineering. Jason Young, co-PI, is a senior research scientist with the Information School, an affiliate faculty with the Canadian Studies Center and director of the Scholarship-to-Policy initiative as part of the Jackson School’s Arctic and International relations initiative. And Spencer Sevilla, also co-PI, is a post-doctoral researcher with the Information and Communications Technology for Development Lab.

The grant project, titled Exploring the Benefits and Challenges of Community-Powered Connectivity in the New Arctic, will look at connectivity issues in Inuit communities in Inuvialuit, one of the four Inuit regions in Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit region of Canada). This project will develop a model that small Arctic communities can use to design and implement community technology infrastructure to support their unique needs. It will advance understanding of how technology can be developed and used to support Indigenous communities as they manage a changing Arctic environment; collaborate with environmental scientists; seek out education and sustainable economic opportunities; and preserve their culture. The grant is part of the new NFS program Navigating the New Arctic (NNA).

Ulukhaktok, formerly known as Holman, is an Inuvialuit community of about 500 people on the west coast of Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories. The economy is centered around fishing, hunting, trapping, and printmaking.

The grant is for $250,000 (2020-22). The start date for the project will be delayed as a result of COVID-19.