Connected North changes lives through technology. The non-profit organization uses high definition video to connect children in isolated northern communities. Technology can help bridge the gap between teacher and student, allowing those in remote areas to gain access to essential educational resources and learning opportunities.
Connected North works with content providers, funders, and community partners who help deliver immersive and interactive youth engagement and education to Indigenous students across the country.
Cisco Canada, the Toronto-headquartered tech company that launched Connected North, provides the video technology. Besides the basics of education, the goal is to help Indigenous students improve their language skills, as well as share histories and stories with other communities, and provide mental health support.
The program has been recognized by the International Society for Technology in Education, with Mali Bickley, on behalf of Connected North, awarded for outstanding contributions to video conferencing in education. Bickley has been a key member of Connected North as a Classroom Collaboration Specialist since September 2015. Bickley creates customized and authentic learning opportunities for Connected North students and teachers, including a mentoring session with Canadian WNBA player Kayla Alexander and students in Nunavut.
Participating Connected North schools include the Innuhaq School in Arctic Bay, Ontario, the Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary School in Skidegate, BC, the Ghuch Ria Community School in Carcross, Yukon and the Deh Gah School in Fort Providence, NWT.
The Connected North network serves around 10,000 students across 42 schools in all three territories and five provinces. But many more northern schools are interested in getting involved. That’s where we can help.
Last year, I became involved in the Tech4Good Connected North On-Ice Challenge, a one-day hockey tournament where participating teams earn funds to participate in a “draft” of former NHL players, who then join their team.
Bryan Trottier, Canada’s most decorated Indigenous athlete, was the first former NHL player to sign up. Of Metis heritage, Trottier recognized the importance and potential for Connected North. And when he heard that we needed to attract teams, he called me. Now, Bryan and me go back a few years. We first met at the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event in 2011 and we share a passion for hockey. So I didn’t have to think twice when Bryan called asking for my participation.
Working with others on my team, we raised $16,700 for a cause that generated more than $300,000 for Connected North. Plans are already underway for another tournament in 2019. I’m impressed by the work done at Connected North and proud to support them.