Whatì fibre-optic cable project receives $11M in funding

A finished section of the Tłı̨chǫ Highway that will lead to Whatì. (Photo courtesy of the GNWT.)

Approximately $11 million in funding will go towards a fibre-optic cable that will run along the Tłı̨chǫ All-Season Road to Whatì.

The project will connect 152 homes to high-speed internet.

In a press conference on Thursday, Whatì Chief Alfonz Nitsiza described the issues around connectivity in the community.

“It is really bad, sometimes we can’t get on the internet at all,” he explains. “There are many benefits that the fibre-optic cable project will bring to to people of Whatì, including educational opportunities, students need reliable internet.”

The announcement was made in a virtual press conference delivered by Chief Nitsiza, as well as Dan Vandal, minister of northern affairs, Michael McLeod, member of parliament for the Northwest Territories and Caroline Wawzonek, territorial finance minister.

“I know firsthand the struggle too many Canadians are facing when it comes to accessing reliable internet service,” McLeod said. “This has become even more critical during the pandemic. As we had to limit our travel and most of our meetings and events… Everything is now done via video conference.”

The project is a collaboration between the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Tłı̨chǫ Government and Northwestel.

The project has been in the works for several months and Wawzonek says this funding is just the latest development.

“This is additional funding. The project was moving forward in the fall” Wawzonek explains. “But we were waiting for this announcement… With a lot of work being done right now in communications and broadband, this was really the last piece on this one.”

  • $5 million will come from the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund
  • $3 million from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
  • $1.5 million from the Tłı̨chǫ Government
  • $1.4 million from the Government of the Northwest Territories

Nitsiza says the construction is expected to begin this summer.

A spokesperson for the federal government said the project is expected to be completed around late fall 2021.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at luke.carroll@cklbradio.com