Questions & Answers: Atlantic First Nations Fibre Optic Project

Developed jointly by Atlantic Canada's First Nation Help Desk andAboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Q: What is the fibre optic project?

Fibre optic technology is the newest and best way to transmit broadband connectivity at the lowest price.  Broadband can be used for data, internet, videoconferencing, and VoIP telephone services.  In this project, fibre optics will connect health centres, schools, and Band offices.

Q: Who approved the project?

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs (APC) passed three resolutions supporting the project: to apply for funding; to explore using the technology for economic development; and, to complete CRTC non-dominant carrier requirements on behalf of the Atlantic First Nations.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (formerly INAC) approved funding for the project under the First Nations Infrastructure Fund in the amount of $947,989 to be completed over two fiscal years (2010-11 and 2011-12).

Q: Who will own the infrastructure?

First Nation communities will own all of the infrastructure in their communities, including the racks, the switches, routers, sfp converters, and the fibre optic cables on the poles used to connect on-reserve buildings.

Q: What has been done so far?

Bell Aliant, the prime contractor, has rolled fibre cabling out to the doorstep of First Nation communities in NS, NB, and PEI (note: fibre optics are not yet available in Newfoundland and Labrador).  All of the equipment needed for the communities has been purchased.

Q: What's the hold up?

AANDC has reaffirmed that Bell Aliant requires permits to carry out activities on-reserve, and First Nations need to provide their consent by way of Band Council Resolutions (BCRs) per Section 28(2) of the Indian Act.

Permits issued pursuant to the Act are designed to protect both the First Nation and the permitee (in this case, Bell Aliant) by assigning responsibilities and liabilities, as well as providing non-members such as Bell Aliant with a legal basis for exercising rights on reserve land.

In order to have authority to issue the permits to Bell Aliant, a Band Council Resolution (BCR) is required.  As provided for in Section 28(2) of the Indian Act, the Minister can issue permits for non-members to occupy or use reserve lands. However, if a permit is for a period longer than a year, the consent of Council is required. This consent is provided through a BCR.

Q: Where can we get a sample BCR and see the permit?

The permit and sample BCR has already been sent to all eligible First Nations band offices.  Electronic copies are included here for your convenience.

- Sample 28-2 BC
- R28-2 Permit

Barbara McFadden, Lands Transaction Officer, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada at 902-661-6312 is our AANDC contact.

Please submit completed Band Council Resolutions to her in the Amherst office:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development CanadaAttention: Barbara McFadden, Amherst Office
P.O. Box 16040 Havelock Street
Amherst, Nova Scotia
B4H 3Z3

Additionally, please view the Atlantic BCR Status Spreadsheet to see whether your community has completed the BCR/permit process or call the Help Desk at 902 567-0842.

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