Leading the Way: Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation Leaves Inadequate Internet Behind
Photo credit: Eric Anaquod—Owner, Anaquod Videography (1-306-551-9229)
It’s been a decade of efforts to ensure Muscowpetung, a First Nation in the Qu’appelle Valley, has the internet service they need. Over the years they’ve used different approaches from multiple local providers, but their newest option is unusual in Saskatchewan and in its scope.
In December 2022, the Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation announced their service agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink. The agreement gives its 127 occupied housing units on the reserve access to high-speed, low-latency internet service—a departure from previous approaches that focused on providing service to community buildings such as the local hall and band office.
Myke Agecoutay, President and CEO of Muscowpetung Saulteaux Business Developments, says the use of satellites to provide the community with broadband internet works better in Muscowpetung’s location in and along the valley. “A lot of the traditional options don’t really reach into the area because of geography,” he says. “It’s difficult to get connection.”
In 2020, it became obvious that the speeds available to the nation weren’t adequate. They were typically seeing upload and download speeds well under 10 Mbps, when the current federal goal is 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload (AKA: 50/10). Initial tests of Starlink showed speeds of 147/25.
“Our nation is well positioned to receive internet into the future,” says Agecoutay.
Education was the basis of Muscowpetung’s desire for better internet, and the agreement allows children and families to have at-home access to new and higher educational opportunities. It’s also opening the door to new career and business opportunities..
“It’s important that we’re still in the digital age and we’re still going to be there in the future. It’s important that our nation has adequate access to make sure our people can participate in the economy.”
– Tristan Cappo
Tristan Cappo had a chance to get a test run of the Starlink service at his parent’s house and was shocked by the difference between past speeds and what is now available. He says it’s now possible to create digital content and pursue related opportunities from Muscowpetung, opening up an avenue for future generations.
“It’s important that we’re still in the digital age and we’re still going to be there in the future,” says Cappo. “It’s important that our nation has adequate access to make sure our people can participate in the economy.”
Access to broadband internet and better speeds can support existing businesses, and the community says Agecoutay. The connection in their gas bar will allow better connectivity for online purchases, and across the community people will be able to participate online in ways people in bigger centres may take for granted. Media streaming was full of interruptions in the past but will be a cinch now.
“Inadequate internet service left the nation behind in many ways,” says Agecoutay, “and now we will be able to be ahead of others. It’s finally nice that it’s reversed for once.”