Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


april 7, 2001 - Issue 33



Nunavut Public Libraries Receive $486,000 Grant


Nunavut Public Libraries Receive $486,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Iqaluit-- Public libraries in Nunavut will receive a $486,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support public access computing and Internet access. Minister of Education, Peter Kilabuk, announced the grant during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.

The grant will fund the installation of 27 computers and Internet access in 11 Nunavut public libraries, as well as two mobile laptop labs used for training library patrons. Separately, Microsoft Canada will donate software with a retail value of $124,445 to all libraries receiving foundation grants. Week-long training for library staff in Seattle, upgraded hardware to provide wireless Internet access for the libraries, and one help desk station also are included in the gift.

"This gift broadens opportunities for Nunavummiut (people of Nunavut) in all parts of the territory to use the Internet and to have access to the new information they need and want," said Mr. Kilabuk. "It also provides wonderful opportunities for all Nunavummiut to learn about new technology and pass on what they've learned to others."

The grant is a part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Library Program, dedicated to increasing access to technology for libraries serving low-income communities throughout the United States and Canada. The foundation has contributed a total of $26.3 million to 1,466 Canadian public libraries, providing 4,000 computers and 43 training labs to Canada's 13 provinces and territories.

"The people of Nunavut will now be able to turn to their public libraries to access information throughout the territory," said Carol Erickson, International Library Programs Manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The foundation is particularly excited that the laptop lab component of this gift will allow everyone -- regardless of geography throughout the territory -- to take advantage of the important role technology can play in improving people's lives."

Eight Nunavummiut will receive training in Seattle in September 2001. Installation of the new computers in communities throughout Nunavut will begin immediately following the training and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Access to the laptop labs will be available to all Nunavut communities beginning in the fall.

In a July 1999 study of Internet use by households, Statistics Canada noted that although computer use has increased nationwide, there is a wage gap between those with access to technology and the Internet and those without access. Individuals in the highest-income households are nearly five times more likely to use computer communications than those individuals in the lowest-income households.

Nunavut, Canada's newest territory, came into being on April 1, 1999 through the division of the Northwest Territories; it represents the first in the world indigenously governed territory within a public government structure. A total of 27,000 people live within the territory's two million square kilometres. Eighty-two percent of Nunavut's people are Inuit.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving people's lives by sharing advances in health and learning with the global community. Led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, Sr., and Patty Stonesifer, the Seattle-based foundation has an asset base of $21 billion.
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