Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR Program: Connected North

A remote people connect to science education and youth healthcare

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Canada’s North is known for its speculator arctic landscape and pristine wilderness. The North’s remoteness, a hallmark of its beauty, is also one of its greatest challenges. High rates of suicide, addiction, and unemployment threaten isolated communities. Connected North uses Cisco collaboration technology to close service gaps and strengthen the community’s own resources.

What: Connect to missing educational and healthcare services

Connected North—a unique partnership between governments, private sector partners, community leaders, nongovernmental organizations, and Cisco—uses collaboration technology like Cisco TelePresence to connect people in the North to essential educational and mental healthcare services.

  • Experts make science come alive for students, exposing them to new people, experiences, and ideas while validating their own experiences and encouraging them to stay in school.
  • Mentors guide teachers through professional development training.
  • "Connected Classroom" sessions bring students together for a cross-cultural exchange to create mutual awareness and understanding.
  • Healthcare specialists from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto offer consultations via Cisco TelePresence, eliminating an average 2-year wait time for a psychiatric consult.

How: TelePresence technology collapses distance

During the pilot program, network provider SSi Micro and Cisco collaborated to deliver high-definition video via telepresence over satellite. Through a generous donation of $600,000 in service, SSi established the connectivity network to make Connected North possible. Cisco provided US$1.6 million in collaboration technologies and employee expertise to deliver programming to a middle school and healthcare centre in Iqaluit, Nunavut, making possible an immersive and interactive experience that collapses distance and empowers participants. 

  • Connected North completed the initial pilot and is expanding the programming to additional schools and healthcare centers.
  • Cisco TelePresence uses high-definition video technology to break down barriers with face-to-face, real-time access to experts in education and healthcare.
  • Training programs prepare teachers to facilitate science lessons with remote experts and nurses to support providers at a distance.
  • Aqsarniit Middle School in Iqaluit, Nunavut, became the first school in the North to connect to the network.

Impact Multiplied

Connected North is helping build a new model for the sustainable delivery of remote education and healthcare services that will be applied to under-served communities across Canada.

  • During the 2014-2015 school year, the educational program will be expanded to schools located in Arviat, Nunavut; Cape Dorset, Nunavut; Fort Providence, Northwest Territories; and Mine Centre, Ontario.

“In Iqaluit alone, students are missing on average 41 days of school each year and 75% of Inuit children drop out of high school…Connected North is a crucial step in rectifying the situation. Since its adoption, the program has been met with great enthusiasm among the students and new levels of engagement and attendance.” Donald Peters, Principal of Aqsarniit Middle School