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Internet Society Canada on the digital divide

Internet Society Canada Chapter executive director shares insights into the Community Investment Program, as a leader in Canadian internet issues.
By Erica Howes
Communications Specialist

Internet Society Canada Chapter executive director shares insights into the Community Investment Program, as a leader in Canadian internet issues.

As organizations prepare to apply for the Community Investment Program, we’ve reached out to a few individuals who can share their tips and insights on the kinds of projects that can address the priorities they see to build a better online Canada.

CIRA is all about building connections and we work closely with other Canadian internet leaders, like the Internet Society Canada Chapter (ISCC). The Internet Society is a global organization with a vision that the internet is for everyone. The Canada chapter aims to bring together thought leaders to develop positions on proposed Canadian legislation that affects the affordability, accessibility, fairness and security of the internet.

Last year, National Capital FreeNet, Compucorps and Internet Society Canada Chapter collaborated on a Community Investment Program-funded project to convene the first-ever Digital Access Day in Ottawa. This event brought together different levels of government, academics and the tech sector to amplify the national conversation around Canada’s digital divide. Topics included Indigenous connectivity, digital access, privacy, surveillance, and digital literacy.

I talked with Franca Palazzo, executive director of Internet Society Canada Chapter, about Digital Access Day and asked about her perspective on internet issues affecting Canadians.

What were the outcomes of Digital Access Day?

The event provided an opportunity for attendees to learn, gain connections and new perspectives and to talk to others in the Internet space they wouldn’t have otherwise met. There were people from government, private sector and non-profits from across Canada and even internationally. We were pleased with the ample turnout, the mix of people and with the strong messages sent to government that accessibility and affordability of the internet are important issues Canada needs to address.

Last year’s event was such a success, we’re now in the planning stages for a second Digital Access Day where we’d like to expand the impact by recording the event and produce a report about its discussions. We’re excited about the event because it aligns so well with ISCC’s mission, to advocate on behalf of all Canadians for affordable, accessible internet.

What other issues does the Internet Society see as priorities for bridging Canada’s digital divide?

Connectivity, gender & diversity and cybersecurity are three areas that ISCC sees as priorities right now.

Cybersecurity is a big focus for ISCC this year and ties into digital access and literacy. How can we ensure we’re building a better and safer online Canada? The global Internet Society is heavily involved in educating Canadian consumers on the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the security issues that come along with them.

We’re also looking at the gendered digital divide – how do we get more girls and women into tech as well as sitting at the table for internet discussions?

Digital access and infrastructure are two other important issues, especially for remote, Indigenous communities. The Internet Society North American chapter is involved with the Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Iqaluit, to improve cost and efficiency in Nunavut, which has been relying on satellite internet till now

ISCC’s national perspective reminds us that it’s important to recognize the very different internet issues Canadians face across the country, and how a diversity of projects can help bridge that gap.


If your non-profit organization has an innovative internet project that will help build a better online Canada, apply for a Community Investment Program grant at The application period closes at 2 p.m. on February 28, 2019.


About the author
Erica Howes

Erica works in corporate communications at CIRA. Her background is in writing and community relations in the non-profit sector. She is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program.