In 1998, many communities within our region made application to Industry Canada to embark on a project to bring technology to our small communities and to provide Internet access. Computers and the Internet were seen as a solution to the digital divide and a capacity builder for remote and rural communities.
Each community was organized as a non-profit. By 1999, Hafford and Blaine Lake had established centres. Slowly, the enthusiasts of the program left and the CAP sites were faltering. In response The Thickwood Hills Business and Learning Network (THBLN) was established as a division of the Blaine Lake Marcelin and District CAP Inc. and became the delivery agent and developer for the West Central Region of Saskatchewan. Sites include 20 First Nation communities, 3 Métis and 45 non-native locations for a total of 68 communities.
It is now 2011, and the Federal government, through Industry Canada is still providing funding for CAP. It has proven one of the most popular programs sponsored by the Federal government. But CAP is greater than just the technology and access to the Internet; it has assisted in developing strategies to develop entrepreneurship and the development of small business, created opportunities to leverage training dollars and many community based projects.
THBLN has participated in the CAP Youth Initiative (CAPYI) for the last 10 years which means that youth from targeted communities could gain some practical work experience. In total we assisted with 200 CAP youth which leveraged over one million dollars for salaries. For many youth this was their first job and many youth give credit to their CAPYI experience for helping them choose a career path in business and helping them find jobs locally.
“Helping hands for growing communities”
The Aboriginal Business Service Network (ABSN) focuses on community and economic development for Aboriginal people. ABSN provides assistance and information to Aboriginal businesses and communities and to non-native organizations who provide services to Aboriginal people.