Rogers ramps up progress along Highway of Tears wireless expansion project
Company accelerates Highway 16 construction with the arrival of two more cellular towers to close coverage gaps and improve safety across northern British Columbia
HAZELTON, British Columbia (April 4, 2022) – Rogers Communications today announced the company will deploy two more cellular towers as it continues ahead with construction of its wireless service expansion project along Highway 16. Rogers crews started construction on the first of 12 new towers last year that will service the area of highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George known as the Highway of Tears. When completed, the additional two towers will provide 26 km of new wireless coverage along Highway 16 southwest of Hazelton.
“When we embarked on this project last summer, we realized the power of our technology to help connect rural, remote and Indigenous communities along this route and what it meant for reconciliation,” said Jorge Fernandes, Chief Technology Officer at Rogers Communications. “We are humbled to be a part of this generational project and we hope that the safety provided by our wireless connectivity will honour survivors, victims and their families and communities and will provide peace of mind and opportunity for everyone moving forward.”
The project will provide 252 km of new cellular coverage across Highway 16, closing key gaps to ensure continuous coverage along all 720 km of the corridor, establishing a safer environment for travel and fulfilling one of the 33 recommendations in the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium report to enhance safety for Indigenous women and girls. Rogers will provide coverage to three provincial highway rest stops at Boulder Creek, Basalt Creek and Sanderson Point.
“I was honoured to join my friends and Rogers last year to mark the beginning of this project and we cannot wait to celebrate its completion,” said Mary Teegee, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) activist. “These towers will provide salvation to many vulnerable people in the area. Connectivity isn’t just cell phones, and this project will be foundational to build further, much needed services like bus routes in the area to make a difference.”
“Connectivity is a critical part of British Columbia’s commitment to public safety, reconciliation and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), particularly along the Highway of Tears,” said Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This project is progressing well thanks to the strong partnership among all levels of government, Rogers and Indigenous leaders, and the inclusion of the Two Sisters Totem poles is a powerful reminder that we will never forget Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
On March 6, 2022, Rogers hosted a roundtable with the federal and provincial governments and First Nations partners to discuss the status and importance of the project and next steps going forward. The Ministers and those in attendance were able to listen to stories and how the work being done will honour the project.
Rogers has sponsored the Two Sisters Totem poles as part of the Highway of Tears Commemoration and Healing Totem Pole series – a project initiated by MMIWG families and the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society (IRSSS). The memorial Totem Poles will be placed at each end of the Highway of Tears – one in Prince George and one in Prince Rupert – and will offer two safe places where families can commemorate and honour their lost loved ones.
“We need to close the connection gap and ensure that every nook and cranny of British Columbia, especially Highway 16, has access to reliable wireless service. Projects like this are key to ensuring women, especially Indigenous women, who are not safe can call for help and receive the services they need. The Government of Canada has made it an utmost priority to ensure safety and connectivity for all Canadians, and last April announced an investment of $4.5 million toward the $11.6-million cost of installing cellular infrastructure to provide cell coverage along the entire corridor of Highway 16. While there is certainly work to be done to ensure the safety and security of all Indigenous women and girls, the cellular tower progress announced today is an important step in the right direction.”
– The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development
Rogers connecting Indigenous, remote and rural communities in BC
Rogers has been working with all levels of government to make network and innovation investments throughout the province, including recent cellular expansion announcements for Highways 14, 95, 97 and 16. Rogers is partnered with the B.C. Government through the Connecting British Columbia program, administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to provide broadband services to underserved Indigenous, remote and rural communities. Rogers and Shaw combined will work to close the digital divide by creating a new $1 billion rural and Indigenous Connectivity Fund to connect communities across Western Canada.
Last year, Rogers announced a partnership with Coastal First Nations (CFN), which will support the growth of a conservation-based economy through improved connectivity. The new partnership includes an additional five new cell towers that will provide more than 100 km of new service coverage along Highway 16 on Haida Gwaii from Masset through Port Clements to Queen Charlotte.
Rogers is a leading Canadian technology and media company that provides world-class communications services and entertainment to consumers and businesses on our award-winning networks. Our founder, Ted Rogers, purchased his first radio station, CHFI, in 1960. Today, we are dedicated to providing industry-leading wireless, cable, sports, and media to millions of customers across Canada. Our shares are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RCI). For more information, please visit: www.rogers.com or http://investors.rogers.com.
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