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A nearly $84-million project has been announced to bring high-speed Internet to 112 rural and northern Manitoba communities.

Several dignitaries spoke at the announcement at the Millenium Library this morning.

"High-speed Internet is critically important to the health transformation and education work the MKO has been directed to do in partnership with the Government of Canada and our MKO First Nations. Long-term success and sustainability depends on a pool of highly trained and educated First Nations youth to advance health transformation in the north," said MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson.

Forty-eight of the 112 communities to receive high-speed Internet capabilities are First Nations.

"The prosperity of Canadians depends increasingly on their access to high-quality, high-speed Internet. Affordable, high-speed Internet can no longer be considered a luxury. The Internet is a basic tool, it is a basic and essential tool for all Canadians, regardless of where they live," said federal innovation minister Navdeep Bains. He also said Manitoba has the greatest connectivity gap in the country.

The project is part of the federal government's five-year Connect to Innovate program.

The Manitoba government is contributing $20-million, including an in-kind contribution from Manitoba Hydro. Hydro will allow Clear Sky Connections, a Manitoba First Nations-owned and-operated service provider, to use existing fibre-optic infrastructure and related assets. In addition to the federal and provincial governments, ClearSky/RFNOW, INAC, Wawanesa Mutual Insurance, and The Winnipeg Foundation are contributing funds.