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At a May 1997 press conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, File Hills Internet was officially launched. The company is currently the largest, non-government Internet provider in Saskatchewan.
File Hills Internet is owned by five Saskatchewan First Nations: the Peepeekisis First Nation, Okanese First Nation, Carry the Kettle First Nation, Little Black Bear First Nation and the Starblanket First Nation. The company was initiated in 1995 by the Peepeekisis First Nation. It was started to serve the Internet needs of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).
Since those humble beginnings, the company has evolved significantly. File Hills now provides Internet access to a variety of large customers. Cable Regina, DLC West and MicroCity are among their clients who then pass on the service to their own customers, typically home users and small businesses. In addition, File Hills provides direct access to a number of large businesses and corporations.
"Whenever someone at home goes on to the Internet and they are not buying a service from SaskTel, they are going through our system," said File Hills spokesman Chief Eugene Poitras.
File Hills is also working to make Internet and intranet a staple for all small, medium and large businesses. "It is definitely the direction every business in Saskatchewan will have to go and we are poised to be a leader in this province in helping business embrace the most revolutionary new technology we've seen this century," says Chief Poitras.
And, to make sure that they remain on the forefront of technological advancement, File Hills Internet has partnered with some of the most powerful technology companies in North America. The company has formalized partnerships with grouptelecom, Silicon Graphics Inc. and Netscape Corporation. These organizations will work with File Hills to facilitate its anticipated province-wide expansion.
"The partnership between group-telecom and File Hills Internet Inc. is representative of the positive and rapid changes the Internet is having on the marketplace," says Mike Patterson, Vice-President, Operations for grouptelecom. "This alliance provides clients more reliable and fast access onto the Internet."
While the company is on the verge of major success in the province, its founders have not forgotten their roots. Chief Poitras says, "We have been working for two years ensuring that the First Nations in this province are taking advantage of this powerful new technology and that experience will be an asset to others in Saskatchewan."
File Hills is also continuing its relationship with the FSIN. The partnership involves implementation of an extensive communications system using Internet and intranet technology. FSIN Chief Blaine Favel says, "This partnership will help the Federation make a technology leap into the 21st century. With this technology, our children will have new and exciting education and job opportunities."
"What these partnerships mean is that few organizations in Western Canada can offer the expertise and experience we now offer to anyone who is wanting Internet and intranet to become the back-bone of their everyday business environment," says Chief Poitras.
File Hills Telecommunications Corporation, a sister company, is now developing a major telecommunications hub for Western Canada. By building on this service, it is only a matter of time before File Hills Internet reaches its next goal-expanding its services to include all of Western Canada.