In 2001, the Liberal government began supporting research conducted on Industry Canada’s CANARIE ultra-high-speed network to develop methods to improve the quality of education in remote and indigenous communities. The Rural Advanced Community of Learners (RACOL) project was one such landmark in distance education, cultural exchange, and community enrichment.
RACOL overcame limited local resources and vast distances to bring together students and teachers in the Fort Vermilion school district – an area about twice the size of Denmark – using broadband technology. It enabled the math teacher in High Level, the physics teacher in La Crete, the trades instructor in Rainbow Lake to teach all the students of this vast region in synchronous learning. It also set the stage for a sharing of storytelling and indigenous knowledge (e.g. environmental issues) not just within the district, but also with the rest of Canada. Revitalization of this approach can bring immediate results to the Liberal’s mandate to ensure quality of education for First Nations students.