Nova Scotia

Feds, province to fund long-term care home, high-speed internet in Eskasoni

A new long-term care home and high-speed internet access for 1,200 businesses and households were announced on Tuesday in Eskasoni, N.S. The projects will help the First Nations community thrive, says the federal minister for rural economic development.

Projects will help community thrive, says federal minister for Rural Economic Development

Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny speaks at an announcement about funding for a long-term care home and fibre optic cable in his community. (Brent Kelloway/CBC)

A new long-term care home will be built on the Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton.

The federal and Nova Scotia governments announced funding for the 48-bed facility on Tuesday.

"Our new facility will allow us Mi'kmaq to carry on the tradition of caring for our own within our community," said Chief Leroy Denny. "It has been our vision to be able to provide care that makes the residents feel comfortable and eliminates barriers such as language."

The long-term care home will support Mi'kmaw culture, language and traditions and is the first of its kind for Mi'kmaw people.

It will be designed in a way that provides space for traditional activities with community and family, worship, and service in Mi'kmaq and English.

The installation of fibre optic cable for high-speed internet will serve 1,200 homes and businesses in Eskasoni. (Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

The home, to be called Kiknu — which means "our home" in Mi'kmaq — will be owned by Eskasoni.

Bernadette Jordan, the federal minister of Rural Economic Development, announced almost $20 million for the project and the province is contributing up to $6.6 million.

"Our communities deserve modern infrastructure that allow residents and businesses to thrive," said Jordan.

Construction is expected to begin in 2020.

Fibre optic cable coming

Jordan and Premier Stephen McNeil also announced a second cost-shared infrastructure project, the installation of fibre optic cable for high-speed internet to serve 1,200 homes and businesses in Eskasoni.

"Having modern infrastructure in place to support residents is an important part of helping communities to thrive," said McNeil. "Building a new long-term care home and improving internet service will significantly improve access to services that are critical to the people of Eskasoni for their families and building their economy."

The province is contributing $835,275 toward the fibre optic installation.

This is in addition to just over $2.5 million from the federal government.

'Huge economic driver'

"This will also be a huge economic driver in our community, as it will create much-needed new jobs and that is something my council is always striving for," said Denny.

Indigenous Nova Scotians will be hired to install, maintain and support the network.

"Having a community where the majority of the population are engaged with technology of the day but have limited access has always been a disadvantage until now," said Denny.

"Acquiring our own network with access to high speed and a variety of services at affordable prices will bring our community into present day as far as availability."