We believe the internet helps address serious social and economic needs. But too often, the digital divide mirrors existing inequities.

The first-annual Digital Access Day is bringing together thought-leaders from NGOs, the tech sector, government, universities, and those most affected by the digital divide to talk about good work already underway, identify what else can be done, and measure progress.

This year we will be focusing on addressing access for rural, remote and Indigenous communities, affordability, and digital literacy.


Registration and coffee


Welcome: Catherine Clark
Opening Remarks: Franca Palazzo, Zeina Osman, Shelley Robinson
Keynote: Byron Holland, CIRA


DAD talks and Q&A: Indigenous Connectivity

DAD talks are like TED talks, consisting of two ten-minute presentations that give information and context on a specific element of digital access, followed by a moderated question and answer period.

Indigenous communities are finding ways to connect themselves to the internet on their own terms. What are some of those models? What are the challenges they’re facing? And how are they harnessing the internet to further empower their communities?

Ken Sanderson, Broadband Communications North
Mark Buell, Internet Society

Moderator: Terry Ansari, Digital Strategist




DAD talks and Q&A: Digital Access Research

There are a number of different ways to measure digital access, digital adoption, connectivity, and digital literacy. Here we dig into some of that work. How do you blend relevant qualitative and quantitative data? How do you measure change? And is data capturing the whole story?

Nisa Malli, Brookfield Institute
Marina Pavlovic, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Mary Cavanaugh, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa

Moderator: Lena Trudeau, Nuage Strategies


Panel Discussion: Digital Literacy — In a world of smart technology, how smart are we really?

Connectivity is meaningless if people don’t understand how to use it. As such, digital literacy is one of the central challenges to digital access. And there is a spectrum of digital literacy, from people learning to use a mouse for the first time and accessing basic online services, to projects that teach kids how to code or seniors how to become digital animators, to citizens learning to participate in the multi-stakeholder model of International internet governance.

For this panel we’ll bring together a range of experts who can speak to who has been left behind, as well as practitioners on the frontlines of ensuring everyone has an opportunity to learn how to understand and use the internet in the way that best suits them.

Candice Blackwood, Ottawa Public Library
Eric Craven, Atwater Library
Lena Trudeau, Nuage Strategies
Nisa Malli, Brookfield Institute

Moderator: Shelley Robinson, National Capital FreeNet




Keynote: Florencia Herra-Vega, Peerio


Safety, Surveillance and Privacy Panel

Part of true digital access is feeling safe online. What does digital access mean in an age of mass data breaches, the threat of ransomware, online harassment and trading personal data for free online services? Are some communities more affected than others? How do people protect themselves without losing access?

Alex MacEachern, ICTC
Florencia Herra-Vega, Peerio
Ret. Lt. General S.A Stuart Beare, Accenture
Faud Khan, TwelveDot

Moderator: David Fewer, CIPPIC




Facilitated Table Talk & Discussion: Catherine Clark


Keynote: Brian Hall, NYC Mesh


Panel: Affordability — what’s the cost if you can’t connect?

Prices for internet keep going up. And studies have shown that some people are scrimping on food in order to pay for their connections. Others struggle to cram their online lives into the confines of cellphone screens and limited data plans as a way to keep costs down, using free (but insecure) wifi at coffeeshops or at the library when they’re open. This limits digital access. This panel will talk about the Canadian internet marketplace and what could be done better, as well as featuring people who are working to making internet more affordable for everyone.

Zeina Osman, CompCorps
Chris Hickey, CNOC
Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair
Blaine Cameron, ACORN

Moderator: Rodney Macdonald, Intuit


Closing Remarks: Catherine Clark



Digital Access Day is a project of National Capital FreeNet, CompuCorps Mentoring, and the Internet Society Canada Chapter.

Organize by:

compucorps  national capital freenet Internet Society Canada

Thank you to our Sponsors:

internet society      Intuit        


This event would not be possible without the generosity of the Community Investment Program through CIRA.