The Kinistin Saulteaux Nation, roughly 124 kilometres south east of Prince Albert, Sask., is using a new phone app to keep band members on and off reserve informed of community happenings, job opportunities and other general information.
Band leaders recently partnered with a company from Edmonton to create the app.
"We were looking to increase our communication with our First Nations both on reserve and off reserve," Chief Felix Thomas said on Tuesday.
"Because of COVID our office has been shut down so we don't have a lot of ability to communicate on a daily basis."
Though COVID-19 restrictions have lifted in Saskatchewan and the band offices are open again, Thomas said the application is being used to limit traffic at the office to keep staff and residents safe.
Allowing the band to stay touch with off-reserve members was appealing too. Sometimes those not in Kinistin itself — about half the band's total population — can feel disconnected, he said.
"We want to make sure they consider Kinistin their home and Kinistin considers them as band members," Thomas said.
The app went live in late April and has since seen good growth in the community, Thomas said, with roughly one-third of the band's population already registered.
Kinistin Saulteaux Nation communications officer Simone Cote said she was responsible for deciding what information would be posted on the app. Posts include community notices, event information, post-secondary funding applications and job postings, among other things shared by the chief, councilors or operations staff.
One benefit to the app, she said, is its lack of comment section.
Members are still able to contact the band office through a form in the app. Cote said so far it has mostly been used by members updating their contact information or addresses.
Thomas said the app is a good way to communicate with younger band members.
"Facebook has largely been taken over by the older population," Thomas said.
"There's a lot of people that have logged off Facebook, whether they use Snapchat or Instagram or the other social medias. This is one tool that as an app, appeals more to them."