McGill student calls for internet upgrade for Nunavik as pandemic moves work, school online

·2 min read

Most of Andrea Brazeau's classmates studying at McGill University have the luxury of staying at home this term to take online classes.

But Brazeau, who comes from a small Inuit community in northern Quebec, doesn't have that option.

The fourth year student in the faculty of education tested the internet speed at her apartment in Montreal and found it to be more than 2,000 times faster than her father's connection in Kangiqsualujjuaq, in Nunavik.

And she's fed up, so much so that she's urging Quebec's premier to follow up on a 2018 election promise to do something about it.

For months, the provincial government has tried to hammer home the message that Quebecers should stay home as much as possible.

But with universities having moved toward online classes, Brazeau has had to move to Montreal, because the internet connection back home is unbearably slow.

"From basic emailing, to loading videos to online banking, it's impossible," she told CBC's Breakaway on Thursday.

Brazeau wrote an open letter to Quebec Premier François Legault — who promised during the last provincial election campaign to provide all Quebecers with high speed internet by 2022 — not only asking him to follow through on his pledge, but to be transparent if things don't go according to plan.

Last month, two members of Legault's cabinet, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon and Marie-Ève Proulx, who's in charge of regional economic development, contradicted the premier's recent claim that the original election promise would be kept.

This weekend, Legault reiterated his promise while addressing party supporters during a virtual CAQ party convention, this time without specifying a timeline.

"We want to be informed, we want honesty," Brazeau said. "If you're not taking any steps, tell us anyway, tell us why we're not taking any steps. We want transparency."

For Brazeau, the pandemic has proven how essential a reliable internet connection is, with more people going online to apply for federal benefits, order groceries and to interact with others.

"We weren't able to do any of this," she said. "It's unfair."

Brazeau hasn't heard back from the premier, but she's confident she will — eventually.

"I am going to keep fighting until I do hear from him, I am not going to give up."

Listen to the full interview with Andrea Brazeau here: