As a digital nation, Canada has a lot to be proud of. From the inception of the public Internet, our nation has been among the world's leaders in both usage and the development of new online technologies. Perhaps it's because of our geography, or maybe it's the weather (who hasn't binged entire seasons of House of Cards on a cold January weekend?), but we have taken to the Internet in ways many of our global counterparts haven't.
While there is room for improvement – see CIRA's recently released Internet Performance Test to find out firsthand – I believe that few nations around the world can compare to Canada when it comes to innovative ways to use the Internet to enhance the lives of those in our communities. That's why I'm particularly proud of CIRA's .CA Community Investment Program (CIP), our two-year old initiative to support community-based initiatives that enhance the Internet for Canadians.
This year, we will award 25 deserving organizations a total of more than $1 million. The individual projects are as diverse as Canada itself. From the University of Ottawa's Cyberjustice canadienne : Des solutions face à la cyberintimidation et l'anonymat en ligne,to an initiative called Digital Girls to address the gender gap that exists in the technology field, the projects span Canada's geography, cultural and linguistic make-up, and strive to help virtually all Canadians enjoy a better Internet experience.
You can read about all of this year's CIP recipients here. These projects are smart, community-driven and innovative solutions that recognize the value the Internet provides to Canadians.
The Internet has become a vital tool for social development. And as the CIP projects illustrates, a robust, free and open Internet has the potential to make a real difference in peoples' lives. I hope that as we work with more organizations that receive CIP funding (54 to date, including the 2014 and 2015 recipients), we can build on their commitment to not just celebrate and support innovative use of the Internet, but that we can also turn our collective attention to ensuring the Internet remains this vital tool – it has simply become too important for us to take for granted.