Celebrating 40 years of connecting the North.

We’re saying thank you to our customers and our employees for 40 years of northern innovation. From rotary phones to smartphones, northerners continue to connect in new ways. Explore the stories of those who helped make it happen. Thank you for being a part of it.
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Meet our people
For these northerners, it’s more than a job. It’s about building their community.
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Special thank you offers
We’re saying thanks with these 40th celebration promotions.
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40 years of innovation
Explore key milestones and images in this interactive timeline.
Learn More >

Meet our people

For these northerners, it’s more than a job. It’s about building their community.

Meet Kathy

21 years connecting northerners
Nunavut
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When Inuktitut-speaking customers in Nunavut call Northwestel’s Customer Care Centre, they usually end up speaking to Kathy Anilniliak.

“The need for Inuktitut services is really strong right now. We’re trying to keep our language alive,” Kathy says.

She got her start with the company as a toll operator when she was just 19 years old. One day, she was asked to cover a shift in the call centre when another representative was sick. And she’s been doing it ever since, 21 years later.

“Part of my decision for staying in this position I’m in for so long is that I love my job – I’ve loved it since day 1.”

Meet Hauke

27 years connecting northerners
Yukon
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The evolution of Northwestel’s fibre network in the early 2000s is a legacy that has Northwestel’s Senior Network Planner Hauke Kruse written all over it.

“We knew we needed to expand capacity to keep up with the demand,” Hauke recalls.

“There were a few ways to do that - fibre was one of the solutions I believed in.”

The initial goal was to build a fully functioning fibre link from the Yukon to southern Canada. The first stretch of this was completed in 2001, from Whitehorse to Carmacks. From there, it kept going. Hundreds of kilometres of fibre were laid until 2009 when it was officially completed.

“Through rain, sleet or snow the mail must get through, the old saying goes. For Northwestel, one might say something similar – through rain, rocks, wetlands and streams, the fibre must get through. And it did.” –  Northwestel’s Infoline employee newsletter, August 2009.

That same link was eventually connected to the Northwest Territories and continues to grow, with planning currently underway to connect Dawson City to Inuvik, forming a fully redundant fibre loop.

“Looking back it seems a bit silly… how can you have an internet network without fibre? But that was the case back then. We’ve come a long way,” Hauke says.

Meet Wes and Roxanne

60+ years connecting northerners
Northwest Territories
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Northwestel tagline “bringing us together” has a whole new meaning for Wes and Roxanne Brandvold — who met while working for the company.

The two Brandvold’s are long-time Northwestel employees who have more than 60 years of experience at the company between the two of them.

While they owe it to Northwestel for bringing them together, speaking to the pair it is pretty obvious that their passion for the company goes beyond their 26 years of marriage.

Both have worked in many positions in several departments over the years varying from Information Technology (IT), Marketing and Operations.

“This company is very good for that - if you’re willing to step outside the box and show that you can work hard, they are willing to give you a shot in any job, if you want it. That’s one of the reasons I chose to stay with Northwestel for so long,” Roxanne says.

And above all, Yellowknife has been home to the Brandvold’s.

As Wes puts it, “Yellowknife is a social, cool place to live. I don’t think there could be a better place to work to tell you the truth.”

When Inuktitut-speaking customers in Nunavut call Northwestel’s Customer Care Centre, they usually end up speaking to Kathy Anilniliak.

“The need for Inuktitut services is really strong right now. We’re trying to keep our language alive,” Kathy says.

She got her start with the company as a toll operator when she was just 19 years old. One day, she was asked to cover a shift in the call centre when another representative was sick. And she’s been doing it ever since, 21 years later.

“Part of my decision for staying in this position I’m in for so long is that I love my job – I’ve loved it since day 1.”

The evolution of Northwestel’s fibre network in the early 2000s is a legacy that has Northwestel’s Senior Network Planner Hauke Kruse written all over it.

“We knew we needed to expand capacity to keep up with the demand,” Hauke recalls.

“There were a few ways to do that - fibre was one of the solutions I believed in.”

The initial goal was to build a fully functioning fibre link from the Yukon to southern Canada. The first stretch of this was completed in 2001, from Whitehorse to Carmacks. From there, it kept going. Hundreds of kilometres of fibre were laid until 2009 when it was officially completed.

“Through rain, sleet or snow the mail must get through, the old saying goes. For Northwestel, one might say something similar – through rain, rocks, wetlands and streams, the fibre must get through. And it did.” – Northwestel’s Infoline employee newsletter, August 2009.

That same link was eventually connected to the Northwest Territories and continues to grow, with planning currently underway to connect Dawson City to Inuvik, forming a fully redundant fibre loop.

“Looking back it seems a bit silly… how can you have an internet network without fibre? But that was the case back then. We’ve come a long way,” Hauke says.

Northwestel tagline “bringing us together” has a whole new meaning for Wes and Roxanne Brandvold — who met while working for the company.

The two Brandvold’s are longtime Northwestel employees who have more than 60 years of experience at the company between the two of them.

While they owe it to Northwestel for bringing them together, speaking to the pair it is pretty obvious that their passion for the company goes beyond their 26 years of marriage.

Both have worked in many positions in several departments over the years varying from Information Technology (IT), Marketing and Operations.

“This company is very good for that - if you’re willing to step outside the box and show that you can work hard, they are willing to give you a shot in any job, if you want it. That’s one of the reasons I chose to stay with Northwestel for so long,” Roxanne says.

And above all, Yellowknife has been home to the Brandvold’s.

As Wes puts it, “Yellowknife is a social, cool place to live. I don’t think there could be a better place to work to tell you the truth.”

Meet Ken

24 years connecting northerners
Yukon
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For decades, the Arctic Winter Games has been bringing communities together.

As a longtime partner, Northwestel has been helping in that effort.

Over time, the Games has evolved – and Northwestel’s support along with it.

Ken Todd is Northwestel’s Director of Information Technology (IT). He joined the company in 1995 and eventually became involved with the Arctic Winter Games.

“My first Arctic Winter Games, we handed out calling cards so athletes could phone home. Now a successful Games means enough Wi-Fi for hundreds of people.”

In 2018, Todd and his team deployed remotely-monitored networks at venues in Fort Smith and Hay River – a first for the Games.

Meet Carol

20 years connecting northerners
Northwest Territories
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Before broadband Internet, Northwestel helped create a Wide Area Network (WAN) connecting more than 50 communities across the North.

In the mid-1990s, the Government of the Northwest Territories began soliciting proposals for a network that would connect their offices, health, and educational facilities across the territory.

Northwestel, along with Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. and Northern Aboriginal Services Company developed Ardicom - a northern, 2/3 Aboriginally-owned business partnership.

Working together as Ardicom, the partners successfully submitted a network plan, designed to connect all 58 communities in the Northwest Territories. It would also introduce video conferencing to the North.

Ardicom General Manager Carol Wrigglesworth started with the company by facilitating early video conferences – a more complicated process than it is today.

“We developed an online booking system to plan the meetings. Once a video conference was scheduled and agreed to by both parties, a technician would need to be on site in each location to set up the equipment and maintain the connection.”

It also caught the interest of the Yukon Government, for whom a similar network would eventually be set up, effectively laying the groundwork for future networks and connection services across the North.

Meet Kimberly

3 years connecting northerners
Nunavut
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The Embrace Life Council is making mental health top of mind in Nunavut.

For 15 years, the Embrace Life Council has been offering resources and education for front line workers, teachers, and professionals.

The Council works closely with the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line – a 24/7 mental health resource for Nunavummiut facing a crisis.

In 2017, Northwestel and Bell Canada committed $250,000 to help the Council introduce a new resource to Nunavut.

SafeTALK is suicide alertness training for anyone over age 15. Participants are trained to recognize signs that someone is suicidal, and how to connect them with life-saving resources.

Kimberly Masson is a certified safeTALK trainer and was the Embrace Life Council’s Executive Director in 2017.

“Trained safeTALK helpers point Nunavummiut who are struggling towards additional resources that encourage and promote life. My dream is to see every person over the age of 15 in Nunavut trained as a safeTALK helper.”

For decades, the Arctic Winter Games has been bringing communities together.

As a longtime partner, Northwestel has been helping in that effort.

Over time, the Games has evolved – and Northwestel’s support along with it.

“My first Arctic Winter Games, we handed out calling cards so athletes could phone home. Now a successful Games means enough Wi-Fi for hundreds of people.”

Ken Todd is Northwestel’s Director of Information Technology (IT). He joined the company in 1995 and eventually became involved with the Arctic Winter Games.

In 2018, Todd and his team deployed remotely-monitored networks at venues in Fort Smith and Hay River – a first for the Games.

Before broadband Internet, Northwestel helped create a Wide Area Network (WAN) connecting more than 50 communities across the North.

In the mid-1990s, the Government of the Northwest Territories began soliciting proposals for a network that would connect their offices, health, and educational facilities across the territory.

Northwestel, along with Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. and northern Aboriginal Services Company developed Ardicom - a northern, 2/3 Aboriginally-owned business partnership.

Working together as Ardicom, the partners successfully submitted a network plan, designed to connect all 58 communities in the Northwest Territories. It would also introduce video conferencing to the North.

Ardicom General Manager Carol Wrigglesworth started with the company by facilitating early video conferences – a more complicated process than it is today.

“We developed an online booking system to plan the meetings. Once a video conference was scheduled and agreed to by both parties, a technician would need to be on site in each location to set up the equipment and maintain the connection.”

It also caught the interest of the Yukon Government, for whom a similar network would eventually be set up, effectively laying the groundwork for future networks and connection services across the North.

The Embrace Life Council is making mental health top of mind in Nunavut.

For 15 years, the Embrace Life Council has been offering resources and education for front line workers, teachers, and professionals.

The Council works closely with the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line – a 24/7 mental health resource for Nunavummiut facing a crisis.

In 2017, Northwestel and Bell Canada committed $250,000 to help the Council introduce a new resource to Nunavut.

SafeTALK is suicide alertness training for anyone over age 15. Participants are trained to recognize signs that someone is suicidal, and how to connect them with life-saving resources.

Kimberly Masson is a certified safeTALK trainer and was the Embrace Life Council’s Executive Director in 2017.

“Trained safeTALK helpers point Nunavummiut who are struggling towards additional resources that encourage and promote life. My dream is to see every person over the age of 15 in Nunavut trained as a safeTALK helper.”

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Our history

Explore key milestones and images in this interactive timeline
1979
Official operations

Northwest Telecommunications Inc. officially begins operations in the North. The wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian National is widely known as Northwestel.

Touch-tone phones for northerners

Northwestel becomes one of the first Canadian telephone companies with touch-tone phones in the homes of 50% of its customers.

1987
Northwestel joins Bell Canada

The company joins Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE Inc.), continuing to serve customers as Northwestel.

1988
Northwestel adds eastern Arctic Canada to its operations

Northwestel assumes control of eastern Arctic operations from Bell Canada, creating the largest operating area for a telephone company in the western hemisphere.

1992
1994
56k modem technology

56k modem technology creates high-speed connections in Fort Nelson, Whitehorse, and Yellowknife, paving the way for new possibilities like wide area networking and video conferencing.

Branching out

Branching out: Northwestel becomes the first telephone company in Canada to obtain a cable television license.

1996
1997
Connecting all 58 Northwest Territories communities

Ardicom Digital Communications (1/3 owned by Northwestel) builds a wide area network (WAN) for the Government of the Northwest Territories to connect all 58 Northwest Territories communities. It also introduces video conferencing to the North, making distance education and health services possible.

867 area code

The 867 area code is created for residents North of the 60th parallel.

1998
The first cable modem

The first cable modem connection in the North goes online in Yellowknife.

2000
2001
$85 million Service Improvement Plan

Investing in infrastructure: Through its $85 million Service Improvement Plan, Northwestel brings basic phone service to unserved communities. The company also partners with the Yukon Government to bring high-speed Internet service to 9 Yukon communities.

Dial-up in Grise Fiord, NU

Dial-up Internet service comes to Grise Fiord, NU - the northern-most civilian settlement in Canada.

2004
High-speed Internet comes to Stewart Crossing

High-speed Internet comes to Stewart Crossing, making Yukon the only province or territory in Canada with high-speed Internet in every community.

2007
More fibre, plus On Demand is launched

Construction is completed on a full fibre-optic cable link from the Yukon to southern Canada, significantly increasing available Internet speeds.

Northwestel On Demand service is launched in Whitehorse and Yellowknife.

2009
Fibre from Hay River to Fort Nelson

A new fibre-optic line connecting Hay River, NWT, with Fort Nelson, B.C. helps improve network reliability.

2011
2012
Fibre over the Deh Cho Bridge

Construction is completed on a new fibre-optic cable link across the Deh Cho Bridge, connecting Yellowknife to Edmonton and bringing more reliable Internet to the Northwest Territories.

5-year $233 million Modernization Plan

Northwestel announces the Modernization Plan - a 5-year $233 million project to improve telecommunication services across the North.

2013
2013
Remote microwave site with solar energy

Following a study by Yukon College and the Yukon Government, Northwestel launches a pilot project to power a remote microwave site with solar energy.

Olympian Clara Hughes’ Big Ride

Olympian Clara Hughes’ Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk visits all three territories with $100,000 in support from Northwestel.

2014
Online chat service for customers

Connect with a tech: Northwestel launches an online chat service for customers.

2015
911 service across the Yukon

The Yukon Government partners with Northwestel to provide 911 service across the territory.

2016
The launch of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link

The Government of Northwest Territories and Northwestel launch the 1,154 km long Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link, connecting southern Canada with Inuvik, NWT.

2017
2018
Connecting all 25 communities in Nunavut to broadband Internet

The Tamarmik Nunaliit network launches in Iqaluit, NU. Thanks to $49.9 million in funding from Canada’s Connect to Innovate program, the network will connect all 25 communities in Nunavut to broadband Internet.