#ImmigrationMatters in Northern Canada – Bringing connectivity to Canada’s North

#ImmigrationMatters in Northern Canada

Samer Bishay bridges the digital divide by bringing cellular networks to remote northern communities.

Bringing connectivity to Canada’s North


Samer Bishay

The internet helps keep Canadians connected, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. But getting a stable connection can be hard for people in remote communities across northern Canada.

For Samer Bishay, improving internet access in Canada’s North is his passion. As the founder and chief of Iristel and Ice Wireless—one of Canada’s largest and fastest-growing telecommunications companies—Samer brings high-speed internet to places like Iqaluit and Inuvik, where access is limited.

“The lack of infrastructure in Canada’s North puts the population at risk during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Samer, so he has worked to advance the community’s telecommunications capacity at a time when it is needed the most.

When COVID-19 arrived in Canada, Samer expanded the cellular network in Iqaluit, providing a fast, affordable, and reliable internet connection. Iqaluit resident Gordon Parrill says, “Ice Wireless delivered an unlimited data cellular plan that allowed people to cut their costs by as much as 75%. I like to think it was Samer’s gift to Iqaluit.”

Since starting the company in 1999 in Markham, Ontario, Samer has made it his goal to bridge the digital divide so Canadians across the country can stay connected.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti applauds Samer’s impact. “As a community, we are deeply proud of Samer’s contributions to Markham and Canada. Samer’s company has invested in a significant development project (a 5-storey office building) that will add more high-quality jobs to Markham’s tech economy.”

Born in Egypt, Samer immigrated to Canada with his family when he was 12. “The Canadian dream is available to anyone who can risk starting a business and commit to it over the long run,” says Samer. “I chose to dedicate my life to helping other people connect through affordable and accessible telecommunications products and services.”

Before starting Iristel, Samer graduated from York University and worked as an engineer at the Canadian Space Agency. He has won many awards, including Profit Magazine’s Young Entrepreneur Award as the youngest CEO among the Top Profit 100 companies in Canada. He credits much of his success to living in a country that is rich with opportunity.

Immigration profile: Canada’s business sector

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants account for 33% of all business owners with paid staff, creating important local jobs in all sectors of our economy.
  • There are more than 600,000 self-employed immigrants across the country, and over 260,000 of them have paid employees.
  • More than 47,000 immigrants occupy senior management roles across the country.
  • Nearly 500,000 immigrants working in Canada are trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

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