MONTREAL, June 16, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - BMO Financial Group today announced a new partnership with the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) to build a centre focused on economic prosperity and social innovation that aims to contribute to the economic self-sufficiency of Indigenous communities and businesses across Canada.
"BMO and NWAC have created a long-term partnership with the potential to make a significant contribution to the economic development of Indigenous communities. It is also an opportunity to support the economic resilience of Indigenous Peoples while promoting entrepreneurship and training initiatives among Indigenous women," said Mark Shadeed, Vice President, Indigenous Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "We want to help create an environment that promotes a culture of success without complexity. With these bold goals, we need to take action and invest in this community to help make a difference in their lives and in their businesses."
A loan provided through BMO's Indigenous Banking unit will help construct NWAC's new Indigenous Women's Social and Economic Innovation Centre, located at 120 Promenade du Portage in the heart of Gatineau, Quebec's government and business district. The Centre will serve as a hub to empower Indigenous women and communities, helping to contribute to their economic stability, security and independence. In addition to housing offices and meeting rooms, the new NWAC building will include a library archive that will house records related to the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) crisis and provide research and youth representation services as well as legal services related to gender identity. The centre will also serve as a business incubator and provide cutting-edge entrepreneurship and employment training initiatives, advocacy, and service delivery and revenue generation.
"Having a permanent home changes everything for NWAC," said Lynne Groulx, CEO, Native Women's Association of Canada. "NWAC has expanded exponentially in recent years, growing from 12 employees to over 80 by early 2020. Under the circumstances, we had to act quickly and find a new, larger office space to accommodate the new staff and to scale up our programs and projects to better support Indigenous communities. This new centre will provide a multitude of opportunities for our non-profit organization. The revenue generated from the building alone will be unprecedented and enable us to continue supporting the community."
"None of this could have been possible without the support of BMO," she added.
BMO is committed to progress for Indigenous communities across three pillars that reflect our response to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission calls to action for corporate Canada: employment, education and economic empowerment. An Indigenous Advisory Council comprised of First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders nationwide guides and advises BMO in relation to these three areas of focus. Key initiatives and outcomes include:
Education – In 2020 BMO introduced Nisitohtamowin, an eLearning that provides an introduction to understanding Indigenous perspectives in Canada. To date nearly 25,000 employees and 80% of our Canadian workforce have completed the learning. In partnership with First Nations University of Canada and Reconciliation Education we have made Nisitohtamowin available to the Canadian public as a free educational resource in recognition of National Indigenous History Month. In addition to the eLearning initiative, BMO is providing a $250,000 gift that will enable FNUniv to provide financial assistance and supports to Indigenous students through their academic year, including entrance level scholarships, Indigenous business student scholarships, and emergency bursaries.
Employment – BMO is growing Indigenous representation through targeted hiring and retention programs such as the launch of a technology hub last year that enables Indigenous employees to work in remotely from home, including on reserve, and the Miikana Career Pathways program that offers tailored career coaching and advice.
Economic empowerment – We have set a goal to double our Indigenous Banking business from $4B to $8B. We now stand at more than $6.4 billion in support of residential programs, infrastructure builds, economic development, green/sustainable development projects and more. And in 2020, we introduced a new Indigenous banking program offering discounted services to Indigenous customers.
BMO supports Indigenous communities with more than $13 million in pledges and contributions to areas including education, healthcare, and more. BMO is the only bank to have received Gold level Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) six consecutive times.
About the Native Women's Association of Canada
The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) is a national Indigenous organization whose goal is to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women as well as gender diverse people. Through advocacy, policy and legislative analysis, NWAC works to preserve Indigenous culture and advance the well-being of all Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, as well as their families and communities.
About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $950 billion as of April 30, 2021, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.
SOURCE BMO Financial Group
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