TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2021 – Today BMO launched Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ (pronounced: wee-chih-hito-win), its first Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report, reaffirming its commitment to Indigenous peoples across three key pillars that reflect its response to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s call to action for corporate Canada: Education, Employment, and Economic Empowerment. Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ, a Nehiyawewin/Cree term meaning “helping and supporting each other”, reviews the scope of BMO’s engagement with Indigenous communities through the lens of compelling stories from Indigenous customers, employees and community leaders that illustrate societal and economic barriers while also highlighting the many opportunities that exist on the path to reconciliation.
“Today, we are honoured to share Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ, BMO’s first annual Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report. Reflecting our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, this report illustrates the progress we’re making toward our commitment to zero barriers to inclusion – within Indigenous communities and across Canada. Throughout its pages we recognize and celebrate the resilience, innovation and achievements of Indigenous peoples, including many of our customers and employees. As we mark this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are committed to living our values, building trust, accelerating progress and continuing the work of reconciliation,” said Darryl White, CEO, BMO Financial Group.
Education, Employment and Economic Empowerment: Highlights from the Report
- In June, BMO partnered with First Nations University of Canada, to provide an online education course, Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ, free to all Canadians during National Indigenous Peoples Month. An introduction to understanding Canada’s history through Indigenous perspectives, the site was accessed over 20,000 times and was also completed by over 80 per cent of BMO employees in Canada, for a total of 45,000 participants in the course.
- In 2021, BMO doubled its hiring of Indigenous peoples, increasing Indigenous representation from 1.1 per cent to 1.35 per cent towards its 1.6 percent representation goal. To support career advancement, the bank’s Career Pathways program provides tailored support to Indigenous employees
- BMO has a strong and growing presence in 250 communities nationwide. In the past year, the bank experienced 44 per cent year-over-year growth of its Indigenous banking portfolio, with a total value of $6.5 billion – well on its way to achieving its stated goal of reaching $8 billion by 2025
- In support of Indigenous businesses, BMO is increasing the level of procurement of goods and services from Indigenous partners – committed to spending $10 million annually with Indigenous-owned businesses by 2023
- BMO’s commitment to mobilize $300 billion in sustainable financing by 2025 includes lending to Indigenous businesses and communities in the structuring of our Sustainable Bond program. In 2020, 8 per cent of the proceeds of BMO’s first sustainability bond were allocated to Indigenous people, bands, councils, governments and majority-owned businesses
- For advancing Indigenous interests and economic development, this year BMO received Gold Certification in Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR), a program administered by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
BMO has long served Indigenous communities across Canada through its Indigenous Banking Unit. Through its network of branches and business banking offices, both on and off reserve, the bank offers financial education programs for Indigenous young people and elders and accessible financial products and services, including housing and renovation financing, trust services, investment management solutions and long-term financing for on-reserve infrastructure and economic development.
“For decades, BMO has been a leader in providing banking services to Indigenous communities nationwide, and we’re committed to deepening those partnerships, which have been built on trust and mutual respect,” said Mike Bonner, Head, Canadian Business Banking and Co-Chair, Indigenous Advisory Council. “Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ highlights the work we are doing in partnership with Indigenous communities and BMO’s Indigenous Advisory Council in a number of key areas. From unique customer programs that improve access to financial products and services, to increasing representation of Indigenous peoples across our workforce in Canada, to important strides in employee education, community outreach and our procurement policies, we continue to take action toward creating an inclusive society that supports the progress of Indigenous peoples in Canada.”
On September 30, along with the rest of Canada, BMO and its employees will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an occasion to reflect on our shared history and its impacts and reaffirm our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. Click here to view the full Report.
To listen to a podcast about understanding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, click here.
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 $971 billion as of July 31, 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.
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