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BMO Releases wîcihitowin - 3rd Annual Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report and Announces New Indigenous Advisory Council Members
  • Report highlights BMO's focus on advancing Indigenous education, employment, and economic empowerment
  • New members of Indigenous Advisory Council include leaders from across Canada

TORONTO, Sept. 14, 2023 /CNW/ - BMO today released wîcihitowin (pronounced: wee-chih-hito-win), its 3rd annual Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report. BMO engages with Indigenous customers, colleagues, and communities across three pillars—Education, Employment and Economic Empowerment—that rest on a platform of Zero Barriers to Inclusion for all. A nehiyawewin/Cree term meaning "helping and supporting each other", wîcihitowin highlights BMO's partnerships with and commitment to Indigenous communities with inspiring stories from Indigenous customers, employees, and community leaders.

As well, BMO announced six new members of its Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC). The IAC's vision has been intrinsic to the development of BMO's Indigenous Strategy and remains essential to driving sustainable progress in economic empowerment for Indigenous communities and customers, Indigenous employment, and education that includes recognition of Indigenous cultures and shared history.

Joining the BMO IAC are:

  • Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
  • Chief Willie Sellars, children's author and Chief of Williams Lake First Nations
  • Carol Anne Hilton, author and Founder & CEO of the Indigenomics Institute
  • Tabatha Bull, CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
  • Nadir André, partner and national leader of the Aboriginal Law Group at Borden, Ladner Gervais
  • Denis Carignan, Co-Founder of PLATO, one of Canada's largest employers of Indigenous IT professionals

"We welcome the newest members of BMO's Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC), whose advice and guidance are fundamental to our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation," said Darryl White, CEO, BMO Financial Group. "At the same time, we're honoured to share the progress and the steps we're taking towards deeper understanding, economic empowerment, and eliminating barriers to inclusion in partnership with Indigenous customers, communities and colleagues."

"I believe that success for my community comes from focusing on the future, and as a member of BMO's Indigenous Advisory Council I apply that focus to advise the bank on policies and practices that support economic development and opportunity for Indigenous peoples," said Chief Roy Whitney Onespot, Chief of the Tsuut'ina Nation, and member of the BMO IAC. "Banks have a large role to play in society. BMO's leadership matters and will have an impact on Indigenous education, careers, and economic advancement."

"For more than thirty years, BMO's Indigenous Banking Unit (IBU) has partnered with Indigenous communities across Canada, advancing economic independence and helping customers and partners shape their futures," said Michael Bonner, Head, BMO Canadian Business Banking, Head, Enterprise Indigenous Strategy. "Through long-time relationships and a wide network of branches and business banking offices, both on and off reserve, we offer financial education programs to Indigenous communities, and we continue to innovate with accessible financial products and services, including housing financing, investment management solutions, and long-term financing for on-reserve infrastructure and economic development."

The report features the stories of BMO clients and employees who are thriving in their fields, including Jenn Harper, founder of Cheekbone Beauty, a cosmetics industry success story, and Benjamin Feagin Jr., who built his company, AgriTech North, to address food insecurity in the north by reducing food costs. Chief Darcy Bear recounts Whitecap Dakota Nation's journey to self-government and shares a powerful story of economic growth and prosperity over the years. As well, BMO Branch Manager Jermaine Kootenay shares his career journey, which began when he was a teenage single father and has led him to a leadership role at BMO affording him the opportunity to affect the working lives of many Indigenous colleagues.

Education, Employment and Economic Empowerment: Highlights from the Report

  • Together with First Nations University of Canada and Reconciliation Education, BMO provides an online introductory education course, Nisitohtamowin. Taken from the Cree word for "understanding," Nisitohtamowin provides an overview of 500 years of colonial history in Canada from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples. The course has been completed by more than 90 per cent of BMO employees to date and thousands of members of the public.

  • In support of education, BMO has contributed $5.1 million to awards and scholarships, out of a total of $19 million in donations and pledges to Indigenous causes across Canada.

  • BMO has expanded its efforts to recruit and retain Indigenous employees by: increasing the number of remote roles available to Indigenous candidates; creating new internship opportunities for Indigenous candidates in Engineering and Planning and Technology and Operations through a partnership with Amazon Web Services and PLATO; and providing tailored support to Indigenous employees through the bank's Miikana Career Pathways program.

  • BMO provides banking services to 270 Indigenous communities nationwide. BMO has more than $230 million in authorized loans for housing purposes in Indigenous communities, including its On-Reserve Home Loan Program.

  • In support of Indigenous businesses, BMO has increased the level of procurement of goods and services from Indigenous partners – surpassing in 2022 its commitment to spend $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 the bank's Sustainable Bond program.

  • For advancing Indigenous interests and economic development, BMO has received Gold Certification in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program seven consecutive times. The PAR program is administered by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Read the full report to learn more.

Click here to register for the free Nisitohtamowin eLearning course or visit: .

For more information about BMO's commitment to supporting Indigenous communities, click here or visit:

About BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group is the eighth largest bank in North America by assets, with total assets of $1.25 trillion as of July 31, 2023. Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a diverse team of highly engaged employees providing a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management, global markets and investment banking products and services to over 13 million customers across Canada, the United States, and in select markets globally. Driven by a single purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, BMO is committed to driving positive change in the world, and making progress for a thriving economy, sustainable future, and inclusive society.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: For News Media Enquiries: Kelly Hechler, Toronto,,(416) 867-3996