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Indigenous Women Take Leading Role in Charting the Way Forward

The 2020 edition of RBC’s ‘A Chosen Journey’ features stories of Indigenous women at the forefront of the reconciliation movement

TORONTO, June 12, 2020 - The leadership, experience and knowledge of Indigenous women have always been at the heart of community prosperity and well-being. Today, despite the historical and current challenges faced by many Indigenous women, they continue to strive and work for the social, economic, and cultural benefit of not only their communities but for all of Canada. In this year’s edition of A Chosen Journey, RBC is proud to feature stories of resilience, artistry, and achievement demonstrated by Indigenous women from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

First launched in 2008, A Chosen Journey highlights examples of partnership between RBC and Indigenous-led efforts to build sustainable communities; drive economic growth; and lead powerful change in important areas like skills and career development. The report is also produced in two Indigenous languages – Inuktitut and Cree.

“For far too long, Indigenous women have not received the recognition they deserve for their innovation, creativity, and ability to be a force of positive change,” said Dale Sturges, National Director, Indigenous Financial Services Group, RBC. “The women featured in this year’s report are leading us towards a better future, providing us with hope, solutions, and insight at a time when we need it the most. At RBC, we are – and will always be -- unwavering in our reconciliation journey, which is why we want to share stories of how RBC works with and for Indigenous communities, particularly Indigenous women, in genuine and meaningful ways to bring about much needed change.”

This year’s report highlights stories of what can be achieved when more equitable opportunities are created for Indigenous women and girls. We hear from inspiring women who are leading in their communities across Canada. Some examples include:

  • The story of Sunshine Tenasco, a social entrepreneur who uses her social enterprise, Her Braids, to teach people about Indigenous clean water issues. Sunshine is also founder of the Pow Wow Pitch, a Dragon’s Den-style competition that creates more opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs to start and develop their businesses.

  • How Colleen Lucier, Executive Director of Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services, led the effort to develop Kikékyelc: A Place of Belonging, a culturally safe housing unit where Indigenous youth can receive culturally appropriate support to help them transition into independence and avoid entering the foster system.

  • The story of Dr. Jesse Popp, who currently holds the seat as Canada research chair in Indigenous Environmental Science in the Department of Geography & Environment at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. With a two-eyed seeing approach, she aspires to advance the country’s collective ecological understanding to tackle the many major environmental issues facing Canada today, including climate change.

More poignantly, readers will also learn about Kiyari McNabb and Vicky LaForge who co-facilitated REDSILIENT, an exhibit honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that quickly became a safe space for community members to heal. Equally important, it inspired community members to write letters to their missing or murdered loved ones, and install pinned tobacco ties as leaves on an exhibit installation tree to represent a prayer to a woman, girl or family affected by gender-based violence.

Looking inward, the report also profiles RBC employees like Brittanee Laverdure, Rachael Crawford-Rendine and Tracy Antoine -- all Indigenous women in leadership positions who describe their career paths, personal journeys and their advice for Indigenous women embarking on their own careers.

“With the release of the final report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in 2019, we heard heartbreaking stories of violence and loss,” continued Sturges. “Rising from our grief are powerful new stories of resilience and solidarity. These are important stories for us to share so that we may celebrate the many achievements of Indigenous women in the face of great adversity.”

For a full version of the report, please visit rbc.com/chosenjourney.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 84,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.‎

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-social-impact.

About RBC Indigenous Financial Services Group
For more than 100 years, RBC has been building strong relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. We are committed to serving Indigenous governments, communities, organizations, businesses and individuals by creating opportunities for sustainable economic development through access to banking and capital, community and social development, employment, education and training and procurement. RBC also provides donations and grants that support Indigenous interests. More information is available at rbcroyalbank.com/indigenous.

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Media contact:
AJ Goodman, RBC Corporate Communications, 647-286-4032