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BMO empowers economic progress in Esgenoopetitj First Nation, New Brunswick

March 3, 2023 | Purpose

When Chief Alvery Paul became Chief of Esgenoopetitj First Nation, infrastructure growth was at the top of his agenda for the community located on the unceded territory of Miramichi Bay, New Brunswick. Chief Paul was searching for a financial partner that had established, trusted relationships with First Nations communities to move forward with their affordable housing build. That conversation started 10 years ago with Steve Fay, who was the head of BMO’s Indigenous Banking Unit (IBU) then and continues today with the IBU’s Mark Shadeed, Vice President, Indigenous Banking, Quebec and Atlantic. Today, BMO has financed the building of 110 homes and the renovations of 140 properties in the community. Our relationship with Esgenoopetiti First Nation continues to grow to support subsequent infrastructure projects in the community like roadway paving projects and financing a vital sea wall for the community. Additional economic development projects were also completed that included financing the expansion of a snow crab plant, driving economic progress to the region.  

“Affordable housing and infrastructure have been an area of focus and expertise since BMO first founded the IBU over 30 years ago. As Head of BMO’s Indigenous Banking Unit, I am fuelled by two great passions: affordable housing and economic empowerment. Our partnership with the Esgenoopetitj First Nation is passion-fueled work that shows the IBU team’s dedication leading Indigenous economic empowerment.”  

Clio Straram, Head Indigenous Banking Unit 

Infrastructure Growth in Esgenoopetitj First Nation, New Brunswick, Ontario 

“BMO is committed to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. We continue with a focus towards education, employment, and economic empowerment. These pillars are BMO’s pledge to addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. Our partnership and the trust built with Indigenous communities reflects our core Purpose; to Boldly Grow the Good in business and in life. We will continue to foster progress that creates thriving communities through economic empowerment.” 

Michael Bonner, Head, BMO Canadian Business Banking, Head, Enterprise Indigenous Strategy 

Our commitment to Indigenous communities: 

BMO is committed to progress for Indigenous Peoples across three pillars that reflect the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action for corporate Canada:  

  • Education: we know education is a critical key to advancing inclusion, so we invest in training and educating our workforce to encourage understanding, self-identification and celebration of Indigenous peoples and cultures. Through Nisitohtamowin, our company-wide eLearning education resource supports the understanding of Indigenous history and perspectives, and our Indigenous Employee Resource Group (the Sharing Circle) we are committed to strengthening our relationship with Indigenous Communities. 
  • Employment: We are committed to hiring, developing, and retaining Indigenous Peoples at BMO. Over the last two years we have doubled Indigenous hires and grow representation year over year towards achieving our Indigenous representation goal of 1.6% of the workforce across all levels.  
  • Economic Empowerment: We are committed to doubling the size of our Indigenous Banking business to $8B by 2025 and we have pledged nearly $16 million to dozens of charitable and non-profit organizations over the next 10 years, including spending nearly $28 million with Indigenous suppliers. We’re now more than halfway to our goal with over $7B in deposits, loans, and investments. 

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