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BMO Releases Wîcihitowin: Our First Annual Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report

This week, BMO releases its first annual Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report, highlighting the scope of its engagement with Indigenous Peoples and communities across the country. The report is titled “Wîcihitowin,” which means “helping and supporting each other”” in the Cree language.

Wîcihitowin forms part of a broader response by BMO to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The TRC has called on the corporate sector to do its part in helping the country advance on the path to Truth and Reconciliation, specifically in Call to Action #92. BMO has responded in many different ways, in everything from its procurement polices and hiring strategies, to its community outreach and employee education. An important component of our approach is holding ourselves accountable, and Wîcihitowin is designed to do that.

The report is organized according to the three main pillars that support the bank’s Indigenous strategy: Education, Employment, and Economic Empowerment. It also outlines BMO’s Social Impact initiatives as they relate to Indigenous Peoples, customers, and communities. And, it is important to note, the production of the report itself is emblematic of our partnerships: both the design and translation were provided by Indigenous businesses, as part of our commitment to increasing our procurement from Indigenous partners.

Highlights of the Report

The Report invites readers to learn more about how:

  • In June of this year, as part of National Indigenous Peoples Month, BMO sponsored the development of Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ, an eLearning course on key aspects of this country’s history and Crown-Indigenous relations. The course was accessed over 20,000 times during a six-week period when BMO made it free for customers and the general public, and more than 80% of Canadian employees and 85% of senior leadership have also completed it—for a total of 45,000 participants across Canada.
  • In 2021, BMO doubled its hiring of Indigenous peoples, increasing Indigenous representation from 1.1% to 1.35% and thereby making a significant advance towards our target of 1.6%. To support career advancement, the bank’s Miikana Career Pathways program provides tailored support to Indigenous employees, helping BMO achieve a rate of Indigenous career advancement that is significantly higher than that found among our peers.  
  • In the past year, the bank experienced 44% year-over-year growth of its Indigenous banking portfolio, with a total value of $6.5 billion, is well on its way to achieving the stated goal of reaching $8 billion by 2025.
  • BMO is making a concerted effort to support Indigenous businesses by increasing the level of procurement of goods and services from Indigenous partners, is committed to spending $10 million annually with Indigenous-owned businesses by 2023.

As partners with Indigenous peoples and communities, we have committed to full transparency in how we do business and build relationships. The report constitutes a public record of what we have promised, what we have achieved, and what remains for us to do over the coming months and years. By setting out concrete goals and stating them publicly, we are giving Indigenous people—and all our stakeholders—a benchmark by which to measure our words and actions.  

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