Indigenous Innovators Tap into Traditional Knowledge to Transform for the Future

Canada's first independent medical university proclaimed: NOSM University
Canada's first independent medical university proclaimed: NOSM University

TORONTO – Indigenous – Launched in 2008, A Chosen Journey highlights RBC’s commitment to reconciliation – a commitment first put into action in 2007 through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Assembly of First Nations, pledging to work in partnership on three priorities: Indigenous economies, people, and communities.

Guided by invaluable knowledge passed from one generation to the next, Indigenous peoples across Canada have long lived in harmony with their traditional lands. Now, as Canadians collectively look to address critical challenges affecting our communities, this knowledge is helping to build a more prosperous, peaceful and sustainable future for all, as revealed in the stories of this year’s A Chosen Journey.

Each year, A Chosen Journeymarks progress and holds RBC accountable to its ongoing promise for positive action. This year’s report showcases partnerships for each pillar of RBC’s action plan, including collaborations 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.

“At RBC, reconciliation is guided by a deep respect for the unique social, cultural and historic contributions of Indigenous communities,” said Dale Sturges, National Director, Indigenous Financial Services Group. “We know that meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples is fundamental not only to charting a more inclusive path forward, but also to our country’s successful transition to a net-zero future. With this report, we are proud to share our progress as a bank in collaborating with and championing prosperity for Indigenous communities, economies and people.”

From intergenerational agriculture projects that address food security, to partnering with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation on a new solar energy project supporting the clean energy transition, this year’s report highlights inspiring Indigenous initiatives and innovators who are fostering hope for future generations. Deeply rooted in Indigenous values and ancestral knowledge, these programs are driving meaningful impact in local communities. Some examples of the initiatives include:

  • Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is carving out a new way forward for rural medicine and Indigenous wellness. Since 2006, NOSM has brought youth together each summer for a week-long health sciences camp called CampMed as part of their pathway to medicine. NOSM believes educating learners who live in the north will result in more practitioners providing services in the region.

  • Connected North, a program of TakingITGlobal, fosters student engagement and enhanced education outcomes in remote Indigenous communities. Connected North contributes to reconciliation by ensuring strong representation of Indigenous role models as part of session facilitation and educational experience delivery. The program also offers a series of video interviews called “Future Pathways Fireside Chats,” featuring Indigenous adults sharing stories about their lives.

  • Three Nations Energy is a renewable energy venture led by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) which includes three solar farms southeast of Calgary. Leveraging financing from RBC, these new ‘merchant power’ plants will generate about 140,000 MWh of clean, renewable, low carbon electricity, while also supporting job creation and economic development for ACFN and other nations.

“As we continue to grapple with the truths of our country’s history, the stories in A Chosen Journey celebrate the resilience of traditional Indigenous knowledge and those who carry it forward,” Sturges said. “RBC continues to stand in solidarity with Indigenous people across Canada, and we remain deeply committed to creating a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future – one we can all be proud of.”

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