At Scotiabank, we believe that employee wellbeing is essential to the growth, resilience and long-term success of our Bank and our winning team. Every day, we strive to create an inclusive culture where every employee is enabled to reach their fullest potential, all individuals are respected for who they are, and differences and similarities are embraced.

Indigenous artwork on display at a Scotiabank branch in downtown Toronto, Ontario.

Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Scotiabank Branch 

We have many Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) within Scotiabank that help push forward our inclusive culture. Through grassroots efforts, they enable employees to learn and affect change at the individual level and more than 8,500 people participate globally. Many of these employees make up the 70 national and global chapters that host nearly 100 educational events a year. 

Julie: What is your mission for the Indigenous Network ERG? 

Tanja: We support the Bank’s overall commitment of creating an inclusive and accessible workplace by bringing together employees who are passionate about Indigenous Peoples within both the Bank and the communities we serve. Our objectives are pretty clear, we look to advance Scotiabankers’ knowledge of Indigenous issues in Canada, we actively partner with local indigenous organizations across Canada, and we look to increase awareness of events that happen throughout the country.

Tanja Perry.

Tanja Perry, DVP Alberta North & NWT

Julie: How is Scotiabank celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day this year?

Kyla: National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to acknowledge and celebrate the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples of Canada. We take this opportunity to share, learn, and discover our connection with Canada’s first people and their culture. This year, we celebrate by understanding how we, as Scotiabankers, can play a role in reconciliation, be allies of those who identify, and support the resurgence of Indigenous culture in the corporate sector.

Adapting to our new normal, we hosted a webcast available for all Scotiabankers! Our keynote speaker, Janice Makokis, from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Central Alberta reflected on the history and current state of Canadian and Indigenous relations. I, along with Tanja, the leader of our Aboriginal Financial Services, and other representatives spoke about how we’re driving our Indigenous initiatives within Scotiabank.

Julie: Can you tell me a little bit about the ERG?

Kyla: The Indigenous ERG is a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees to share, learn, and grow together. We are very proud that over the past year we have been able to take this ERG to the national stage, which has enabled us to welcome more Scotiabankers across Canada and promote activities going on in various communities. There has been a lot of progress in our Indigenous partnerships throughout Scotiabank and it’s important to keep our focus on how we can collectively affect the cultural shift in Canada for Indigenous relations.

Kyla Whitlow.

Kyla Whitlow, Program Manager of Indigenous Talent

Julie: Why is it important to Scotiabank?

Tanja: At Scotiabank, we believe inclusion makes us stronger. We encourage Scotiabankers to be proud of who they are and we put emphasis on embracing our diversity, as it strengthens us as a business and employer.

Kyla: The Indigenous ERG provides us the opportunity to walk-the-talk for our Indigenous employees. We understand that all Indigenous people can be in different points of their identity journey and this platform can be as much of a resource as any given employee would like access to. We strive to provide support in both their personal and professional journeys. We also understand that when employees bring their full selves to work, they can be more effective in their role and create stronger connections with our customers.

Julie: As you both have different roles within the Bank, how do you each individually contribute to creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment for Indigenous Peoples?

Kyla: As a Program Manager for our Indigenous Talent Program, I work to create an inclusive hiring process from attracting a candidate to on-boarding. It’s important to look at the barriers one may encounter and truly understand how we can work through them.

Tanja: In my role as District Vice President, I amplify the importance of Indigenous competency and build positive relationships within our Indigenous communities. Through relationship building in our communities, we learn of culture, history, and traditions that will strengthen our current and future conversations.  

Julie: How are we continuing to advance this?

Tanja: Currently, we are in the process of creating new and exciting engagement activities for our Indigenous people and allies. These activities include a culture sharing space, opportunities across Canada for Scotiabankers to engage with Indigenous communities around them, and a place to seek guidance from an additional support system for career and personal growth. We are excited to grow this ERG and for what is to come.

Learn more about Diversity and Inclusion at Scotiabank and our Indigenous programs.