By Doris Bear
Vice President, Indigenous Banking Group
TD Bank Group
Growing up in Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, my grandmother was one of the many female role models I could look to for guidance.
A strong woman, she always encouraged me to work hard and to be proud of who I am. She inspired me to work for the betterment of our people, to give back to the community, and to never forget where I came from.
My mother passed away when I was six years old and the women in my life played a significant role in who I am today. I was taught to share our culture and to elevate our people wherever possible. And it is with these teachings that I have come to shape my career into what it is today.
Women play an important role in my culture. We are entrusted with the knowledge of our history. We are stewards of the environment and responsible for caring for our families and the community. We have a responsibility to educate our people and to nurture and guide future generations.
Today, I am the Vice President of Indigenous Banking for TD Bank Group, where my focus is on educating corporate Canada on the needs of Indigenous communities and Peoples while providing access to capital for Indigenous communities.
My father, who raised me and my five siblings, instilled in all of us the importance of education. When I left my community to pursue a university education, I would return from the city from time to time to visit my family. During those visits, I would spend time with my paternal grandmother who would remind me of the importance of giving back.
I never envisioned a career in banking. But when I saw the impact banks could have on communities, and the difference we could make in the lives of our People, I knew it was an important path to pursue.
Today, more than 50% of Indigenous Peoples now live in urban centres, with many leaving their homes to pursue basic schooling that is not available to them in their community. And once they leave, many may not return home because of a lack of economic opportunity, which in turn deprives those communities of the energy and talent of those young people.
That’s where our Indigenous Banking team comes in. We work hard to provide individuals in the communities with the much-needed access to capital to help them to build their economies and create jobs. While we are making progress, there is still so much work that needs to be done.
Still, after nearly two decades in the financial industry, I continue to work towards bringing the bank to Indigenous communities and individuals.
In the end, my father and my grandmother were right. The answer lies in education. As the Honourable Justice Senator Murray Sinclair said on the role education plays in reconciliation, "Education is what got us here, and education is what will get us out." It's up to all of us to educate ourselves to identify and respect the differences that exist between our communities.
Corporate Canada is still very much a man's world. As an industry, financial services have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
I want my daughter to not have to go through the same things that I had to for her voice to be heard. I want her to be able to stand up as a proud Indigenous woman and know that she can achieve anything.
My hope is that the impact of my work will help break down barriers for future generations and create opportunities for all Indigenous Peoples.