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• Oct. 31, 2023

Scholarships can have a profound impact on a student's post-secondary education – especially when they're coupled with hands-on experience. That's one of the reasons why TD created the TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples in consultation with AFOA Canada – a not-for-profit organization led by Indigenous Peoples – to help address the unique needs of students from Indigenous communities for post-secondary education.

As part of the Bank's ongoing commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, the scholarship program, now in its second year, has 25 scholarships available of up to $60,000 over four years. Recipients are also provided with internship opportunities at the Bank to help them gain valuable work experience towards their career aspirations as well as an offer of full-time employment upon graduation.

"Removing barriers to education for students from Indigenous communities is an important part of driving towards financial and economic equity and inclusion," said Doris Bear, Vice President of Indigenous Banking at TD Bank Group. "We were proud to award our first-ever cohort of recipients earlier this year and are excited to welcome new students under the program!"

The deadline to apply for the 2024 cohort is November 6, 2023.

So how did this scholarship program come to be? To find out, we spoke to a few of the many passionate TD colleagues and supporters who helped bring it to life to find out how the TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples was created, why it is important, and the impact of developing opportunities in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and communities.

The Journey Towards Reconciliation

Robyn Bond, Senior Manager, Front to Back, Strategy, Change, and Operational Excellence (former Senior Specialized HR Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Indigenous Peoples)

"Indigenous Peoples can face significant barriers to obtaining a post-secondary education for a multitude of reasons and are often underrepresented in corporate Canada. The TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples program was created to help break down these barriers in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #92 to corporate Canada, which calls for equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector.

At TD, we know the work doesn't stop at this scholarship program and that we have much more work to do. However, initiatives like these are important and need to be celebrated.

In addition to the scholarship program, we have close to 50 interns -­­- and growing -- from Indigenous communities who join us each year for summer internship opportunities. It is incredible to see how much these programs have been expanding throughout the years.

As much as TD leaders support the growth and development of the interns, the interns are often also educating leaders on how TD can do better on our collective journey towards Truth and Reconciliation, and we welcome that. We all have a role to play in reconciliation. Listening to the voices of Indigenous Peoples and making programs like the TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples a reality is part of the Bank's critical path forward."

The Importance of Consultation and Collaboration

Terry Goodtrack, President and CEO, AFOA Canada

"Every Indigenous community is on its own unique journey towards economic and social prosperity. They may be at different stages of this journey, but the key is that it is self-led. The community decides what it needs for a prosperous future, and what AFOA Canada does is offer the support, tools, and resources so that they can achieve that for themselves. Any program or initiative aimed at Indigenous Peoples must have this collaborative aspect to address the unique needs of Indigenous communities.

AFOA Canada’s work in support of this scholarship program, and its collaboration with TD in general, is a natural extension of this. It’s a way to support the next generation from Indigenous communities. The students may come from different life circumstances, have different goals, or be studying different programs, but they all have potential. We want to help empower them to unlock their potential and reach the future they want for themselves. Whatever that future looks like, having skilled, dedicated, and capable graduates from Indigenous communities will no doubt enrich and benefit Indigenous communities.

The TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples program helps alleviate the financial burden of post-secondary education, which not only allows recipients the freedom to explore their potential, but also addresses the history of limited access to education and resources that Indigenous Peoples have experienced. When the scholarship program was first launched last year, hundreds of applications were received during the three month application period. The volume of applications received in that first year alone speaks to how vital this scholarship program is perceived by the Indigenous communities."

The Power of Allyship

Salim Jivraj, Senior Vice President, Transformation and Shared Services, TD Insurance & Business Lead and Chair, TD Insurance Indigenous Peoples Committee

“At TD Insurance, as across the Bank, we have a focus on diversity and inclusion. A couple of years ago, I had the privilege to lead and sponsor TD Insurance’s Indigenous Peoples Committee. Not identifying as part of this community gave me pause and reflection on my role and the impact I could can have as an ally. Embracing this position has opened the opportunity for me to learn about the history of systemic discrimination and the unique challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples and communities, and about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Building on the very successful results of the Internship for Indigenous Peoples program at TD Insurance we’d already established – many colleagues and leaders from across the enterprise, including my team, were challenged with what more we could do. With further research, consultation, and creativity, the idea of a scholarship program for Indigenous Peoples, coupled with internship opportunities, was born.

I personally had the opportunity to be part of a co-op program in my undergraduate studies and ended up starting my career in the financial industry as a result. This is the experience we’d like to replicate for the TD Scholarship for Indigenous Peoples program. There's a lot of talent out there in the Indigenous communities, but they may not automatically think of the financial industry when it comes to their career aspirations. Through this program, we want to help remove financial barriers to post-secondary education while also providing students with internships at TD so they might consider entering the industry."

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