By: NC Raine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Eagle Feather News

RBC has become the first bank in Canada to launch a Truth and Reconciliation Office.

The new office, now under the banner RBC Origins, will join the RBC Indigenous Banking strategy team, in order to apply a Reconciliation framework to its corporate policy and activities involving Indigenous people, their lands, and their resources.

“We did this because we want to accelerate Reconciliation at RBC,” said Chinyere Eni, head of RBC Origins. We are the largest company in the country and we are very committed and believe there is more we can do and learn with communities.”

She is a member of Little Pine First Nation and is also a second-generation member of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria.

RBC has increased its strategic team from two individuals to six. One of the office’s priorities will be developing a Reconciliation Action Plan, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s  (TRC) Calls to Action #92.

“It’s a nod to cultivating sustainable relationships for the next seven generations,” said Eni.

In developing the action plan, RBC has been holding listening sessions across Canada for the last two years with former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine.

They have met with rights holders across the country, which has informed the initial framework, said Eni, and are currently going through their second round of consultations.

Eni said some of the most common themes during these consultations include prior and informed consent; to move beyond Crown-Indigenous relations and really innovate at a different pace and scale; Indigenous-led environmental impact assessments; and the call to invest with Indigenous partners.

“We want to stay connected,” said Eni. “So we’re committed to an ongoing process of active engagement so that we can continually keep this a living document.”

Formerly known as Indigenous Banking, the newly named RBC Origins aims to increase access to financial opportunities and growth of Indigenous economies through the integrated delivery of financial services to governments, non-profits, businesses, and retail clients.

For the average person, Eni said these developments mean more work, side by side, with them and their communities.

“We have the opportunity to do more,” she said. “We want to move from managing poverty to managing prosperity, and really work with communities in that way.”

These developments are all rooted in the TRC, said Eni, and an Indigenous consulting firm will continually be consulted as RBC goes forward.

“We want (the consulting firm) to come in and challenge our thinking to make sure we have rigor in our methodology,” said Eni.

“This is something we want the public to hear and that we are going to hold ourselves to account in that work together. It’s a new day at RBC.”

(TOP PHOTO – (centre) Chinyere Eni, Head RBC Origins, with Na Sha, Vice President Commercial Financial Services, Indigenous Markets BC Region (left), and Martin Thibodeau, Regional President BC and the executive sponsor of RBC Origins (right). Photo submitted by Sharon Wilks)