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Our reconciliation commitment
22 June 2023
As we celebrate National Indigenous History Month, it feels timely to reflect on Prosper Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples and to ask whether all is as it should be or whether we should be challenging ourselves, as many organizations are doing, to aim higher and do better.
Looking back, Prosper Canada has worked with Indigenous organizations and communities for over a decade to build financial wellness in a range of ways:
Advocating for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples as a priority in Canada’s first national financial literacy strategy;
Investing in Indigenous-led financial literacy projects through our
Financial Literacy Grant Fund
to conduct an international review of Indigenous financial literacy programs and best practices and a comprehensive national Indigenous financial literacy needs assessment;
Training community financial educators in First Nation communities and organizations;
With Indigenous financial wellness expert and artist, Simon Brascoupé, developing a
Managing your money
guide specifically for Indigenous users, available in Plains Cree, Ojibwe, English and French and distributed at no cost to hundreds of Indigenous and Indigenous-serving organizations;
The Shared Path
, a First Nations financial wellness framework;
Securing funders and partnering with AFOA Canada, financial empowerment champion organizations, and Indigenous communities to co-develop tailored program models, resources and capacity to build financial wellness in Indigenous communities.
Reflecting on these efforts, we can say with conviction that we have made a positive contribution to advancing Indigenous financial wellness in Canada and that we continue to do so today.
We can also see, however, that we have made many mistakes along the way and that, organizationally, we have not yet built a level of cultural understanding and competency with respect to Indigenous Peoples that would enable us to build relationships that they would consistently consider safe and trustworthy, even if some of our staff and partners are already highly competent in this respect.
Our staff have questioned the sporadic nature of our engagement with Indigenous communities, as well as the lack of a broader sustained and public commitment to reconciliation and a willingness to be accountable for this commitment. They feel we have often focused our energy on specific projects, rather than seeking to build strong and trustworthy relationships with a broad range of Indigenous organizations and communities that share our goal of expanding Indigenous financial wellness services across Canada. These are all legitimate critiques that we take seriously.
Recent questions with respect to how we involve and recognize the contributions of Indigenous partners, knowledge and culture in the development of our tools and resources to ensure they are inclusive of Indigenous Peoples, and the learning journey we have undertaken in response to these questions, have underscored the need for our organization to work differently and better in our engagements with Indigenous Peoples and to deepen both our understanding of Indigenous cultures and our commitment to advancing reconciliation.
To this end, we believe it is time for Prosper Canada to make a public commitment to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and communities in Canada. It will take time to fully map out concrete aspects of this commitment and how we will hold ourselves accountable, so we are proposing to advance this work in phases as we deepen our learning and cultural competency, build stronger relationships with Indigenous partners, and explore how we can be more open, honest and vulnerable in sharing of our journey. There are some initial actions, however, that we can commit ourselves to and that we invite our partners and stakeholders to hold us accountable for:
Building organization-wide understanding and competency with respect to Indigenous cultures and how we work with Indigenous partners;
Developing and refining a process to ensure the financial wellness services, training, tools and resources we develop are inclusive of Indigenous Peoples or, where appropriate, directly tailored for their needs;
Systematically working to ensure our national Financial Empowerment Network and offerings are more relevant to, inclusive and welcoming of Indigenous organizations; and
Building deeper, more sustained, and trustworthy relationships with Indigenous partner organizations that are fully aligned with Indigenous financial wellness priorities and needs.
In a more perfect world, we would have better defined plans and dedicated resources to accompany our reconciliation commitment. Preferring the pursuit of progress over perfection, however, we believe the important thing is to commit and to begin. Plans and resources will come. Not always as we envision, but no journey ever unfolds exactly as we plan and we will certainly make mistakes and continue to reflect and learn from these along the way.
The important thing is to bring intentionality and sustained commitment to our reconciliation efforts and to move away from ad hoc projects in favour of a longer-term vision and evolving plan that we can invite partners and funders to invest in and help us to move forward together.
We look forward to this next leg of our journey and hope you will join us.