After almost three decades into my financial career, I joined CWB Financial Group and finally feel at home. To be honest, I get emotional thinking about the people first approach at CWB and what it means to me: a sense of belonging and acceptance for who I am.
I am Indigenous and am deeply proud of my heritage. Although I do not outwardly appear Indigenous and have never experienced the degree of racism that many of my relatives have endured, I have experienced deep and hurtful racist comments. I’ve carried them with me for many years.
Those memories seemed to manifest themselves in the last several years, making me fully realize their impact, keeping me from embracing my heritage and never truly accepting my history.
Finally being me
All of this changed in early 2020. In a discussion I was asked by my leader, Stephen Murphy, what I envisioned for my CWB future. I told him how I wanted to marry my Indigenous background with my career. He listened carefully and offered me a chance of a lifetime: to help create, along with several amazing co-workers, an Employee Representative Group (ERG), the CWB Sharing Circle. I am proud to be one of the executive sponsors, where I advise, support and advocate for the group and its mandate. This incredible group helps our Indigenous employees and allies feel more united and supported at work. They provide resources, events and virtual learning sessions that connect employees across the country; a level of connection I couldn’t have thought possible.
As a member, I felt empowered to share my story through a blog for National Indigenous Peoples Day in June. The outpouring of support and love from my CWB colleagues far and wide was amazing. Since that time, I feel truly able to be my whole self, to honour all the parts of my heritage, and to help my daughters see and understand our heritage.
I am so proud of how CWB has committed to supporting Indigenous communities such as contributing to the Fort Edmonton Indigenous Peoples Experience, investing in Indigenous students’ post-secondary education, and hosting our own Indigenous Internship program.
This program gives us two way-learning: our Indigenous Interns learn about banking, and we learn about Indigenous culture and how we can be a more welcoming place for Indigenous employees and customers.
We truly have a sharing circle.
Helping to move the dial
My learning continues to grow. In my current role as a Vice President in the Prairies region, I am re-connected with Indigenous peoples, who still face daily challenges including banking. I am also working with a team to enhance CWB’s ability to support the economic development of Indigenous communities. CWB has helped me get there: to build stronger relationships and to grow our talent, hiring Indigenous people with skills and endless vision.
At CWB, I feel like I am home: accepted for all that I am, encouraged to seek new heights, and provided a role and a platform that I can influence positive change for Indigenous people. I will continue to use my privilege to lend my voice to drive change and to help our peoples stand strong, together and united.
— Chana Martineau, VP Manitoba, Saskatchewan & Rural Alberta