BMO’s partnership with Native Women’s Association of Canada works to end violence faced by Indigenous Peoples
By the age of fifteen, Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people are 13 per cent more likely to experience gender-based violence than non-Indigenous women. Today, Indigenous women are five per cent of the population in Canada. They are 21 per cent more likely to experience domestic violence resulting in their murder by an intimate partner.
BMO became a supporter of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in 2019 to support their critical work to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women.
Mark Shadeed, Vice President, Quebec and Atlantic Region of BMO’s Indigenous Banking Unit (IBU) first met Lynne Groulx, NWAC Chief Executive Officer four years ago. Under Lynne’s leadership, NWAC had undertaken three major infrastructure projects to build a 50,000 square foot social and cultural innovation centre and two land-based healing centres.
In 2019, when Mark first met Lynne, NWAC was trying to purchase buildings in Gatineau to add to their network of shelters for Indigenous women and build a headquarters. The process of securing financing through their existing banking partner had stalled for months. IBU bankers collaborated across BMO to deliver a One Client solution – and expedited the women shelter building purchase in 10 days.
“The impact of Lynne’s work to advance the rights of Indigenous women and gender-diverse voices is a positive force for change across Canada. Building BMO’s relationship with NWAC continues to be a source of pride for our bank.”
– Mark Shadeed
Vice President, Indigenous Banking, Quebec and Atlantic
Every year, NWAC supports Red Dress Day, an initiative that brings awareness to issues faced by Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQ+ people. In 2021, NWAC published an action plan to end the attack against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. This national inquiry charts a course to end the violence, with 231 calls for justice.
Red Dress Day began as an art installation in 2011 and has since grown across North America, with the display of empty red dresses as a visual testimony to the loss of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ peoples to violence. We can honour the lives of Indigenous women on May 5, Red Dress Day, by wearing red and participating in the many memorial walks that will be happening in communities across North America.
On May 11, the Moose Hide Campaign also encourages Canadians to take a stand against violence against women and children. The symbolism of a moose-hide pin shows support for Canada’s efforts at reconciliation. The initiatives driven by the Moose Hide Campaign are similar to the aims of Red Dress Day and NWAC – all working to end violence towards Indigenous women.
“The work on the path to Truth & Reconciliation is predicated on the safety of Indigenous peoples. NWAC is on the ground in communities across Canada, working to raise awareness and create resources to support the safety of Indigenous women. We are proud to stand with NWAC in this work.”
– Mike Bonner
Head, Canadian Business Banking, Head, Enterprise Indigenous Strategy
As we near National Indigenous History Month in June, everyone can learn more about Indigenous history and culture with our e-learning course Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ An Introduction to Understanding Indigenous Perspectives in Canada, created by BMO in partnership with First Nations University. You can also learn more about BMO’s Indigenous Banking Strategy in Wîcihitowin, BMO’s 2022 Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report.