CPABC's Indigenous Engagement Strategy: Progress update

By Lori Mathison
May 15, 2024
Photo credit: zakokor/iStock/Getty Images

Over the course of the 2023-2024 fiscal year, CPABC remained committed to making the accounting profession more attractive and accessible to Indigenous individuals, and to supporting Indigenous candidates, students, and prospects who enter the profession. We also maintained our close working relationships with Indigenous organizations such as the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of BC (AFOA BC) and the First Nations Financial Management Board (FNFMB), and focused on furthering our engagement with Indigenous communities. This meant listening and conducting respectful dialogue to better understand community needs and how the CPA profession can be a trusted partner.

Here’s an overview of some of the key activities and initiatives we undertook in 2023-2024.

Increasing awareness of Indigenous matters

Since our last update in the March/April 2023 issue of CPABC in Focus (pages 24-26), we’ve started a new forum for Indigenous CPABC members. The forum has met twice, and a third meeting will be held later in 2024.

At the inaugural meeting, which was open to Indigenous members only, we discussed CPABC’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy and sought participants’ interest in and hopes for the forum. At the second meeting, which was open to Indigenous CPAs and candidates, Indigenous allies, and CPABC partners, participants had the chance to learn about the RoadMap Project—“a practical and implementable pathway to Indigenous economic reconciliation”1—from Harold Calla, FCPA, FCGA, CAFM, the executive chair of the FNFMB, and Scott Munro, FCPA, FCA, CAFM, the FNFMB’s deputy chief executive officer.

To bring additional awareness about Indigenous history to our members, we will soon be adding the online course “4 Seasons of Reconciliation” to CPABC’s Professional Development Program. This three-hour course provides basic foundational knowledge on truth and reconciliation and was developed by Reconciliation Education, a Regina-based organization that provides online learning designed to advance reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Offered in partnership with Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg and First Nations University of Canada in Regina, the course is available to CPABC and other interested provincial bodies thanks to an agreement negotiated by CPA Manitoba.

The “4 Seasons of Reconciliation” course will be available on demand through CPABC’s PD program and will be eligible for three hours of ethics CPD.

Recruiting Indigenous CPA students

CPABC has dedicated Indigenous staff who are focused on recruiting Indigenous students into the CPA program. Over the past year, they conducted outreach and hosted Indigenous webinars and events in person and online.

In addition, the CPA Western School of Business, CPA Canada, and the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Alberta collaborated with Indigenous subject matter experts to create courses for the CPA certification program that are tailored to Indigenous learners. By addressing challenges unique to Indigenous learners, these courses are weaving Indigenous culture and context into the certification program. Current course offerings include Introductory Financial Accounting, Introductory Management Accounting, CPA PEP Core 1 Module, and CPA PEP Core 2 Module.

Engaging youth and post-secondary students

In addition to offering various programs to help young Indigenous learners identify and reach their career goals, CPABC provides opportunities to access financial support. In 2023-2024, we added to these opportunities by partnering with TELUS to launch the TELUS Award for Indigenous Post-Secondary Success scholarship.

Over the past year, CPABC also actively engaged and supported Indigenous post-secondary students by sponsoring Indigenous student clubs and attending and sponsoring various on-campus events, including lunch & learn sessions and Indigenous student feasts.

Working with Indigenous communities

We were also active in the community, with CPABC staff participating in the following career fairs and events:

  • Cando Links to Learning Conference, a partnership between Cando, the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association, the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre, Indigenous Services Canada, and Procurement Assistance Canada;
  • Gathering Our Voices conference, hosted by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (see below);
  • Indigenous Business Association Conference at UBC;
  • Indigenous Pathways in Business events at Camosun College and Thompson Rivers University;
  • Langara College Casual Lunch & Learn with Indigenous Student Services;
  • Seabird Island Career Fair, hosted by the Seabird Island Band;
  • Squamish Nation Youth Career Conference, hosted by the Squamish Nation; and
  • Stó:lō Aboriginal Skills & Employment Training Society Career Fair.

CPABC also served as a lead sponsor of the Tools & Financing for Aboriginal Business Networking Event, put on by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. This event helps build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, businesses, and communities, and provides practical tools, training, and networks to help Indigenous businesses grow.

Over the past year, we also focused on ensuring that Indigenous organizations are aware of the opportunity to post governance positions on the CPABC career site.

Encouraging financial wellness

CPABC continued to work with Indigenous partners and organizations to provide Indigenous youth, entrepreneurs, and business owners with free and unbiased financial literacy sessions in-person or online—this included having CPA volunteers deliver financial literacy programming at an on-reserve elementary school. As a result of our various community engagement efforts, we have seen an uptick in requests for financial literacy sessions from Indigenous communities across BC.

Most recently, we worked with our CPA volunteers to bring five financial literacy sessions to the Gathering Our Voices conference for Indigenous youth. In creating these sessions, listed below, we incorporated participants’ feedback from our sessions in 2022-2023:

  1. Money Basics for Indigenous Youth;
  2. Navigating Your First Tax Return: A Guide for Indigenous Youth;
  3. Cash Flow Champions: Empowering Indigenous Youth with Budgeting;
  4. Navigating the Financial World rough a Fun Game of Bingo; and
  5. Pathways to Prosperity: Navigating Financial Futures – Careers Panel.

At the Gathering Our Voices conference, CPABC also shared an exhibitor booth with AFOA BC.

As we continue to expand our financial literacy outreach to Indigenous communities, we are looking for more Indigenous volunteers to share their knowledge. And to support our non-Indigenous financial literacy volunteers, we are currently working with an Indigenous CPA to develop a series of train-the-trainer videos; the goal of this series is to further educate our volunteers on how to engage with Indigenous communities in a respectful manner.

We provide training to all volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer in support of CPABC’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy, we would be very pleased to hear from you. Please contact CPABC's Indigenous engagement team or financial literacy team for more details.

Lori Mathison, FCPA, FCGA, LLB, is the president & CEO of CPABC. This article was originally published in the May/June 2024 issue of CPABC in Focus.


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