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Indigenous Innovation Takes Centre Stage in Charting the Way Forward

Press Release

The stories told in the 2021 edition of RBC’s ‘A Chosen Journey’ illustrate the Indigenous tradition of innovation and honour Indigenous achievement

TORONTO, June 17, 2021 – In Indigenous communities across Canada, innovation and tradition have always gone hand in hand. Today, a new generation of Indigenous innovators is continuing this rich history, weaving together ancestral knowledge and bold ideas to create a new way forward for their peoples and communities. Through this year’s edition of A Chosen Journey, RBC is proud to shine a light on these innovators, and to share their stories of Indigenous excellence, resilience and achievement.

First launched in 2008, A Chosen Journey highlights examples of partnership between RBC and Indigenous-led efforts to build sustainable communities; drive economic growth; and lead powerful change in important areas like skills and career development. The report is also available in Inuktitut, and will be published in Blackfoot later this month.

“Canada’s Indigenous peoples are the original innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs on these lands,” said Dale Sturges, National Director, Indigenous Financial Services Group, RBC. “But while their contributions, cultures and perspectives have been overlooked and erased in the past, it’s clearer than ever that our collective future depends on ensuring that Indigenous voices are meaningfully acknowledged and included in Canada’s post-pandemic path. By shining a spotlight on Indigenous ingenuity and creativity, this year’s edition of A Chosen Journey captures the various ways in which RBC aims to do just that.”

From protecting sustainable fishing practices to social entrepreneurship, this year’s report highlights inspiring Indigenous initiatives and innovators who have proudly embraced their culture and traditions to effect positive change in their community. Some examples include:

  • Mick Appaqaq, an Inuit entrepreneur who drew upon the Indigenous tradition of knowledge sharing to develop social media platform SIKU. Translating to ‘sea ice’ in Inuktitut, SIKU allows hunters to share up to the minute information on ice and wildlife conditions, while also preserving traditional language and culture, and putting the control of valuable Arctic data in Inuit hands.
  • LIFT Circle, a group that provides a safe, supportive space for Indigenous women to build their own businesses. Challenging existing conceptions of innovation, LIFT Circle entrepreneurs are “decolonizing” business through their focus on traditional Indigenous values that view success through a holistic lens of profits, people, planet and purpose.
  • INUA, a stunning inaugural art exhibit where Inuit artists and curators are illuminating a new way forward at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). With approximately 100 artworks from 91 Inuit artists, the exhibit’s storytelling both highlights new forms of Inuit artistic expression and innovation, and situates them within a long continuity of Indigenous practices.

Highlighting how Indigenous innovation has continued to flourish and grow, other stories in this year’s report further follow the journey of individuals and initiatives initially spotlighted in earlier editions. For example, the story of Sunshine Tenasco – first featured in the 2020 A Chosen Journey report – charts the growth of Pow Wow Pitch, a Dragons’ Den-style competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs founded by Tenasco and co-presented by RBC. Now in its seventh year, the event, which started in Ottawa, has expanded from coast-to-coast-to-coast to nurture local Indigenous entrepreneurs and ecosystems.

Looking inward, the report also profiles stories in which Indigenous employees like Michael Polak and his fellow RBC Royal Eagles are actively shaping innovation at RBC. These inspiring RBCers are leading the way in bringing “two eyed seeing” that incorporates Western and Indigenous perspectives, in driving deeper conversations around inclusive innovation, and in unlocking new opportunities for growth through their unique perspectives.

“At a time when it’s never been more important, we will continue to build a bank that stands for Indigenous inclusion and prosperity,” adds Sturges. “A Chosen Journey is our way of honouring the past, and reaffirming our commitment to listen, take action, and continue the reconciliation journey. We look forward to sharing even more success stories in the years to come.”

For a full version of the report, please visit

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 86,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients
thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 27 other countries. Learn more at

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at

About RBC Indigenous Financial Services Group
For more than 100 years, RBC has been building strong relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada. We are committed to serving Indigenous governments, communities, organizations, businesses and individuals by creating opportunities for sustainable economic development through access to banking and capital, community and social development, employment, education and training and procurement. RBC also provides donations and grants that support Indigenous interests. More information is available at

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For more information, please contact:
AJ Goodman, RBC Corporate Communications, 647-286-4032



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