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At CPA Canada, we are committed to mentoring and fostering the talents of Canada’s next generation. Critical in this endeavor is leveraging the amazing abilities of Canada’s Indigenous people. (Hero Images/Getty Images)

Accounting | The Profession

Empowering the next generation

How CPA Canada is building connections, and laying the groundwork for prosperity, in Canada’s Indigenous communities

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As Canadians, we are blessed with an abundance of resources—from water to minerals, fisheries to forestry. This natural bounty has been the underpinning of our economy since Confederation, and continues to make Canada one of the wealthiest nations on earth. 

But as we boldly seize the opportunities of the 21st century, perhaps no other resource holds greater importance—and more untapped potential—than this nation’s 35 million inhabitants. The challenge, as business leaders, is: How do we get the most out of our people, and leverage that wealth of human talent and ingenuity?

At CPA Canada, we are committed to mentoring and fostering the talents of Canada’s next generation. Critical in this endeavor is leveraging the amazing abilities of Canada’s Indigenous people—and building capacity within those communities to foster a vibrant and prosperous financial future.

Today, there are two key initiatives that CPA Canada has undertaken to make this happen. First, partnering with AFOA Canada, we are actively working to increase the number of Indigenous Canadians with accounting and finance credentials. We have a pilot project underway with AFOA that aligns their Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM) with CPA Canada’s Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance (ACAF) credential, making it easier for students to begin with either program and complete the other efficiently.

Equally important is reaching out to Indigenous youth. To that end, CPA Canada is proud to partner with the Martin Family Initiative (MFI) to offer the CPA Martin Mentorship Program for Indigenous High School Students. Our member volunteers, working at national firms across the country, are matched with schools to mentor promising Indigenous students. In 2008, the accounting profession partnered with former Prime Minister Paul Martin, to develop what was then a pilot program, with fewer than a dozen students in the communities of Fort Frances and Brantford, Ont.; today, the program has 125 students involved in 27 schools across seven provinces, with the number of graduates now over 100.

The goal of the CPA Martin program is two-fold. It provides Indigenous youth with committed mentors who encourage them to complete secondary school, enroll in post-secondary education, and have greater awareness of a range of possible careers, including business and the accounting profession. It also provides CPAs with an invaluable opportunity to develop mentorship skills while learning first-hand about Indigenous issues and culture and sharing their knowledge and skills with others.

CPA Canada’s vision is to grow the number of participating students to 500 a year in five years’ time—and ultimately, to help grow capacity within Indigenous communities to build long-lasting prosperity. To make that happen, we are building out the infrastructure (with increased reporting, branding, a website and mentor supports), involving CPA provincial and regional bodies and coordinating with the profession’s other Indigenous initiatives, and extending mentorship opportunities to members beyond the national firms.

Whether it’s partnering with Indigenous financial leaders or instilling inspiration for education and business among high-school students, the future requires CPAs to reach out and build connections with communities across Canada. We need to make clear that accounting is an enabler for prosperity—and a way for communities to own their economic futures

At CPA Canada, we are ready to embrace that opportunity.


Watch Terry Goodtrack, CEO of AFOA Canada, talk about empowering Indigenous people across Canada with finance and leadership training and how the non-profit organization’s work aligns with the Canadian Ideal of Good Business.