Change doesn’t have to start big; in fact, it can start with one passionate individual. One thing we have learned from being a program for five years is that our CPA volunteers, with their passion for helping others, are the real heart and soul of our award-winning financial literacy program; one that allows CPA members to give back to their communities in a meaningful way. Supporting financial literacy in remote areas When Eitan Dehtiar, CPA, CMA, MBA, started volunteering with CPA Canada Financial Literacy, we knew we had found a volunteer who was going to go the distance with the program – quite literally. For the past 15 years, Eitan has been working in Northern Canada. As an independent consultant, Eitan currently works primarily with northern businesses on their specific projects. One of these businesses is Agnico Eagle Mines Limited in Baker Lake, Nunavut. For many of us our daily commute to work involves a bus, a train or even a car; but for Eitan this means flying to Nunavut on a regular basis. And for someone living in Toronto, this is quite the distance. Forget about leaving at a certain time every day: he accounts for an extra day or two on the end of each scheduled trip in the event there is bad weather. He jokes that “you never pack the exact amount of underwear.” His passion for the North and his commitment to financial literacy truly aligned this year when he helped steer the program in a new direction, now offering two new financial literacy sessions for remote populations. The sessions, designed for the unique needs of those in distant communities, address topics such as goal setting, needs and wants, bank accounts and planning for the future. They were recently piloted in Baker Lake, with the intent to make them available across Canada in 2018. Eitan says developing new programming like this comes down to working with the community to determine its needs and finding supportive partners. “Once you identify what the community needs are, you need to have community champions from within to further the initiative,” he explains. Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, a company which employs many residents from Baker Lake and nearby communities from the Kivalliq region, has been a community champion for the program, eager to bring financial literacy education to its employees, their families and members of the community. He adds that although things often take time to develop in the North, financial literacy is gaining traction now with many local businesses, schools and various organizations interested. “Although it can be a challenge to get there, communities like Baker Lake are very interconnected, and due to their smaller populations, running several sessions over the course of one week a few times a year can better an entire community – from students in schools to adults at home. And that’s a really great feeling,” he says. Supporting volunteers Running programming like this across the nation also requires continuous support for volunteers willing to deliver the sessions, inspiring and engaging the volunteer network within. This is where our Financial Literacy Area Leader initiative has been essential. Operating across Canada, financial literacy area leaders have taken on the role of supporting other program volunteers in their regions. Joëlle Daphnée Orvil, CPA, CGA, an area leader in Montreal, says she was always passionate about helping people take control of their finances. Recognizing that this passion was likely shared by other CPAs, she quickly took on the role of area leader, currently leading and supporting a team of volunteers in presenting financial literacy sessions in their community. “It’s a team effort, “she says, “CPA Canada Financial Literacy has the platform, so why not give the community the information they need.” Joëlle is also involved with the program from an advisory perspective acting as a bridge between program volunteers and CPA Canada. “I want the volunteers to be able to share their experiences with me so that I can report it to CPA Canada to ensure we are always looking for ways to better the program,” she adds. With volunteers at the heart of everything we do, the possibilities to educate, support and inspire knows no limits – or no distance. What’s in development? In addition to the financial literacy program, CPA Canada and the Martin Family Initiative co-sponsor the CPA Martin Mentorship Program for Indigenous High School Students that supports over 130 indigenous students across Canada. The program aims to support Indigenous students through their high school years, helping them understand the benefits of pursuing post-secondary education and consider potential job opportunities, including careers in the accounting profession. How to get involved If you know of a community that would benefit from our no-cost financial literacy sessions, please contact us. To learn more or request our sessions, visit Financial Literacy Sessions. If you are a CPA member and would like to volunteer with our program, visit Become a financial literacy volunteer. For questions, please email us.