“Invest the time and energy into getting a proper education because it's really important."
For Kristie House-Senapati, going to university was something no other member of her immediate family had done before. Kristie grew up in a small community on the west coast of Newfoundland, and her mother’s family is Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation. Her family was very proud when she successfully completed her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Memorial University in 2012.
The Indigenous community in Canada is young, vibrant and growing, however there are significantly fewer Indigenous peoples with a university degree compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. This is, in part, a result of barriers to higher education, which is why financial support and role models are both critical to creating more opportunities for Indigenous youth.
For Kristie, obtaining financial support was essential when she applied to university. She continued her search for scholarships and financial assistance, while working towards her second degree in economics and balancing a part-time job to cover expenses.
During her search, Kristie came across IndspireOpens a new window in your browser., an Indigenous-led charity that invests in the education of Indigenous peoples across Canada. CIBC partners with Indspire and its Building Brighter Futures program, which provides financial support to Indigenous students. “There are many talented students out there who are in need of financial assistance, and receiving the Indspire award helps bring out the best in these students. The Indspire award helped me pay off my tuition and successfully complete my education,” says Kristie.
After completing her economics degree, Kristie struggled to land her first job. Her breakthrough moment came when she learned about an opportunity at CIBC that was specifically looking for applications from Indigenous peoples.
“I had applied for job after job, but I was unable to get my foot in the door, and so when I got a call from CIBC saying I got the job, I was really happy. This was a great opportunity to launch my career.”
The rest is history, as Kristie has been with CIBC since graduating from school and now works as a senior analyst in Retail Lending Risk Management. She appreciates having the opportunity to develop her skill set and achieve her professional goals by working in many different areas of the bank.
Kristie continues to invest in her education and wants to help other Indigenous youth set themselves up for future success. She offers this advice: “Invest the time and energy into getting a proper education because it's really important. Be persistent and, most importantly, never give up.”
Did you know?
According to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, if we closed the gap in education and skills between Indigenous peoples in Canada and non-Indigenous Canadians, we could add $401 billion to the country’s GDP (gross domestic product).
CIBC has implemented the Pathfinders Mentorship Program, which pairs new Indigenous team members with tenured Indigenous employees, to ensure new team members are supported and given the tools needed for success.
Stories from our team
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"If you don't take time for yourself, you'll do yourself, your family and the people around you a disservice.”
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