“Our reputation for transcending barriers and putting clients first will set us apart and carry us forward. It’s so rewarding and personally gratifying when there are shared success stories."
As a senior manager in Commercial Banking for Indigenous markets, Robert Woods understands first-hand the unique needs of his clients. Robert is an Indigenous person, with Salteaux and Cree origins on his mother’s side and Gitskan descent on his father’s side. As part of the Indigenous Banking team covering Western Canada, he's passionate about building deep relationships with his clients. Robert says, “I enjoy commercial banking. The experience I've gained lets me provide a more holistic approach to determining my Indigenous clients’ needs and then working collaboratively to achieve their goals.”
One of Robert’s clients is the Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve (TTR) based in Manitoba under the leadership of Chief Barry McKay. TTR has been a CIBC client for almost 15 years. When Robert first met his client, he appreciated the strong sense of tradition within this community. Robert says, “They are a very strong, well-managed community that's done a good job of keeping their traditions alive and flourishing. I’ve appreciated learning about their values, history and connection to the land.” Robert's also proud of how the bank invests in its clients’ communities, including supporting the annual powwow and other cultural celebrations. Chief McKay considers Robert a trusted adviser and says, “Our relationship is built on trust, accountability and transparency on both sides. We've been building a strong relationship over the last 15 years, which enables TTR to continue to have a strong financial vision.”
Robert works to partner with other in-house experts at the bank to meet all of his client’s banking needs. “We take a long-term approach with our clients and want to provide them with a larger support network within our bank that can provide them with solutions for all of their needs,” he says. As an example, Robert worked with CIBC’s Trust group and CIBC Wealth Management to successfully transfer and coordinate a recent land claim settlement for TTR.
“It was a very complicated process, but I was pleased with how we did our best to navigate through and give TTR the value of a full banking relationship."
Given the strong banking relationship with TTR, Chief McKay approached Robert to help finance a childcare facility for children with disabilities. TTR had been approved for federal funding for Jordan’s Principle programming and wanted to build a childcare centre that provided respite care, as well as mental health and speech therapy services. Jordan’s Principle is a legal obligation that states every child deserves access to services like healthcare and support. It’s based on the legacy of Jordan Rivers Anderson, a young Indigenous boy born with complex medical needs who passed away at age five. Jordan never left the hospital after his birth and didn't receive the recommended home-based care he needed, as the federal and provincial governments couldn't agree on who should pay for his care.
Chief McKay says, “The facility will build a solid foundation to provide for the needs of our special gifted children. We as First Nations all have ‘Jordans’ in our communities. This project is a blessing sent from the creator to help our community with our gifted children and gives us hope for the future.”
TTR will be the first in the country to provide such a facility to its vulnerable members. Robert says, “The story of Jordan is tragic and sad. I take great pride in my ability to help my client achieve its goals and hopefully prevent an incident like Jordan’s from ever occurring again. I told the chief we're friends now, and friends help each other.”
Robert is excited about the future ahead. “Our reputation for transcending barriers and putting clients first will set us apart and carry us forward. It’s so rewarding and personally gratifying when there are shared success stories like TTR. Whether we're helping with social and programming issues, or providing direction on a land claim, we're seen as true partners on the same path."
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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