At every biannual conference of the Royal Eagles, RBC’s Indigenous employee resource group, there is a cultural component. At the most recent gathering, Associate Branch Director & Investment Advisor Karen Bird invited her brother, an Ojibwe traditional healer, to participate.
So many of her fellow employees have been disconnected from their community and culture due to the generational effects of residential school, and because of this they don’t know their traditional name. Everyone has the option to bring tobacco to an elder to get their name and clan, but she decided to help things along by bringing the elder to them, knowing how transformative it would be.
Her brother, Jay, sat one on one with employees for hours, giving 26 names and clans that night. “It was a very emotional evening because people just felt this enormous sense of connection and belonging and pride and emotion … just pure, raw joy of knowing who they were,” Bird recalls. She remembers the smiles on their faces as employees introduced themselves with their new names the next day, in English and Ojibwe.
“Having your name and your clan shapes your identity and how you view the world. When someone is not clear and firm in who they are, they’re going to have a difficult time finding their space at work,” she explains. With their names and clans and now understanding the gifts they have, Indigenous employees can start their journey to see where they fit in the community of our people as well as in their Royal Eagles community. For those who have not yet received their name, we will hold a place for them and journey with them until they do.
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