Reconciliation Action Planning For The Future: Alexandra Biron Decolonizes Corporate Canada
“One thing that I know remained consistent since I was a child, which was instilled upon me by my parents and my ancestors, is giving back to my community, my people and my networks,” Alexandra Biron shares. She was born and raised in Treaty 13 in Toronto and she’s of mixed ancestry, with European ancestry on her mother’s side and a father from Garden River First Nation. Biron leads Deloitte Canada’s Reconciliation Action Plan as an Anishinaabe Ojibwe woman, working virtually to support a national team.
Growing up she volunteered in her community and found excitement in corporate social responsibility in university. “That really ignited me on how we can bridge this social impact work into the corporate world to ultimately have social purpose and social good for Indigenous communities, and also non-Indigenous communities across Canada,” she recalls. It prepared her for what she does today.
Her employer is a professional services firm that guides organizations through strategic planning in consulting, tax and audit. “No day is quite like the next which is exciting and keeps things engaging… My favorite part of my role is working with Indigenous youth led organizations. That's really what brought me to this role and what has shaped my career path so far,” she smiles. She’s worked with groups like Indspire, Canadian Roots Exchange, and North American Indigenous Games and it warms her heart.
In high school, Biron excelled at math and business, then took a general business program in university. She tried out marketing, finance, accounting, human resources, before deciding to major in sustainability, with a focus on social impact. She participated in a Co-Op program, something she highly recommends in order to try out different jobs, see what you like, don’t like and get a chance to shape your path.
She worked in finance and accounting and the last role was in sports entertainment, working for MLSE which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors and also has the MLSE Foundation. The Foundation opened her eyes to community impact work and she was inspired.
Biron’s also inspired by connecting with her family, roots, friends and the next generation. “I am one person, one female Indigenous leader within corporate Canada, but there needs to be way more and helping to pave the way for the next generation of leaders, there's a huge opportunity to have more of a prominent Indigenous voice in corporate Canada. It does take a thick skin to do, so I can say it's not an easy job, and at times can be very draining, but also rewarding to know that we're decolonizing corporate Canada,” she explains.
“Who would have thought that I would ever be in a role like this and having many other incredible leaders that I get to work with, even allies? The narrative is shifting in corporate Canada, and it's an exciting time. Being able to be a part of that, and knowing that we're making a difference in this country is inspiring, and what keeps me going every day,” she continues.
She loves the way the world is starting to see her people. “Non-Indigenous leaders are recognizing the immense value that Indigenous youth and Indigenous leaders bring to the table, and want that and so are now creating the space on boards, executive teams, and all throughout the organization to have a voice and to be representative of this country, which, we know, have taken a long time to even get to that point,” she beams.
While she hasn’t lived outside the Toronto city centre, her work has taken her across the province and the country. Deloitte offers remote work opportunities and also the opportunity to work in another community or city. She wants to encourage youth considering leaving their communities to pursue their dreams elsewhere.
“While it can be scary to do so, I would say to encourage yourself to try new things and to meet new people. I'm still amazed at the diversity of Indigenous peoples across this land, and it's incredible to connect with non Indigenous peoples. You can always go back to your community, nothing is forever. You can do a short term placement or even a short term study leave and then go back to community. There's also many careers that will pay for you to go work in other communities as well. Take a chance and try new things and be open minded to see what might come up in the future,” she advises.
To take care of herself, she spends time out on the land, listening to, walking by and swimming in the water. She loves sunrises and sunsets, smudging, meditating, yoga, exercise and keeping her life in balance. Sleep is a priority and so is eating nutritious food. Finding balance is a continual practice she engages in with a holistic perspective.
Self care is something she hopes youth learn early. “Building those capabilities and resources when you're young, you can carry those in your toolkit all throughout your career and during tough moments. The tough times do come, it's just how can we respond to them?” she reflects. She hopes to inspire youth the way they inspire her.
“I continue to be inspired by the youth that I get to work with through the partnerships at Deloitte and through my personal network through mentoring. The future is absolutely bright with you in it, and having a voice. Don't ever be afraid to share who you are. Be proud of your Indigeneity. I know I have struggled with the intergenerational trauma within my life. My father was not proud of his Indigeneity and I'm determined personally to change that for the next generations to come. As much as we can, be yourself, be proud, have a voice, make space for others and always be inclusive,” she counsels.
What’s been consistent since she was a child, and instilled upon her by her parents and her ancestors, is giving back to her community, her people and her networks. Alexandra Biron is action planning for Reconciliation, decolonizing Corporate Canada and guiding organizations as they walk alongside Indigenous communities. Growing up she volunteered in her community and now she’s harnessing corporate social responsibility to give back to communities across the country. Seeing the corporate landscape come alive to the promise of Indigenous youth and leadership, she’s in the right place at the right time to witness change in motion, creating ripples like the water she finds solace by.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.