Impact You Can Bank On: Jon Davey’s Quest To Invest In Community
Scotiabank’s core purpose is “For Every Future”, and their Vice President of Indigenous Financial Services has been striving to support the futures of Indigenous communities and their business aspirations.
Jon Davey is from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and calls Toronto home, after having lived in Ottawa, New Brunswick and even New York, where he attended Cornell University for graduate school to study public administration. At Scotiabank, Davey works with Indigenous businesses who are in need of wealth services, wealth management or trust services, or other retail products.
“I see it as fulfilling my obligation as an Indigenous person to really have that positive impact on the Indigenous community at large and make things better for future generations.”
Davey also helps the bank navigate the legislation and regulations placed on Indigenous peoples that make it difficult to access capital, drawing on his experience as federal crown with the Department of Justice. Two and a half years ago, he chose to take that knowledge and use it to help Indigenous communities, businesses and peoples get greater access to credit and capital. He has to be flexible because he serves many clients in the wealth space, the commercial banking space and the small business space.
“The thing I like the most about working at Scotiabank is that I get to work directly with communities, and with businesses. So getting out on the lands and being a part of the community, even if it's for a brief period of time, really resonates with me.”
After four years of undergraduate studies in Business Communications at Brock University, Davey recognized how many legal issues were impacting Indigenous peoples exclusively, inspiring his legal career. He was driven by the desire to disassemble or reduce the restrictions of the Indian Act. As he studied, he realized that along the way, Indigenous businesses needed access to capital and that needed to be solved first to create local economies. He’s driven by a desire to make a difference, nudged in part by his father.
My dad said something to me to the effect of, “If you have something substantive to say and something substantive to contribute, you're always going to have an audience. So work hard in school and find a way that you can make a positive contribution to not only our Indigenous community Six Nations, but the wider Indigenous community.”
Davey’s dad was an educator who instilled in him the value of education, using hockey participation as an incentive to complete schooling. Leaving his home community to go to post-secondary put the responsibility to get things done on himself because he had nobody looking over his shoulder to make sure he succeeded. After becoming a lawyer and practicing law, Davey went to graduate school to continue his studies.
“I think just as important as being a good student is having the wherewithal to know that the more information that you get, the more knowledge you attain, the more skills that you have, the more you're going to be able to do. And it's going to help not only you, but the people around you.”
When he was struggling with how hard post-secondary education was, Davey’s dad was once again a source of wisdom, instilling in him the value of incremental improvement and commitment to not giving up. That “one day at a time” approach served Davey well in his education and life. But he had to leave home to have that experience.
“Wherever you go, you can take your values and your experience with you.”
Davey left home with teachings that inspired him to learn. “The way I was taught was: go out into the world, engage in other communities, learn from other people, experience a different way of life, take your values with you. But when you come back, bring something with you,” he explained.
In exploring new communities and new opportunities, Davey found the value of leaving your comfort zone to participate in a cultural and knowledge exchange. Ultimately, he knew he could always come home and he reminds youth thinking of leaving home to study to remember that it doesn’t have to be forever.
“It might be a little bit uncomfortable at first, but there's a whole wealth of information and values out there that you can take from and then bring back to your community.”
That process of returning and making a contribution wasn’t just an individual effort. “Without the hard work and dedication of different professors that I worked with and supportive classmates and support of my family, I never would have had the opportunities that I had, which were to go back to my community and work there as a legal student, to work with different government bodies that were focused exclusively on working and serving Indigenous populations,” Davey shared.
“I knew very clearly why I went into legal education and what I was hoping to get out of law school and it was to serve communities and work with communities.”
Even though Davey entered law school with a sense of purpose, one of his big obstacles was staying true to his core values and what he really wanted. He was pulled in many directions and was asked to consider many paths. He was also confronted with failure and had to redefine his relationship with not succeeding all the time.
“Whatever you do, do it with a lot of passion, do it with a lot of conviction, do it to the best of your ability, but don't do it with this fear of failure. Failure happens. It's okay. Be better for it.”
That positive mental attitude serves Davey well, and carries into his approach to mental health and wellness. He enjoys getting outside on the land, exercising, taking mental breaks, and finding solace in his runs because they take him away from distractions. “If I see open space, I feel at home, but I also feel wouldn't it be great to traverse the land and actually be connected to it and run across it or run around it?” Davey confided. In fact, Davey ran so much during the pandemic he now needs knee surgery to recover, so his runs have become more walks.
Long distances are how he enjoys his runs, but they also formed the first three years of his relationships with his wife. She lived in Colorado and when they decided to live together and get married, she joined him, which put into motion a year-long immigration process where she was unable to work. She went on to have a career with the Jay’s Care foundation with the Blue Jays organization.
Davey is inspired by his wife and all the obstacles she overcame to excel in her career and give her family a better life. He speaks fondly of her hard work and dedication and how it benefits him and their daughter. In recognition of her efforts, he’s inspired to work hard and do right by her so she will be proud of him too. His belief that she deserves nothing but the best propels him forward.
With a solid education behind him and a connection to community, Davey serves Indigenous peoples at a bank that says “For Every Future”. All of his studies and the wisdom of his parents have taught him that he and his life experiences are for the development of his future, his family's future and the future of the Indigenous communities he so strongly supports.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
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.