Updated: May 15, 2021
“Recently the spotlight has been placed on major banks competing for aboriginals business, however, there are three great aboriginal focused financial institutions that have a long history of providing financial services to Aboriginals in Canada."
By: Allan R Kirby
What is Aboriginal banking?
Aboriginal or Indigenous banking is defined as the business activity of a financial institution such as a bank or credit union to provide financial services to help support individuals, families, and businesses of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities across Canada. Specifically, Aboriginal-focused financial institutions accept and lend out money in order to help facilitate economic activities in the regions Aboriginals live and work.
Big Banks are taking the spotlight but the smaller Aboriginal focused banks are better
It's becoming clear that Canada's major banks are enthusiastically chasing the billions of dollars in land claim settlements coming to aboriginals. In fact, as reported by Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press "The total amount of personal and business income within Canadian Indigenous communities totaled about $33 billion in 2016, nearly triple from $12 billion in 2001, said Brent Mainprize, a professor at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business who teaches entrepreneurship and Aboriginal economic development."
"More focus needs to be placed on smaller financial institutions with deep roots and a history of providing support to aboritional communities."
Big money brings the big banks searching for profits and growth especially since the big banks have seen other areas of their businesses slow down more recently. Although the spotlight has been on the major banks, we need to highlight that there are a few smaller financial institutions that have a long history of providing support to aboriginal communities. They include First Nations Bank of Canada (La Banque des Premières Nations du Canada), Me-Dian Credit Union and Vancity Credit Union.
Unlike the major banks, these financial institutions are arguably better suited to meet the needs of smaller businesses and individuals and families living in and around Aboriginal communities. They are not seeking short-term opportunities to make money. They are focused on serving the communities by providing the capital needed to help with the success of their customers, the indigenous people.
"The smaller banks and credit unions such as FNBC , Me-Dian Credit Union and Vancity Credit Union have a better personalized relationship and a deeper understanding of the needs of the aboriginal communities they serve."
Financial institutions for better or worse are the lifeblood for any community. As a result, it's incredibly important that smaller institutions continue to thrive and help provide financial independence for aboriginal communities across the country.
What is the largest Aboriginal Bank in Canada?
First Nations Bank of Canada (FNBC) could be considered the largest aboriginal bank in Canada. The bank was founded in 1996 and is a Canadian chartered bank that provides a full range of personal and business banking services, including loans, mortgages, and investments to underserved aboriginal communities across Canada. The Bank's Aboriginal shareholders collectively own over 80% of the Bank, which has 9 full-service branches and 8 Community Banking Centres across Canada.
"Special mention to Assiniboine Credit Union, one of Winnipeg's larger credit unions that serves areas with large aboriginalorigional communities."
The following provides details on Canada's aboriginal-focused banks and credit unions. We would also like to provide a special mention to Assiniboine Credit Union, a credit union that provides financial services in the Winnipeg, Manitoba, area with large aboriginal communities.
Native Owned: Majority owned by Indigenous shareholders.
Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Year Established: 1996
First Nations Bank of Canada
(FNBC) was founded in 1996 and is a Canadian chartered bank that provides a full range of personal and business banking services, including loans, mortgages, and investments to underserved aboriginal communities across Canada. The Bank's Aboriginal shareholders collectively own over 80% of the Bank, which has 9 full-service branches and 8 Community Banking Centres across Canada.
The Bank is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Canadian Payments Association and is an approved lender with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the First Nation Market Housing Fund.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Corporate Location)
300 - 224 4th Ave South
Saskatoon, SK, S7K 5M5
Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan
Enoch Cree Nation, Alberta
Walpole Island First Nation, Ontario
Cree Nation of Chisasibi, Quebec
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Community Banking Centres
Buffalo River Dene Nation, Saskatchewan
Cree Nation of Nemaska, Quebec
Baker Lake, Nunavut
Pond Inlet, Nunavut
Native Owned: First Indigenous full-service financial institution to be founded in Canada.
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Year Established: 1978
Me-Dian Credit Union
Me-Dian Credit Union is the first Indigenous full-service financial institution to be founded in Canada. As co-operative, aboriginal members have a say in how Me-Dian Credit Union operates. They also share in the profits of the credit union, usually in the form of better rates on loans and higher rates on deposits than members can get at any other major financial institution. Me-Dian Credit Union is responsive to the needs of members, no matter where they live or how they choose to access the credit union's services.
303 Selkirk Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R2W 2L8
Grand Rapids Branch
The Band Office Complex Hwy 6
Types of Membership
Associate Member (Non- Voting):
All non-Indigenous members
Commercial Members: (Voting and Non- Voting)
Business line of credit
Native Owned: No, but provides financial services to Aboriginals.
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Year Established: 1946
Vancity Credit Union
Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 543,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka'wakw territories, with 60 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay.
With $28.2 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada's largest community credit union. Vancity Credit Union is also based within the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people and works in partnership with the First Nation government and Indigenous not-for-profit organizations to help build stronger communities.
Aboriginal Entrepreneurship: Aboriginal BEST microloans support entrepreneurs who have completed the Aboriginal BEST (Business and Entrepreneurship Skills Training) program and are ready to start a business in Coast Salish Territory.
PO Box 2120
Name: Assiniboine Credit Union
Native Owned: No, but has branches in Winnipeg’s large and growing Aboriginal community.
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Year Established: 1943
Assiniboine Credit Union
Assiniboine Credit Union is one of the larger credit unions in Manitoba. With 16 branches from Winnipeg to Gillam and Thompson. Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU) has a strong presence in Winnipeg’s large and growing Aboriginal community.
About Indigenous peoples in Canada
As described in Wikipedia: In Canada, the First Nations are the predominant indigenous peoples in Canada south of the Arctic Circle. Those in the Arctic area are distinct and known as Inuit. The Métis, another distinct ethnicity, developed after European contact and relations primarily between First Nations people and Europeans.
This is a MySmallBank.com blog written by Allan Kirby, who writes and produces Personal Finance and Money Management articles and videos. Allan has over 20 years of IT and financial experience working in the public and private sectors.