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System Brief: Deepening Relationships – Credit Union and Aboriginal Peoples Case Studies
Credit Union Central of Canada
Credit Union and Aboriginal Peoples Case Studies
Aboriginal1 communities and credit unions share an affinity of values that lead to successful partnerships. Aboriginal communities appreciate the credit union system’s commitment to democracy and share a desire for the economic well-being of their members. Inspired by their co-operative philosophy, credit unions provide inclusive and much-needed financial services to the Aboriginal population in a way that respects and understands Aboriginal peoples’ aspirations. Credit unions also recognize that their commitment to the well-being of Aboriginal communities has the potential to generate both new members and business for credit unions, many of which are located near rural and urban reserves or have developed strategies to provide services to an increasingly large urban Aboriginal population. But, how exactly are credit unions developing relationships with Aboriginal peoples in their districts?
The first of our System Briefs in this three-part series focused on opportunities and challenges of working with Aboriginal peoples. The second System Brief examined the federal programs and initiatives available to assist credit unions in their efforts.
Before providing more details on our third System Brief, it is worth noting that since the publication of our last System Brief, the Supreme Court of Canada returned a significant ruling that will impact credit unions operating on First Nations reserves.2 The Supreme Court ruled that interest income earned on investments held at an on-reserve financial institution could be treated as tax exempt. As a result, credit unions with a physical presence on reserves are well poised to provide status Indians3 (living on or off-reserve) with interest-bearing investment opportunities that provide tax-exempt interest income. This ruling provides another opportunity for credit unions to deepen their relationships with Aboriginal peoples.
This last System Brief in our series focuses on the real life examples of how credit unions are working to strengthen their relationships with Aboriginal peoples, communities, businesses and governments. Discussions with credit union representatives who work with Aboriginal communities reveal that one of the most important elements for a successful partnership is a relationship based on trust, respect and equality. Be it either tailoring programs, products and services to meet the financial service needs of Aboriginal peoples, or making use of existing programs, the seven case studies in this System Brief examine credit union relationships with First Nations peoples on and off-reserves, urban Aboriginal populations, Métis communities, Inuit communities, Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs, Band governments and Tribal Councils.
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