National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place each year on September 30th, and is a day for Canadians to reflect, learn, mourn, and honour the tragedies that unfolded when children belonging to Indigenous communities across Canada were taken away from their families and forced into residential schools, many never returning home.
On this important day, we are highlighting Atlantic Edge Credit Union (AECU), along with honourable mentions from other credit unions, to showcase examples of how credit unions in Canada are promoting Indigenous history awareness to its staff and members while standing with the Indigenous communities they serve.
Implementing a Land Acknowledgment Statement
Many credit unions have chosen to implement a land acknowledgment statement, a small, but powerful step in the overall aim to reconcile with Indigenous communities and honour their deeply rooted history pertaining to the land we call home. Atlantic Edge Credit Union is just one of many credit unions to have adopted this statement into their business practices to acknowledge and honour the voices of the Indigenous peoples. Charlotte Taylor, Community Engagement Specialist at AECU states, “based on research, we’ve developed a land acknowledgment statement inclusive of the Indigenous communities throughout the vast geographical area of AECU. Our statement is used at all board meetings as well as public presentations.” Other credit unions across the country have also participated in this reconciliation effort with similar land acknowledgment practices.
Mandatory Truth and Reconciliation Training
AECU is committed to educating its staff on Reconciliation with the Indigenous community. In the effort to help bring reconciliation and indigenous inclusion to life within their credit union, AECU has made it a mission to provide mandatory reconciliation education by taking a course offered through the Canadian Credit Union Association entitled, 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, presented by the First Nations University in Canada. This three-hour course, which honours the residential school survivors, serves as an educational tool to communicate the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action utilizing authentic Indigenous voices. Many other credit unions, including Meridian Credit Union, Canada’s second-largest credit union, have also made it a mission to provide employee training about the history and culture of Indigenous communities in Canada, while learning about the tragic history of residential schools and its victims, and have implemented the same course as part of their employee training.
Financial Literacy Training
Lack of financial literacy is an unfortunate issue that has plagued many Canadians and the Indigenous community is not exempt. It was estimated in survey findings from 2009, that 15% of first nations respondents did not have an account with a financial institution. These survey results were derived from an astoundingly low percentage of first nations respondents – only 4.2%. As a result, many financial institutions are making it a priority to provide accessible financial literacy to those in Indigenous communities. AECU has committed to providing free financial literacy training to community partners by request, which includes audiences that lie within the Indigenous community, one of which is the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network. On the opposite coast, Vancity, one of Canada’s largest credit unions serving in the B.C area, recognizes that “over one-third of the Indigenous population in B.C resides within Vancity’s service area,” which is why this credit union developed initiatives, and is working with community partners to provide free education and resources to those who do not have access to bank accounts.
National Indigenous History Month Celebration
In Canada, National Indigenous History Month is honoured every year in June. At AECU, learning and respecting Indigenous history is a priority. “AECU participates in the celebration of National Indigenous History Month, and we recently distributed a brochure of resources and educational opportunities to share with both staff and members to encourage learning and reflection during this month,” explains Taylor. Innovation Credit Union in Saskatchewan has also made it a priority to raise awareness and honour Indigenous culture and history during the month of June. On their website, there is an entire page dedicated to explaining the importance of Indigenous History Month, how it came into fruition, the importance of truth and reconciliation and how members can honour it in June.
This is only the Beginning: Indigenous Reconciliation is A Journey, not a Destination.
Reconciliation is the first step towards a life-long healing journey for Indigenous peoples and communities across Canada. With the support, involvement, and active participation of all Canadians, advancing harmony is possible. Canada’s credit unions play a pivotal role in creating opportunities in the sector for Indigenous peoples, addressing and challenging systemic barriers, and educating members and staff on Indigenous history, culture, and legacy.
Looking to join a financial institution that cares about their community? Become a credit union member. As community-focused institutions, Canada’s credit unions are committed to championing the financial inclusion of Indigenous peoples to help thrive their communities thrive. Not yet a credit union member? Find your nearest credit union, here.