National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place on September 30th in Canada. This is a day for Indigenous peoples and Canadians to recognize Indigenous culture and history, along with the devastating history of residential schools and how they continue to impact so many Indigenous communities across Canada. Collectively, it’s important for each of us to make reconciliation a core value and commit to combating systemic oppression for everyone. On this federal holiday and throughout the entire year, Canada’s credit unions are committed to learning, listening, and actively advancing reconciliation.
How Canada’s Credit Unions Are Advancing Reconciliation
Reconciliation is imperative for Canada’s credit unions, and many are taking active steps in their efforts to address the financial and economic barriers faced by Indigenous peoples and communities.
Canada’s credit unions are each at different stages of their reconciliation journey but are working towards achieving reconciliation at their own pace and in their own way.
Here are just a few examples of what certain credit unions are doing to challenge systemic barriers and support Indigenous communities.
- Affinity Credit Union
In Saskatchewan, Affinity Credit Union is showcasing their commitment to building a better world through reconciliation. The province has a high Indigenous population, making up 16.3% of the population with 175,015 Indigenous peoples. In fact, the Councilor for Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Paul Ledoux, sits on the board of directors at the credit union.
Affinity Credit Union recognizes the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and Call To Actions, and is following Call to Action 92, which includes educating their staff and management about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and ensuring there are employment and education opportunities for Indigenous residents in their community.
They are also committed to providing financial support. In 2020, the credit union donated $100,000 to Wanuskewin Heritage Park to support the preservation and modernization of the culturally significant site, which serves to promote the sharing of Indigenous history and tradition.
- Me-Dian Credit Union
Winnipeg’s Me-Dian Credit Union is the first Indigenous-led, full-service credit union in Canada. It was originally founded as a closed bond, Métis credit union of Manitoba committed to serving urban and rural members of Manitoba.
Me-Dian’s mission is to provide financial services and support for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Manitoba. Beyond the economic contribution to the nation, the Indigenous-governed credit union is important for Indigenous communities and creates local Indigenous employment and mentorship opportunities as well.
When Indigenous peoples succeed, all of Canada succeeds as Indigenous organizations play a significant role in Canada’s economic recovery.
- Meridian Credit Union
Meridian Credit Union is committed to learning about the indigenous community, their history and their ongoing struggles. Through the First Nations University, Meridian’s employees are trained on the history and culture of Indigenous communities in Canada, as well as the history of residential schools and treaties.
Meridian is also committed to providing financial support to several initiatives benefiting Indigenous peoples in Canada, including Water First which provides sustainable drinking water solutions for Indigenous communities, and volunteer support for initiatives like Habitat for Humanity’s Tiny Home Build project for the Chippewas of the Nawash Unceded First Nation.
- Vancity Credit Union
British Columbia’s Vancity Credit Union is one of the most advanced and progressive in terms of its initiatives toward achieving reconciliation. The credit union made reconciliation a core organizational value in 2015, is a founding partner of Reconciliation Canada, and has adopted the call to action for businesses from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the UN Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Vancity works with Indigenous communities and community partners to build financial resilience and provide support for Indigenous peoples and businesses. Some of Vancity’s impactful initiatives for Indigenous peoples include:
- Financial Literacy Workshops – created and delivered by indigenous employees to indigenous communities.
- Small business and start-up loans – Vancity provides financial support for indigenous entrepreneurs interested in starting their own businesses who may not be able to secure conventional financing.
- Housing solutions – Vancity works with Indigenous organizations and First Nations to help create and deliver on- and off-reserve housing solutions.
- Vancity works with partner organizations to provide financial support, mentorship opportunities and education programs for indigenous people and business owners.
5.Westoba Credit Union
Westoba Credit Union in Manitoba has partnered with the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Council (BUAPC) to provide support and host activities for Truth and Reconciliation Week 2022 in the City of Brandon, Winnipeg. This week-long event is held from September 27th to October 2nd at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
From ceremonies and gatherings hosted by the Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellness committee; to impactful truth and reconciliation teachings, residential school stories, and performances, each day will feature a range of activities aimed at honouring the Indigenous people in the Brandon community. In addition to the events and programs, there will be specified areas for learning including “The Indigenous Arts Area” and the “Elders/Survivors Area.” It’s through these immersive events and ceremonies that Brandon citizens can learn more about Indigenous history, culture, and legacy.
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.
Each credit union is making progress at their own pace. What matters is the sector’s dedication to learn, listen, support, and act with reconciliation top of mind, to ensure a better future for all Indigenous peoples of Canada.
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.