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First Nations Bank Of Canada Clearing Final Hurdles

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      DECEMBER 1996      v26 n01 p27  
Canada will soon have its first bank with First Nations involvement and ownership. The First Nations Bank of Canada has cleared the initial approval stages and has received its letter of patent from the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). Following the licence to commence business, also from CDIC, in December, the First Nations Bank of Canada will be legally ready for clients. "It will be a milestone for our people," said Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Chief Blaine Favel.

The First Nations Bank of Canada, a proposed Schedule II bank, has involvement from the FSIN, the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation (SIEF) and the Toronto Dominion Bank. The Toronto-Dominion Bank, which currently has the highest securities ranking of any Canadian Bank, has committed to an $8 million investment for start-up capital for the First Nations Bank of Canada with SIEF contributing an additional $2 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, three-quarters of the operating profits will be returned to SIEF for reinvestment. It is expected that the First Nations Bank of Canada will be fully Aboriginally-owned and controlled within ten years. As such, all of the profits will be returned to First Nations in Saskatchewan. "The Bank is a structure that ensures financial self-sufficiency," says Keith Martell, FSIN Chief Financial Officer.

The First Nations Bank of Canada is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors. Four appointments were made by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, four by the FSIN and SIEF and two by the Toronto-Dominion Bank based on recommendations by the FSIN.

Barry Menary has been appointed to the position of President. Menary has spent the past 11 years in Aboriginal banking and investment. He served as Manager of Aboriginal Financial Services for Toronto Dominion Bank for the past four years. "This is a tremendous opportunity for Canadian Aboriginal peoples," stated Menary. "As the bank expands, it will introduce new jobs and career opportunities for people who want to serve their communities through banking."

Clients of the First Nations Bank of Canada, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals and businesses, will have access to a full array of services. These include chequing and savings accounts, VISAs, personal loans and lines of credit.

Expanding the services of the First Nations Bank of Canada to a national level will be a priority once it has opened its doors. The Toronto-Dominion Bank will serve as an agent for the First Nations Bank of Canada. Clients will be able to access their accounts through any of the 949 branches of the Toronto-Dominion Bank throughout Canada. "That's how national expansion will be achieved quite quickly," says Chief Favel.

The main branch of the First Nations Bank of Canada, located in Saskatoon, is expected to open in January 1997.