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First Nations Bank of Canada is a joint economic venture between the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation (SIEF) and the Toronto Dominion Bank. "We've been talking about this for a decade, and we've been negotiating very hard for the past two years," said Chief Favel.
SIEF began looking into creating a financial institution that could offer a full range of banking services in 1993. Within a year, SIEF and the Toronto Dominion Bank had begun negotiations towards the creation of the First Nations Bank of Canada. Under the terms of their agreement, the Toronto Dominion Bank is investing $8 million in capital and SIEF is investing an additional $2 million.
The bank's official launching was held on the 54th floor of the Toronto Dominion Tower in Toronto on December 9, 1996. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Blaine Favel, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Toronto Dominion Bank officials and First Nations leaders from across the country gathered for the occasion. "It's a day of pride for our people," said Chief Favel.
We understand that to achieve political self-determination, we must achieve economic self-determination, because control over our own economy will lead to control or our own destiny.
He went on to say, "We understand that to achieve political self-determination, we must achieve economic self-determination, because control over our own economy will lead to control of our own destiny."
Prime Minister Chretien praised the initiative for its timeliness and lack of government involvement. "I've said so many times that we made enough mistakes for [Aboriginal people] that the time has come to let them make their own success."
"First Nations Bank of Canada will be a success because it is a business venture running on business principles under the leadership of good bankers," said Toronto Dominion Chief
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Chief Blaine Favel at Toronto
Dominion Tower in Toronto,
December 9, 1996
Executive Officer Richard Thompson.
Chief Favel stressed that success and more specifically, profit will be put "first and foremost". First Nations Bank of Canada officials are counting on this interest to attract the banking business and investment capital from Aboriginal groups and individuals from across the country.
The interest also translates as good news for Saskatchewan First Nations. Through ownership of SIEF and the FSIN, they will initially hold 100 percent of the bank's common shares. In addition each First Nation will have the opportunity to invest directly. An initial share offering of $1000 will be made available to each First Nation in Saskatchewan.
"This represents a very concrete example of what we have been able to accomplish as First Nations People," said Chief Favel. The First Nations Bank of Canada is expected to be fully operational by the end of May 1997.