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The dream began in 1982 when Saskatchewan First Nation leaders identified the need for a financial institution geared towards First Nations people. The Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation (SIEF) was formed in 1982 as a response.
In 1993, officials at SIEF began the process of creating a financial institution that could offer a full range of banking services. Within a year, SIEF and the Toronto Dominion Bank had begun the negotiations that would establish the First Nations Bank of Canada (FNBC). The result, says Toronto Dominion Vice-Chair Bob Kelly, is an economic joint venture that is a "true cooperative effort". The FNBC was officially launched in December 1996 on Bay Street in the heart of Toronto's financial district. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Chief Blaine Favel called it "a day of pride" at the launch.
With this official opening in September, the FNBC joins the ranks of the ten other chartered banks in Canada. The FNBC offers complete banking services including commercial deposits and loans, personal banking, and term deposits, GICs and investments.
The Grand Opening was held outside the main branch of the FNBC in downtown Saskatoon. The building that houses the bank is owned by the Yellowquill First Nation. Negotiations are currently underway to convert this properly to reserve status. Yellowquill Chief Harry Neapetung believes the bank will provide Saskatchewan First Nations with economic stability. "Our survival lies in developing our economic development in our communities," he said. "This is the beginning of that reality."
Also in attendance, Deputy Premier Duane Lingenfelter praised the initiative. "This is going to be an example we can hold up to the nation and the rest of the world as an example of cooperation and partnership," he said.
Chief Favel lauded the bank as an illustration of the strength of Saskatchewan First Nations and the FSIN. "Our trademark is in
Now that the FNBC is officially up and running, the goal is to attract the significant First Nations business and Treaty Land Entitlement dollars from across the country. The fact that the bank will eventually be on reserve land should prove to be a deciding factor for First Nations looking to invest.
While initial response to the FNBC has been positive, long-term success is the goal. "This bank is designed to be a bank for the future," says Chief Favel. And expansion on a national scale is imminent. A second FNBC branch is planned for the James Bay Cree Nation in Quebec in the near future.
FNBC accounts are currently available at any of the Toronto Dominion's 949 branches across Canada in addition to the Saskatoon main office location.