Reconciling Credit Unions

Canada’s credit unions endorsed key recommendations of the truth and reconciliation commission today.   At the Canadian Credit Union Association AGM a member resolution, proposed by Affinity Credit Union, was carried by a wide margin.  That was great.

One issue went unexplored.  Why are there no first nations based credit unions in this room?

The motion is a good step.  The rationale, with references to mutual respect and mutual support, provided a compelling case.  But it was speaking to the largely white audience about their largely white enterprises.  It spoke to how these enterprises can relate better to first nations.

Reconciliation may also mean expanding the ‘family’ of credit unions to include more self-help credit unions that are based in indigenous communities; credit unions that promote self-help, that build financial literacy, and enhance economic development.

More than 35 years ago I managed BC Native Peoples Credit Union.  That project faltered a few years after I had left, but it was an early attempt and using the credit union model to assist Canada’s first nations.

After the resolution was presented, the meeting also heard from the Co-operative Development Foundation.  The CDF sponsors the creation of the credit unions all over the developing world.  It is clear that elsewhere the value of credit unions as engines of social development are known.  How is it that the model is not applicable here in North America?  (Ironically, community development credit unions are an important part of the US system, but there also indigenous communities are also largely not in the credit union system.)

Is CCUA in a position to facilitate a credit union creation in this set of communities?  Can provincial legislators remove some of the barriers to the formation of new credit unions?

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