First Nations Market Housing Fund Announces New Regional Lenders

THUNDER BAY, May 21, 2009 — Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund announced today that two additional lenders have been approved to offer loans to First Nations approved by the Fund.

Desjardins Group and Envision Financial will work with the Fund to offer loans to approved First Nations using the Fund’s Credit Enhancement Facility. Desjardins will offer services to First Nations in Quebec and Ontario while Envision will be a choice for First Nations in British Columbia.

"This is another significant milestone as one of the goals of the Fund is to facilitate access to financing for First Nations members," said Mr. Beaucage. "People on reserve have not had this much choice traditionally. We applaud both of these lenders for their commitment to helping advance good housing in our communities."

The Fund is a new and innovative initiative established by the Government of Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to give First Nations members greater access to housing loans on reserve and on settlement lands, where appropriate. The $300 million fund, which has been in operation for one year, is expected to help secure financing for 25,000 new homes over 10 years.

Desjardins and Envision join BMO Bank of Montreal, Peace Hills Trust, and Vancouver City Savings Credit Union as lenders qualified by the Fund to serve First Nations.

Mr. Beaucage commended Desjardins for its long history of supporting local economies and Envision for its community focus and excellent reputation as an employer. "Both lenders are welcome additions to our list of partners and we are excited about the expanded choice they represent."

"We have already long-developed excellent relations with Aboriginal peoples to whom we provide a variety of financial services," said Yves Poirier, Senior Manager, Major Accounts — First Nations, Desjardins Group. "The participation of Desjardins in this homeownership Fund is without a doubt one more step in the right direction, and we are proud to be able to contribute to the well-being of First Nation members. Our co-operative values are more than ever strengthened by this involvement."

"Envision is proud to support innovative programs that advocate for our local communities," said Tim Mackie, Envision Financial’s Vice-President, Retail Banking. "We look forward to partnering with the First Nations Market Housing Fund and continuing to build relationships within First Nation communities."

For more information and to download a copy of the Fund’s 2008 Annual Report, please visit www.fnmhf.ca.

Media Contact:

Deborah Taylor
First Nations Market Housing Fund
613-740-9931

Yves Poirier
Desjardins
514-792-4790

Hank Pilotte
Envision Credit Union
604-539 7177

Jane MacCarthy
Vancity Media Relations
778-837-0394

Stephen Fay
BMO Bank of Montreal
416-927-2675

August (Tony) Shirt
Peace Hills Trust
780-221-9170

Lender Backgrounder

Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in Canada, with overall assets of $152 billion, as at December 31, 2008. It comprises a network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Québec and Ontario, and some 20 subsidiary companies in life and general insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of which are active across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its 42,000 employees and the commitment of its 6,300 elected officers, Desjardins offers its 5.8 million individual and corporate members and clients a full range of financial products and services. Its physical distribution network is complemented by leading-edge virtual access methods. To find out more, consult www.desjardins.com.

Envision Financial
Envision Financial is B.C.’s third largest credit union with 21 branches and 20 insurance offices throughout the province. For seven years, Envision Financial has been recognized as one of the 50 Best Employers in Canada by the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine.It has approximately $3.8 billion in assets under administration, more than 800 staff and 120,000 members. Envision has a number of subsidiary businesses including Envision Insurance Services, Envision Investment Services, CUDealerLink, Envision Leasing and inUnison Technology Services. For its extensive support of the community, Envision Financial is designated a "Caring Company" by Imagine Canada.

Peace Hills Trust
Peace Hills Trust is Canada's Premier First Nation Trust Company. Established in 1980, Peace Hills Trust employs more than 120 people who serve more than 20,000 personal and business customers. Peace Hills Trust provides financial services across Canada through a network of eight regional offices and electronic services accessible around the world. 

Peace Hills Trust has a full range of deposit services and specializes in on-reserve financing for infrastructure, housing and business loans. Peace Hills Trust has provided on-reserve mortgage financing for homes and businesses for more than 28 years.

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity)
Vancity is Canada's largest credit union with $14.1 billion in assets, 400,000 members, and 61 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. Vancity is guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility and to improving the quality of life in the communities where they live and work.

BMO Bank of Montreal Aboriginal Banking
The Aboriginal Banking Unit at BMO Bank of Montreal was created in October 1992 to contribute to the self-sufficiency of Aboriginal peoples across Canada. The unit is working to build mutually beneficial sustainable relationships by designing and delivering with Aboriginal communities, businesses and individuals, a comprehensive range of financial products and services.

This spirit of partnership and cooperation between BMO and Aboriginal peoples has already manifested itself with the opening of branches and community banking outlets within Aboriginal communities, the implementation of on-reserve housing programs without government guarantees and with improved access to financing opportunities at all levels.