First Nations Market Housing Fund Approves Two More First Nations

OTTAWA, July 24, 2009 — The First Nations Market Housing Fund announced today that Membertou First Nation of Nova Scotia and Lac La Ronge Indian Band of Saskatchewan have been approved for backing through the Fund’s Credit Enhancement Program.
 
“We are very happy to welcome both of these First Nations as partners and I commend them for their commitment to creating opportunity for their members,” said John Beaucage, Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund.

The Fund was established by the Government of Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to give members of First Nations greater access to housing loans on-reserve and on settlement lands where appropriate. Now entering its second year of operations, the $300 million fund is expected to help secure financing for 25,000 new homes over 10 years.

“If you look across Canada, these communities are excellent examples of what is possible given a history of stable leadership and dedication to improving the lives of their people,” said Mr. Beaucage. “This is an exciting step toward unlocking the economic potential in housing and self-sufficiency.”

Membertou has shown good governance and accountability and has met the highest international quality management standards. It has created investor confidence and realized significant economic opportunities for their members. Lac La Ronge has been recognized as a leader in both economic development and for the development of their home ownership program.
 
 “Over the past several years, Membertou has created numerous employment opportunities on-reserve and as a result, the employment rate has risen and our band members are now in a better financial position to build their own homes,” noted Chief Terrence Paul. “We believe that our agreement with the First Nations Market Housing Fund will give band members more choices when it comes to building or renovating their home and we look forward to working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund and our band members.”

 “The Lac La Ronge Indian Band is always looking for new and innovative ways to financially help its membership, and the Fund represents a good opportunity as an additional resource to help our members construct new homes or renovate existing homes on reserve,“ said Tammy Cook-Searson, Chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band.

The Fund currently has five lenders participating in its Credit Enhancement Program.

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

Dan Christmas
Membertou First Nation
902-564-6466

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson
Lac La Ronge Indian Band
(306) 425-2183 x225

Backgrounder

Membertou First Nation

Named after the Grand Chief Membertou (1510-1611) the Membertou First Nation belongs to the greater tribal group of the Mi’kmaw Nation. Membertou is situated 3 kms from the heart of the city of Sydney, Nova Scotia, within its tribal district of Unama’ki (Cape Breton). It is one of five Mi’kmaw communities in Cape Breton, and one of 13 in the Province of Nova Scotia. Membertou is an urban First Nation community consisting of more than 1,150 band members — approximately 750 of which live on reserve.

In 1995, the Membertou Band faced significant challenges including, financial difficulties, low morale, and a high unemployment rate. It was then that Chief Terrance Paul decided it was time for a major change. With great determination, he and the council recruited band members that had previously left the reserve years to pursue an education and were now employed in senior positions in both private business and government off reserve.

This newly formed leadership decided that an unprecedented approach for Membertou was needed and it began by putting its financial house in order while embracing transparency and accountability. Although these tasks required sacrifice, they generated a renewed sense of accomplishment and discipline that quickly earned the respect of external parties in government and industry.

The First Nation has since formed lucrative partnerships with private industry and is the first Aboriginal government in the world to meet the ISO quality management standards. Strong leadership and strategic decision-making have lead to new opportunities, which continue to build momentum for Membertou’s aspirations of financial independence and self-determination.

 

Lac La Ronge Indian Band

Located in north-central Saskatchewan, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band is the largest First Nation in Saskatchewan, and one of the 10 largest in Canada. With a population of approximately 8,800, Lac La Ronge is a multi-community Band with six communities and 18 reserves extending from rich farmlands in central Saskatchewan, north through the boreal forest to the mighty Churchill River and beyond. The communities of Stanley Mission, Grandmother's Bay, and Little Red River are all self-administered, ensuring greater control over the delivery of programs and services. Hall Lake and Sucker River are administered through a central administration office located in La Ronge, 241 km north of Prince Albert, on the edge of the Pre-Cambrian Shield.

Lac La Ronge has a history of innovative programming and economic development successes that continue to provide opportunities for their members today. Kitsaki Management owns and has investments in several companies and strives to employ band members. In 2004/05, Lac La Ronge received national recognition after it developed and began operating the first formal on-reserve home ownership program in Saskatchewan. The communities are proud of their heritage and Cree language and of the educational opportunities and social development work made possible by many years of strong leadership.