More Good News for First Nations in Ontario

OTTAWA, May 5, 2010 — John Beaucage, Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) announced today that Anishinabek Nation Credit Union (ANCU) has been approved to offer loans to First Nations in Ontario.

Mr. Beaucage also announced the approval of Sagamok Anishnawbek as the second First Nation in Ontario to qualify for loans backed by the Fund.

ANCU will work with the Fund to offer loans to First Nations in Ontario using the Fund’s Credit Enhancement Facility. ANCU will serve First Nations across Ontario from its location at the Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie.

“This announcement is another concrete sign of progress along the path of First Nation self-sufficiency,” said Mr. Beaucage. “First Nation people in Ontario now have access to a home-grown financing option for their on-reserve housing needs, backed by the Fund. The Fund welcomes ANCU to our list of participating lenders.”

“As the first on-reserve credit union ever to be chartered by the Province of Ontario, Anishinabek Nation Credit Union strives to find innovative loan programs designed to assist First Nation members with home ownership,” said ANCU General Manager Allan Moffatt. “We are proud to become a partner with the Fund in providing an innovative borrowing option to our membership.”

Sagamok Anishnawbek, located on the north channel of Lake Huron, plans to use the Fund’s backing for access to more homeowner, renovation and rental loans in the community.

“As we today celebrate the second anniversary of the Fund, the announcement of Sagamok Anishnawbek is further proof the Fund is helping to open doors for First Nation members by providing more housing choices in communities with strong leadership and vision,” said Mr. Beaucage.

“Affordable and adequate housing is always a top priority within our community,” said Chief Paul Eshkakogan. “Sagamok Anishnawbek’s partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund is a great step toward creating more housing opportunities for our community members and we look forward to working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to help remove some of the barriers that exist which prevent our community members from owning homes and obtaining loans.”

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

To date, the Fund has announced the approval of participating First Nations in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Anishinabek Nation Credit Union (ANCU) joins lenders BMO Bank of Montreal, Peace Hills Trust, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Desjardins Credit Union and Envision Financial, all qualified by the Fund to serve First Nations in various regions of Canada.

For more information, please visit www.fnmhf.ca. Be sure to read the Fund’s Annual Report for 2009 “Housing by Choice".

Media Contacts:

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

Allan Moffatt
Anishinabek Nation Credit Union (ANCU)
705-942-7655

Felix Stoneypoint
Sagamok Anishnawbek
705-865-2421

Backgrounder

Anishinabek Nation Credit Union

ANCU is the first and only completely First Nation-owned financial institution in Ontario. It offers the products and services expected from a full-service financial institution with the aim of improving Anishinabek life. As such, results are measured according to levels of success in achieving this goal.

ANCU is committed to building itself to serve and strengthen the unique needs of the First Nations peoples to achieve economic empowerment in their communities. Further, there is a belief in First Nations self-government and that in order to build First Nations, they must first develop a strong financial infrastructure.

The Anishinabek Nation Credit Union has partnered on many First Nations projects, offering the same range of services as banks and other larger financial institutions. The staff has worked for years in other financial institutions, and are proud to share this experience through serving the Anishinabek with the highest degree of compassion, care and trust in their own language and culture.

Sagamok Anishnawbek

Sagamok Anishnawbek is an Ojibway, Odawa, and Pottawatami community located on the north shore of Lake Huron, approximately 120 km west of Sudbury, Ontario. The area is known for its natural beauty characterized by boreal forest, many lakes and rivers, and rocky shores. A signatory to the Robinson – Huron Treaty of 1850, the community’s traditional territory is historically significant as a transportation hub and for its role in the development of the fur trade. Sagamok has a population of 2,500, of which 1,400 live on reserve.

The community is situated within one of the most active mineral resource areas in Canada. In recent years mineral exploration activity in Sagamok's traditional territory has increased significantly with the staking of mining claims by several companies. The community is notable for its members’ heavy involvement in forestry and for having signed an Impacts and Benefits Agreement with a nickel mining company in order to ensure economic benefits are shared and environmental stewardship is followed on Sagamok’s traditional territory.

The community has a significant on-reserve population and with the promise of more jobs coming to Sagamok in the near future, providing options for adequate housing is a priority of community leadership. In addition to new, single family dwellings, one option being considered is a large, multi-unit complex. Renovation loans backed by the Fund will help to ensure the life spans of existing homes are carefully managed and maximized.

Sagamok is affiliated with the North Shore Tribal Council and the Union of Ontario Indians.