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Reaching Out To Serve First Nations Communities

Bank Affinity Credit Union

After extensive research into the unique financial and social needs of the First Nations communities in Saskatchewan, in 2007 Affinity Credit Union embarked on a strategy to develop structural relationships with First Nations bands.

The key objective of this strategy was to create partnerships that would provide respectful and relevant financial options to help build financial security to this underserved community over the long term.

Initially, eight First Nations bands entered into the partnership and formed a First Nations District within the credit union. In the years that followed, Affinity and the First Nations bands worked collaboratively and co-operatively on strategies to meet the financial needs of First Nations governments and their communities. Their success resulted in an additional band joining the partnership in 2012 with others expressing interest in developing more formal relationships.

The First Nations District is one of 12 districts comprising Affinity Credit Union. It has the same powers and responsibilities as all the other districts. Band members who are also members of Affinity elect District Council delegates to represent them locally. From these delegates, two directors are elected to represent the voice of the First Nations peoples on the Affinity Credit Union board.

Through their involvement, Affinity Credit Union is now better able to serve existing and new members, reach out to people with no, or limited, access to banking services and to enhance the economic development and independence of First Nations peoples.

With a commitment to understanding and embracing cultural diversity, Affinity facilitated First Nations Awareness Training for all of its employees and elected officials. This training provided all participants with an insight into the heritage and culture of the First Nations people.

As well, Affinity Credit Union has a dedicated First Nations Business Development Team who work closely with partner bands to develop sustainable financial solutions. Whether it is serving the business needs of the First Nations band or providing personal financial service to band members, Affinity works in partnership to foster success through improving lives and enhancing communities.

It’s a good sign that Saskatchewanians, and Affinity Credit Union members in particular, have the same high standards as leading socially conscious people the world over. Basing financial decisions first and foremost on the needs of members and their communities, rather than focusing solely on the bottom line, makes most sense financially and ethically.

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