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GARDEN RIVER, Ontario, Canada – When Allan Moffat of the Anishinabek Nation Credit Union (ANCU) introduced himself he jokingly offered a reward if the credit union name could be pronounced correctly. However, he takes his role as ANCU’s general manager as anything but a joke. The tribal Assembly voted in 1994 to tackle the problem of financial exclusion for the members of the Anishinabek Nation. The original idea wasn’t a credit union, but as time progressed that seemed the logical route. A charter was applied for and granted. In 2000 Moffat, who had worked with the Bank of Nova Scotia including a stint at an on-reserve branch, was brought on board. “My involvement included developing loan policies, the banking system, overseeing the construction of the branch, and raising the share capital required to open,” Moffat, a recent WYCUP (WOCCU Young Credit Union People) scholarship nominee, said. The office is designed with native art and cedar trim to keep the office culturally friendly. The years since the 2001 opening have been busy. Any status Indian who works or resides within a 300km radius of the head office in Garden River can sign up. Some 1,100 people have joined the credit union and they have savings of $4.5 million. The credit union’s loan portfolio is $3.9 million. To accomplish this it was necessary for Moffat and his three-person staff to look for solutions that were denied their members by other financial institutions. Moffat told of just one way ANCU helped its members. “A used car dealership was located in a community adjacent to one of the First Nation Communities that we serve. This dealership realized that the Aboriginal Indian market was a very good source of revenue and beyond that were fiercely loyal to good business people who provide fair service. Traditional bank financing was not always available to those who may have had previous credit problems or who work seasonally as many of our members do. As a result, this dealership found that they would have to refer car loans to finance companies who charged interest rates as high as 28%,” he said. The member contacted the CU to arrange a referral service for used vehicle financing. “The relationship has resulted in excess of $500,000 worth of vehicle loans to the credit union and saved our members thousands in interest charges that would have been paid to finance companies,” said Moffat. Moffat, himself an Anishinabek from the Serpent River First Nation serves a seven-member board from specific Anishinabek communities that helped during the development process and one member at large. “My hopes for this credit union continue to be financial success (we are almost there), and continued growth throughout the Anishinabek Nation. I envision this credit union becoming an example of the success of co-operation, dedication and perseverance.” If it is than the credit union will be there for future generations, Moffat said. [email protected]

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