First Nations Market Housing Fund announces milestone

    OTTAWA, Feb. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, Chair of
the First Nations Market Housing Fund, announced today that Miawpukek, a
Newfoundland and Labrador community, is the first, First Nation approved for
housing loans backed by the Fund.
    This will give members of the Miawpukek First Nation greater access to
financing for homeowner, rental and renovation loans.
    "Good housing is the foundation that contributes to the health and
self-sufficiency of First Nation families," said Mr. Beaucage. "We're pleased
that the leadership of Miawpukek First Nation chose to work with the Fund to
provide more of their members the opportunity to invest in themselves and
their community."
    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 officially opened in May 2008,
is expected to help secure financing for 25,000 new homes over 10 years.
    Mr. Beaucage also announced that Peace Hills Trust and Vancouver City
Savings Credit Union, have qualified to offer loans to First Nations approved
by the Fund. They join BMO Bank of Montreal, the first lender to sign on with
the Fund when it opened last year.
    "The Fund's Credit Enhancement program will provide options, with ease
for my members to not only construct new homes, but obtain loans to renovate
their existing homes," said Chief Misel Joe of Miawpukek. "We look forward to
continued work with the Fund, and to beginning negotiations with the approved
lenders to ensure our members' needs for housing will continue to be met.
    Mr. Beaucage commended the progressive nature of the newly-approved
lenders, citing their respective longstanding success in providing innovative
financing for a diverse clientele and their record of supporting community
    "We are pleased to be a part of this milestone and look forward to
working with our clients and the First Nations Market Housing Fund to meet the
growing demand for market-based housing solutions on reserve," said August
Shirt, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Business Development
for Peace Hills Trust.
    "The Fund will allow Vancity to offer new financial solutions for
on-reserve housing to the First Nations within our service area," says Shabir
Amarshi, Vice President of Business Banking and the executive responsible for
Vancity's work in Aboriginal communities. "We look forward to working with our
local First Nations communities to make owning a home a reality for their

    First Nation & Lender

    Miawpukek First Nation

    Miawpukek First Nation is a Mi'kmaq community located on the south coast
of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is located about 224 km from the nearest
service center, the international airport town of Gander.
    The community was originally used as one of many semi-permanent camping
sites by Miawpukek's ancestors, who were nomadic people that travelled
throughout Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince
Edward Island and Maine. According to traditional oral history, Miawpukek
became a permanent community around 1822. The reserve was established in 1870,
and officially designated as Samiajij Miawpukek Indian Reserve under the
Indian Act in 1987.
    Since 1987, Miawpukek has gone from a poor, isolated community with
almost 90 per cent unemployment to a strong vibrant community with nearly 100
per cent full-time/part-time employment. Miawpukek's membership is
approximately 2,600 with more than 800 people living in the Mi'kmaq community.

    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 over 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
    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.

    February 2009

    Fund Backgrounder

    The First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) was established to help
First Nations gain access to private sector housing loans while respecting the
communal ownership of reserve land. Building on the expertise and success of
innovative First Nations communities and financial institutions, the Fund is a
new approach to expand market-based housing on reserve by providing easier
access to homeownership, rental and renovation loans in First Nations
    It is estimated that the Fund will help provide up to 25,000 housing
units on-reserve over 10 years. The Fund will not only help increase the
housing supply, but will provide First Nations communities, families and
individuals with the means to build equity and generate wealth.

    How the Fund Works

    Through its Credit Enhancement Facility, the Fund provides a partial
financial backstop for housing loan guarantees made to financial institutions
by a qualified First Nation.
    Participation in the Fund is available to First Nations that choose to
apply and qualify. The Fund's Access Criteria is the basis for the assessment
and qualification for Credit Enhancement. The Fund's Access Criteria is based
upon three pillars: Financial Management; Good Governance; and Community
Commitment and Evidence of Demand for Market-Based Housing.
    Once the Fund qualifies a First Nation under the Credit Enhancement
Facility, the First Nation will make arrangements with a lender or lenders to
facilitate its members' access to financing. The financing will help build,
buy or renovate a home on reserve or settlement lands where appropriate, to
either own or to rent. Due to the communal nature of the land, the First
Nation will guarantee the housing loans of its members.
    If a borrower defaults on an eligible loan, the lender will seek
compensation from the First Nation. Should the First Nation not honour its
obligation as guarantor, the lender will be able to turn to the Fund for
compensation up to the amount of Credit Enhancement accumulated by the lender
for loans made in the community. The Fund itself does not provide loans.
    The Fund also has a Capacity Development Program which provides funding
for First Nation communities that meet or are close to meeting the Fund's
criteria for the Credit Enhancement Facility, but have areas which need
further development. Funding for capacity development supports the provision
of training, advice and coaching which focuses on developing market-based
housing capacity for qualified First Nations and members of these communities.

    How the Fund was Established

    The idea for the Fund grew out of discussions between First Nation
leaders, lending institutions and government representatives. In April 2007,
the Government of Canada announced that it would provide $300 million for the
    Over the next year, more than 80 engagement meetings took place across
Canada, involving more than 500 individuals representing First Nations, First
Nations organizations and the financial community. The purpose of the
engagement process was to ensure First Nation stakeholders and lenders had a
voice in the design of the Fund's offerings.
    CMHC established the Fund as a separate trust under its authorities in
March 2008 and contributed, on behalf of the Government, the $300 million.
Accordingly, the purposes of the trust fall within the framework of the
National Housing Act (NHA).

    Fund Governance

    Control of the Fund is vested in nine trustees who have been drawn from
First Nations, the Government of Canada and the financial communities. The
Trustees provide governance and leadership and are stewards of the Fund. The
Trustees are responsible for the Fund achieving its objectives and ensuring
prudent investment of assets, financial accountability, the safeguarding of
assets and regular reporting of results. CMHC is responsible for the
management of the Fund for the initial five years of operation.
    The Fund is a long-term, stand-alone, actively operating trust, which
will deal with First Nations, lenders, loan insurers and others to facilitate
market-based housing. Over the long term, it is intended the Fund will become
a First Nations controlled entity, in order to further enhance First Nations
control and responsibility for housing matters.
    For more information, visit our website at or email We may also be reached by telephone toll-free at

    February 2009

For further information:

For further information: Media: Deborah Taylor, First Nations Market
Housing Fund, (613) 740-9931; Jane MacCarthy, Vancity Media Relations, (778)
837-0394; Sagamaw Misel Joe, Miawpukek First Nation, (709) 882-2470; Stephen
Fay, BMO Bank of Montreal, (416) 927-2675; August (Tony) Shirt, Peace Hills
Trust, (780) 221-9170

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