Join us

Black History Month: Celebrating the legacy of Leonard Lane

Friday, February 5, 2016 - In honour of Black History Awareness Month, Vancity is paying tribute to the late Leonard Lane. He was one of the founding members of a branch of the BC Unity Credit Union — and for eight years, the treasurer — which opened in 1959 and merged with Vancity in 1971.

Leonard Lane with his daughter, Lenora Lane

Leonard spent his life trying to better his community. He's one of the unsung heroes of Black Strathcona, a neighborhood in East Vancouver that was home to this city’s first and only black community.

His daughter, Lenora Lane, says her dad enjoyed teaching her the value of money. “I learned so much from him at an early age and it became a great base to build on as I grew older. Today, I still hold those values dear to my heart.” She is still a Vancity member.

Her father became involved with The British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People in 1956. The group was not just to help fight problems or prejudice, it was also an opportunity to bring people together to share ideas. One of those ideas was a credit union.

“Their vision was to show adults and, especially young people, how good it was to start saving and see their money grow,” Lenora says. “They also supported young adults who struggled to get loans from banks.”

When the credit union started, Leonard took a bookkeeping course. He wanted to learn how to keep the records properly. He pulled together what was necessary to make an informal office in the basement of his home in Burnaby. It became a place where members would come to make deposits or do whatever business they needed.

Lenora remembers being six or seven and filling a green folder from the BC Unity Credit Union with nickels. “When it reached a dollar I would run downstairs to the basement and deposit them into my account,” she says. “I was always so excited.”

Leonard retired in the 1980s. We had hoped to interview him for this story. Sadly, he died on January 8, 2016, at the age of 94. He contributed so much to our community and is a great example of how one person can make a difference. His legacy will endure here at Vancity and we acknowledge and thank him for all of his work.


Share this page »