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February 5 2009 Media Release

First Nations Market Housing Fund announces milestone

OTTAWA, Feb. 5, 2009 - 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 building.

"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 members."

Media Contact:

Deborah Taylor
First Nations Market Housing Fund

Sagamaw Misel Joe
Miawpukek First Nation

August (Tony) Shirt
Peace Hills Trust

Jane MacCarthy
Vancity Media Relations

Stephen Fay
BMO Bank of Montreal

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 communities.

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 Fund.

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 1-866-582-2808.

First Nation & Lender Backgrounder

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 services.

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.