Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut August 27, 2004 - 4:07 pm

NTI to decide on new bank system by November

"It's always difficult for Inuit in the smaller communities to access financial services."

JIM BELL

Paul Kaludjak, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., said NTI hopes to decide on a plan to create a new financial institution for Nunavut at its annual general meeting this November in Rankin Inlet.

“For the time-line, we pretty well have a magic date by the end of November, for the AGM in Rankin Inlet, where we will require a membership vote. They will select a financial institution model by that time,” Kaludjak said.

Earlier this year, NTI and the Aturqtuarvik Corp. issued a call for proposals seeking ideas on how to create a new financial institution for Nunavut that would meet the needs of Inuit beneficiaries living in small communities not served by banks.

“It’s always difficult for Inuit in the smaller communities to access financial services,” Kaludjak said.

They’ve now received a variety of proposals. Consultants hired by the two organizations are now analyzing them and will submit a report to NTI’s board, which meets in a couple of weeks.

NTI’s board hopes to use that meeting to produce its own recommendation, which it will then submit to regional organizations for comment. After that NTI will present its final recommendation to AGM delegates in Rankin this November for a final decision.

Kaludjak said “a number of ideas have been thrown at us,” including the creation of a trust company, and credit unions.

Although the impending departure of the Bank of Montreal from Iqaluit sparked much public discussion about bank services in Nunavut, that’s not what motivated NTI to begin work on a new financial institution.

Kaludjak said NTI’s board directed the organization to do that in November of 2003, long before the BMO announcement.

“It’s been about a year now that we’ve been at it. It’s nothing new.” Kaludjak said.

Kaludjak says, however, that NTI is disappointed at the BMO’s lack of commitment to Nunavut.

The organization uses the bank for its elder’s support fund, and the regional birthright corporations used it for their business banking.

But well before that, NTI was aware of problems created for Inuit by the lack of access to banking services in the small communities, Kaludjak said.

He said it’s also in line with the work that NTI did on the creation of an economic development strategy, and the new Nunavut economic development forum.

One important part of any new plan will be financial training and education. Another will be the creation of Inuktitut terminology for various concepts related to electronic banking.

“That training component will be one of the recommendations for the smaller communities. I have no doubt that the subject will come up and will be part of the plan,” Kaludjak said.

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