Current partnership: 2018–2022
Previous partnership: 2014–2015
Innovative financial solutions
Building, buying or renovating a house when living on a reserve is not straightforward. The Indian Act limits property rights and does not allow for the same type of mortgage that can be accessed off-reserve. In 2015, the Aboriginal Savings Corporation of Canada (ABSCAN) created a precursor housing fund for First Nations communities. It supports Indigenous individuals to become homeowners.
The McConnell Foundation provided an initial $150,000 in funding alongside a $350,000 impact investment, which helped to launch a project in the Huron-Wendat Nation near Quebec City. ABSCAN’s model proved highly successful, and the venture was quickly replicated in several communities across Quebec.
The ABSCAN housing loan fund provides First Nations and their members with access to financing adapted to their needs and reality, while also stimulating economic development in a community.
“There is no other company in Canada that does what we do. We respond to a social need, which contributes to economic vitality and development,” explains Martin Légaré, Executive Director.
The expansion of the ABSCAN housing fund has had a considerable impact on access to home ownership on reserves in Quebec. Housing construction generates important economic activity and employment. For example, plumbing, tiling and construction businesses have sprung up over the past decade on many Quebec reserves.
Légaré describes the relationship between his organization and McConnell over the past 10 years: “We never felt that we were in a banker-client relationship, but rather that we were a potential partner from the very beginning of our collaboration. The open relationship and the exchanges allowed us to identify objectives and to properly calibrate our project.”
With its housing fund, ABSCAN has demonstrated that there is an appetite for Indigenous-led financial frameworks for housing projects. They are working to expand their offering across Canada.