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First Nations Bank expands
Third community branch opened in the territory; Inuit workers being hired

Karen K. Ho
Northern News Services
Monday, August 24, 2015

Kugluktuk residents have a new place to open accounts and cash their cheques this week. First Nations Bank opened its third community branch in the territory inside the hamlet's Arctic Co-op.

NNSL photo/graphic

Agnes Kokak, left, smiles with First Nations Bank vice president of operations Greig Cooper at the opening of the new branch inside the Arctic Co-op in Kugluktuk. - photo courtesy of First Nations Bank

Chief executive officer Keith Martell told Nunavut News/North planning for this project started as early as 2007 when the Atuqtuarvik Corporation became a shareholder of the company.

"Part of that purchase of the shares was a commitment to expand in Nunavut," Martell said. "Once the Iqaluit main branch was open as a regional hub we looked to other communities in the region and really developed this concept specifically for Nunavut."

Martell said prior to First Nations Bank opening, there were no banking services available in the community, which meant many residents could not access direct deposit services from their employers.

At the community branches, people can open accounts, but Martell said personal loans or mortgages would likely involve contracting a hub branch, such as the one in Iqaluit, over the phone.

"But you'd still have a local contact to help you with that," he added.

The Kugluktuk location is the third and final opening planned over the last year and a half, with the other two community branches in Baker Lake and Pond Inlet opening in March and October of last year.

The community branches don't generate that much revenue from personal banking clients. Martell said it's the commercial business from community governments and commercial businesses that helps keep the company economically viable.

Still, Martell said all the staff at the kiosk branches in the territory are being hired directly from the local community.

"They're all Inuit persons and they all speak the language," he said. "The idea of hiring local people is really what we focus on."

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