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Community Infrastructure Projects Key To Building Healthy, Prosperous Aboriginal Communities: RBC Report

RBC releases fifth annual Aboriginal Partnership Report ahead of National Aboriginal Day on June 21

TORONTO, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - As the youngest and fastest growing segment of Canadian population, Aboriginal peoples are poised to build strong and sustainable economies through the development of housing and community infrastructure projects. With the right resources, they can overcome financial obstacles and focus on creating prosperous and healthy communities, according to A Chosen Journey: RBC Aboriginal Partnership Report released today.

" Housing remains a critical infrastructure issue for many First Nations communities," said Chinyere Eni, national director, Aboriginal Markets, RBC. "With conventional residential mortgages unavailable to First Nation members living on reserves, it was important to create a loan program to address this issue and provide the growing number of Aboriginal families with the opportunity to enjoy the long-term benefits of home ownership."

In 1999, RBC was the first financial institution to create an On-Reserve Housing Loan Program. This unique mortgage program doesn't require a federal government guarantee and works directly with First Nation governments to determine the terms and conditions of the program and eligibility requirements. RBC administers the program that allows community members to purchase, build or renovate a home - a program that has grown almost 40 per cent in the last five years and has extended a total of $121 million of authorized credit to 77 First Nation communities.

In addition to increasing home ownership on reserves, some First Nation communities have seen a need to provide affordable housing to its band members who live off-reserve and are pursuing post-secondary education, training and job opportunities in urban centres.

Siksika First Nation is just one example of an Aboriginal community that created an off-reserve housing project in Calgary. Funded by Siksika Nation Chief and Council and the provincial government to purchase buildings, additional funding from RBC allowed the First Nation to cover the costs of upgrades and repairs to several of its units.

"Supporting the development of community infrastructure projects is key to creating income earning opportunities for the growing Aboriginal population," adds Eni. "These projects will not only generate revenue and employment opportunities today, they will also have a positive impact on the community's well being well into the future."

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