Friday, September 19, 2014
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Yellowknife's First Nations Bank branch delayed

Bank announced 1 year ago it was opening new branch in N.W.T. capital

CBC News

A new First Nations Bank of Canada branch in Yellowknife will likely not open until later this summer.

A year ago the bank announced it intended to open a branch in the city in the fall of 2013.

Renovating office space for the new branch on 48th Street is taking longer than planned.

"We ran into some challenges from a foundation standpoint, given that we need to put a vault and some heavy pieces of equipment in there," said Greig Cooper, the bank's vice-president of operations.

"After we made the announcement, we decided to take a whole new look at the design approach of our branches."

Cooper says the new layout took months to put together. It will include wood, stone and an unconventional bank design.

He says instead of a line of desks with tellers standing behind them, there will be a central area where people can meet with staff.

"One of the comments we got back from a number of First Nations was the whole things of having a barrier between you when you're having discussions about certain things. We wanted to try to eliminate some of the barriers that are currently in place."

Cooper says the bank still anticipates attracting Inuit and First Nations businesses because of its expertise in commercial lending.

"First Nations governments specifically operate quite differently, or can operate quite differently from a commercial business whereas sometimes down here they'll operate in a deficit but it doesn't mean the First Nation is in financial trouble. Our account managers have a very good understanding of how that side of the business works."

Cooper says the bank expects to hire between five and six people for the branch in Yellowknife.

The bank is 80 per cent owned by aboriginal shareholders. The Gwich'in Tribal Council has a seven per cent share.  

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