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First Nations remain the bedrock of business.

Peace Hills Trust (PHT) celebrated its 25th anniversary with friends on Oct. 27--more than 200 of them. The silver benchmark provided an occasion for President Warren Hannay to crow about the company's accomplishments.

"PHT has proven to Canada, and in particular to financial institutions, that you can lend money to Indians and get paid back. It's not as high-risk as it once was perceived. Certainly PHT has proven that, through its profitability and their success over the past 25 years."

Peace Hills Trust is owned by the Samson Cree Nation of Hobbema, Alta. It delivers financial services throughout the country, focusing primarily on First Nation members living either on or off reserve.

Since Jan. 5, 1981, Peace Hills Trust has been offering deposit and lending services, personal savings and chequing accounts, residential and commercial mortgages, term loans and consumer loans. They have also managed First Nation trust funds, including land claim settlement trusts. First Nation-owned group retirement savings and pension plans, and individual and education trusts.

"It started with the four bands of Hobbema, but not a lot was happening. So Samson stepped up and tried it on their own with the federal trust license, and now look where they are today," said a proud Hannay. From a little office located at Hobbema, Peace Hills Trust is now not only registered in Alberta, it is doing business in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

"The larger you get, the more business you get paid back every year," Hannay explained, saying Peace Hills Trust has loaned billions of dollars over the last 25 years to build First Nation communities.

Peace Hills Trust has diversified over time, said Hannay, but up to 90 per cent of the company's business is still First Nations-related.

"First Nations and their communities are still the number one priority and target of PHT, and we are not going to give that up. Hopefully, we will remain that way for the next 25 years as the communities continue to grow and as they continue to move into economic development, which is a tremendous amount of our activity."

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He said the growth in economic development in First Nation communities is seen particularly throughout the Prairies and into British Columbia.

"First Nations are getting into it, and we are going with them," said Hannay. "I think PHT goes hand-in-hand with the future of First Nations in Canada and I don't think it's ever looked better.

"In working with those communities, we have established ourselves as a leader over the past 25 years."

In conjunction with the company's anniversary celebrations, Peace Hills Trust paid tribute to the winners of its 23rd annual Native art contest, established in 1982 to promote the work of Native artists throughout Canada.

"There was a need for a venue like this to give up-and-coming First Nation artists an opportunity for them to show their work," said Hannay. "It grew and evolved, just how the company did, to a national competition."

"We are putting something back into First Nations communities by supporting an art show that continues to show and display the stories of First Nations people," he said. "Nobody tells the story more than artists of First Nations and how they live through their art. They keep the stories and traditions alive. You can't add a lot of difference to making a loan. What we do is try to lend support to traditional values where we can."

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The painting of a Native child protected by an eagle earned Sean Couchie first place in the adult art contest category. The win came with $2,500 in prize money. This is Couchie's second win in the Peace Hills Trust art contest. He won in 1991 with a self-portrait. Karen Vande Vyvere, a Metis woman from Edmonton, placed second. Third place went to Jean Taylor of Moberly Lake, B.C.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Accomplishments
Author:Stevens, Laura
Publication:Wind Speaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:651
Previous Article:Economic development in First Nations communities: success occurs despite DIAND's best efforts.
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