By Lincoln DePradine
It’s been a quarter-century since the collapse of the CCACU, a credit union owned and run by members of the Black Community.
The credit union idea is again taking root through a collaborative initiative involving the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), the Lions Circle African Men’s Association and the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC).
The groups have launched an online survey to gather community feedback on the proposed Pan-African Credit Union (PACU). They’re hoping that there’s enough backing to convince Ontario regulators to approve the establishment of PACU, which they would like to formally launch next year.
“We’ve been going to different locations and actually promoting the survey,” said CBCC president Andria Barrett. “The response has been good overall.”
According to JCA president Adaoma Patterson, the aim is to “get through all of the stages to launch by the summer of 2021’’. She admitted that “it’s a lofty goal’’, but said an entity like PACU is “well overdue’’.
The JCA, in explaining and promoting PACU, says its purpose is to “provide an alternate banking option that better serves the Black community in the Greater Toronto Area and, eventually, across Canada’’.
The association, in a posting on its website, promises that in addition to offering financial services, PACU also will provide “financial education on topics from budgeting to wealth-building. PACU is committed to serving individuals and families in the community, as well as Black-owned businesses, thus inspiring tangible economic growth for generations to come in the Black community’’.
The intention is to set up a “Black-focused community credit union’’ that’s going to be “viable and sustainable’’, says the JCA. “Help us help you! Please fill out the community survey’’.
The first effort, the Caribbean Canadian African (Ontario) Credit Union (CCACU) closed shop 25 years ago; it acme into being with the approval the provincial New Democratic Party administration of Premier Bob Rae. However, internal problems and disagreements, coupled with difficulties in trying to meet an asset target, contributed to the CCACU folding in 1995.
Barrett said the CBCC and other supporters of PACU have learnt from history and “see the need’’ for a credit union in the Black community. Black Canadians have long complained that one of the impacts of racism on their lives is the challenge often encountered in getting access to money to borrow.
“I’ve heard countless stories from Black business owners, who have made some money, but can’t get a business credit card or a loan, so we have to create our own,” Barrett said.
In addition, a phenomenon has developed that’s referred to as “banking while Black’’, where people of African descent are profiled and receive horrid service when they visit banks.
“I was incorrectly flagged as someone who was doing illicit business,’’ Akeem Gardner, a legitimate Black businessman, reported last fall on trying to conduct a money transfer at a branch of TD Bank. “A lot of these assumptions are made when it comes to minorities.’’ TD Bank described the incident with Gardner as a “misunderstanding’’.
Patterson said for some time now, “people have been asking’’ for a credit union like PACU.
Further information on the proposed Pan-African Credit Union is available by emailing email@example.com