• Alex Holman

What are we banking on?

Banking in Canada- A shaky foundation 


A whirlwind few years has banking and policy top of mind for Canadians. From inflation to sky rocketing home prices, big questions are being asked about the direction of our economy and its long term sustainability.


One question being asked by the Yellowhead Institute centers on how the Banks are treating the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the era of reconciliation. https://yellowheadinstitute.org/redwashing-extraction/


The term Red Washing- meaning performative initiatives designed to shield the Banks from criticism- is an interesting term. How can you support reconciliation while funding projects that disregard Indigenous rights?


More than that, what does UNDRIP implementation and underlying title mean for these projects? The report indicates that companies might be liable where Indigenous rights have been disregarded. This is a long tail risk that hasn’t been accounted for. Do we have a crack in the bedrock of Canadas financial system? 


With rising interest rates designed to cool the housing market, an unintended consequence could be that First Nations find borrowing more difficult. Not only do they not have home ownership on reserve land, they’re also subject to higher borrowing rates to cool a housing market on land that was previously stolen from them. The entire financial system depends on attaching debt to land without asking too many questions about where the land came from.


Money is created as a function of debt. When you borrow money on your house, that money is created by the bank who charges you interest for the service. Infinite money is great if you have assets. Not so much if you don’t. Fiat currency, debt and land title are some of the building blocks or ‘Money Legos’ that support our economy.


There is a reason that Bitcoin and other digital assets have grown in popularity over the last few years. The infinite supply of fiat currency and the debt required to support it are central arguments supporting digital assets. There is already a large retail audience familiar with these kinds of arguments and the inherent problems of our financial system.


Canadians speak the language of money and investing. Since we have locked Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders out of our financial system, the average Canadian is left dissociated from the Indigenous economy despite a desire to take action True reconciliation isn’t possible without an Indigenous piece of the puzzle to build on. 


Spirit is tackling this by creating a savings account that directs capital directly towards the Indigenous economy. In the future we’ll support projects that are UNDRIP and treaty compliant as well. This is the first money lego built specifically to build Indigenous businesses. This is in addition to a debit card contributing capital to an Indigenous economic development fund with every transaction.


It’s our mission at Spirit to tackle reconciliation head on and create a paradigm shift in how Canadians look at wealth and money. Through financial decolonization we’ll see an Indigenous stake in every transaction in Canada.


Decolonization of money and wealth is not easy. The first step is understanding the problem before providing a choice. Spirit is dedicated to providing both understanding and for the first time, a real choice in how we bank.

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