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SEED Winnipeg: Delivering financial empowerment services in First Nations communities

28 February 2024
Author: Wendy Abbott-Serroul
A longtime partner of Prosper Canada, SEED Winnipeg focuses on building strong communities and increasing opportunity for people through financial empowerment (FE) programs and services. For over 40 years, their hard work and efforts have been supporting Manitobans living on low levels of income to improve their financial well-being.  Their FE services include:

  • Access to Identification
  • Financial information, education & problem solving
  • Help accessing income-boosting benefits & tax credits
  • Safe & affordable financial products & services including access to basic banking and credential recognition micro loans
  • Access to savings & asset building opportunities including business ownership
  • Consumer awareness & protection
Their commitment to community is highlighted by their partnerships with over 100 organizations in Manitoba. In this spirit of innovation and collaboration, SEED Winnipeg is a key part of building the Financial Wellness in First Nations project and is delivering customized in-person FE services and supports within First Nation communities across Manitoba in partnership with Community Financial Counselling Services (CFCS) for tax filing.
These FE Services are delivered by invitation and in partnership with First Nation communities and word of mouth has increased demand far beyond initial expectations. 
This increase in demand was a bittersweet discovery in the first phase of the project. The more partners become known as trusted, reliable FE providers, the more word-of-mouth grew, and the more requests came in, often beyond the capacity of the implementation partners to meet. One said “the growing interest from other neighboring communities has also been a challenge. Many different organizations and community members have expressed interest in what we provide and are desperately in need of our services. It is our hope to expand our catchment area as best we can with the resources we have.” The expense of in-person, rural delivery of services tailored to each community posed challenges to implementation partners – specifically staffing and the costs of long-distance travel.  
A new phase of work will provide additional resources to expand delivery to communities to try to meet the ever growing need. 
Another key element in this work was recognizing the importance of cultural-specific needs including framing and language. Implementation partners prioritized that their services were culturally appropriate and aligned with their commitment to reconciliation. One said: "the impact of this work speaks to reconciliation objectives; the way we do things is even more important than what's been done."   
“SEED has increased its capacity to meet the growing demand for money management training (MMT) and has expanded delivery to First Nations communities outside of Winnipeg, including curriculum delivery in Cree, Oji-Cree, and Ojibwe. Feedback from First Nations communities has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive... Adapting program materials into Indigenous languages and building relationships with Indigenous organizations allowed us to reach community members who face barriers to financial inclusion.” – partner quote
A senior participant who had previously sought support from SEED for CPP, OAS, and GIS applications attended one of the workshops in Pinaymootang First Nation, Manitoba. Delighted with SEED's assistance, she brought her two granddaughters to the session. She expressed happiness that SEED was conducting a money management workshop, as it provided guidance on managing her income and offered valuable education for her household. Towards the conclusion of the workshop, she also assisted her granddaughters in completing birth certificate applications. This experience illustrates how comprehensive support is and the full circle influence on community members.
SEED’s works in partnership with CFCS to reach hundreds of community members with in-person services through drop-in events, workshops, and Super Clinics (which include service provision by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency). Service offerings include access to identification, money management training sessions, tax filing supports and financial coaching and problem solving. These financial help services are extremely important in building trust and partnership and are successful in helping people to become financially empowered, however they do come at a cost to staff with the high demand and travel time. Investment in organizations like SEED ensures that much needed free financial empowerment services are delivered in First Nation communities and are also available to First Nations community members living in urban centres. Aligning these supports in a tailored, culturally appropriate way ensures that trust and partnerships can be maintained, strengthened and developed long-term. We are committed to continuing to support and learn from these incredible efforts and the invaluable work done by SEED Winnipeg.


Wendy Abbott-Serroul is the Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at Prosper Canada. She works closely with the entire organization to identify communications needs and supports the efforts to increase awareness and the profile of Prosper Canada.

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