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Financial mentorship: Shining a light on hope and opportunity

26 January 2023
Managing finances can be a daunting task for most people. Add to that a layer of complexity brought on by disparity and inequity, financial freedom can begin to feel like an unattainable dream. When a program can make concrete and foundational change in the lives of the people utilizing it, it bears shining a light on. Highlighting financial empowerment stories of hope and opportunity can be transformational as we see what is possible, and that financial dreams are not out of reach. One such program is Money Stories, a money management training program for Indigenous youth, developed by SEED Winnipeg – a non profit organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

The Money Stories program is currently funded by IG Wealth Management’s Empower Your Tomorrow Indigenous Commitment campaign. The funding provided by IG Wealth Management supports SEED in the development of virtual money management training; including the Money Stories program, expanding the ability to deliver it in First Nations communities outside of Winnipeg. Rural and remote program delivery will also be available in First Language.

The Money Stories team is beyond overjoyed to work with rural and remote communities and play a part in Indigenous language revitalization. Outreach efforts, partner feedback, and their research into the need for ID in First Nations community outside of Winnipeg have generated interest in their Train the Trainer program and Access to Benefits program offerings. The partnership and collaboration opportunities speak to the need for financial empowerment programs and services beyond city limits, and the funding makes this possible.

Money Stories program is delivered in eight chapters. These include Money, My Community & Me, Building Assets, Goal Setting & Problem Solving, Gathering Information, Budgeting, Banking, and Credit. The Money Stories program was first developed in 2011 and came together through a partnership between SEED Winnipeg’s Indigenous Community Collaborations, Aboriginal Senior Resource Centre, and Children of the Earth High School. The program included a customized Money Management Training portion for Indigenous youth which was centred around traditional stories and led by facilitators and Indigenous seniors from the community. The goal was to empower Indigenous youth to financially sustain themselves by providing them with the tools and knowledge needed in unstable economic times with the help of facilitators and Elders from the community. The program combines Indigenous Elders speaking about their experiences with money, with facilitator-led activities about money that are relevant to youth. “We (Elders) need to help the next generation out of poverty. Young people have gifts and talents that should be used. I believe that preparing them for the future, one day they’ll go out into society with the experience and confidence to know they can make it.” Elder Lucy Guiboche.

Overtime the Money Stories program has evolved with an investment in curriculum development, training SEED staff in Indigenous cultural and traditional knowledge, engaging with community Elders, seniors, and storytellers, and establishing an Indigenous Youth Advisory committee. Today, with the help of The Employment and Social Development Canada Summer Jobs Grant, the Money Stories program can help graduates become Junior Facilitators. Junior Facilitators complete a two-week curriculum review and are then asked to facilitate workshops for youth serving community organizations. One Junior Facilitator is offered an internship at SEED Winnipeg. The Money Stories program has helped 199 youth through the Money Stories after school programs including Justin Huntinghawk and Michael Huntinghawk, former Junior Facilitators, who are now Administrative and Program Assistant trainees at SEED.

Justin graduated high school in 2014 and pursued post secondary education few years later in Computer Numerical Controls. He worked various jobs including as a delivery driver, grocery clerk and within the construction field. Justin’s curiosity for budgeting, credit, and his desire to get his finances in order led him to take the financial education program through BUILD Inc, one of the partner organizations that delivers Money Stories within the community. The Money Stories program has helped Justin to save for his future. 

The program helped me learn how to save and that you don’t have to save for something big in such a short period of time, the way it showed me is I was accepted in the savings circle program where I saved $250 over a span of 4 months and was able to buy my new bed! The program was able to help my family, specifically my younger brothers as they completed the money stories as well a few years after I did! The impact that this had on the community is me being hired on as a Junior facilitator and teaching young folks about the money stories program!

Like Justin, Michael also enrolled in the Money Stories program to learn more about money management, financial habits, behaviours, and credit. He found these topics intriguing as they were never taught in High School from which he graduated in 2016. Michael worked for five years in the restaurant industry in various roles. Upon completing the Money Stories program, Michael was also offered a role as a Junior Facilitator. 

I took it without much thought or process as during that time my work with the kitchen industry was coming to an end as I needed to find different type of work. It was a fantastic two month program that helped me each step of the way, learning about myself and pushing my limits to be a better person. I’ve never took a job so seriously to try actually learn to improve without much stress and enjoyable one at that."

Michael now works full time at SEED, and he is grateful for the journey that has brought him here. The program has inspired him to manage his money wisely and stick to a budget during these unprecedented economic times. The program showcases the achievements when communities access the tools and resources, they need to be financially independent and gain financial literacy. The program continues to create mentors within the community to assist those looking to improve their financial situation, manage money, and saving for the future.

Prosper Canada is a proud partner of SEED Winnipeg, one of our Financial Empowerment Champions, to deliver culturally appropriate financial programs like Money Stories and to work towards our goal of building financial wellness in First Nation Communities in Manitoba. Programs like Money Stories build up individuals and communities from within. These financial empowerment programs enable community members to start small businesses, develop social enterprises and save money for future goals.

About SEED Winnipeg

SEED Winnipeg Inc. is a non-profit agency that works with over 100 organizations to deliver financial empowerment programs to reduce poverty and renew Manitoba’s inner city. Learn more about the Money Stories program.