A Winnipeg Aboriginal lending institution, Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Capital Corporation, is calling for a judicial review of the federal government’s refusal to include them in a program that encourages loans on reserves.

The lending institution filed court documents claiming that Ottawa’s loan loss reserve initiative excludes aboriginal banks that do most of the lending in Native communities and is therefore discriminatory.

Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Capital Corp, which is owned by five Manitoba tribal councils, is claiming that they and other Aboriginal banks are at a disadvantage because they cannot use the money to guarantee lower interest rates. According to them, the federal government held a closed process to select certain financial institutions to bid for the $15 million in the program.

The bank claims that Aboriginal lending institutions, which were created to cater to on-reserve lending needs, were not even consulted when it came to the bidding process.

The federal program is intended to provide banks with collateral when giving loans to medium and large First Nation businesses. At press time Indian and Northern Affairs had declined comment until such time that they could see the documentation filed by the bank.