Caisse Populaire de Clare: Community ownership in the heart of Clare

The Municipality of Clare is home to its own distinctive group of credit unions: Caisse Populaire de Clare is an amalgamation of four caisses populaires (CPs), the oldest of which was started in 1939 in Anse des Belliveau (Belliveau Cove). Its sister branches are in Pointe-de-l’Eglise (Church Point) (founded in 1949), which also is home to the administration or head office, Saulnierville (founded 1952) and Meteghan (founded 1947). Dedicated to preserving the Acadian culture and heritage, the four branches offer services in both official languages, and provide jobs to 34 employees throughout the communities.

As with the credit unions elsewhere in NS, the focus of the CPs is local ownership, with decisions made right in the community. “We feel it is important for customers to put a face to who they are dealing with,” says Francis Robichaud. “Everyone lives in the same community so they know what is going on and how it affects our customer owners. Having your dollars invested in local financial services helps when we face global uncertainty like we are experiencing now. It is neighbours helping neighbours.”

The Caisse Populaire de Clare takes its community participation seriously. The organization has a $50,000 community fund that allows support of such projects as Relay For Life Clare Relay, Le Festival Acadien de Clare. They also support various student and senior groups, arts and culture, sport and recreation and economic development projects. Robichaud says currently they are involved with the creation of a new Acadian Interpretive and Visitor Centre at Universite Sainte Anne. He adds that the Caisse Populaire is also a charter member of a new organization called Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE Nova Scotia). This is a network of locally-owned businesses and people working to build sustainable communities with green, locally-driven economies.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Clare’s caisses populaires, and they plan a number of celebratory events over the summer months. Check at the branches or at their website for details.