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Keewaywin Capital CEO goes the banking and investment route to build 500 homes in First Nation communities
For Tracee Smith, embarking on a personal journey means returning home.
The Niagara-based Smith, a member of Missanabie Cree First Nation, is CEO of Keewaywin Capital, Inc., a newly-incorporated private credit fund for Indigenous communities. She’s made it her mission to provide housing – four to five hundred homes is her goal over the next half decade – for remote First Nations.
“Keewaywin is so much more than just building a structure,” Smith said. “Yes, it’s about providing homes, but the impact, the ripple effects from the community perspective, from a child’s perspective, it’s hard to quantify.”
It’s a bit of a challenge raising capital for Indigenous housing, Smith said. Historically, banks have been hesitant to lend out money when the community, not the individual, owns the land.
There are also barriers within those lending organizations. If the people behind the scenes aren’t familiar with Indigenous culture – not to mention the systemic oversights in hiring – money isn’t easy to come by.