Urban Aboriginal Individuals’ Financial Behaviour and Experiences: Some Focus Group Evidence


  • Paul Bowles University of Northern British Columbia




Banking, Financial literacy, Payday loans


The financial behaviour of Canadians has recently been highlighted by federal policy initiatives designed to address financial literacy. This is occurring at a time when there has also been increasing concern over the growth and use of fringe financial institutions such as payday lenders. Aboriginal people have been identified as one of the “priority groups” for a national financial literacy strategy and were also be found to be significant clients of fringe financial institutions in a recent study. This paper reports on discussions with thirty urban Aboriginal participants in three focus groups designed to gain a better knowledge of their financial behaviour and experience. The results show that participants displayed a good level of basic financial literacy as measured by their ability to articulate the comparative costs of banking services. In this respect, the policy emphasis of government on financial literacy is misplaced, and the emphasis should be on policies to raise income levels; minimally, financial literacy programs should be designed to be “financial literacy plus” programs that offer participants an opportunity to raise their income levels and creditworthiness through programs such as matched-savings programs.