A STORY OF DETERMINATION

Our story

UNI was born from the Acadian peoples’ will to take hold of their own destiny. 

The dream of a few visionary people helped forge the proud, entrepreneurial, fighting, and cooperative Acadian spirit.

This story deserves to be told because it shaped the DNA of our institution’s identity. Here it is!

A dark period from which light will shine

The cooperative idea was entrenched in Acadian communities at roughly the time of the Great Depression of 1929. This period of social and economic imbalance caused banks to stop lending based on the good faith of the people. Acadians then turned to loan sharks for credit and many lost their livelihood.

In 1927, the social and economic situation of Acadians was disastrous. The federal government therefore decided to create a Royal Commission, the McLean Commission, to assess the fisheries situation in the Maritimes, the area that was most affected. In 1929 the Commission submitted its report and recommended that an adult education system be established and that financial assistance be provided to fishermen to organize themselves. 

 

The clergy plays a vital role

The federal department of Fisheries and Oceans provided financial assistance to St-Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, to perform its role as facilitator for the fisherman.

Led by fathers Moses M. Coady and James Tompkins, a group of priests from that university wanted to improve the quality of life in the Maritimes and created a social rebuilding program called the Antigonish Movement. This social facilitation method not only identified social and economic issues, but also encouraged participants to share their experiences and to try to find solutions in order to establish conditions conducive to creating a "nice quality of life for everybody", as this was their slogan.

 

Learning circles are created thanks to Father Chiasson

Since this was a new movement and nobody knew how it worked, study circles were organized to educate people and introduce them to the workings of cooperative institutions. Widely known as the father of cooperation in New Brunswick, Father Livain-J. Chiasson introduced the cooperative ideology in our area through these study circles. He was strongly supported in his work by clergymen and hundreds of volunteers who had agreed to take part in the creation of cooperative organizations, as members, administrators or founding pioneers.

 

The first Caisses populaires are established in New Brunswick

Study circles were spreading like wildfire. In New Brunswick's Acadian regions, there were 200 study circles in 1936, 400 in 1937, 565 in 1940 and 744 in 1941. According to statistics published by New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, 60 Caisses populaires and 78 credit unions were founded between 1936 and 1941. The first Francophone Caisse populaire in New Brunswick was established in Richibouctou in August 1916, without much success, however. The oldest Caisse populaire to be a member of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes, the Caisse populaire de Petit-Rocher, was established in December 1936.

 

Martin J. Légère encourages the foundation of the Fédération

Founded in 1938, the New Brunswick Credit Union League was mandated to provide savings and credit unions with such services as enhanced management services, bookkeeping, acquisition of office supplies and stationary, and the establishment of reliability insurance policies. Furthermore, the League promoted cooperation and represented the Caisses to the government.

The faster-than-expected growth of the Francophone Caisses populaires gave Acadians reason to reflect on their role and their future in the League. The language issue caused them problems, as the meetings were usually held in English. Francophones had to quite often express themselves in English and ask someone to translate what was being said. Also, no Acadian was ever elected to the presidency of the League. When the League was lobbying to be affiliated with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Acadians started the process that resulted in the creation of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes in 1946.

This significant event was followed, over the years, by the creation of other cooperative service organizations, meeting the growing needs of the Caisses populaires. Please explore our timeline to discover the important milestones of this unique story!  

 

A new era

On November 12, 2014, after months of preparation, the members of the 15 caisses of the Mouvement exercised their democratic rights on the bridging collectively project which was made public more than a year ago. In fact, as a result of the extraordinary general meetings, the 15 caisses voted in favour of the project. It is in a percentage greater than 91% that the members taking part in their respective EGM voted in favour of the project.

The purpose of this project was to allow the Mouvement to renew itself and maintain its relevance over the next few decades. In 2016, the financial institution made a huge shift by merging all caisses and their Fédération to become a single entity. In the wake of the institution’s 80th anniversary, the Caisses populaires acadiennes adopted “UNI Financial Cooperation” as its new name. This name was intended to set the tone of the change with a new image fuelled and motivated by a determination to meet the needs of client-members and of the community.

On July 1, 2016, this new caisse also became the first Canadian credit cooperative to be under a federal charter.

 

A star is born

Today, the institution is focused on the client and on the future thanks to a rich history based a distinct perspective which is to believe that true wealth is one that is shared. A history which is at the heart of a human and modern reason of being: to inspire, support and finance collaborative projects.

A collaboration of which we will be the star. A collaboration which shall contribute, more than ever, to the development of our province’s individual and collective assets.

 

IMPORTANT MILESTONES

The highlights of our history

For more than 80 years, our institution has been able to position itself of a collective development tool in Acadia. Check our timeline to follow its evolution through the landmark events of its development!

1936

  • [August] Creation of the Caisse populaires division within New Brunswick's Department of Agriculture through the first provincial legislation on credit unions.
  • [December] Founding of the first Caisse populaire acadienne, still in existence, in Petit-Rocher.

1937

  • Father Livain-J. Chiasson is appointed federal director of popular education in New Brunswick.

1938

  • [July] Creation of the New Brunswick Credit Union League.

1941 to 1944

  • Crisis and division among Caisses populaires and Credit Union sat every annual meeting of the League. The New Brunswick Credit Union League wants to be affiliated with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), an American federation offering an insurance benefits program.

1945

  • [January] Meeting at Bathurst's Université Sacré-Coeur between committees from the various Francophone chapters of the New Brunswick Credit Union League. A decision was made to create a league with two sections: one Francophone and one Anglophone.
  • [July] Annual meeting of the New Brunswick Credit Union League boycotted by the Acadian Caisses, and organizational meeting of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes at Bathurst's Université Sacré-Coeur.

1946

  • [December] Issue of the charter of incorporation of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes.

1947

  • Start-up of the central branch of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes.
  • Martin-J. Légère becomes full-time salaried manager of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes after having worked part-time and as a volunteer since 1945. He would lead the organization until 1981.

1948

  • [November] Start of operations of the Société d'assurance des caisses populaires acadiennes (SACPA), now known as Acadia Life.

1950

  • [May] First cheque issued by a Caisse populaire acadienne, the Caisse populaire de Caraquet.

1955

  • Creation of the Union coopérative acadienne, which became the Conseil acadien de la coopération in 1980.

1955

  • [January] Official unveiling of the new building of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes.

1965

  • First term deposits in the Caisses populaires acadiennes network.

1973

  • Adoption of an official logo for the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes.

1974

  • Start of operations for Services unis de vérification et d'inspection.

1975

  • The Caisses populaires, members of the Fédération, reach and exceed their first $100 million in assets.

1976

  • Adoption of a Caisse operations system allowing for electronic management of the accounting operations of a Caisse.  The Caisse populaire de Lamèque is the first to take part in the integrated system in March 1977.

1978

  • Creation of the Office de stabilisation de la Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes.
  • [June] Official opening of Place de l'Acadie, phase I, the third head office of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes.
  • [June] Creation of the Institut de coopération acadien.

1981

  • Retirement of Martin-J. Légère after 43 years in the cooperative movement. Richard Savoie takes his place as general manager.

1983

  • Establishment of an $800,000 fund leading to the creation of the cooperative study chair of the Université de Moncton, now known as the Caisses populaires acadiennes cooperative studies chair.
  • Creation of the Mouvement cooperative acadien's scholarship fund, now known as the Fondation des caisses populaires acadiennes.

1986

  • 50th anniversary of the founding of the first Caisse populaire acadienne, Caisse populaire de Petit-Rocher.
  • Introduction of the La Populaire bank card and opening of the first automatic teller machine in Edmundston. Connection to the Interac system, the largest network of ATMs in North America.

1987

  • The Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes and the Société d'Assurance des Caisses populaires acadiennes become joint major sponsors of the Jeux de l'Acadie.

1987

  • [December] Retirement of Richard Savoie as general manager of the Organisations centrales du Mouvement.  Raymond Gionet takes his place as president.

1989

  • Official opening of Place de l'Acadie - Phase II.

1990

  • Signature of the first affiliation agreement with the Mouvement Desjardins.
  • The Fédération becomes the first financial institution in New Brunswick to put in place a direct payment system through the use of a bank card.

1992

  • The Caisses populaires that are members of the Fédération reach their first $1 billion in assets.

1994

  • Retirement of Raymond Gionet as president of the movement. Gilles Lepage replaces him as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mouvement des caisses populaires acadiennes until February 2004.
  • Coming into effect of new administrative regulations for the Fédération and incorporation of Financière Acadie.
  • Creation of the Société d'assurance-dépôts des Caisses populaires and the Credit Unions of New Brunswick.

1995

  • Adoption of a new organizational structure for the movement, including the cooperative block and the development of a corporate block.
  • Creation of the first investment mutual funds managed in Acadia, through the creation of Fonds de placement Acadie.
  • Incorporation of the Société de services Acadie.

1996

  • 50th anniversary of the founding of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes celebrated by adopting a new corporate image and the creation of the Collection du 50e, a collection of contemporary artwork illustrating 17 major events in Acadian history.

1997

  • Official opening of Place de l'Acadie - Phase III.

1998

  • Acadie Vie celebrates its 50th anniversary and passes the $2 billion mark for insurance. Its Golden Jubilee is also marked by the creation of the Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie.
  • Establishment of the Richard Savoie scholarship, in memory of this man who passed away in March 1998.
  • Launch of acadie.net, Carrefour virtuel de l'Acadie, and acadie.com, the corporate Web site of the Caisses populaires acadiennes.

1999

  • Caisses populaires acadiennes sponsors the Village de la francophonie in Dieppe for the 8th Francophone Summit, held in Moncton, New Brunswick.

2002

  • Caisses populaires acadiennes receives an Éloizes award in recognition of its outstanding support of Acadian arts and culture.

2003

  • Acquisition of a ten-painting collection from artist Michel Duguay, at Place de l'Acadie, entitled “Les légendes acadiennes.”
  • Caisses populaires acadiennes is associated with the Bathurst/Campbellton Canada Winter Games through one of the most significant sponsorships of its history and becomes one of the event's main suppliers.

2004

  • Retirement of Gilles Lepage as president of the Mouvement. Camille H. Thériault replaces him in February 2004.
  • For the 400th anniversary of Acadia, the "Les légendes acadiennes" collection is presented as part of a tour in many of our network's Caisses populaires.
  • Caisses populaires acadiennes reaches $2 billion in assets.

     

  • Unveiling in November of the new corporate signature: "Higher, further, together".

2005

  • The Lire, découvrir et grandir literary program is officially launched during the annual general meeting of the Caisses populaires acadiennes.

2006

  • Employees of the Mouvement meet for the first time in Caraquet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Fédération. To mark the occasion, the Fédération's building is named Édifice MARTIN-J.-LÉGÈRE as a tribute to its founder, who had attended the unveiling ceremony.

2007

  • The Caisse populaire de Shippagan rejoins the Mouvement des Caisses populaires acadiennes.
  • The Caisse scolaire Folio, a savings education program for young people, celebrates 65 years.
  • Assurances générales Acadie begins operations in October as insurance broker in New Brunswick.
  • Caisses populaires acadiennes becomes the first platinum partner of the CMA 2009. The sponsorship, the movement's largest to date, amounts to $350,000 in cash and exchange for services.

2008

  • Caisses populaires acadiennes appears for the first time on the list of Atlantic Canada's top 101 companies in the Progress-Progrès magazine.
  • Acadia General Insurance opens its first office in June on the Acadian Peninsula, in Tracadie-Sheila.
  • Payroll services at Caisses populaires acadiennes gains its 1,000th client in September.
  • In October, Assomption Vie and Caisses populaires acadiennes, through subsidiary Acadia Life, announce the signing of a partnership agreement giving rise to AVie, a new subsidiary for the distribution of insurance products to individuals in New Brunswick.

2009

  • Acquisition of a new series of paintings by Donald McGraw, an Acadian painter, entitled "Héritage." The collection consists of eight paintings symbolizing the sense of pride felt across the Peninsula in connection with the World Acadian Congress.
  • Caisses populaires acadiennes hold their annual general meeting in Caraquet, on the Acadian Peninsula, to mark the World Acadian Congress being held in the region in August of that year.

2010

  • [July] Ceremony announcing the construction of a replica of the Caisse populaire de Petit-Rocher in the Village Historique Acadien.
  • [September] Caisses populaires acadiennes launches its mobile services.

2011

  • Caisses populaires acadiennes reaches $3 billion in assets.
  • Employees of the Mouvement meet for the second time in Caraquet to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Fédération.
  • Official unveiling of the replica of the first Caisse in Petit-Rocher in the Village Historique Acadien. This addition to Phase II of the historic site symbolizes the first Caisse populaire in the network, which is still in existence 70 years later.
  • Regional winner in the Quebec-Atlantic category of the prestigious Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures program.

2012

  • The Caisses populaires acadiennes become a Platinum Member of the Congrès mondial acadien 2014.
  • Implementation of the Financial Business Centre and of the Centre administratif Acadie.
  • Launch of the International Year of Cooperatives.

2013

  • Major three-year partnership with the Fédération des jeunes francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick.
  • Historic agreement with the Université de Moncton and inauguration of a new business location at the Moncton campus.

2014

  • Announcement of a business partnership with the Vitality Health Network.
  • April 24: Delegates in Edmundston vote “Yes” on the collective bridging project.
  • November 12: 91% approval rate of the collective bridging project by Caisses members.

2015

  • Desjardins and the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes renew their business partnership.
  • Meeting with all employees of the merged caisse in Bathurst.

2016

  • January 16: The new merged caisse can now be accessed by its 155,000 members, everywhere in the province.
  • Two new MasterCard credit cards can now be issued.
  • Launch of the Mobile Deposit application with "cheque picture" option.
  • Unveiling of the merged caisse's new corporate image.
  • May 30: The Caisses populaires acadiennes become UNI Financial Cooperation.

2017

  • Retirement of Camille H. Thériault as Chief Executive Officer. Robert Moreau replaces him in January 2017.

For more information

Contact us
Make an appointment