What is a Credit Union?

Credit unions such as Casera are unlike other financial institutions. They are co-operative organizations owned and controlled by the people, or members, who use their products and services. Any profits go back into enhancing member experiences and strengthening the credit union’s local community.

What Were the First Co-operatives?

People co-operating with one another is an ancient activity, but it took 28 visionary artisans working in the cotton mills of Rochdale in Northern England in 1844 to create the world’s first co-operative business — the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. Toiling for low wages in miserable conditions, the group pooled their meagre resources to buy basic goods — flour, oatmeal, sugar, and butter — and sell them at affordable prices.

Wanting to do business based on the concepts of honesty, openness, and respect, the Rochdale Pioneers believed that everyone should share in any profits and that everyone associated with the organization should have a democratic say in how the business ran. Everyone who shopped at the Pioneers’ store became a member.

The Pioneers established the Rochdale Principles, a set of values that co-operatives around the world still abide by.

The idea of co-operating in groups to survive poor economic conditions spread throughout Europe. When the citizens of Flammersfeld, Germany faced extreme hunger and property loss to corrupt money lenders, their mayor, Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, founded the world’s first co-operative lending bank (essentially a credit union) in 1864.

When Did Credit Unions Arrive in Canada and Manitoba?

Canada’s first co-operative bank (or caisse populaire) was launched in 1900 in Lévis, Quebec by Alphonse Desjardins. By the late 1930s, the credit union movement was beginning to thrive throughout Canada.

In 1937, Father Arthur Benoit, a Catholic priest organized Manitoba’s first credit union in the farming community of St. Malo. The Depression hit farmers hard and Father Benoit’s initiative brought them together to assist each other financially. The first loan was used to purchase a cream separator.

How Vital are Credit Unions to Manitobans?

Today, Manitoba’s credit unions offer security, quality financial products, competitive rates, and exceptional service to more than 600,000 Manitobans (over half the province’s population!). Manitoba credit unions collectively hold $27 billion in loans, $30 billion in deposits, $37 billion in assets, and 6.64 percent of assets in equity.

There are 22 credit unions operating 177 branches in 108 communities throughout the province — twice as many locations as any other financial institution. In 68 of those communities, a credit union is the only financial institution available to local residents and businesses.

When did Casera Credit Union Originate?

Casera was founded in 1951 as Transcona Credit Union Limited by employees of Canadian National Railways. Driven by their postwar experiences of being unable to acquire loans and mortgages through banks, a group of forward-thinking tradesmen — Walter Alam, Harry Brown, Charles Burkett, Robert Davison, Arthur Everton, Eric Hansen, Thomas Herling, Walter Keen, Peter Mathewson and Michael Tomkiw — forged the credit union in the CNR Transcona Shops.

In June 2006, the members of Transcona Credit Union voted to change the name of the 55- year-old financial institution to Casera Credit Union Limited (Casera). The new name and brand reflected the credit union’s core values and its budding expansion into St. Vital.

Founded on the time-honoured principles of co-operation and community commitment, Casera continues to build a vibrant credit union inspired by innovation and dedication to the neighbourhoods we do business in. Our history is full of credit union firsts in Manitoba — first walk-up teller (1970), first to feature a drive-thru ATM (1995), and the first to offer mobile banking (2009), among others.

Want to know more about how we started and how we got to where we are now? Check out our interactive e-booklet.

What are Member Appreciation Week & International Credit Union Day?

Every October, Casera acknowledges the loyalty of our members during Member Appreciation Week, which is also part of national Co-op Week. Throughout the week, we celebrate the impact that co-operatives have had on our local communities, our nation, and around the world, but we also honour our members who entrust us to help them build prosperous financial futures.

Since 1948, International Credit Union (ICU) Day has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October. The day celebrates the spirit of the global credit union movement and reflects its history, promotes its achievements, recognizes hard work, and shares member experiences.

Please join us in recognizing October 21, 2021, as ICU Day. This year’s theme is “building financial health for a brighter tomorrow” The theme reflects on how credit unions contribute to a brighter future by financially empowering people all over the world through financial services, education and support.