The decision to lend money to a friend or family member is never easy, but it becomes even more difficult when combined with the pressures of cultural tradition. 

Keith Martell, CEO of the First Nations Bank of Canada, is originally from Waterhen Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan. 

He says that in traditional communities, aboriginal people had a system of communal sharing. Commonly this would materialize during a hunt, where everyone helped and then shared the food that came from it. 

Now, as many make the cross-over into a non-traditional lifestyle, Martell said the pressure to save money can conflict with this long-held expectation to share. 


Keith Martell, CEO of the First Nations Bank of Canada, says it can be tough to figure out when to save and when to give due to the communal tradition of Aboriginal people. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

"They're beginning to create wealth and so they themselves see that they've created wealth and they're saving for their retirement, yet they live in a community where there's a lot of socioeconomic disparity and a lot of people don't have anything. So it creates a problem," he said. 

He said that many are trying to save money for their retirement, but are being asked to use the money to fund others. Often it's to people who aren't contributing to the community equally. 

This is where the balance comes in, he said. 

"You can still give back, but you can also demand, like you did historically, that people also contribute back."

He doesn't recommend that people stop helping their families or friends, but simply that they try to encourage the traditional communal effort when doing so.