Canada's 150 - Canada's Emerging Co-operators Campaign
In the Spirit of Canada's 150th, tell us your co-op story in 150 words!
Check out some of the inspirational stories that have been submitted below!
Paul Danyluk, Co-operative Community Builder, Creative Thinker and Learning Specialist
Co-ops continue to make my life better. As the child of a single parent on a fixed income, a housing co-op meant a comfortable, safe, and affordable home. As a career transitioning young adult, an internship with On Co-op meant new skills and exposure to a vibrant community of ethical businesses. That internship lead me to a job in learning and development in the credit union system, a job that combines my interests in education and co-ops! Shopping at Karma Co-op and serving on its board reinforces the people power of co-operation and constantly reminds me that organized and dedicated people can build a better world. Being in the co-op sector has opened opportunities I wouldn’t have imagined and has introduced me to people doing incredible things close to home and around the world.
Lisa Furfaro, CYL Program Co-ordinator, On Co-op
My co-op chronical is about being in the wrong place at the right time. The quick version reads like this…I got my heart broken and quit my unfulfilling job as an undervalued employee. I couldn’t pay rent, was offered a job in the co-op sector, and obliged. The job training educated me on the co-op principles, explained ethical business practices and empowered me to make values-based decisions on what is best for my community, people, and the planet. A better way to business? Collaborating over competing? It all sounded amazing, so I started living what I had learned. Eager for an opportunity to educate, I facilitated through On Co-op’s Co-operative Young Leaders program (shout out to CYL!) Inspired, I vowed to step up and share this movement with the world! Today, I return the favour through co-ordinating the CYL program and working with young leaders to think forward and live co-operatively.
Matt Thompson, Communications Manager, The Canadian CED Network
My first real introduction to co-operatives was in 2007/2008 through an internship program managed by the Ontario Co-operative Association where I was placed with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet). To me co-ops are part of the original ‘sharing economy’. Through co-ops workers can share ownership, producers can share the means of production, and consumers can share the risk and responsibility of supply chain management. Democracy is a fundamental Canadian value and yet we don’t hardly apply our democratic principles to our economy. Co-ops are a shining example of what our economy could look like if we did. While CCEDNet is not a co-op many of our members are and many of our values align with the 7 co-op principles. What is innovative about CCEDNet is that we are actively connecting co-ops with others that are creating economic alternatives rooted in local knowledge and led by community members. Our national conference, EconoUs2017, is an excellent forum for achieving this.
I discovered co-ops when the Ontario Co-operative Association hired me, saving me from a string of unpaid internships and seven-day work weeks. Their dedication to ethical business was clear to me from the beginning, not just from their co-op principles, but because of the clear dedication they had to offering a high-quality, paid (above minimum-wage) internship program.
When I was nearing the end of my contract, they continued to support me by directing me to the Canadian Co-operative Association to participate in their internship program (furthering my career, but also giving me the opportunity to see what co-ops can accomplish internationally). When I returned, I used the co-op model to develop a seasonal, youth-led, farming co-op to provide unemployed youth with summer jobs - and my brother started a worker co-op (a board game cafe) that employs more than five people year-round, some of which are full-time.
While it might seem like it, I'm not telling this story to self-promote. The point of this story is that for me, my fellow interns, the youth employed by the farm, my brother, and his employees, co-ops contributed to our income during economic hardship and high rates of youth unemployment - and I think the world could use a little more of that.