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Provincial Co-op Conference

Moderator, Peter Hough (Affinity Consulting/Co-opZone Developers Network) addresses the panel on sustianable development within their respective sectors, at the 2017 Provincial Co-op Conference on September 28, 2017 at the Courtyard by Marriott, Downtown Toronto. 

  • Highlights and celebrates the successes of Ontario co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires.
  • Informs participants through a variety of relevant plenary and workshops sessions.
  • Facilitates networking and information-sharing among co-operatives, co-op supporters, funders and developers.
  • Showcases the achievements of distinguished co-operators and organizations. 

The 2017 Provincial Co-op Conference

On September 28, 2017, 80 delegates from co-operatives, credit unions and other stakeholder organizations gathered at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Toronto for the "People, Planet and Prosperity: Co-operatives and Sustainable Development" conference. This year's theme was chosen to bring awareness to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, and how Ontario's co-operatives can work towards becoming more sustainable - both within their own organizations and together, as a movement.

The goal of the full-day event was to provide delegates with the information and tools to make positive changes within their organizations, as well as to provide opportunities for creating connections and collaborations that will go well beyond the conference.

Delegates received first-hand accounts of sustainable development at practice within a variety of co-operatives and business sectors, and the differences that these organizations are making within their communities. Keynote speaker Michael Barrett (President and CEO of Gay Lea Foods Co-operative) launched the conference with an inspirational talk about how his organization participates in the sustainable goals, and attributes its success to living the co-operative values and principles.

Following the keynote, a moderated panel session took place where four co-operative leaders shared their thoughts and stories on how their organizations are practicing sustainable co-operative development across four different sectors: insurance, finance, renewable energy and local food. In particular, governance, diversity, clean energy and local food were considered. 

It was then time to celebrate the movers and shakers of the co-operative community, at the 17th Co-operative Spirit Award ceremony and luncheon. Two individuals, Simone Swail of CHF Canada, Ontario Region and Michelle Christmann of Quinte First Credit Union, were recognized for their commitment and contributions to promoting the co-operative identity, and one organization, Libro Credit Union, was recognized for their sustainable development practices. Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman (one of the three All-Party Co-op Caucus Chairs) attended the luncheon and addressed the delegates, and the On Co-op Board Chair shared greetings from the Premier.

The format for the afternoon included three facilitated plenary presentations that considered how we can create more sustainable co-operatives through: 1) Educating our staff and members to be our co-op ambassadors; 2) Getting millennials excited and engaged with co-operatives; and 3) Practicing advocacy to raise awareness for co-operatives. Delegates were then asked to break out into three groups to discuss best practices for achieving each of these objectives, and then regrouped to share their ideas with everyone. 

Delegates were treated to a wrap-up with Alisdair Smith of Dare Communications, who attended the day's sessions and compiled the highlights and key points into a thirty minute presentation meant to inspire and instill a sense of future action from the audience.  

Once the conference ended, our delegates were invited to join us in a networking cocktail reception hosted by On Co-op in partnership with the Credit Union Directors' Forum. Over 140 individuals from both the co-operative and credit union sectors attended the hour and a half networking reception! We then ended the day with  a very special evening Banquet Dinner & Fundraiser, hosted by On Co-op in partnership with the Co-operative Development Foundation. of Canada. The evening, emceed by the Reverand Alisdair Smith, included a three-course seated meal, a keynote address by Kelly McGiffin, President and CEO of FirstOntario Credit Union (and CDF board director), the presentation of the Global (Ontario) Co-operator Award by the CCA/CDF to Sheelagh Byrne, a live auction and live musical entertainment by The Dreamboats. The dancefloor was packed with people enjoying the band's tribute to 50s and 60s nostaligic pop rock - what a way to complete an awesome day of learning, sharing and celebration!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the speakers and moderators of this year's conference, as well as to access some of the handouts and a Conference Wrap-up PP, developed by Alisdair Smith.

Visit us on FACEBOOK to view the photo album of the conference!


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