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DSW Co-operative Embraces Co-op Alternative for Developmental Services Work

Like many developmental services workers, Claire Maxwell faced a difficult choice when it came to breaking into the industry — working for a large, private company that would offer her little or no say in its operations, or working on her own, isolating her from others in the field and offering no external support. Neither option seemed very appealing, but there didn’t appear to be any alternatives until she and three other developmental services workers in Ottawa learned about a third option: establishing a worker co-op. “Neither is really what we were looking for, and so we were trying to get the best of both worlds, and the co-operative model seemed to fit that best,” says Maxwell, “where we could provide backup to each other but it was a very democratic business process, we could discuss how we wanted to run the business, how to provide the best quality of…

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How Co-ops Are Responding to Climate Change

As with all businesses, the climate crisis presents a challenge for worker co-ops, and at this point there may be as many questions as there are answers. But here’s a start at understanding some of the issues they face. How are co-ops uniquely positioned to respond to climate change? Co-ops’ unique ability to respond to climate change lies in their seven principles. Colin MacDougall of SSG, a co-op that works with cities, campuses, and institutions on climate planning, believes that coops are inherently prone to concern about climate change because of their concern for community, one of the seven principles. “When you allow democracy to sort of, you know flourish and lead decisions within the organization you’ll find that the type of problems that the organization looks to tackle will broaden a lot more and start to consider a lot more social considerations more than financial considerations,” he says.  This…

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Join the Conversation on Loomio

Increased member engagement is a key part of CWCF’s strategic plan. That’s why we’re working to make our conferences more accessible, holding other regional gatherings, and increasing the frequency of visits to our members. We’re doing these things because we know the importance of connecting in person. But we also realize it’s not the only way for our members to stay in touch. That’s why we’re hoping you’ll connect with us — and each other — on the online platform Loomio. CWCF hosted a series of conversations on Loomio last year as part of our strategic planning process. Thanks to all who participated — you provided us with valuable input. And if you missed out on the first round, now’s your chance to get involved. We’ll be launching a new blog in the coming months, and we hope it will serve as a starting point for discussions on Loomio over…

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Report on Nova Scotia Co-operative Council AGM

By Kristin VanHattem, CWCF’s RRSP/TFSA Program Manager and Bookkeeper Kristin represented CWCF at the meeting. The overall tone of the AGM was celebratory, given that NSCC is marking its 70th year. Jeff Yuill presided over the meeting. Remarks were offered by two partners: John Harvie (the Cooperators) and Mike Leonard (Atlantic Central & League Savings). Mike noted that for the fifth year in a row, more people are joining credit unions. Dianne Kelderman gave an overview of her President’s Report, which can be found in its entirety in NSCC’s 2018 Annual Report. She highlighted a few key results & achievements: Youth in Agriculture / Career Rising initiative: geared toward at-risk youth; has provided opportunities for 70 youth so far; many went on to work with co-ops or pursue post-secondary education/trainingConnecting People for Health Co-operative: launched in 2010 as Canada’s first and only online healthcare clinic; acquired by Shoppers Drug Mart…

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Glitter Bean Cafe Offers Safe Space for Halifax’s Queer Community

Queer spaces are scarce in Halifax these days, and until recently, queer-owned worker co-ops were non-existent there. And then along came Glitter Bean Cafe, which while still in its infancy, has succeeded by being both. The Cafe, a member of CWCF, is the successor to predecessors at the same location that operated under the Just Us and Smiling Goat banners. When Smiling Goat was shuttered in April, 2018, it looked like the end of the road for the Cafe’s employees, until they got an appealing offer from Just Us, which still owned the building: would they be interested in reopening as a worker-owned business? Just Us’s offer of affordable low rent, plus some start-up funding from the Service Employees International Union local, convinced the store’s employees to say “yes”. “It’s something that we’d sort of joked about for years”,  says worker-owner Charlie Huntley, “because oftentimes we were in a situation…

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Co-ops Benefit from Technical Assistance Grants

Two co-ops that were recently awarded grants through CWCF’s Technical Assistance program greatly appreciated the help they received and would recommend the program to others. West Arm Woodworking, a fledgling co-op in Nelson, BC, sought the grant for assistance in drafting liability waivers for use of its workshop. The co-op worked with Vancouver lawyer Mary Childs to create the waivers, which worker-owner Danielle Soucie says was a crucial part of their operations. “It was definitely necessary and we’re super thankful for the grant that we received from CWCF in order to hire her,” says Soucie. Toronto’s Urbane Cyclist also benefited from a grant which helped it deal with issues arising from its recent restructuring. Urbane’s Owen Ardal says the chance to work with longtime co-op developer Russ Christianson was a great opportunity. “It was very helpful and insightful to have him there, and even just talking in more loose forms…

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Report of Bologna Tour 2019

Professor Stefano Zamagni, University of Bologna Article by Chris Nichols, co-founder of Wood Shop Worker Coop  From May 26 to June 7, 2019, I had the immense privilege of attending a Vancity-sponsored tour of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Vancity, as a financial-services cooperative – or credit union as it is more commonly called – has been organizing this tour since 2003. It brings groups of its executive leadership and local community partners to Italy to learn from the cooperatives in this area, providing education and inspiration and a way for Vancity to embrace its cooperative foundation. It is a two-week immersive experience that will make you a coop enthusiast for life.  In many ways, Emilia-Romagna is a world leader in the strength, density, and cultural resonance of its cooperative sector. One in seven people in this region work in a cooperative, and, in being there, one is struck…

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Bio of Hannah Martin

Hannah Katli’n Martin is a Mi’kmaw woman from the traditional, unceded territory of Taqamiju’jk (Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia) Mi’kma’ki (territory of the Mi’kmaq) and is a member of the Millbrook First Nation community. Hannah is a recent graduate from the Honours Indigenous Studies program at McMaster University, and completed her degree as a 2015 Joyce/Crawford Loran Scholar. As an undergrad passionate about Indigenous community-building and reconciliation, Hannah chaired the Indigenous Health Movement (IHM) McMaster Chapter for two consecutive terms and served as president of the Cooperative of Indigenous Studies Students and Alumni from 2018-2019. Hannah is a passionate advocate for cultural reclamation, justice, human rights and Mi’kmaq self-determination. She is a hand drummer, singer and practitioner of traditional knowledge whose determination comes from a deep love for her culture, family, community, ancestors, future children and the generations to come. In 2018, Hannah was recognized for her work when she received the…

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