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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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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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Report from the Executive Director, June 2019

By Hazel Corcoran CWCF has had a full May and June.  Areas of significant focus have been to co-organize and hold the Quebec Worker Co-op Summit on June 17, and to continue planning for CWCF’s Conference in Tatamagouche, NS, to be held on Oct. 24 – 26.   See separate articles for both.  Further, our technical assistance grants are being placed; see the article on one of them, in the Ecosystem Collective Co-operative.  On May 9, I led a one-hour webinar on implementation of CWCF’s Strategic Plan.  There were some excellent ideas shared by participants, including focusing on convening worker co-ops in local areas for the purpose of helping co-ops solve challenges.  Another was to have a set of Loomio topics on practical issues, such as conflict resolution, engaging worker co-op members, etc.  In terms of building a member engagement strategy, it was noted that engaging with CWCF needs to be…

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Over 50 Co-operators Gather for Summit in Quebec City

by Hazel Corcoran, CWCF Executive Director With the theme of “Meeting Worker Co-op Challenges of 2019”, over 50 co-operators gathered for the Worker Co-op Summit in Quebec City on June 17 (photos are available here).   It was a rare and special opportunity for members of worker co-ops belonging to the Quebec Forestry Co-op Federation, Quebec Paramedic Co-op Federation, Réseau COOP and CWCF to be able to meet and learn from each other.  Guest speakers included US FWC Executive Director Esteban Kelly by live video conference; Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) Executive Director André Beaudry; Conseil de la coopération et de la mutualité (CQCM) Executive Director Gaston Bédard; and (on pre-recorded video), Noam Chomsky.  The main themes explored via panels were worker co-op governance; the motivations to join a worker co-op; and federation services, with guest speakers covering other topics.  To kick off the day, the three Quebec Federations (Forestry, Paramedics,…

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New Worker Co-op Benefits from Technical Assistance Grant

When Daimen Hardie (pictured) and his coworkers at Community Forests International set out to build a multi-stakeholder co-op to combat climate change in Atlantic Canada, they knew they would need some help. What they didn’t yet know was that a source for such help was readily available — the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation’s Technical Assistance (TA) program. Through small grants, the program matches CWCF members with co-op developers who can assist them with any issues they might be facing.  “It was really like an organic thing where we knew we wanted to build a worker co-op and we were out hunting for mentors, and this program was brought to our attention as a way to help compensate a potential coach or technical expert,” says Hardie. Enter veteran co-op developer Russ Christianson, who brought his extensive experience to Hardie and the other cofounders of Ecosystem Collective Cooperative in a variety of…

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News from Our Members – May 2019

The Fairware Changemaker series, which highlights entrepreneurs and thought leaders, recently featured Chris Nichols, Operations Coordinator and Co-Founder of Wood Shop Workers Co-operative in Vancouver. The episode shows how Wood Shop creates custom furniture, millwork & metalwork using reclaimed and upcycled materials, while running a co-operative that provides meaningful employment in the Vancouver community.   Nova Scotia co-op Just Us Coffee was also in the news recently for an initiative it took to reduce its carbon footprint in the shipping of its coffee beans (pictured above). The beans travelled to Halifax from Mexico via a German schooner, instead of the normal process of transport by shipping container. And the latest in our member profile series, this one focusing on La Siembra, is available here. La Siembra is celebrating 20 years of providing fair trade sugar, cocoa, chocolate bars, and other products under the Camino brand.

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