Executive Director’s Report, April 2021

By Hazel Corcoran

Spring is in the air across the country and fittingly for a time associated with new projects, CWCF has plenty on the horizon.

Twenty-six people gathered on Zoom for our recent workshop on Building Racial Justice in the Worker Co-op Movement in Canada. The JEDDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization, and Inclusion) Committee extends sincere thanks to the co-facilitators, Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard and Victor Beausoleil of SETSI, and to presenters Trista Pewapisconias of Co-operatives First and Christine Clarke of Freedom Dreams Education Co-op. As the workshop demonstrated, the JEDDI Committee’s work is critical if we want to achieve racial and economic justice, which as Dr. Gordon-Nembhard observed, are inextricably linked. We were encouraged by the level of engagement all the participants showed during the workshop, and by the fact that several stayed online to network after it was over. The JEDDI Committee’s work is still in its early stages, and we are seeking additional members. If you are interested in joining, please write to me, at hazel@canadianworker.coop, explaining briefly why you would like to join.

In another major initiative, we’re excited to launch our online Worker Co-op Academy, which will enable start-up groups to work collaboratively to develop their worker co-op enterprises with the help of experienced co-op developers. CWCF has been working together with the Réseau COOP (Quebec’s multi-sector worker co-op federation) to adapt and translate their Parcours worker co-op training and development program for provinces outside of Quebec.  CWCF’s Worker Co-op Academy has been inspired by the Parcours but will include its own unique elements. The deadline to apply is coming up on May 3rd, so please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested. Although the Academy is open to all, CWCF would like to encourage applications by groups led by equity-deserving populations including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour), youth, women, and non-binary people.  People in Quebec should take the Parcours COOP; their next application deadline is April 27th.  

Young adults with an interest in worker co-ops and an artistic streak may also be interested in applying for our arts and culture project grant, funded by a bequest from the late CWCF President Mark Goldblatt. A grant of up to $1000 is available for the winning person or group with an idea to promote co-operatives, preferably worker co-operatives. We’ve gotten great entries in the past, and are sure this year will be no different. The application deadline is April 30th.  The information on this grant competition is available here.  

For those who already belong to a worker co-op, we are featuring a series of “101” webinars in the coming months. The two-session Worker Co-op 101 webinars will cover basics about worker co-ops, such as definitions, statistics, how the co-op principles apply, member participation, governance and management tasks, and provide an overview of CWCF.  Other webinars being offered in the 101 series are devoted specifically to worker co-op finances and governance. Although these webinars are designed primarily for people who have recently joined or are about to join a worker co-op, all members are welcome to attend.  We are also offering monthly a webinar called “What is a Worker Co-op?” which is aimed primarily at people not yet in a worker co-op.  The schedule is available here.  

We are also encouraging our members to consider applying for one of our Technical Assistance grants, grants of up to $3500 which can help co-ops address virtually any challenge they may be facing. Past grantees have used them in a variety of ways, and have been very satisfied with the results. Although there’s no application deadline for this program, there’s a limited number of grants available.  Please see this page on our website for more information and a link to the application form.  

Finally, we will be holding our 2021 Conference virtually this year, with more details to follow in the coming months. We look forward to the day when we can hold it safely in person again. In the meantime, we will be looking at holding a series of regional outdoor meet-ups over the summer, depending on the restrictions in place at the time.