The past year has been a remarkable one for the Canadian co-operative movement. It has been a time when growing public demand for economic alternatives has generated increased interest in co-operatives; a time when the Canadian movement has been making an effort to get its own house in order by fostering greater co-operation between English- and French-speaking co-operatives.
And of course, it has been a time of planning, organizing and getting ready for the International Year of Co-operatives. Canadian co-operators have been actively preparing for this exciting opportunity since it was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 2009.
Last June, Canada launched www.canada2012.coop, the world’s first national IYC 2012 website. It was created as a three-way partnership between CCA, its French-language counterpart, the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM) and the Canadian government’s Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat. CCA representatives participated in both the United Nations launch in New York in October and the International Co-operative Alliance launch in Cancun in November, and on January 12, the International Year will be launched at events in 12 communities across Canada, in addition to a national launch in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
But the International Year is about more than events and celebrations: when the year is over, we want it to have a legacy that will live far beyond 2012. We have been actively lobbying the Canadian government for initiatives related to co-operative development, including the creation of a national co-operative loan fund that would be jointly financed by the government and the co-op sector. We know that access to capital is a major challenge for co-operatives, and such a fund would make an enormous difference for co-operatives seeking to modernize or expand.
We are also hopeful that the International Year will have another lasting benefit: a more cohesive Canadian co-operative movement. Because the co-operative movement is multi-sectoral, there has been a tendency for some co-ops to identify more with their line of business than with the movement as a whole. Already, we are seeing that the International Year is a force for change: consumer co-ops, agricultural co-ops, housing co-ops, worker co-ops and credit unions are coming together in communities across the country to plan activities for the International Year, and in doing so are discovering that the co-operative values they have in common are a lot more important than the things that set them apart.
As we work to build better communities, a better Canada and a better world, we are also striving to build a better co-operative movement. It’s going to be a wonderful year!
In this article
- Antigonish Movement
- British co-operative movement
- Business models
- Canadian Co-operative Association
- Canadian government
- Consumers' cooperative
- International Co-operative Alliance
- New Year Messages 2012
- Social economy
- Social Issues
- Social systems
- The Co-operative Group
- Worker cooperative
- North America