Delegates from Canada’s two national co-operative associations have voted strongly in favour of creating a single bilingual organization to represent co-ops, credit unions and mutuals in every region of Canada . The decision is considered historic because it brings together English- and French-speaking co-operators, who have been largely divided along linguistic lines since the birth of the Canadian co-operative movement in the 19th century.
The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), which largely represents English-speaking co-operatives and the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM), which represents the French-speaking co-operative network, have been discussing for years the possibility for forming a single, bilingual organization. But it wasn't until the vote on June 28 that the prospect of a united co-operative movement became a reality.
When the new organization, tentatively named Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, is launched in early 2014, it will take over both CCA and CCCM's domestic programs and activities. CCA will continue to exist, but it will be exclusively responsible for international co-operative development.
“This is not a merger, it is the creation of an entirely new organization to represent all co-operative enterprises across Canada,” said CCA president Bill Dobson. “This will significantly strengthen the Canadian co-operative movement; it will allow co-operatives, credit unions and mutuals to speak with one voice, in both of Canada’s official languages.”
“I am so proud to see all Canadian co-operators unite to finally create a single organization,” said CCCM president Denis Richard. “From now on, all co-operators – anglophone, francophone and from other cultures – will work together to build on our collective heritage and create a stronger co-operative movement in Canada for the future.”
The CCA and CCCM meetings took place during Canada's annual co-operative congress, held in Edmonton from June 26-28. The theme of the 2013 congress was Sharing our successes; building the future, and a major focus was the ICA's Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade and how it can be implemented in Canada.