Canadian Professor embarks on a European bike tour for co-operation

A Canadian Professor has started a cycling tour of Europe where he will visit co-operatives in nine countries.

A Canadian Professor has started a cycling tour of Europe where he will visit co-operatives in nine countries.

André Martin from the Institute for Research and Education for Co-operatives and Mutuals of the University of Sherbrooke (IRECUS) started his tour at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum on August 3rd.

Inspired by the International Year of Co-operatives, and connecting with other co-operators, Prof. Martin said: “I felt the strength of the movement; my work involves researching co-operatives and 2012 presented us with a great opportunity to speak about co-operatives."

He hopes that by travelling across Europe he will be able to promote co-operative values and principles, while engaging with other co-operators.

Prof Martin will travel to nine different countries covering 5,400 kilometres, and will be joined by his 21-year old son, Charles, who will travel with him for the first two weeks, and his elder son, David (23), will accompany him for the following three weeks. For the rest of the journey Prof Martin will be travelling on his own. While cycling, they will be wearing T-shirts with the logo of the co-operative tour, designed by his daughter Carolanne.


For Prof. Martin this journey has a professional, social and personal dimension. While growing up he learned about co-operative values and principles from his grand father, Ernest Saint-Jacques, a keen co-operator who had helped to found a local credit union in Quebec.

"Co-operation is more than just an enterprise. It is a way of life," said André Martin.  As an Associate Professor at IRECUS, he conducts research into co-operative philosophy, ethics and education. 

“As a researcher I am very involved in the co-operative movement of Quebec. I know very well the co-operative movement both in theory and practice."

The bike tour will give him the perfect chance to visit places with a rich co-operative history, such as Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region.

At a time when the world is faced with various challenges, co-operation could help to provide a solution to these issues, says André Martin.

“It is essential to understand the important role co-operatives could play in helping to tackle the current political, economic and social problems at global level. 

“The Co-operative Decade will be the moment when young people are aware of the importance of co-operation. It is clear for us that the future is co-operative,” he added.

The bike tour for co-operation logo symbolises journey undertaken by André Martin to research into the philosophy of co-operation. Three symbols can be found in this logo:

1. The Greek letter Phi (which is also the sign of philosophers) is the dark outline that includes the letters C and P of COOP. The tail of the P is a quill to write (because André Martin's journey will also include writing sessions) and the fleur-de-lis represents the cooperation of Quebec. Between the C and the P, the two Os represent the faces of two people. Thus, this means that co-ops are a Concrete and Philosophical organisation formed by and for Communities of People. The row above the two Os represent the co-operative movement.
2. The Greek letter Phi of the C and the P also represents a road of plains and mountains, specifically the point P; the two Os and the line above, a moving bicycle doing a tour.
3. Finally, the entire logo illustrates the essence of co-operation: a human face emerges from the logo with a mouth, eyes and eyebrows. That’s why c-ooperative exists: to contribute to the construction of humanity, even if our directions are uncertain.

The logo, conceptualised by André Martin, was designed his daughter, Carolanne Allard Martin.

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