The largest association of credit unions in North America, Desjardins Group, was named Canada’s Co-operative of the Year last month at the Annual Co-operative Congress hosted by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.
Desjardins then added to the plaudits by coming fifth in Bloomberg’s list of the World’s Strongest Banks, and the first in North America.
“As a financial co-operative, we’ve always put a lot of emphasis in maintaining a solid capital base,” said a spokesman for the organisation. “Part of our surplus earnings is reinvested into our reserves and we also invite our members to help strengthen their financial co-operative’s capitalisation by buying special capital shares that meet the Basel III requirements. Thanks to these efforts, Desjardins Group today boasts a Core Tier 1 capital ratio of 15.7%.”
Desjardins was named Co-operative of the Year for its commitment, alongside the ICA, to establishing the International Summit of Co-operatives. The award was collected by Monique Leroux, president, chair of the board and chief executive of Desjardins.
“This honor must be shared with all the staff and volunteers who contributed to the successes of the first two summits, as well as with the International Co-operative Alliance,” she said.
The ceremony also saw the Award for Co-operative Excellence posthumously awarded to Mark Goldblatt, of the Canadian Co-operative Association, CHF Canada, the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation and the Funeral Co-operative in Ottawa.
The award for Canada’s Emerging Co-operator went to François-Michel Hastir, former president of the Fédération québécoise des cooperatives en milieu scolaire (COOPSCO). The award is reserved for co-operators under the age of 35 who focus on developing co-operative and mutual enterprises. Mr Hastir is also a member of Canada’s Emerging Co-operators, a committee that helps identify the interests of young co-operators and improve engagement with youth.