September / October 2012
Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement. Harold Chapman. Saskatoon, SK : Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2012.
In today’s world of YouTube and reality television, it is easy to believe that formal co-operative education is unnecessary. Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement reminds us why this is not true. Co-operative education is multifaceted, with many actors holding responsibility. It is needed in the K-12 curriculum as much as at the university level, and universities cannot do it alone. The sector must also be involved and be as committed in their words and actions as they are in their funding to universities and other postsecondary institutions. Through his writing and his life-long dedication to co-operative education, Harold Chapman is our conscience in this regard, and in writing this book he has made an important contribution to the long-term sustainability of the co-operative movement.
Lou Hammond Ketilson, Director, Centre for the Study of Co-operatives
Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement is a memoir written to help others think, understand and practice co-operativism. It is a major contribution to an alternative view of how citizens can manage their economy and their society in a co-operative way, where people come before profits, and where the social ethic shapes the economic model. Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement is truly a bridge between generations, and an important tool for anyone concerned with building a society that serves everyone.
Don Kossick, political activist and community organizer
There is nothing more evocative than the first-person voice in the telling of history’s stories. Harold Chapman’s memoirs about the progressive legacy of co-operatives in Saskatchewan lend the subject an air of authority. His accounts of the people who dedicated their lives to the development of co-operatives in the province makes this history personal, helping the reader to feel connected to the principles and practice of co-operation. The biggest lesson Chapman teaches us is the importance of education in achieving and maintaining co- operatives. This is especially true for agricultural co-operatives, as farmers have to learn to surrender at least some of their individualism in order to reap the rewards of economic enterprise through co-operation.
Joan Champ, Executive Director Western Development Museum
Today’s young activists and change-makers, fighting to reclaim their histories in an age of mass amnesia, will find a powerful ally in these pages, which show how we’ve built a co-operative commonwealth in the past, and how we can do so again.
Dave Oswald Mitchell, editor
The book is available at several book stores or you can place an order directly from the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.
September / October 2011
Enabling Policy Environments for Co-operative Development: A Comparative Experience. Monica Juarez Adeler. Saskatoon, SK : Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2009.
This research assumes that co-operatives matter. The co-operative model has been widely recognized as an important community economic development tool for increasing social capital, anchoring wealth in the community, and creating jobs. The International Co-operative Alliance defines a co-operative as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise” (ICA 1996).
According to the Canadian Co-operative Association (2007), “after five years, the survival rate of a new co-operative enterprise is almost twice that of an investor-owned company.” In addition, co-operatives invest in their communities by creating employment, making donations, and providing sponsorships (Government of Quebec 2003). Co-operatives are more productive than private companies because they maintain a “social contract” with communities; they guarantee the “continued viability of jobs, promote entrepreneurship, and improve quality of life without sacrificing competitiveness” (Lotti et al. 2006, 4). Thus, their unique dual nature, meeting economic and social goals at the same time, makes them better suited to satisfy the needs of communities. In addition, “co-operatives provide over 100 million jobs around the world, 20% more than multinational enterprises,” which speaks to the potential of co-operatives to contribute to the economic development of local communities through job creation (ICA 2009).
The ability to use the co-operative model effectively as an empowering socio-economic instrument, however, requires the availability of technical assistance, education and skill-development strategies, strong co-operative associations and sector infrastructure, supportive public policy, and appropriate financial tools.
This research project analyses the context and history, sector infrastructure, tax legislation, and policies impacting co-operative development in Spain (Mondragon Co-op), Italy (the Emilia Romagna region), Quebec, and Manitoba. It will also study the role of co-operative associations and federations in assisting co-operative development, in particular the mechanisms that have given them the resources and capacity to provide the critical co-operativedevelopment supports required for success. The researcher will analyse these different enabling policy environments and explore the possibilities of parlaying the findings into appropriate models for the Manitoba context. Following this analysis, the researcher will describe the existing environment for co-operative development in Manitoba. The final section identifies policy recommendations to enhance support for co-operative development.
Full Report (pdf)
January / February 2011
Self-Determination in Action: The Entrepreneurship of the Northern Saskatchewan Trappers Association Co-operative. Dwayne Pattison and Isobel M. Findlay. Saskatoon, SK : Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2010.
Nearly forty years after being established, the Northern Saskatchewan Trappers Association (NSTA) has transformed its organizational structure, incorporating as a not-for-profit co-operative at the beginning of 2007. From the standpoint of the government, the primary funder of the organization, the restructuring enhances and formalizes the NSTA’s operational accountability and transparency. To ensure the legitimacy of the co-op and its board of directors in the eyes of its members, the benefits of the co-operative model and of legal incorporation need to be effectively communicated. To build trust with its major stakeholders, the newly established co-operative must effectively address the needs and concerns of its predominantly Aboriginal membership, respecting their values and traditions and engaging their participation, while also balancing the demands of government and present and future partners. The final report, based on a literature review, participant observation, and semi-structured individual and group interviews, focuses on these key areas:
- Governance structures, policies, and practices
- Member participation, learning, and cultural revitalization
- Legitimate representation of members in negotiations with government and other outside bodies
- Integration of traditional trapper governance and co-operative governance
The report concludes with recommendations to strengthen internal and external legitimacy; to promote the leadership, vision, and goals as well as multiple bottom lines related to educational, environmental, employment, justice, health, and other benefits to traditional trapping culture; to enhance the NSTA’s organizational, financial, and business capacity; to communicate more broadly the community and educational capacity building of NSTA activities; and to strengthen partnerships with community and other organizations.
Full Report (pdf)
November / December 2010
Resilience of the Cooperative Model in Times of Crisis. Johnston Birchall and Lou Hammond Ketilson ; International Labour Office, Sustainable Enterprise Programme. Geneva : ILO, 2009.
The financial and ensuing economic crisis has had negative impacts on the majority of enterprises; however, co-operative enterprises around the world are showing resilience to the crisis. This report provides historical evidence and current empirical evidence that proves that the co-operative model of enterprise survives crisis, but more importantly that it is a sustainable form of enterprise able to withstand crisis, maintaining the livelihoods of the communities in which they operate. It further suggest ways in which the ILO can strengthen its activity in the promotion of co-operatives as a means to address the current economic crisis and avert future crisis.
Full Report (PDF)