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Past CCSC Public Talks

2023 Public Talks

Democratic Organizations as the Engine of Equitable Economic Growth featuring Dr. Morris Altman

Conventional theory argues that organizations that embed democratic decision-making – such as co-operatives – are inefficient relative to other corporate forms because of associated governance costs such as slow and cumbersome decision-making. In this year’s MacPherson Talk, Dr. Morris Altman challenges this conventional view by arguing that democratic governance actually increase productivity through improved working conditions and wellbeing. Dr. Morris Altman will present recent research to support his argument and provide examples of the importance of embedding democratic principles within an organization.   

About our Speaker

Morris Altman is the Dean of the University of Dundee School of Business and Chair Professor of Behavioral and Institutional Economics and Co-operatives at the University of Dundee. He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Saskatchewan and a research fellow at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives. 

Event Details

When: Monday, December 4, 2023
Time: 4:30 – 5:30 PM (Saskatchewan Time or Central Standard Time)
Where: This is a hybrid event and will take place at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre and on Zoom
File: Download Event Poster

Community-Centered Funerary Care: The Growing Presence and Impact of Funeral Co-operatives in Canada featuring Sarah Firby

Over the last 50 years, the co-operative movement has gained traction in the Eastern Canadian funeral industry, providing vital services to communities under a governance structure focused on transparency and local ownership to a vulnerable customer base. The discussion will focus on how the co-operative model is presented in the “death care” sector and the benefits experienced through this business approach. In so doing, it will explore the remarkable growth and impact of funeral co-operatives in Quebec and Ontario, where the co-operative movement has the largest presence in the industry. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on the role provincial policy and culture can play in the adoption of the co-operative model in unique industries.  

Presented by Sarah Firby, Recipient of the 2022 Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship in Co-operative Studies

Sarah Firby is a recent graduate of the Graduate Certificate in Social Economy, Co-operatives and Non-profit Sector (GSECN) program and Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy. Firby has worked, volunteered, and been a member of the Saskatchewan co-operative sector for 10 years with a passion for the unique benefits the model provides to communities.  

When: Wednesday, November 23, 2023
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (Saskatchewan Time or Central Standard Time)
Location: This talk was held on Zoom

As part of Co-op Week 2023, join Dr. Dionne Pohler for the launch of her new co-edited volume, “Building Inclusive Communities in Rural Canada”. This collection challenges misconceptions that rural Canada is a bastion of intolerance. While examining the extent and nature of contemporary cultural and religious discrimination in rural Canadian communities, the editors and contributors explore the many efforts by rural citizens, community groups, and municipalities to counter intolerance, build inclusive communities, and become better neighbours. Throughout, scholars and community leaders focus on building new understandings, language, and ways of thinking about diversity and inclusion that will resonate with rural people. 

This event will include a brief presentation focused on Dionne’s co-authored chapter in the book, “Co-operative Development Possibilities in Rural Settler and Indigenous Communities: Lessons from the Co-operative Innovation Project and Co-operatives First”. This will be followed by an informal reception afterwards.

About our speaker

Dr. Dionne Pohler is an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan Edwards School of Business. She also holds the Co-operative Retailing System Chair in Co-operative Governance with the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and is a faculty research fellow with the Rotman Institute for Gender and the Economy. Dionne was one of the co-investigators on the Co-operative Innovation Project. This led to the creation of Co-operatives First, which is dedicated to working with rural communities to address the needs identified by community members. Her previous and ongoing research covers topics on rural issues, work and employment, unions and labour relations, organizational governance, labour and social policy, and co-operative development.

Dr. Pohler’s new co-edited volume, “Building Inclusive Communities in Rural Canada” can be purchased at a discount of 20% off until the end of October, 2023 via the following link:

A digital copy of the book can be accessed at no cost via the following link:

When: October 17, 2023
Time: 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM (Saskatchewan Time, Central Standard Time, or UTC-6.0)
Location: This was a hybrid event

Behind headlines of a prosperous Saskatchewan agricultural sector, there is a less evident storm brewing in the global agricultural community. Locally and abroad, farmers are increasingly struggling to manage devastating droughts, depleted water supplies, degraded soil, and other consequences of an increasingly obvious climate crisis. Farming systems with the potential to mitigate the crisis—like models based on farmer co-operation—are not being considered.

In a virtual event hosted by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, globally renowned development economist Dr. Bina Agarwal proposes that we need to rethink the way we farm by moving away from unsustainable and unequal farm sectors towards alternatives that are technologically, environmentally, and institutionally different. Drawing on her extensive research in South Asia, Europe, and most recently, in Saskatchewan, she will discuss the nature of our global farm crisis and share insights on whether and how cooperation among farmers could be economically and socially beneficial in developing countries and here in Canada.

About our speaker

Dr. Bina Agarwal is a Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester and an award-winning author who has written extensively on land and livelihoods; environment and development; poverty and inequality; and agricultural co-operatives, especially from a gender perspective. She has held distinguished positions at many universities including Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Michigan, and Minnesota. Her award-winning book, A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia, pioneered the importance of women owning land. It had a strong impact on the thinking of governments, NGOs, and international agencies, and catalyzed a global call for action to promote women’s land rights, including in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr. Agarwal’s visit to the University of Saskatchewan last June was made possible through the USask Global Ambassadors Program.

When: January 31, 2023
Time: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM (Saskatchewan Time, Central Standard Time, or UTC-6.0)
Location: This talk will take place online via Zoom.

2022 Public Talks

Fomenting a Different Kind of Green Revolution: Distributism, Co-operatives, Permaculture and Renewing Peter Maurin's dream of the Agronomic University featuring Josh Campbell

“Given what you’ve learned so far about the challenges currently facing humanity and the need to build community resilience, how would you have liked your childhood education to be different?” That was the question that Josh Campbell asked a group of his Grade 10 science students after leading them through several classes devoted to climate change and ecosystems. Their responses inspired him to envision a school that would give students the tools they need to meet the greatest challenges of our times. In this year’s MacPherson lecture, Campbell explores how the little-known past of one of Canada’s pre-eminent hockey schools, Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Saskatchewan, could be marshalled to imagine a new agronomic university built around permaculture, distributism and co-operative values and principles, and hope for an uncertain future. 

Presented by Josh Campbell

Josh Campbell is an educator and freelance journalist based in Regina on Treaty 4 territory. He holds science and education degrees, along with a Master of Journalism and a permaculture design certificate. Prior to his vision to create an agronomic university, Josh previously made an award-winning documentary and co-founded Wascana Solar Co-operative.

When: December 14, 2022
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM (Saskatchewan Time or Central Standard Time)
Location: This talk was delivered as a hybrid event. 

The 2022 Fredeen Lecture

Evolution of Co-operative Law in the 21st Century

The 2022 Fredeen Lecture featured a presentation from the 2021 Fredeen Scholarship recipient, Bill Oemichen.

Over the last 30 years, there has been declining scholarly interest in the study of co-operative law. In this year’s Fredeen lecture, the recipient of the 2021 Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship in Co-operative Studies, Bill Oemichen - an experienced cooperative attorney in both Canada and the United States, will present some of his early research comparing recent efforts to modernize co-operative acts in Western Canada with existing legal provisions in the American Upper Midwest, an area known for its large and growing co-operative sector. The discussion will range widely, discussing how trends in co-operative law are shaping the evolution of the cooperative business model but also calling out possible future directions for legal scholars interested in the model.

About our speaker, Bill Oemichen

Bill Oemichen is a PhD candidate at the Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy. Oemichen is a member of the Law Society of Alberta, a partner in Community and Co-operative Counsel based in Calgary, and serves on the board of several co-operatives, including the education and insurance arm of the $440 Billion American Farm Credit System. Bill previously practiced co-operative law at a major Midwestern law firm in the United States.

About the Fredeen Lecture
The Fredeen Lecture is hosted annually and features the research of the most recent recipient of the Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship in Co-operative Studies. This scholarship is offered annually to a student who is conducting research on co-operatives, either entering or continuing studies in a master's or doctoral program at the University of Saskatchewan. Click here to learn more about the Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship in Co-operative Studies. 

When: Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (Saskatchewan Time or Central Standard Time)
Location: This talk will held on Zoom
CCSC Graduate Student Research Showcase recording

In celebration of Co-op Week 2022, the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives' hosted its first ever Graduate Student Research Showcase. Our panel of students presented their research on co-operatives and share how that research will help to advance co-operation in the world of tomorrow.

Our panelists included:

  • Candice Minott is a Master of Public Administration student at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, Candice was the Senior Manager - Brand Management & Advertising for The Jamaica National Group (JN Group) - a mutual - in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Kevin Harding is a PhD candidate at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. Kevin has an academic background in political science, public policy, and critical political economy, and professional experience in public policy roles in nonprofit and government organizations.
  • Bill Oemichen is a PhD candidate at the Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy. Oemichen is a member of the Law Society of Alberta and partner in Community and Co-operative Counsel based in Calgary, and and serves on the board of several co-operatives, including the education and insurance arm of the $440 Billion American Farm Credit System.

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022 
Time: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CST (Saskatchewan time)
Location: This talk was free to attend and delivered by Zoom

An Introduction to the Scottish Co-operative Sector and Co-operative Research at the University of Dundee

In this presentation, Professor Morris Altman, Dean of the University of Dundee School of Business and Chair Professor of Behavioural and Institutional Economics and Co-operatives, and visiting scholar at the University of Saskatchewan, provides an introduction to the large co-operative sector in Scotland, the factors that contribute to its growth and success, and the challenges the co-operative sector faces. Following, Professor Altman introduces the School of Business at the University of Dundee and its suite of co-operative programs and research.

About the speaker: Professor Morris Altman is the Dean of the University of Dundee School of Business and Chair Professor of Behavioural and Institutional Economics and Co-operatives. Morris was formerly a Professor and Department Head at the University of Saskatchewan department of Economics from 1988 - 2009. He has published 20 books and well over 120 peer reviewed articles and has over 50 years experience with co-ops.

Date: July 7, 2022
Time: 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM CST (Saskatchewan time)
Location: This talk was delivered by Zoom.

The Big Agricultural Data Revolution: Key Issues

Primary production agriculture is changing rapidly due to major developments in digital “smart” technology. In what is referred to as Big Ag Data, agricultural technology providers are combining data from “smart” devices with weather and soil data to provide farmers with seed, fertilizer, and chemical recommendations designed to improve yields, environmental outcomes and economic return.
While the idea of Big Ag Data is quickly becoming commonplace, its use comes with questions and concerns. Farmers, policy makers, and industry groups are asking: Who owns this data? How is it protected? How is it shared? Who reaps the benefits from its collection and use?
Join us for a lively primer on the opportunities and challenges facing Canadian agriculture from this critically important new technology. This introduction serves as a prelude to the Big Data Revolution in the Canadian Agricultural Sector: A Symposium on Opportunities, Challenges, and Alternatives, which will take place, both in person at Thompson Rivers University and virtually, on March 25, 2022. 

Date: February 25, 2022
Time: 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM CST (Saskatchewan time)
Location: This talk was delivered by Zoom. 

A Census of Canada’s Renewable Energy Co-operatives: Key Findings

Canada has a small but growing renewable energy co-operatives (RECs) sector. To better understand the role it currently plays and could play in Canada’s energy transition, the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, with the support of the Co-operators, conducted a census of the sector. The census collected data on everything from the amount and type of REC energy production to the size and composition of RECs boards and how many people they employed. It augmented these data with 24 semi-structured interviews to better understand the barriers and enablers to REC success. This event will present the Census findings and provide recommendations on a path forward.


  • Marc-André Pigeon - Dr. Marc-André Pigeon is the Director and Strategic Research Fellow at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and Assistant Professor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Martin Boucher - Dr. Martin Boucher is a faculty lecturer at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Renata Leonhardt - Renata Leonhardt is a PhD student at the University of Victoria
Date: February 24, 2022
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 PM CST (Saskatchewan time)
Location: This talk was delivered by Zoom. 

2021 Public Talks

The Pluses of Pulses: Scaling up pulses varieties in Southern Ethiopia for sustainability, and improved food security

Ethiopia suffers from one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the world, which has had a profound effect on health and mortality rates, particularly for women and children. For twenty years, a partnership of the University of Saskatchewan and Hawassa University has worked to help address food and nutrition security in Ethiopian communities through improved pulse crop innovations and nutrition educational programming to promote high yield pulse crops like chickpeas and haricot beans. A significant thrust of the project’s work was its efforts and success in empowering women through training in marketing, finance, and the setting up of cooperatives to sell nutritious pulse foods as well as high-yielding seeds. This talk shares the story of these cooperatives and how they created markets for low-income and unemployed women to improve their income capacity and nutrition within their household.

Presented by Dr. Carol Henry, Professor, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan 

Dr. Carol Henry is a recognized international scholar-pracitioner in community-engaged research, international development, and teaching and learning. Over the past 15 years, her team has worked on nutrition-related research, teaching, and development projects at home and abroad, including but not limited to Africa, the Carribean, and Southeast Asia. Her research interestes include school and community health, child nutrition, children’s and consumer literacy and health, food security, and food systems.

About the MacPherson Talks
The MacPherson Talks honour the late Dr. Ian MacPherson, one of the leading lights of the international cooperative movement. Historian, educator, author, and passionate co-operator, Ian personified the relationship between Canadian co-operative academics and co-op practitioners. The MacPherson Talks are held annually by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

When: December 8, 2021
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM CST
Location: This talk was delivered by Zoom. 

The 2021 Fredeen Lecture

The Challenges of Horizontal Governance: The Case of Workers Recovered Enterprises in Argentina

The 2021 Fredeen Lecture featured a presentation from the 2020 Fredeen Scholarship recipient, Celeste Osses.

Faced with the loss of their jobs as a result of recurring financial and economic crises during the 1990s and into the new millenium, Argentinian workers took matters into their own hands by experimenting with a new type of co-operative called Workers Recovered Enterprises (WRE). Under this model, workers take over bankrupt companies but instead of relying strictly on outside managers to run the business, the workers help manage and govern the business themselves through a horizontal or flat structure. The movement was further motivated by the principles of solidarity, shared returns, and providing an alternative to neoliberal economic policy. Thanks to changes in Argentina’s bankruptcy legislation, the WRE movement grew quickly and saw approximately 190 businesses reclaimed by over ten thousand workers. This research aims to explore the tension between collective decision-making and the market economy pressure for efficiency, to ultimately detect factors that impact horizontal governance sustainability.

About our speaker, Celeste Osses

Celeste Osses is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. She previously completed her undergraduate degree in business administration at Universidad Nacional del Comahue in Neuquen, Argentina. Celeste’s research focus is on Argentina’s Workers-Recovered Enterprise movement, where worker-owned co-operatives were created to reclaim failing or bankrupt businesses as a way to ensure employment and push for self-management.

About the Fredeen Lecture

The Fredeen Lecture is hosted annually and features the research of the most recent recipient of the Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship in Co-operative Studies. This scholarship is offered annually to a student who is conducting research on co-operatives, either entering or continuing studies in a master's or doctoral program at the University of Saskatchewan. Click here to learn more about the Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship in Co-operative Studies. 

When: NovemberTime: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (CST)
Location: Delivered by Zoom

Do Credit Union Mergers Accelerate Growth? Findings From an Empirical Study

The pace of credit union mergers shows no sign of abating. But do mergers lead to accelerated growth, as one might expect? In his presentation, Dr. Mamun Abdullah from the Edwards School of Business and a fellow at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives shares some surprising findings from his study of 75 mergers over 12 years among Canadian credit unions.

Presented by: Dr. Abdullah Mamun (PhD), Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in Finance, Edwards School of Business

Dr. Abdullah Mamun is an Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in Finance at the Edwards School of Business and a Research Fellow at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives. Dr. Mamun has been involved in teaching and research interest in financial institutions for over a decade. His current projects involve financial economics, risk management, earning management, and mergers and acquisitions among banks and credit unions.

When: Time: 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. (SK Time)
Location: Delivered by Zoom. 

NorthernNations Co-operative and the Mission to Build True Economic Equality for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples 

There continues to exist a serious economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. Through a wholly-owned subsidiary, NorthernNations Co-operative wants to help bridge this divide by pooling capital from investors and using the funds to invest in existing Indigenous-owned businesses and to make investments in new projects. With control of the co-operative resting squarely with Indigenous communities as the member-owners, NorthernNations is looking to achieve its goal by using a blend of traditional values and modern leadership. In his presentation, Matt Vickers shared the story of how he and a handful of other Indigenous leaders created NorthernNations Co-operative, why they chose the co-operative form as their business model, and how that connects to their mission to generate economic prosperity for Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Presented by: Matt Vickers, Director and Chief Executive Officer of NorthernNations Co-operative

Matt is the director and Chief Executive Officer of NorthernNations Co-operative. Matt has over 44 years of experience in consulting and Aboriginal business. Throughout his career, Matt has worked on a wide range of assignments across Canada’s First Nations communities, helping Aboriginal entrepreneurs with their business and banking needs.

When: Time: 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. (SK Time)
Location: Delivered by Zoom. 

Coordinated Co-operative Development & Capacity Building in British Columbia

The cooperative development process can be long and challenging. With too many communities lacking a good understanding of the model and expending too much time and energy figuring it out, too few initiatives get to market. Working with community partners, Vancity supports a co-op development “infrastructure”, including educational programming, a coordinated professional services referral process, and access to start-up financing. In this presentation, Elvy Del Bianco looked at the origins of this system, the positive results produced to date, and its ongoing evolution.

Presented by: Elvy Del Bianco, Vancity Cooperative Portfolio Manager

As Vancity’s Cooperative Portfolio Manager, Elvezio (“Elvy”) Del Bianco is a cooperative enterprise educator, developer, financier and advocate He coordinates Vancity’s support for new and established cooperatives, founded and organizes the Cooperate Now co-op business boot camp, and co-authored the “Seven Ways to Grow BC’s Co-op Sector” policy document. 

When: Time: 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. (CST)
Location: Delivered by Zoom. 

Creating a Supportive Policy Environment and Network for Renewable Energy Co-operatives in Canada Panel

Renewable energy co-operatives provide opportunities for local investment, advance sustainability, and enhance community connection, yet there is often little policy support for their activities. This panel discussed the policy landscape for renewable energy cooperatives in Canada and opportunities for social innovation hubs and other approaches that can serve as a network of support for renewable energy co-ops.

Panelists will include representatives from:

  • SES Solar Co-operative
  • Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative
  • Wascana Solar Co-operative
  • Solar Power Investment Co-operative of Edmonton

When: Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM (CST)
Location: Delivered by Zoom 

An Introduction and Exchange with FUNDEPOS University 

In 2020, the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and Universidad FUNDEPOS de Costa Rica entered into the process of establishing a memorandum of understanding to foster academic, research, and scholarly collaborations focused on co-operatives, public policy, and sustainability. In this presentation, Professor Jorge Arturo Campo provides an introduction to FUNDEPOS University and the strong co-operative presence at the university and in Costa Rica at large. This presence includes ongoing research that studies the social and economic impact of the co-operative sector in Costa Rica and the educational programming of the Center for Cooperative Studies and Training (CENECOOP) at University FUNDEPOS. 

Presented by: Professor Jorge Arturo Campos manages international programs, research and sustainable development initiatives at Universidad FUNDEPOS de Costa Rica. Jorge was previously a professor at the University of Costa Rica and an associate professor at Veritas University.

When: Time: 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CST)
Location: Delivered by Zoom 

2020 Public Talks

The Sixth Annual MacPherson Talk 

Beyond Co-operation: The Power of Business as a Force for Good

Co-operatives are guided by their principles and values to balance purpose and profits, while serving their members and communities. Our future requires significant action on climate resilience, meaningful engagement in reconciliation, eliminating racism and discrimination, and ending poverty and homelessness. Will the co-operative principles achieve those outcomes, or do co-operatives need to do more? Using Assiniboine Credit Union as an example, Brendan’s talk looks at how the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) designation can strengthen co-operatives and advance a vision of a sustainable future of belonging and dignity for all.

Presented by: Brendan Reimer Strategic Partner of Valuebased Banking, Assiniboine Credit Union 

Brendan Reimer is Assiniboine Credit Union’s Strategic Partner of Values-Based Banking. Brendan is also the co-chair of the Canadian Credit Union Association’s Community Impact Committee, and volunteers as a board member with both SEED Winnipeg and the Manitoba Real Estate Foundation Shelter Foundation. Brendan is a passionate educator and organizer dedicated to creating inclusive, fairer, and more sustainable economies and communities and has worked effectively with academia, governments, private sector, and community organizations in advancing that vision.

About The MacPherson Talks

The MacPherson Talks honour the late Dr. Ian MacPherson, one of the leading lights of the international cooperative movement. Historian, educator, author, and passionate co-operator, Ian personified the relationship between Canadian co-operative academics and co-op practitioners. 

When: Time: 12:30 PM - 01:30 PM CST
Location: This talk was delivered by Zoom.

The 2020 Fredeen Lecture

Public Policy and Co-op Governance: Do Multi-Stakeholder Co-ops Need Special Attention?

The 2020 Fredeen Lecture featured a presentation from the 2019 Fredeen Scholarship recipient, Shylah Wolfe.

In a modern world confronted by rapid change, limited resources and a globalized economy, organizational governance is becoming increasingly complex. Organizations are beginning to integrate broader representation from relevant stakeholders to navigate this world, address the ‘triple bottom line’ (economy, society, environment), and garner legitimacy among diverse communities.

These same forces are playing out in the co-operative sector through the spread and growth of multi-stakeholder co-operatives, yet governments are only slowly and unevenly reflecting these shifts in public policy. In this talk, last year’s winner of the Fredeen scholarship, Shylah Wolfe, explores potential legislative barriers to multi-stakeholder co-operatives and how legislative changes could lend legitimacy and utility to this model and the broader cooperative sector.

About our speaker, Shylah Wolfe:

Shylah Wolfe is the Project Manager at Local Food and Farm Co-operative (LFFC) and a member of the Ontario Co-operative Association Board of Directors. She is completing the Graduate Certificate in Social Economy and Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan. As a practitioner, her work focuses on food system amelioration through participatory action research and community capacity building. Meanwhile, her research focus is on co-operative development and the legal framework centre on multi-stakeholder governance of collective organizations.

COVID-19 and Co-ops: Strategic Foresight

The Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives is proud to announce that we have partnered
with the Co-operative Intelligence Unit (CIU), a group of co-operative practitioners, policy makers, and
scholars, that aims to provide insight on the future of co-operatives.

As part of Co-op Week 2020, the CIU is hosting COVID-19 and Co-ops: Strategic Foresight Session.

This session explores the factors that will impact the co-operative sector over the next 18 months. Breakout sessions include:

  • Modern Monetary Theory and Economic Growth with CCSC director, Marc-André Pigeon, and Ian Glassford
  • Platform Co-operatives with Stephanie Guico
  • The Co-operative Advantage in Repairing Supply Chains caused by COVID-19 with CCSC Research Fellow, Bill Oemichen

The Fifth Annual MacPherson Talk

The Role of Cooperation in the Evolution of Co-operatives

It seems obvious that co-operatives rely on cooperation, and manage it daily. However, co-operative research and management have yet to truly take advantage of the behavioral science of human cooperation and the findings of evolutionary biology and the social sciences. In this presentation, Dr. Waring gives a guided tour of the factors that drive cooperation and describes a research program to leverage the science of cooperation for the benefit of co-operatives anywhere.

Presented by: Dr. Tim Waring

Dr. Tim Waring is associate professor of social-ecological systems modeling in the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions and the School of Economics at the University of Maine. Dr. Waring studies how cooperation and culture determine social and environmental outcomes. Using economic experiments and agent-based simulations, he builds and tests evolutionary models of social and economic change to learn how sustainable behaviors and durable institutions arise and persist. He has led national working groups to develop and refine an evolutionary theory of sustainability and apply it to case studies around the world. Waring is also the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER grant on the evolution of cooperation in local food organizations, and he leads an international working group on evolutionary approaches to sustainability. His current work also explores the evolution of co-operative organizations. 

About The MacPherson Talks

The MacPherson Talks honour the late Dr. Ian MacPherson, one of the leading lights of the international cooperative movement. Historian, educator, author, and passionate co-operator, Ian personified the relationship between Canadian co-operative academics and co-op practitioners. The MacPherson Talks are held annually by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

2019 Public Talks

The 2019 Fredeen Lecture

To Co-op or Not? Lessons from Canada for Developing Countries

The 2019 Fredeen Talk featured a presentation from the 2018 Fredeen Scholarship recipient, Qian Wan.

There tends to be two divergent views about co-operatives. Co-op true believers say: “Co-ops are better than the profit-seeking firms.” Co-op skeptics say: “If co-ops are so good, why aren’t they the mainstream business model?” To the extent that these views influence policymakers, they can lead to either policy negligence or over-eager and inappropriate deployment of the co-operative model.

It is important therefore for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), co-op developers and policymakers to understand why and when it makes sense to deploy the co-op business model. In this talk, last year’s winner of the Fredeen scholarship, Qian Wan, presented a simple theoretical model and drawed on his experience with the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) to explore how and when it is appropriate to use the co-operative model in developing countries.

Presented by: Qian Wan

Qian Wan is the Co-operative Development Specialist at Co-operative Development Foundation Canada (CDF) and a PhD candidate in Agricultural Economics at the University of Saskatchewan. Before joining CDF Canada, Qian was also a term instructor of Microeconomics at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. His research focuses on cooperatives development in rural China, strategic business planning for co-operatives, food sharing networks in Aboriginal communities in Canada, and the co-op legal framework. Qian holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s degree in Assets Evaluation.

All for One and One for All? The Future of Cooperation in Co-op Federations

Co-operation among co-ops is a nice idea in theory but hard to do in practice. Earlier this year, Calgary Co-op—the largest member-owner of Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL)—announced it would stop buying its groceries from FCL and instead purchase from rival Save-On Foods. Credit unions for their part are increasingly thinking about going it alone without their central entities. In this panel, long-time observers of the sector take a critical lens to questions like: What is the responsibility of membership? Is it take what you want and leave the rest to carry the burden? Or are there higher principles in play? 


  • Marc-André Pigeon, Director, Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, and Assistant Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan campus 
  • Murray Fulton, Fellow in Co-operatives and Public Policy, and Director, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan campus
  • Dionne Pohler, Fellow in Co-operative Strategy and Governance, and Associate Professor, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources and Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
  • Brett Fairbairn, Fellow in Co-operative History and Governance, and President, Thompson Rivers University

Date: October 16, 2019

The Future of Co-operatives in North America

Keynote speaker: Melissa Hoover, founding Executive Director, Democracy at Work Institute, USA

Melissa Hoover is the founding Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute, the think-and-do-tank that expands worker cooperatives as a strategy to address economic and racial inequality. A leader in the worker ownership movement for over fifteen years, Melissa helped start and grow the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the national grassroots membership organization for worker-owned businesses. She was a cooperative business developer for many years with the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in Oakland, doing business and capital planning for two startups, training cooperative members, and serving as CFO in the first year of each startup's operations. In 2018, Melissa was named an Executive Fellow of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of The ICA Group/Local Enterprise Assistance Fund, The Working World, and Safe Passages of Oakland, and serves as a strategic advisor to foundations, investors, nonprofits, local governments and other organizations that want to incorporate worker ownership into their economic development and community wealth-building programs. Originally from Kansas City, Melissa attended Stanford University on a full scholarship, earning a BA in History with a research focus on immigrant women's role building cooperative movements in the U.S.

Date: October 16, 2019

Celebrating 35 years of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

Thank you to all those who joined us in Saskatoon on October 16, 2019, to commemorate the centre's 35th year anniversary and to celebrate its relaunch as the Canadian Centre for the Study of C-operatives.

Servus Prepay Patronage Program and Sweepstakes: Old Wine in New Bottles or Something Else? 

Do credit union members care about patronage returns (co-op principle number 3)? And what if a credit union changed the way it paid them out? Would they care more? In 2018, the country’s fourth-largest credit union, Servus, adopted a policy of prepaying patronage for its members that sheds some light on these questions. Instead of paying a member $200 (for example) each year over a five-year mortgage term, Servus offered to pay some of its members a lump-sum ($1,000 in this example) when they signed on for the mortgage. Later, Servus introduced a “Big Share” lottery where the winner would receive a $1 million patronage payment. How did members react to these changes to Servus’ until-then traditional patronage program? And what do the results of this experiment tell us about co-operative values and the co-op business model in a fiercely competitive market?

Join us on June 5 at 4:30 p.m. as the dynamic and ever-engaging Ian Glassford, former chief financial officer and current special projects advisor at Servus, tells us about Servus’ efforts to innovate its patronage program.

Ian Glassford, Special Projects Advisor, Servus

Ian spent 25 years working with Servus Credit Union, retiring recently as the Chief Financial Officer. Over the course of his career with the credit union he had the opportunity to work with the areas of Strategy, Human Resources, Marketing, Centralized Services, Treasury, Accounting and Wealth Management. Prior to joining the credit union Ian worked as a Money Market and Foreign Exchange trader. He has served on the Board of Alberta Central and Credential Securities. Ian has a Bcomm, an MBA and has held the CPA, Institute of Corporate Directors, and Partners Directors and Officers designations as well as the Harvard program on negotiation. Ian has a tendency to think with his mouth and talk with his hands, not necessarily an ideal situation in a Board room.

Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Time: 4:30-6:00 p.m. (CST)
Prairie Room, Diefenbaker Building, 101 Diefenbaker Place, University of Saskatchewan

The Canadian Dream: A home for everyone. Co-operative Enterprise in the Canadian Housing Market 

The Canadian dream of a place to call home is a difficult policy question for decision makers and a deeply personal issue for 1.7 million Canadian households who struggle with housing affordability. As Canadians head to the polls for the 2019 federal election, public opinion suggests that politicians who ignore this issue do so at their own peril.

Co-operative enterprise has proven to be an effective answer to the lack of supply and affordability of housing across the country. Today, Canada’s housing co-ops are home to a quarter of a million people, and recent federal policies are opening the door to a renaissance of new co-operative development not seen in decades.

Join Tim Ross for a dialogue on the current policy landscape and the potential resurgence of co-operative housing as the answer to Canada’s affordable housing crisis.

Tim Ross, Executive Director
Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF)

With extensive leadership experience in housing and homelessness focused membership organizations, Tim Ross was appointed as the Executive Director of CHF Canada in 2018. Before moving to Ottawa, he was the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association, and worked at regional and national levels as a leading voice in the “housing for all” campaign in support of non-profit and cooperative housing. Tim believes that co-operative enterprise builds a better world.

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Time: 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Prairie Room, Diefenbaker Building, 101 Diefenbaker Place, University of Saskatchewan