The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced opportunities for professionals across the co-operative sector to travel, meet new colleagues, and exchange ideas away from formal meetings. To provide an opportunity for individuals to engage in a "new normal" format, the  Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives is pleased to launch a monthly Brown Bag Series. This series will provide co-operative sector professionals with an online forum to learn from others in the field and exchange information in a casual setting. 

The CCSC believes that the best learning is peer-to-peer, and casual conversations across different organizations are what break old thinking patterns, make new connections, and generate fresh perspectives. Each monthly Brown Bag session will start with a 15-minute presentation by an invited speaker who is working on or thinking about something new, challenging, or inspiring. Following the presentation, the CCSC will facilitate a broad conversation. Sometimes participants will be broken into small groups to discuss ideas, or the moderator will open the virtual floor up for questions, comments, and dialogue. 

Upcoming Talks

Cooperatives and cooperation: Is it so straightforward? featuring Dr. Bina Agarwal

While the two terms are often seen as synonymous, what do we understand by “cooperatives” and “cooperation”? Focusing on agricultural cooperatives, Dr. Bina Agarwal, Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester and visiting scholar at the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, will examine the nature of cooperatives and cooperation, how they have varied in relation to each other throughout history and contextually, and ask: “is there scope for cooperation in farming today? And, if so, in what circumstances?”

Event Information


Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (CST)
Where: On Zoom
File: Download Event Poster

Past Talks

Big Agricultural Data: Are Co-operatives a Solution? featuring Bill Oemichen

Primary production agriculture is changing rapidly due to major developments in digital “smart” technologies, or what is known as big ag data. While big ag data provides value, it also creates a set of problems and challenges, including concerns around privacy, security, data ownership, competition and market power. Informed by his recently published report, "Digital Technologies and the Big Data Revolution in the Canadian Agricultural Sector: Opportunities, Challenges, and Alternatives", in this Brown Bag, Bill Oemichen reviews what we know about the issues surrounding big ag data and explores whether co-operatives provide a solution.

Event Information

Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (CST, or Saskatchewan time)
File: Download Event Poster

The Future of Co-operative Associations: A Conversation with Paul Cabaj

Anyone who has been around the co-operative sector knows that it can be difficult for second or third tier co-operative associations to satisfy the differing needs of a membership often divided by culture, rural/urban geographies, size, capacity, and business philosophy. In this talk, Paul Cabaj, Executive Director of the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association and the BC Co-operative Association, will share with us what he has learned from the successes and failures of second and third tier co-operative associations. Drawing on his experience as a long-time participant in, and observer, of these associations, Paul will challenge the audience to consider strategies that can strengthen member value and advance the co-op sector as a whole – provincially, nationally and internationally.

Event Information

Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (CST, or Saskatchewan time)
Where: On Zoom
File: Download Event Poster

What's Fair in an Insolvency Process? Lessons from the Sale of Mountain Equipment Cooperative featuring Anna Lund

In September 2020, Mountain Equipment Cooperative’s (MEC) business was sold using the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act, a federal law designed to help big businesses facing financial difficulties. MEC’s directors negotiated and concluded the sale without input from MEC’s members. This result was inconsistent with the centrality of democratic decision-making to co-operative governance and struck many members as unfair. This presentation will highlight some of the ways in which insolvency law could have responded to the members’ concerns about unfairness and given them a voice in the insolvency proceedings. 

Date: March 2, 2022
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM (Saskatchewan time)
File: Download Event Poster

A Passport to Success: How Credit Unions Can Adapt to the Urgent Challenges They Face featuring David Losier

Join us for our next Monthly Brown Bag featuring David Losier, independent consultant and former Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer for UNI Financial Corporation. In his recent paper, “A Passport to Success: How Credit Unions Can Adapt to the Urgent Challenges They Face”, David makes the case that despite the critically important role credit unions play in the Canadian economy, the current regulatory system for credit unions in Canada has each of them locked into a provincial silo. Although the Federal option is out there, the case is made that this has simply introduced an 11th silo and just doesn’t fit most credit unions. With more and more credit unions recognizing the need to increase scale in order to face the challenges of a digital future, there needs to be a better way. David suggests that a passport system that would allow credit unions to operate across provincial boundries without getting a federal charter could be a better way. We’ll learn about how this passport system would work for credit unions and its potential benefits for the co-operative sector.

Date: January 5, 2022
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM (Saskatchewan time)
File: Download Event Poster

Coops, Credit Unions, and Public Financial Institutions: What Prospects in Canada? featuring Thomas Marois

What prospects are there in Canada to connect public financial institutions (PFIs) with the needs and aspirations of coops and credit unions? The question is not rhetorical. The Canada Infrastructure Bank, formed in 2017, is approaching its five-year review. It has been criticized for promoting privatization of public water services and there is little sense that the CIB is strategically interested in supporting coops or credit unions. Should it be? In 2020, the Government of British Columbia established a new $500 million public investment fund, the InBC Investment Corporation. It has a triple bottom line mandate and is tasked with supporting SMEs, green transitions, and an inclusive economy. Yet here too there is as yet no strategic orientation towards coops or credit unions. This Monthly Brown Bag featuring Thomas Marois, PhD, will ask: In what ways can and should PFIs support coops and credit unions to help create more inclusive and green social economies?

Date: February 2, 2022
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM (Saskatchewan time)
File: Download Event Poster

Making Co-operatives First: How We Started, What We Do, and Lessons Learned

Join us for our second Monthly Brown Bag to talk about Co-operatives First, a nonprofit organization funded by Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) and the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS). Our speakers are Audra Krueger, Executive Director of Co-operatives First, and Sheldon Stener Q.C., GeneralCounsel and Corporate Secretary, FCL, and Chair of the Board at Co-operatives First. Founded in 2015, Co-operatives First provides co-op start-up resources, such as feasibility studies, business plans, and incorporation support to rural and Indigenous co-op entrepreneurs across western Canada. Their goal is to help leaders in these communities build new businesses, grow local economies, and support community development. Audra and Sheldon will share the story of Co-operatives First, which began with a research project called the Co-operative Innovation Project (CIP) at the University ofSaskatchewan’s Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives. We’ll learn why FCL and the CRS invested in this project, and what the Co-operatives First team has learned in its six years of operationsin rural and Indigenous communities across western Canada.

Date: December 1, 2021
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM (Saskatchewan time)
File: Download Event Poster

 

Community-Based Innovation: The Story of the Conexus Incubator and Venture Capital Fund

In the inaugural CCSC Monthly Brown Bag, Conexus Credit Unions' Chief Executive Officer Eric Dillon and Chief Member Experience Officer Mary Weimer shared the story of how Conexus leveraged its co-operative and community connections to build a small business incubator (Conexus Cultivator) and venture capital fund (Conexus Venture Capital) to deliver technical advice, strategic guidance, and financial support for Saskatchewan’s start-up businesses. To date, 66 Saskatchewan start-up companies have taken part in the Conexus Cultivator and raised $19.4 million in capital and $11.1 million in revenue.

Date: November 3, 2021
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m (SK Time)
File: Download Event Poster