‘This is the Moment to be Proud about Being a Co-operative’

‘This is the Moment to be Proud about Being a Co-operative’

Canada celebrates launch of UN-declared International Year of Co-operatives

CALGARY - With more than 9,000 co-operatives in Canada, 155,000-plus employees and $370 billion in assets, the country had a lot to celebrate yesterday as it officially launched the United Nations-declared International Year of Co-operatives.

Launch events were hosted in 14 cities across Canada, with a national launch and live webcast in Ottawa that included speeches live from Calgary and Lévis, Que.

The webcast, sponsored by the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives, had so much online attendance that the www.canada2012.coop site went down temporarily.

Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, extended her greetings through a video.  

“This year is really, really important for us. It’s a chance to raise our profile and our visibility so we can show the world, and you can show Canada just the size, the scope and the reach of our movement,” said Dame Pauline.

“Whether you’re a credit union, a workers' co-op, a health co-op, an agricultural co-op, whatever you are, this is the moment to be proud about being a co-operative and show it to the rest of the country.

“You’ll be celebrating this year with a billion people across the globe. Together, we can show that being in a co-operative is not business as usual. We are different we are better, we are a better way to do business,” she said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a message with best wishes on behalf of the Canadian government for a memorable and successful year.

“This year offers opportunities for organizations in Canada and throughout the world to share the benefits of co-operatives, to promote the founding principles common to co-operatives worldwide, and to highlight the vital roles that members play in the success of these organizations,” he said in the message.

Kathy Bardswick, CEO of The Co-operators and board member for the International Co-operative Alliance, presented live from Calgary.

She said it is fitting co-ops and credit unions were coming together virtually across the country to celebrate across six time zones, along with local events in every province and territory.

The Canadian creativity and enthusiasm for 2012 is being recognized internationally, said Kathy. The canada2012.coop website, which was the first 2012 website to be launched last summer, as well as the launch events were referenced by other countries and used as best practice frameworks, she noted.

Having worked in the Canadian co-operative sector for more than 30 years, and on the international level for 10 years, Kathy said she has witnessed how critical co-operatives are in both developed and developing countries.

“No matter where co-operators are, no matter what their purpose they are committed to the seven principles, principles that set co-operators apart and yet bind us as a system together,” she said.

“In this era, when so many people are dissatisfied with an economic system dominated by short-sighted institutions and enterprises and systems that just quite frankly are no longer working the time has never been better for the promotion and growth of the co-operative model.”

Kathy encouraged people to reaffirm their commitment as individuals and co-operatives to reach out to all constituents, existing and potential, and spread the word about “this gift that we have been given.”

Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and president and CEO of Desjardins Monique Leroux also presented during the webcast live from Lévis, Que.

Two co-operative musical songs were performed by Montreal group Samajam.

Visit www.canada2012.coop to learn more about the celebrations this year and for a (soon to be available) archived version of the webcast.

Related Story:
Alberta Celebrates International Year of Co-operatives Launch

Writer Bio

Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer: jennifer@axiomnews.ca, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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