Two Ontario co-ops win $25,000 in The National Co-op Challenge

TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - The Co-operators announced today that Mustard Seed Food Co-operative of Hamilton and Come As You Are Co-operative of Toronto have each won $25,000 as the Ontario Region winners of The National Co-op Challenge.

The social media contest showcased 16 emerging co-operatives, with four finalists selected in each of four regions across Canada. Each finalist produced a short video about their co-op, how it benefits their community and the projects that would be supported with the prize money. The public was given the power to choose the winners in each region by voting for their favourites either on Facebook or a contest microsite, from September 18 to October 18.

"All of the contestants are small and emerging locally owned and controlled co-operatives that respond to needs in their communities," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "They mirror the diversity of the co-op sector in Canada, showing that there are values-based alternatives driven not by profit, but by a desire to serve their members and promote a more fair, equitable and inclusive society. Congratulations to all!"

The mission of Mustard Seed Food Co-operative is to provide the Hamilton area with a member-owned and operated grocery store that offers a bountiful selection of wholesome foods, prioritizes local producers, and creates an educational environment. It will use its prize money to support the opening of its retail store through the purchase of equipment and fixtures. With a location already secured - and now with prize money in hand - Mustard Seed hopes to open its store before the end of 2013.

Come As You Are Co-operative is worker co-op on Queen Street West in Toronto that is at once a sexual education toy shop and a community resource centre. It describes its approach to sexuality as one of "respect, openness, humour, communication and responsibility." It provides access to equitable sexual health and education, and plans to use its prize money to expand its educational offerings and to create "pop-up shops" to bring sexual health information to marginalized people in smaller communities across Canada.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $33 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE: The Co-operators

For further information:

Leonard Sharman
The Co-operators
519-767-3937


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