A century of co-operation: celebrating the 100th anniversary of Canada's co-operative movement

    OTTAWA, Jan. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Co-operatives, credit unions and their
members across the country are celebrating the 100th anniversary this year of
what has now become one of Canada's largest economic and social movements.
    Canada's first national co-operative association, the Co-operative Union
of Canada (CUC), was formed in Hamilton, Ontario on March 6, 1909 to encourage
sharing of information, mutual self-help and concerted action among Canadian
co-operatives. In 1987, the CUC merged with the co-operative movement's
educational arm, the Co-operative College of Canada to create the Canadian
Co-operative Association (CCA).
    Today, there are some 8,800 co-operatives and credit unions across
Canada. Collectively, they have more than 17 million memberships, over $275
billion in assets and employ more than 150,000 people. Co-operatives differ
from traditional businesses in that they are owned by the members who use
their services and are driven by social as well as economic concerns. Some of
Canada's best-known co-operatives include Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada's
leading supplier of quality outdoor gear and clothing, Gay Lea Foods, a major
producer of dairy products owned by more than 1,200 Ontario farmers, and The
Co-operators (insurance) Group, as well as Federated Co-operatives Limited and
Co-op Atlantic, two of Canada's largest co-operative retail operations.
    "Co-ops are one of Canada's greatest success stories," said CCA Executive
Director Carol Hunter. "They have played an enormous role in building the
country we have today and are an important part of the economies of both rural
and urban communities. They make a significant contribution to the social
needs of Canadians in such areas as child care and affordable housing, as well
as to more traditional areas of the economy, such as banking, insurance and
    "You can be born in a health care co-op and buried by a funeral co-op. In
between you can work in a worker's co-op, live in a housing co-op, buy your
groceries, clothing and other items from retail co-ops, send your children to
a child care co-op, do all your banking at a credit union, and purchase your
insurance from an insurance co-op."
    Ms. Hunter said co-operatives are part of the solution to revitalizing
Canada's economy.
    "The history of co-ops shows us that they were often formed during hard
economic times, so they are as relevant today as they have ever been," she
said. "Since most co-ops are locally-based, they not only provide jobs, but
also generate wealth which remains in the community."
    She said CCA hopes to use the anniversary year to help educate Canadians
on the role co-operatives have played - and continue to play - in the social
and economic life of our country.
    Some of the activities aimed at celebrating CCA's 100th anniversary

    - The creation of a virtual Canadian Co-operative Hall of Fame, which
      will honour individuals who have made a significant contribution to
      Canada's co-operative movement.
    - The publication of A Century of Co-operation, a commemorative book on
      the history of the CCA and co-operatives in Canada by Ian MacPherson,
      Professor Emeritus in History and founding director of the British
      Columbia Institute for Co-operative Studies at the University of
    - The 2009 CCA Congress, which will take place in Ottawa from June 16-19
      and highlight the anniversary year. The Congress will feature high-
      profile speakers on co-operatives and the economy, as well as panels,
      workshops and other activities.

    More information on CCA's 100th anniversary is available on the CCA web
site at www.coopscanada.coop.

    The Canadian Co-operative Association is a national association for
co-operatives in Canada, representing more than nine million co-operative and
credit union members from over 2,000 organizations. CCA members come from many
sectors of the economy, including finance, insurance, agri-food and supply,
wholesale and retail, housing, health and the service sector. CCA provides
leadership to promote, develop, and unite co-operatives and credit unions for
the benefit of people in Canada and around the world.

For further information:

For further information: Donna Balkan, Communications Manager, Canadian
Co-operative Association, (613) 238-6711, ext. 206, Cell: (613) 314-1032,

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