Awards highlight co-operative achievements

MONTREAL, June 29, 2012 /CNW/ - A credit union in southwestern Ontario, one of Canada's largest dairy co-ops and a Saskatchewan man who spent 40 years in the credit union movement and introduced the Automatic Teller Machine to Canada were honoured this week by the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA).

CCA and its francophone sister organization, the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM) held their joint National Congress in Montreal on June 27-29 in celebration of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.

Libro Financial Group, based in London, ON and Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, based in Mississauga, ON, were the 2012 recipients of the Leadership in Co-operative Governance Award, an annual award which recognizes innovation and excellence in co-operative and credit union governance across Canada.

Owned by its more than 57,000 members, Libro is Ontario's third-largest credit union and the 18th largest in Canada. Libro won the award for developing a key corporate value -- "proactivity" -- which calls for continuous improvement and evolution for greater effectiveness, efficiency and relevance in governance. Using this approach, Libro was able to improve its communication with branch councils, develop internal training and improve overall governance practices.

Gay Lea, which is owned by over 1,200 Ontario dairy farmers, won the award for its commitment to leadership training. In partnership with CCA, Gay Lea developed the Leadership in Governance: by farmers for farmers program, an eight-module training program aimed at raising the knowledge base, competencies and effectiveness of existing and upcoming directors.

At a gala dinner on June 28, CCA presented the Canadian Co-operative Achievement Award to Ed Gebert, who began his career as a junior clerk in Regina's Sherwood Credit Union (now Conexus) in the 1950s, and worked his way up to the position of executive vice-president, finance and operations. Under his leadership, Sherwood Credit Union introduced Canada's first ATM machine in 1976.

In addition to the CCA Awards, the event included the presentation of CCCM's Ordre du mérite coopératif et mutualiste canadien awards to Michel Rouleau, who worked for Desjardins Group for 36 years and is a former president of CCCM, and Hazel Corcoran, executive director of the Calgary-based Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation.

At the CCA Annual Meeting, which took place during the Congress, delegates voted overwhelmingly to continue discussions with CCCM aimed at creating a new national bilingual association that would represent both English- and French-speaking co-operatives, a vote described as "historic" by leaders of both organizations. Delegates to the CCCM Annual Meeting voted unanimously in favour of the unity proposal that has been the subject of discussions between the two organizations for several years.

The CCA delegates also voted to take advantage of Canada's sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017 to celebrate the important role co-operatives have played, and continue to play, in building Canada.

Other highlights of the Congress included:

  • A welcome reception at Montreal City Hall where speakers included Richard Deschamps, vice-president of the City of Montreal's Executive Committee and Charles Gould, director-general of the International Co-operative Alliance, which represents co-operatives in some 100 countries around the world.
  • Keynote presentations on the state of co-operative enterprises in Canada by Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators and Camille Thériault, president and CEO of the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes and former Premier of New Brunswick.
  • A panel discussion on the public perception of co-operatives featuring presentations by journalist Chantal Hébert, David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, and Jeremy Runnalls, managing editor of Corporate Knights magazine.
  • A plenary session on the legacy of the International Year of Co-operatives featuring U.K. writer and financial journalist Andrew Bibby and Daniel Gélinas, lead organizer for the celebration of Quebec City's 400th anniversary.

The Congress was preceded by a four-day conference on co-operative research and education organized by a number of organizations including the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC); IRECUS, the co-operative research and education institute at l'Université de Sherbrooke; and the U.S.-based Association of Co-operative Educators (ACE).

The Canadian Co-operative Association is a national association for co-operatives in Canada, representing more than ten million co-operative and credit union members across Canada. 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.

SOURCE Canadian Co-operative Association

For further information:

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

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