“Use democratic power to energize your community,” is this year’s message from educators, developers and researchers who focus on co-operation. The Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) and the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) meet once again to share best practices and learning from around the world. They will convene at the Congress for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Calgary, May 31-June 3.
“Educators dedicated to co-operatives have important information to share, and the Calgary Congress is the perfect place to do that,” says Sarah Pike, executive director of ACE. “Calgary is a city in transition,” adds Fiona Duguid, CASC President. “Its co-op activity and thinking are so inspirational.”
Celebrating in the community
Kicking off the whole event is a special opening reception featuring the First Annual Mark Goldblatt Memorial Lecture to commemorate a great Canadian housing co-op advocate.
Another community event — “People, Power, Planet (PPP): Best Practices and Knowledge Mobilization in Community Energy Development” — will explore renewable energy collectives, and talk about the growth of alternate energy in Alberta. Leading the reception are researchers J.J. McMurtry, Judith Lipp, and Mümtaz Derya Tarhan. They will be joined by representatives of Alberta Solar Co-op who will tell of their journey to create their co-op and the challenges they faced.
First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities
A highlight will be the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Co-op Development and Education Series. Co-operators from across Canada will offer their firsthand experiences of making co-operatives work for Indigenous communities. The session will be moderated by Merle Massie and Darcy Overland of the Co-operative Innovation Project at the University of Saskatchewan. Panelists include Mary Nirlungayuk of Arctic Co-operatives Limited, Kevin McLeod of Saskatchewan First Nations Technical Services Co-operative, Ltd. and Art Cunningham of Alberta Aboriginal Development Co-operative.
Experiencing co-op frontlines
Once again this year, tours or “Mobile Learning Sessions” will allow participants to take lessons from co-operators in the community at UFA Co-operative Limited in Airdrie, Calgary Co-op, Filipino Canadian’s Family Multi Purpose Co-op, Sarcee Meadows Housing Co-operative Ltd, Connect First Credit Union, Prairiesky Cohousing co-op, the Grain Exchange Worker-Owned Co-operative, Calgary Aging in Place Co-operative, Cooperative Théâtre à Pic and NewScoop YYC, a news co-operative.
Senior managers of larger co-operatives operating in Alberta will discuss how their organizations continue to grow to reflect changing communities. Panelists are UFA President and CEO Carol Kitchen, Calgary Co-op Vice President Jeff Ambrose, Karen Flamand, Co-operators General Insurance Company senior region claims manager, and Servus Credit Union’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Vern Albush.