Why Co-operatives?

February 10, 2020 1 Comment

Why Co-operatives?


I was recently invited to be a guest on a podcast, “Women Om Widsom”, to talk about some of my life experiences and lessons learned along the way. One of the questions asked was, “What do you like about Co-operatives?” Many things, in fact, but my immediate answer was - “Economic Democracy.”

Co-operative organizations are owned and directed by their members, and profits are distributed in the form of a patronage dividend. In other words, the more a member contributes to the organization, the more they benefit. But, regardless of equity, each member has an equal vote in electing the board of directors and an equal voice in how the organization is run.

The co-ops have been the most successful entrepreneurial activities across the north. That’s an astounding fact, because they get too little recognition for the contribution they have made to the economic development of these communities. They represented the first small movement toward a people-controlled political economy, which is truly significant in a region dominated by outside interests for the past two hundred years.

As the great artist and first president of the West Baffin Co-op, Kananginak Pootoogook, said: “To think of it now, if the Co-op didn’t exist, how would we have been with the white people? It would seem that there was nothing for both of us to accomplish.” Because of the Co-op, more has been accomplished than anyone ever thought probable or possible.

Here is the link to the podcast if you’re interested in hearing more.


1 Response

Daniel Cosgrove
Daniel Cosgrove

March 16, 2021

I was always impressed with the Co-op’s ability to adapt and support members of the community that choose to live more traditionally, e.g. Paying cash or bartering for Ptarmigan and Arctic Char with hunters, fishers and trappers. Plus, during the winter, they double as meeting places where you can talk to your neighbours out of the cold.

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