Arctic Co-operatives Limited: Keeping Northern Communities Vibrant

Co-ops play a big role in keeping communities vibrant in Canada's North. In the latest podcast episode, we spoke to Mary Nirlungayuk from Arctic Co-operatives Limited about her home in the Arctic, and how the co-op federation benefits towns like hers.


Investing in Main Street

Community Investment Co-ops are an exciting way to support community development. They allow people to invest their money in local businesses and initiatives. A CIC — also known as an Opportunity Development Co-op in Alberta — pools the investment money of local residents, and lends it to start-ups, uses it for renewable energy projects, and more. Investors get to see their dollars at work in their own backyards, and get a return on their money as well. Investment co-op experts Seth Leon...


"Democracy is your landlord": Housing co-operatives in Canada

The housing market can be uncertain: housing co-operatives are a way to provide stability. In this episode we speak to Tim Ross, Executive Director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, about the impact of non-profit housing co-ops in Canada. We then catch up with Hazel Corcoran, ED of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation, about what it's like to live in her equity housing co-op in Calgary.


Do co-ops have a harder time obtaining financing?

It's a challenge we hear about a lot: that co-operative businesses struggle to obtain the financing they need. However, recent Stats Canada data shows that, when it comes to debt financing in particular, existing co-ops are quite successful with getting funds they request. In this episode we spoke to two co-op experts from the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: Dr. Dionne Pohler, and Dr. Marc-André Pigeon. They give a lot of insight into these stats, the particular challenges...


The impact of co-ops in western Canada: A conversation with Dr. Brett Fairbairn

In this episode we asked one of our favourite co-op experts, Dr. Brett Fairbairn, to reflect on a recent study on the impact of co-operative businesses. We asked him about the landscape of co-ops in western Canada, how that landscape has changed over time, and how we should think about the place of co-operatives in the economy.


Co-op start-up struggles: a conversation with an urban farmer

Kye is a farmer. But he's not your usual farmer. The acres he grows on depend on numerous locations and convincing people to let him grow his produce in their backyard. To market his products, he helped form and joined a co-op. In this episode of The Common Share, Kye shares some of the struggles, learnings and adventures of urban farming and starting up a co-operative. Give it a listen.


Leading by Example: A conversation with Carol Kitchen

In this episode we had the pleasure of speaking to Carol Kitchen, former President and CEO of United Farmers of Alberta. During Carol’s tenure with UFA she turned its balance sheet and membership engagement around. In this illuminating discussion, Carol talks about her highly successful efforts to refocus the co-op on its core mandate, and to reach out to members (one combine ride at a time).


Insights into co-op development in Indigenous communities

In the last episode of Season 2, we speak to Sturgeon Lake Developments Ltd. CEO April Roberts-Poitras and our own Indigenous Relations Lead Trista Pewapisconias about the opportunities and challenges of setting up co-operative businesses in Indigenous communities. They provide excellent and practical insights into the Indigenous co-operative sector.


Cannabis co-operative: a solution for small producers

The legalization of cannabis in Canada hasn't been the boon to small producers that many expected. It's been difficult for small cannabis growers to obtain licences and compete in the market - but a group in BC is exploring how the co-op model could help. In this episode we speak to David Hurford with the BC Small Producers and Processors Co-op. David has extensive experience in cannabis policy, and tells us how forming a co-operative can help boost the craft cannabis industry.


Neighbour Lab: Building resilient communities

Meet two founders of one of British Columbia's newest and most innovative co-ops! In this episode we speak to Adele Therias and Leah Karlberg of Neighbour Lab about how their worker co-op develops community infrastructure that can provide resources during a disaster, and promotes community connections.


Co-op Camp

In this episode we speak to three people about the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association's annual youth Co-op Camp: an organizer, a participant, and a camp staff member from the co-op sector. This youth programming has been around for over 90 years, and we talk about how camp benefits both its participants and the co-op sector as a whole.


Business Development in First Nations communities

In this episode we spoke with Shaun Soonias, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (http://sfnedn.com/) . Shaun has had a long career in social and business development, and gives some great insights about both the opportunities and challenges of entrepreneurship in emerging sectors. He talks about the great potential of sectors like tourism and agriculture, as well as SFNEDN's perspective on the co-op model as a tool for First Nations communities.


Leadership in Co-operatives

In this episode we speak with Cecile Green and Rebecca Fisher-McGinty from consulting firm Round Sky Solutions. Round Sky is a worker co-op that trains co-operative leaders in democratic, self-managing processes; we had a great discussion about the unique attributes and challenges of leadership in co-ops.


A Conversation with Co-op Developer Patrick Lapointe

In this episode we speak to long-time co-op developer and advocate, Patrick Lapointe. As the former Executive Director (and now board member) of the Community Health Services Association of Saskatoon, recipient of a Saskatchewan Cooperative Association Co-operative Merit Award in 2011, and an SCA co-op developer, Lapointe knows a great deal about getting co-ops started. He talks to us about some interesting co-ops he's helped over the years, the process of creating a co-op, and the...


The Future of Co-ops? A conversation with Nathan Schneider

Welcome to Season 2 of The Common Share! We're starting this season with an exciting guest that we know you'll enjoy. Academic and journalist Nathan Schneider recently stopped by the Co-operatives First office to talk about his latest book, Everything for Everyone: The Radical Tradition that is Shaping the Next Economy, as well as his 2018 MacPherson Talk at the University of Saskatchewan. Schneider's expertise in the co-op model — especially the rise and potential of platform co-ops —...


Holiday Special: How Co-ops Give Back

The holidays are a time of giving, when people often think about donating to charitable causes. As businesses rooted in their communities, co-ops are great at giving back and responding to the needs of local people. For this special holiday episode we speak to people from three different co-operatives about how they work to improve the lives of people in their communities.


The Backroad Diaries episode, with Sisan Fregene

Aasa and Kyle are joined in this episode by Sisan Fregene, who spent the summer working on The Backroad Diaries. This Co-operatives First project uses video and other media to highlight Western Canadian communities and how they are impacted by their co-operatives. We talk to Sisan about his travels around the Western provinces, what he’s learned about co-ops, and get some insights into his love of filmmaking and storytelling.


Fred Khonje's Five Lessons about Co-op Development

Fred Khonje’s career has spanned the areas of community economic development, non-profit co-op housing, co-op and social enterprise business development, housing policy development, and social financing. As a former Co-op Development Officer with the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association, Fred supported the development of more than 25 emerging and existing co-ops. He joined us in the studio to offer his insights, and share the top five lessons he learned about setting up co-operatives during...


A Conversation with Dr. Brett Fairbairn

Dr. Brett Fairbairn has been researching co-operatives for over 30 years; as a Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, he has become one of the most notable academics in his field, with over 80 publications. Dr. Fairbairn will be leaving the University of Saskatchewan this year to take the position of President and Vice-Chancellor at Thompson Rivers University in BC; before he goes, we wanted to capture some of his reflections from his career in co-ops and share them with you!...


Member Engagement

Kyle, Dan, and Aasa discuss what member engagement looks like for co-operatives, given how many difference types of co-ops – and different types of members – there are. Is membership engagement just about getting messages out to members, or do co-ops need to be actively listening to members as well? What are the best ways to do that?