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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...


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!...


Episode 9: 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?


Five big ideas for leveraging the co-operative advantage in a rapidly changing world

In this episode, Aasa sat down with Dr. Dionne Pohler ( to discuss her keynote speech from the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association’s 2018 conference. Dr. Pohler’s address touched on five big ideas that co-operatives should keep in mind, given the unpredictable social, economic, and technological atmosphere in which we currently live. Her five ideas are: • Good governance is about more than strategic planning, oversight, and risk management • Avoid...


The Importance of Board Diversity

In the last episode in our series on board governance, Audra, Kyle, and Aasa talk about the importance of diversity on boards. Having people with different backgrounds, life experience, and skills helps ensure fresh perspectives on planning and problem-solving; we draw on personal experiences to discuss issues around recruiting diverse boards and making sure there is space at the table for people to contribute.


Dealing with conflict on a board

In this episode, Audra, Kyle, and Aasa tackle what happens when things get contentious on a board. We discuss the kinds of conflict that boards of directors may have to deal with, and whether or not conflict is always a negative thing. We also talk about strategies for mitigating conflict in board situations, some ‘noinky’ information on the procedures around dealing with conflict, and things to avoid when problems arise. Links referred to in this episode: Stocksy United:...


Working board versus policy board

We dive right into the discussion of working vs policy boards with a controversial question: Why do working boards suck? Being on a working board – where most of the work of an organization is done by the board rather than a manager or executive director – can be taxing and stressful. However, it can also allow you to be involved in the creation of something cool and rewarding. Is it worth it? On the other hand, are policy boards – where the board simply provides guidance to the management...


Getting people involved in board leadership

This episode kicks off our four-part series on co-operative governance with Co-operatives First’s Executive Director Audra Krueger. Kyle, Aasa, and Audra talk about why people join co-op boards, how to find good board members, and why board governance is about more than a love of bylaws and egg salad sandwiches – though those may be the best parts. Links to topics mentioned in this episode: MEC governance policies:...


Why we need governance

In this episode, Kyle and Aasa from Co-operatives First talk to Paul Thompson, Research Officer at the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, and creator of the Good Governance Matters course. We talk about the actors involved in governance, some of the challenges involved in getting governance right, and why governance is like steering a ship…and also like marriage. Links referred to in this episode: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, University of...


What makes a co-op

What is a co-op, anyway? In this episode, Kyle, Dan, and Aasa from Co-operatives First discuss the different definitions of co-operatives, the seven co-operative principles, and the ways co-ops are different from other business models. Co-ops are often a great alternative for business development in rural and Indigenous communities, but there are fewer starting up now than in the past. We talk about why this is, and some of the misconceptions surrounding the co-op model. Links referred to...


Introductory Episode

Welcome to the inaugural episode of The Common Share, a podcast about the opportunities and challenges of developing co-operative businesses. The Common Share is produced by Co-operatives First, a business development firm increasing awareness and understanding of the co-op business model and supporting co-operative business development in rural and Indigenous communities across western Canada. In this episode, we interview Kyle White, Education and Engagement Lead for Co-operatives First,...