18 October 2016

Strength in Cooperation

The Canadian community celebrates Coop Week from October 16 to 22.

It is incredible to think, that here, in a French rural Ontario village, one of the first Canadian Coop was born. It is in 1894, a year before the foundation of the International Cooperative Alliance and six years before the foundation of the first “Caisse populaire” by Alphonse Desjardins, that a group of visionary farm operators, convinced and determined, had the courage to create the St-Albert Cheese Coop in our beautiful Eastern Ontario francophone village.

If today St-Albert Cheese has become the jewel of a whole region, it is thanks to these men and women who had the genius to adopt a cooperative formula. They quickly understood that unity creates strength. Their audacity resulted in the creation of a collective and inalienable undertaking, serving its members and the whole community. By working together they succeeded in building a business based on solidarity, mutual aid, democracy, responsibility and altruism. These are the fundamental principles that will serve in the creation of thousands of Canadian cooperatives in the following century.

Today, in an environment more and more difficult and competitive, the present members honour the courage and determination of their ancestors by being daring and visionary in the development of their coop while remaining loyal to the values and cooperative principles.  This visibly bears fruit. International studies show that coops like ours have a more elevated perenniality than private businesses and can more easily get through a crisis. It is not surprising that St-Albert Coop has existed for 122 years and that it has succeeded in surmounting the greatest periods of Canadian history: 2 world wars, recessions, without mentioning the terrible 2013 fire that completely decimated its plant.

Thanks to its experiences, St-Albert Coop is stronger than ever and is ready to welcome a new generation of farm operators amidst its ranks, young people that also believe that a cooperating model is synonym to success and future.

Happy Coop Week!

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