A co-operative is formed when people are empowered to work toward a common goal. They are virtually involved in every sector of the economy, including finance, housing, fishing, forestry, childcare, film, craft, farm and retail. Co-ops are owned and run by its members – they share the profits, benefits and meet the local needs of people, because they are the co-op.
Last night, as the MHA for the Straits-White Bay North, I had the pleasure of applauding the members, employees, management and board members of Grenfell Memorial Consumer’s Co-op in St. Anthony on a milestone moment – turning 100th on June 7, 2013. A centennial is a milestone for any organization and certainly a reason to be proud of all that has been accomplished to date. Grenfell Co-op is the oldest consumer co-op in Newfoundland & Labrador, and one of the oldest in the country.
I am a proud supporter of co-ops, because I believe in the co-operative principles. Co-ops are socially responsible, sustainable, meet local needs, put people over profits, and are democratically run, as they are based on one member – one vote. I had the pleasure of attending a “Cultivating Coops” Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba in affiliation with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and could see first hand that diversity and great work co-ops were doing there and hope to see more started on the Great Northern Peninsula.
As a Member of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland & Labrador, I stated the importance of rural and regional co-operation, highlighting Eagle River Credit Union, Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Barbe Consumer’s co-op and NorPen Regional Waste Disposal in my maiden speech.
I am not alone in believing in co-ops, as 1 Billion people worldwide are members, accounting for 100 million jobs with the world’s largest 300 coops having sales of over $1 Trillion. 2012 was named by the United Nations as the “International Year of the Cooperative”.
Co-operatives empower people! Grenfell Memorial Co-op’s success is a true reflection both of the legacy of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and the importance of cooperatives to communities such as St. Anthony and area.
Grenfell originally set up his work in Newfoundland & Labrador to focus on health care. However, he recognized the importance of employment and education to healthy lifestyles. His mission expanded to include schools, orphanage, co-operatives (fishery, retail, forestry and the world-famous crafts), industrial work projects, agriculture and aspects of social work. Grenfell was much more than a missionary in my view, he was a cultural politician, who fought the concept of colonialism that brought riches to the very few. He believed in a social democracy that would give back a greater share of the wealth to those who had the resources. The co-operative model was the best way to break the merchant truck-system, increase quality of life and ensure long-term sustainability for people of the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador.
The cooperative business model is one government should encourage and nurture, as well as people especially in rural areas embrace. When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success.
On June 7th, I visited the co-op for it’s 100 year celebrations which featured free refreshments and a cake cutting by the oldest co-op member, Violet Decker, and the youngest kids’ club member Jaycee White. Traditional music was performed by Adam Randell and Brandon White.
I encourage communities and individuals to come together, be proud of and support your local co-op – it’s yours. Encourage others to be involved. As a politician, I’ve seen the Grenfell co-op, their mascots and employees giving back to the community in the form of sponsorship, donations and volunteer hours at numerous community events throughout the region.
To Grenfell Memorial Co-op Members – it has been a pleasure to be at your 100th Anniversary, Annual General Meeting and the celebration dinner and dance. You have much to celebrate!
It’s Time to re-visit our past successes and replicate them to have such success in the future. We need to begin the process of setting up more co-ops – whether a community marketplace, craft co-op or other endeavor. The future is brighter when we work together to find co-operative solutions.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- Mitchelmore celebrates 100 years of Grenfell Co-op (christophermitchelmore.com)
It is hard to believe 3 years have passed since my first blog posting. Today there are more than 370 to add to the original introduction and a total of 212 212 hits when I logged in this morning. Does this palindromic number have any type of significance? How many times to you look at the clock when it turns 11:11 and make a wish or you are watching with great excitement as 99,999.9 becomes 100,000 KM as those digits change on the odometer of your vehicle and disappointed if you miss? Whatever the feeling one gets, I am very pleased to have shared and continue to share my rural Newfoundland & Labrador experiences.
During year one of the blog I scribed nearly 200 posts; however, my life would change significantly in mid-2011. I made the decision to seek the NDP nomination for The Straits-White Bay North and subsequently was elected as the first New Democrat to represent a District that had been held by Liberal members for 53 years since Confederation. Over that two-year journey, I have been to the door steps in every nook and cranny of this beautiful District, listening to people, their concerns, issues and ideas, but also learning the history, experiences and talents of people and seeking new opportunities for our region to grow.
I only wish I was able to post about the many places, people, events, business and other rural things I’ve experienced along the way. On the 2nd anniversary of Live Rural NL, our caucus sat in the Legislature filibustering the infamous Bill 29 – Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act until late June, speaking out loudly around the clock against such draconian legislation that is regressive.
We need progressive policies that see positive change in our District and our Province that will help the people and their communities. We need to involve the people – the community in decision-making.
When communities come together and have a vision all things are possible.
- The communities of Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-Boat Harbour raised nearly $100,000 over a four month period and build an impressive playground and social space for all ages to enjoy. These three communities may be small in population, hovering around 200 – drew in over 210 registrants for Build Day! These are the types of community investments we need, that will have positive outcomes on the region
- The Straits Daycare Corporation has opened in Flower’s Cove in June as a non-profit affordable daycare centre for the people of the region. This will help with employment recruitment and retention.
- Habitat for Humanity is helping alleviate the housing crisis in St. Anthony and area by adding 4 new homes, to a region that has virtually a zero percent vacancy rate.
- Main Brook Recreation Committee, Town, Come Home Year, business and community have partnered to build a community centre. This is important social infrastructure that can bring new opportunities.
Good things are happening because communities are involved, have ideas and are finding solutions. They require supports. We need to see an advanced transportation and telecommunications strategy, as we have major road, ferry, air, Internet and cellular gaps that need a plan to address them. There are much broader policy issues, health care and education concerns and infrastructure gaps that the Government must address to create a sustainable long-term rural and urban economy that works for the residents of Newfoundland & Labrador.
I believe in all things rural, and will continue to write about them as the days, weeks, months and years go by.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North