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)
As I continue with my vacation on June 27, 2010…no trip to St. Anthony could have been complete without a visit to Grenfell Historic Properties. The scene was 1892 when Dr. William Thomason Grenfell, a new practitioner of the UK decides to join the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fisherman. Dr. Grenfell came to rural regions of Labrador during that first year. Medical and social conditions were so deplorable that led Dr. Grenfell to return, but with the help of a couple of doctors, nurses and a hospital boat. His mission had began to bring medical, social services and hope through preaching to the people to rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dr. Grenfell had a passion and strong belief to make life better for those around him. His faith in himself and the inspiration he had on others led to monumental developments which started the Grenfell Mission.
He began developing cottage hospitals, fundraising and expanding services to various regions. By 1912 he had established the International Grenfell Association, which gained international recognition by 1914. Dr. Grenfell had began to take on many ambitious projects including developing schools, orphanages, social services, preaching, industrial projects (Grenfell Handicrafts), co-operatives, and agricultural sites, as well as authoring books, articles and creating artwork to sell in the form of Christmas cards. Additionally, Dr. Grenfell began promoting the mission to many renown and influential figures from across the world including former Presidents of the United States, Prime Ministers of England and Prime Ministers of Canada, as well as industrialists and other philanthropists who became supporters and donors.
Dr. Grenfell was an icon and has forever left his mark on the development of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. In his career he had established a number of hospitals and medical services, founded the International Grenfell Association, written 33 books, numerous articles, was knighted, inducted in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Memorial University’s Western Campus is named in his honor, he has his own distinguished fabric, known as “Grenfell Cloth”, Grenfell Drive carries his name and he has forever left a special place in my heart.
Sir Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell is a role model. A man who stood for something, especially for the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The life changes and improvements that occurred in these regions because of him is expansive. After a visit to the interpretation centre, I asked myself, how did he manage all of these things? You could say he was well-rounded and a “jack of all traits”.
One short post can not do justice to this titan of a man, so there will be more on him and his contributions in the future. I’ll leave on the note that we are privileged to have many explorers, adventures, pioneers, missionaries, industrialists and settlers come to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and build the roots for the special place it is to all that has had the opportunity to experience it for themselves. Dr. Grenfell may be gone, but he is not forgotten and his legacy gracefully lives on. There are others who have come and gone since him and many more to follow. We all have our place and contributions to make, ensuring that Rural Newfoundland and Labrador flourishes with all the success it rightfully can achieve!
Stealing a line from Dale Carnagie, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” Tell yourself that three times out loud.
Together we can achieve the things we think we can not. Believe and we will prosper…