Co-op films show the importance of working together
Posted by SCENE Staff | Friday November 2, 2012
Detail from "Co-op Festival" on the Peg City Car Co-op (Global Film Festival)
If you like films about making our world a better place, then you'll want to check out Winnipeg's Global Justice Film Festival. For 10 years they've been screening films about social justice and international/local development.
Erwan Bouchard is the project manager at the Manitoba Cooperative Association.He seemed like the perfect person to discuss the changing role of co-ops.
How common are co-ops in Manitoba? Here in Manitoba, Red River Co-op membership only exceeds 220,000 members which represents about 1/5 of our population.
The issue is not the shortage, it is the awareness. The general public simply don't know about co-ops. But they use their services every day, and they know Mountain Equipment Co-op, Assiniboine Credit Union, Granny's, The Co-operator's Group, Desjardins, etc. Why don't people know about co-ops? Co-ops do not promote their model enough.
School curriculum does not mention the model even though if we were looking at the Junior Achievement group's projects, we would notice that students naturally organize themselves as a co-op with one member = one vote.
Co-ops do not receive enough support from government. Recently, the federal government decided to cut the Cooperative Development Initiative program, the only program available to co-ops.
Some segments of the population are now looking at other way of banking and credit unions are often the alternative. The reason why credit unions and co-ops in general are an alternative is that they focus on people. Surplus profits are returned to members and, therefore, remain within the community. Co-operatives and credit unions also tend to invest their profits in improving service to members and promoting the well-being of their communities.
Why put together a film that highlights co-ops? The United Nations has declared that 2012 will be the International Year of Co-operatives. To celebrate this event, we wanted to make a movie that we could distribute to all the Manitoba co-ops or organizations that would want to show it. We also wanted to show that the co-op model was powerful, adopted worldwide, and people focused.
Far from promoting the saying "Be rich, Be happy!", the movie encourages
people to think about what they do need to be happy, and then how they
can collectively respond to their common needs. It shows how powerful
cooperation can be.
On Saturday, people will see surprising co-op stories from Ghana, India or South America as well as hilarious ads from Denmark, New Zealand and of course Canada!
You can see the two co-op movies on Saturday, November 3rd at the University of Winnipeg, Room 1L12 (Lockhart Hall), 515 Portage Avenue. Co-op Festival will be shown from 2:30 to 4:00 pm and Co-op Lions, from 4:15 to 6:00 pm.