Question: What are some of the highlights from this past year?
One of the biggest highlights this past year was seeing the continued co-operation between the ACCA and BCCA. This co-operation resulted in more collaborative events and efficient delivery of services. I am seeing this same emphasis on cooperation between our members as well, as silos are broken down and people realize the benefits of working together.
ACCA and BCCA staff have been fantastic in meeting the needs of members and advancing the co-op sector in new and innovative ways, responding to the challenges of the pandemic with optimism and enthusiasm.
We have also made significant traction with our government relations efforts, particularly in BC, as we build relationships with key decision-makers by moving at the speed of trust. The ongoing trust, support and mentorship from the board members of of ACCA and BCCA have been very gratifying.
Question: What do you see as some of the challenges facing the sector?
The same challenges that face other businesses also face co-operatives: Climate Change, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the consolidation of data… But behind each challenge lies an opportunity.
Co-ops have often arisen to address challenges of market access and uneven outcomes, as people realize that they can accomplish more together than on their own. Nowhere is this more evident is in the world of data. Our pan-provincial Cooperative Intelligent Unit “think and do” tank is exploring this issue in some depth and facilitating the growth of data cooperatives that put data in the control of member-owners. I believe the conference we are co-hosting in February with the Centre for Co-operative Studies on this issue will be groundbreaking.
Additionally, many co-operatives have formed to address the issue of climate change, and are doing exciting, impactful work in this regard.
Question: What are you excited about in 2022?
So many things! We are at a unique time in history, and previously impossible things are now becoming possible. People are working together, and the appearance of new partners and funders will take our impact to the next level.
I am looking forward to the opportunity to safely gather once again at the BCAA Agriculture and Food Conference in February, and The Gathering Annual Conference in October.
We have secured strong support from the government and many of our larger co-operatives to establish an investment co-operative federation which will make it easier for co-operatives to raise capital, and for individuals to invest in local business opportunities.
The ACCA will also be the provincial host of the Co-operative and Mutuals Canada Congress in Calgary in June.
We are beginning to get some real traction in our government relations work, particularly in BC.
We’re anticipating that the ACCA’s Youth Leadership Program – which introduces young people to co-operative principles in a fun, inclusive setting – will return this summer.
A series of webinars, which are planned to start new year, will address topics of interest to people in the co-operative sector and beyond.
And, staff are collaborating with diverse organizations to bring added resources and information to members and the public. With everything we do we are guided by the co-operative principles, mindful of the needs of our members, and focused on improving the ecosystem for co-operatives. Stay tuned!