April 2011

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In this Issue

Profile: Ménsa/Mawsootan Harvesting & Marketing Co-operative

Northern Saskatchewan is home to a natural resource with a large and growing global demand. In this case, consumer interest has not been piqued by oil or potash; this crop is much more delicious. The demand for Saskatchewan wild blue berries is strong, but the challenge of distribution and transportation remains. That’s where the Ménsa/Mawsootan Harvesting & Marketing Co-operative (MMHMC) comes in. MMHMC was incorporated in March 2011 with the purpose of bringing fair trade practices to the harvesting and sale of berries in Northern Saskatchewan.

To accomplish this, MMHMC will build a purchasing depot in the Green Lake community that will become a central berry repository and distribution centre, and will hire 8-10 local employees. The depot will also house machinery to dry and powder the berries, which allows the Co-op to produce less perishable products and ship them out for 10% of the cost of transporting raw berries. Meanwhile, “local, national, and international markets are being explored,” for value-added products, as well as fresh and frozen berry distribution. In the long term, “We hope to retain control over the entire value chain,” says Ric. The Co-op is hoping to develop nutritional products made of dried berries, as well as jams and desserts, which will ensure greater and more direct economic benefits for regional residents.

Blueberries have played an integral role in northern diets and economies for generations. However, the harvest and sale of berries is generally unorganized and informal, which means that many berry harvesters are underpaid and subjected to exploitative practices. Moreover, economic development opportunities are scarce in many of these isolated communities. These poor economic conditions have combined to create rampant poverty with an unemployment rate that hovers at 80% in Northern Saskatchewan.

Fortunately, MMHMC is offering an innovative business model that builds on the traditional knowledge and skills of the estimated thousands of local berry harvesters. “We are trying to develop something in the region that has local control and local benefit,” says Ric. By adopting a co-operative model, MMHMC can more easily remain committed to its goals of creating widespread economic benefit, and ensuring that harvesters are fairly compensated for their work.

“We see a lack of pride being one of the problems coming from multigenerational poverty,” Ric continues. In an effort to ameliorate this communal challenge, MMHMC has developed a strong cultural preservation component. He calls it “using traditional values and knowledge in a modern economy.”

And MMHMC’s timing could not be better, as the global health food markets continue to grow. It seems that the rest of the world is only beginning to catch on to what northern communities have known for centuries; “Blueberries are rightly described as a super food,” says Ric.

Although the growing season is short – it typically runs from July to early September - the benefits of MMHMC’s fair trade purchasing policies will be felt all year long. As a socio-economic enterprise that is culturally, environmentally, and economically sustainable, MMHMC is a perfect, and creative, example of community economic development in action.

For more information, contact Ric Richardson at r.richardson@sasktel.net

Canadian CED Network News

Vote for Communities - CCEDNet’s 2011 Election Resource Guide

CCEDNet has created a one-stop-shop for federal election resources. This accessible Guide includes fact sheets, blogs, articles and questionnaires from nearly a dozen organizations across the country to help inform you of the issues that matter to Canadian communities this election. You will also find letters for candidates and a list of questions that we encourage you to submit to your local candidates to see where they stand on building fair, strong, and sustainable Canadian communities.

Visit the page

Meet our Members

The Prince Albert and District Community Service Centre

The Prince Albert and District Community Service Centre provides a wide range of social services for Prince Albert residents and has done so since its formation in 1968. The agency works with many community partners and volunteers to achieve its organizational mandate.

Visit their website

The CCEDNet Channel - Featured Video

HAVE Culinary Training Video

H.A.V.E. Culinary Training is a social enterprise in the downtown eastside of Vancouver that is dedicated to developing job and life skills in its students. Students are selected based on need and put through an 8-week culinary training curriculum. For practical experience, students prepare the meals served to the customer at H.A.V.E. Café.

Watch the video

Saskatchewan CED News

SCA Accepting Nominations for Merit Awards

Nominations are invited for the 32nd Annual Saskatchewan Co-operative Merit Awards Program. The Awards are presented on October 17, 2011, during National Co-op Week in Regina. Awards are presented in the following categories: Lifetime Co-operative Achievement Award; Co-operative Contribution Award; Co-operative Enterprise Award; and Co-operative Young Leaders Award. Nomination deadline is May 1, 2011.

Read more

Co-operative Network of Saskatoon Hosts April 20 Luncheon

On April 20, Paul Wilkinson, Project Manager of Station 20 West and Janice Sanford Beck, Chair of the Good Food Junction Co-operative will provide information about the origin of the project and the dream of a development centre which would bring together diverse organizations to work collaboratively to reduce poverty and improve the lives of residents in Saskatoon's core neighbourhoods. All attendees must pre-register.

Read more

Affinity Launches Innovative Community Spirit Fund

Affinity Credit Union is proud to announce the successful launch of an innovative community funding initiative which has increased charitable giving to organizations across the province – the Community Spirit Fund. The Community Spirit Fund was launched in July 2010 and provides employees and elected officials within the Credit Union the opportunity to request $200 to donate to an organization of their choice.

So far, 351 organizations across the province have benefited from this additional funding support. The areas supported include: arts and culture, education, health and support services, sports, recreation and youth initiatives.

Read more

(Source: SCA Co-operative Spotlight Newsletter, March)

Station 20 West Update

The train is rolling on the Station 20 West project, as they near their fundraising goals, but one last push is needed before they can begin construction. So far, over $2 million has been raised, but Station 20 still needs $550,000 to put shovels in the ground. Your support will help Station 20 bring critically needed programs and services, including a grocery store, to residents of the core neighbourhoods.

More information

CED Tool: The Community Tool Box

 The Community Tool Box is a global resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It offers more than 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement. The page linked to below lists 46 Chapters through which you can reach nearly 300 different sections providing practical, step-by-step guidance in community-building skills. Other tools can be located from the purple tabs at the top of the page.

Visit the Community Tool Box

National CED News

Public Policy Profiles Profile Paper Series

The Canadian Social Economy Hub and the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships have produced a Public Policy Profile Paper Series. Each Profile highlights a federal, provincial, or municipal policy, describes how it contributes to building a people-centred economy, and provides analysis of the policy’s strengths and weaknesses. Three of the ten Profiles include:

  • Manitoba’s CED Policy Framework (pdf): Commits the Government of Manitoba to sustaining a political structure, a policy framework and lens, and a funding program dedicated to CED.
  • The Montreal Social Economy Plan (pdf): Consolidate actions and increase the City’s support for Social Economy enterprises, in particular by calling on their services or involving them more regularly.
  • Ontario’s Social Venture Fund (pdf): Designed to help “find innovative solutions to difficult social problems and improve social outcomes” by improving access to new sources of capital for entities doing ‘social purpose’ work

The Keg Thanks a Million Anniversary Donation

In celebration of their 40th anniversary, the Keg is giving away $1,000,000 in 40 x $25,000 grants to support community-based projects in cities where Keg restaurants are located. They are currently accepting applications for projects that are directly helping local communities.

Submission dealine for applicaitons is April 30th, 2011. You can vote for your favorite project until May 16th, 2011

Learn more

Social Enterprise: Another Tool, Not the Solution!

Vantage Point’s recent ‘Policy Change and the Non-Profit Sector’ themed newsletter includes an excellent article by enp’s David LePage, titled ‘Social Enterprise: Another Tool, Not the Solution!’ In the article, David offers a sobering analysis of the burgeoning social enterprise sector. Rather than replacing government-led community development or charity models, David sees social enterprises as “a tool for non-profits” that must be used through collaborative efforts with other stakeholders to create healthy and sustainable communities.

Read the full article

North American Worker Co-op Conference Co-operation Without Borders

On October 13-15, 2011 the first ever North America-wide Worker Co-op Conference, "Co-operation without Borders," will take place in Quebec City. Confirmed presenters include Amy Goodman, well-known New York-based investigative journalist and founder of Democracy Now!, Bruno Roelants of the international Federation CICOPA, Melissa Hoover, Executive Director of the US Federation, and Mikel Lezamiz of Mondragon.

Read more

(Source: CWCF April Newsletter)

Finance Minister  for a Day

From corporate tax cuts to seniors benefits, everyone on Parliament Hill seems to think they know what should be in the budget. But can you do better? The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has developed an interactive budget tool based on their Alternative Federal Budget where yoou can choose the programs you think are important. Watch out though, budget choices have consequences. With every program or taxation change comes an effect on the deficit and unemployment.

How will your budget look? Once you've perfected it, you can share your budget with friends on Facebook, Twitter or by email.

Start budgeting

CED Book Club - Good Places to Live: Poverty and Public Housing in Canada








Cities across Canada have used negative stereotypes on public housing projects to justify their demolition, without providing an affordable alternative for displaced residents. In Good Places to Live, Jim Silver argues that the problems with which it is so often associated are not inherent to public housing but are the result of structural inequalities and neoliberal government policies. Silver contends that public housing projects can be good places to live — if the political will exists.

Read more

Job Postings

For the latest CED postings visit the National and Regional job pages on CCEDNet's website

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Positions to post? Send them to breimer@ccednet-rcdec.ca

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