This paper is a starting point for a discussion about the role the co-operative sector can play in assisting immigrants and refugees in Canada and the role that the immigrant and refugee community can itself play in revitalizing Canadian communities through the co-op model. The emphasis is on mutual learning and the sharing of new ideas and practices. We discuss the strengths that immigrants and refugees bring to Canada as well as the barriers they face in their goal to create new lives for themselves and their families.
We have drawn on the experiences of immigrant and refugee co-operatives from across the country. Their stories tell us a great deal about the way in which these co-operatives have successfully used the model to improve the social and economic well being of their members. We also learn how they are negotiating a successful path through the ongoing process of community and organizational development that every co-operative must go through in order to survive and meet its membership’s needs.