First Nation peoples are facing a wide range of challenges as they seek to secure the future of members of the communities, including future generations. In seeking to create sustainable communities, economically, socially, and politically, First Nations must also try to develop ways to circulate financial resources as frequently as possible within their communities, rather than see the money used at other businesses outside the community.
Communities have four options to consider, they can: choose to foster the development of individual entrepreneurs, form alliances with “Corporate Canada,” develop the capacity of Aboriginal governmental organizations (band councils), or encourage the development of co-operatives that both function in the marketplace to serve their members’ needs and work together, with clear lines of accountability. Each type of economic activity has its place in a strong economy, with no single type of activity able to meet all economic challenges on its own.
A co-operative is one accommodating approach that First Nation communities can come together collectively to meet the economic needs of a community. Co-operatives are not a new form of organization within Canadian First Nation communities. Co-ops exist in many sectors of the Canadian economy such as fishing, energy, forestry, housing, financial services, consumer goods, and arts and crafts. Co-ops fill an important role in economic capacity-building, providing skills development, business development, mentoring, and employment.
The purpose of this guide is to increase your understanding of co-operatives and co-operative business development, and to assist you in deciding whether a co-operative is a good fit for your community in pursuing economic development.
There are several reasons the Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network (SFNEDN) and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association (SCA) believe this guidebook may be of interest:
- There are similarities between First Nation and co-operative values
- The co-operative structure is flexible to fit communities’ needs and goals
- A co-op can be made to suit the cultural desires of the community
- A co-operative is twice as likely to survive as a corporation because it accommodates communal expectations
- First Nations communities may find that co-operative business offer more options
- The co-operative business model is a useful and needed part of the mix of economic activity for Aboriginal communities
Table of Contents
|What is a Co-op?
|Benefits of a Co-op
|Co-operative Development Timeline
|Analyzing Co-ops as Marketplace Businesses
|7 Co-op Principles
|Shared Values of First Nations and Co-ops
|Types of Co-operatives
|Aboriginal Co-ops in Canada
|First Nations in Canada: The 1st Co-operators
|Co-op Development: Creating Your Path
|Profile: Cree 8 Worker Co-operative: Flying Dust First Nation
|Profile: Muskoday Workers Organic Co-op
|Pofile: Neechi Foods Co-operative, LTD.
|Profile: Amachewespimawin Co-operative Association
|Benefits and Challenges of Developing a First Nation Co-operative
|Co-operative Development: Recommended Steps
|Co-op Development Meeting
|Conduct a Feasibility Study (Also Called a Viability Study)
|Develop the Framework
|Organize the Enterprise
|Hold the Initial General Meeting
|Appendix A: Incorporation Package
|Appendix B: Sample Co-op Bylaws
|Appendix C: Components of a Business Plan
|Aboriginal Co-operatives in Saskatchewan
|First Nations in Saskatchewan
|Tips from the Elders