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Co-op Week 2011: Canadian co-op sector prepares for UN International Year

17 October 2011

The United Nations International Year of Co-operatives doesn't take place until 2012, but Canada's co-operatives and credit unions are getting a head start this week.

October 16-22 is Co-op Week, an annual event aimed at recognizing the economic and social contributions of co-operatives, as well as the values and principles underlying the co-operative business model. The week includes International Credit Union Day - October 20 - which has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948.

The theme of this year’s Co-op Week is the same as the theme of the International Year: Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World.

"In many ways, we have been preparing for the International Year since the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution proclaiming the year in December 2009," said Carol Hunter, executive director of the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA). "But many co-operative organizations across Canada are using this week to promote the fact that the International Year is coming very soon and are holding events around the International Year theme."

In his Co-op Week message to CCA, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the link between this year’s Co-op Week and the International Year.

"The theme of this year’s celebration — Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World — aligns with the theme of next year’s United Nations International Year of Co-operatives and presents an opportunity to showcase the co-operative business model around the world," Prime Minister Harper wrote. "Co-operatives have helped many people and organizations find solutions to social and economic challenges in their communities, and this special week offers Canadians a chance to express their appreciation for the benefits that co-operatives provide."

CCA and the national francophone co-operative association, the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM), together with the federal government’s Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat, launched Canada’s International Year of Co-operatives website, www.canada2012.coop earlier this year. The site provides "one-stop shopping" for anyone seeking information about co-operatives and the International Year: visitors can learn about co-operatives in Canada and around the world, find out what events are taking place during the International Year, order promotional items for 2012 and even leave comments and on Your IYC Messages, an interactive bulletin board.

The United Nations will be holding its official International Year of Co-operatives launch in New York on October 31, and the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), which represents co-operatives in 96 countries, will hold its launch in Cancun, Mexico on November 18. Dame Pauline Green, president of ICA, will be visiting Ottawa on November 2 and will be available for interviews about co-operatives and the International Year.

The Canadian launch of the International Year will take place in communities across Canada on January 12, 2012.

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