Discovering Similarities, Productive Discussions Paved the Way to CCA/CCCM Unity

Discovering Similarities, Productive Discussions Paved the Way to CCA/CCCM Unity

'A very important part of this unity process was getting to know each other'

Whenever two organizations join to form a single entity there will be challenges, and the way to sort through those challenges is for both groups to get to know each other through discussions and discovering similarities.

This is exactly what happened when the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM) went through the process of agreeing to form an apex organization that will take effect in early 2014.

CCA communications manager Donna Balkan notes the two organizations have long histories with different organizational cultures. Aside from CCA being mostly anglophone and CCCM having a majority French-speaking members, their individual structures are different, Donna points out.

For instance, CCCM is a federation of provincial associations, whereas CCA has provincial associations, sector associations, large primary co-ops and large federations.

CCCM was also created as a francophone organization with a strong emphasis on francophone culture. CCA, on the other hand, never considered itself an anglophone organization; CCA has members like Co-op Atlantic, which is about 40 per cent francophone, while Mountain Equipment Co-op, The Co-operators and the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation have members in Quebec.

But while the organizations may be different structurally, there are several commonalities. Their programs, for example, are very similar. Both CCA and CCCM do youth engagement activities, and the organizations also facilitate co-op development.

Leading up to the unity agreement, the two organizations had a lot of discussion about whether or not there should be a reserved seat for youth on the governance board — CCCM has a reserved seat for youth on their current board and CCA doesn’t.

In the end, it was decided that there would not be a reserved seat for youth but that nominating committees would be encouraged to seek and identify candidates younger than 35 who could bring balance to the board.

“(There was) a lot of very good and frank discussion as well as compromises on both sides,” Donna says. “A very important part of this unity process was getting to know each other, and the more the co-ops on both sides got to know each other, the easier the process became.”

CCA and CCCM delegates voted strongly in favour of forming the apex organization during their annual general meetings at the joint CCA/CCCM Congress in Edmonton on June 28. The apex organization, tentatively named Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, will represent co-operatives, credit unions and mutuals currently represented by the CCA and CCCM.

After the new organization is launched in early 2014, the CCA will continue to exist. Its primary responsibility will be overseeing international co-operative development activities.

The decision to unify the CCA and CCCM is the result of many years of discussion between the English- and French-speaking organizations.

Related Story:
CCA and CCCM say Their Unity will Forward Canadian Co-op Movement

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Deron Hamel

Deron joined Axiom News in March 2007, having previously worked as a news reporter for print, online and wire services. He serves as Axiom News’ long-term care pod lead, after several years of writing stories and editorials for our clients in that sector. An award-winning advocacy journalist, Deron has seen first-hand the strengths long-term care brings to the greater health-care sector and through his work he seeks to share successes and best practices.

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