Mark Goldblatt died suddenly on February 3 of what is believed to be a heart attack. Mark was a well known and much loved champion of co-operation in Canada. As a co-op leader and advocate, he has strengthened the Canadian co-operative movement in key ways.

He began his career as a community organiser developing housing co-operatives in Toronto. He went on to organizethe Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT).

In 1986, Mark was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA).  He was also the Executive Director of Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF), where he co-founded Rooftops Canada. He was the President of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation for 13 years, and he was the President of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa.

Mark worked tirelessly to establish the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa. The founding of this co‑op was a unique partnership in co-operation in Canada, where the Quebec based Fédération des coopératives funéraires du Québec provided crucial access to capital to the new Ontario start up. Mark’s persistence and ability to find a way, regardless of the obstacles was his trademark. The results of his tenacity have provided the co-operative movement with many successes to celebrate.

Hazel Corcoran, Executive Director of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation and CMC Vice-chair stated “Without him, the co-op housing movement, worker co-op movement, and I’d argue the entire co-operative movement in this country and beyond, would not be what they are today.”

Mark was a friend, colleague and mentor to many in the co-operative movement. A celebration of his life held in Ottawa on February 8 at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, was a testimonial to how he approached life and those in his life. Many other memories from friends and colleagues have been shared on a memorial blog.

The reaction from right across Canada was summed up by CHF Canada Corporate Secretary and CMC Board member Nick Sidor, who lamented the news by saying “A great loss to our movement and to Mark’s many, many close friends and admirers. Many of us are both.”