For its 10th anniversary, and with the collaboration of its supporting partner, Desjardins Group, CMC was honoured to welcome back the Canadian co-operative movement June 11 to 13, 2024 at the Halifax Convention Centre for its annual Congress. It was also a very special year for the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council (NSCC), which also celebrated its 75th anniversary. As such, CMC and NSCC joined forces for this Congress to mark these two important celebrations.  

Under this year’s theme, “Navigating Change Together,” Canadian co-operative and mutual leaders attended stimulating plenary sessions, as well as exchanged ideas and interacted in workshops and sessions. The plenaries and workshops were divided into three distinct streams to help organizations understand and adapt to different aspects of the changes underway in the Canadian co-operative and mutual landscape. These streams were: 

  • Acting in a changing economy and changing workforce.
  • Demonstrate leadership in a digital and technological age.  
  • Leverage innovation and transformation to build a strong and just world.

Technology at the Service of Co-operatives and Mutuals 

CMC was fortunate to welcome Elder Geri Musqua LeBlanc, a guest of honour, who recited a prayer that opened the Congress and started a day filled with fascinating presentations and panel discussions.   

To begin, Alec Bruce, writer, and Jeff Yuill, Chairman of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, both explored the exciting history of co-operatives in Nova Scotia, highlighting the importance of co-operatives throughout the years.   

Turning from history to the present, the next panel focused on today’s changing economy and workforce, and how co-operatives can play a part. Estaban Kelly, Chairman of the Board of NCBA-CLUSA, Gaby Polanco Sorto, Vice President and Head of Objectives and Sustainable Development at Gore Mutual, Johanne Charbonneau, Director at Desjardins Group and Agnès Durpriez, Practice Leader in Socio-Economic Engagement, discussed how co-operatives can innovate to adapt to these changes.   

The first panel of the day was followed by a well-deserved coffee break sponsored by Patterson Law. To further continue the discussions surrounding the changing economy and workforce, CMC offered simultaneous sessions on these topics. “Co-operatives as Employers of Choice” was a panel discussion featuring Nick Beynon, CEO of CPHR Nova Scotia, Chanel Grenaway, founder of Chanel Grenaway & Associates Inc, Julien Geremie, Executive Director of Impact ON, Zanna Ekeroth, Associate Facilitator for Equity and Inclusion at Sunflower Facilitation & Counselling Co-op and Reba Plummer, Co-CEO of Urbane Cyclist. In another room, a panel discussion focused on how the co-operative sector could build and utilize a social economy. Pascal Billard, CEO of SOL-AIR Consultants, Kristen Murray, Project Specialist with the Newfoundland-Labrador Federation of Co-operatives, Evan Murray, Executive Director of the Coopérative de développement régional du  Québec—CDRQ, Audra Krueger, Executive Director of Cooperatives First, and Naisha Khan, Co-operative Developer with Solid State Industries, discussed the importance of co-operative development and the environments conducive to the creation and survival of co-operatives.   

After a lunch sponsored by the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, the afternoon began with a panel discussion on one of three Congress topics: “Leading the Way in the Digital and Technological Era.” Panellists Violetta Nafpaktiti, General Manager of DotCoop, David Beauchemin, General Manager of Baseline, Mark Crocker, President of Optimize Consulting Inc. and Chad Griffin CIO of Data League highlighted how co-operatives can stay competitive by using technology to their advantage.   

Following this, participants enjoyed a delicious coffee break sponsored by the Agency for Co-operative Housing. Then, to delve deeper into hot topics of technology and innovation, two series of simultaneous presentations were held. Steve Seguin, Vice-President of LBMX Inc. first introduced Congress attendees to the practicalities of building an effective data strategy. At the same time, in another room, Kathleen Howie, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Co-operators, and Charly Lin, Chief Data Officer of Co-operators, explained how to prepare for the integration of generative artificial intelligence into your co-operative business. These were followed by two additional presentations: in the main room, Charles Buchanan, CEO of Technology Helps, explained the importance of cybersecurity, and in the other room, Tom Ivey, DotCoop’s Head of Community Development, presented the impact of the global co-operative web identity for co-ops through DotCoop.  

Finally, the first day of the Congress concluded with a welcome reception during which attendees networked over delicious crab cakes provided by Victoria Fisheries. CMC was honoured to welcome Suzy Hansen, Member of Parliament for Halifax Needham, to the reception. 

Youth, Innovation and Social Finance to Navigate Change 

Jessica Provencher and John Wilkinson, proud representatives of Co-operators, the Congress breakfast sponsor, had the chance to address the participants to start the second day of the Congress.   

Afterwards, the panel entitled “Leveraging Innovation to Build a Just and Equitable World” discussed how innovation can support co-operatives in their community and social functions, with perspectives from Martin Boucher, Faculty member of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, Andrea Nemtin, PDF of Social Innovation Canada, George Ombado, CEO of ACCOSCA, Karen Miner, Executive Director of the International Centre for Co-operative Management, Saint Mary’s University and Doug O’Brien, CEO of NBCA-CLUSA.  

CMC was honoured to welcome the Honourable Sean Fraser to address the Congress. The Minister spoke with a deep understanding of the role and potential of co-operatives and mutuals, showcasing Nova Scotia examples, the importance of the Antigonish Movement and the recent 1.5B$ co-operative housing program. He also kindly congratulated CMC on its 10th anniversary, and NSCC on its 75th.

Later, two concurrent sessions explored this theme in greater depth. A panel on social and sustainable finance and how it can positively impact the Canadian economy featured Nathalie Villemure, Executive Director of Fonds Réseau d’investissement social du Québec (RISQ), Jessica Brandon-Jepp, Senior Director, Fiscal Policy and Financial Services at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Roger Beauchemin, President of Addenda Capital and Bolu Omidiji, Community Impact Manager, SDGs and Policy at the Canadian Credit Union Association. In another room, Lana Wong, Executive Director of Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc., Dianne Kelderman, CEO of Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, David Daughton, Executive Director of Prince Edward Island Co-operative Council, Corinne Remple, Executive Director of Alberta Community & Co-operative Association, Tammy Christopher, CEO of Omista Credit Union and Allison Ferris, Regional Manager—Atlantic, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, discussed the impact of co-operatives and innovation in solving Canada’s housing crisis.    

During lunch, participants had the opportunity to network or take part in the peer gathering organized by CoopZone.    

After a delicious lunch break, Daniel P. Brunette, CMC’s Senior Director of External Affairs, presented an overview of co-operative advocacy at the federal level, as well as the importance of the data collected by CMC and the Canadian co-operative community, and its impact on the sector.

The day concluded with a panel discussion organized by the Canada’s Emerging Co-operators (CEC), highlighting the importance of youth involvement in the Canadian co-operative movement. CEC members were joined by Caeli Martineau, Director of Client Relations at Edgar Co-op, and Roseline Roy, Ethics and Governance Advisor at Sollio Co-operative Group. 

In the evening, CMC proudly welcomed participants to its annual Gala to celebrate the CMC Award winners. To launch the event, the Halifax Circus impressed everyone present with spectacular acrobatics and choreography! After the dinner, The East Enders band kept everyone dancing all evening to the rhythm of traditional Maritime music.   

From Theory to Practice— A Full Day of Workshops!  

The third and final day of the 2024 Congress began with CMC’s Annual General Meeting. CMC is delighted to welcome Don Dietrich to its Board of Directors, who will now take up the Gay Lea Food seat. CMC would like to thank Chris Johnson for his presence and involvement on the Board.   

Afterwards, attendees took part in two practical workshops to help co-operative businesses in concrete ways. The first workshop guided participants through the creation of a climate plan, with the help of Pascal Billard, CEO of SOL-AIR Consultants, and Gaëlle Crête, CQCM’s Co-operative and Mutual Vigil Advisor.   

The second workshop, led by the Women’s Economic Council, focused on how co-operative businesses can adopt JEDI practices in the workplace.

John Kay, Chairman of the Board and Elder Geri concluded the Congress with a prayer, and invited everyone to the next CMC Congress to be held in Regina, June 9–11, 2025. 

2024 CMC Congress Sponsors
2024 CMC Congress Sponsors

CMC would like to thank its incredible sponsors that made this event possible!

CMC is proud to have once again organized a face-to-face event to bring the Canadian co-operative community together. The entire team looks forward to welcoming you to the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina in 2025!