GUELPH, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2012) - Although co-operatives demonstrate the power of many to work toward a goal, it is often individuals that inspire their creation. A case in point is Florence Carbray of Kitchener, Ont. She rallied her community to form a planning group and make a piece of practical art that would serve to mark this year's International Year of Co-operatives (IYC), gaining notice of her peers in Ontario.
She recently received a Co-operative Spirit Award at the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) IYC Gala in Milton, Ont. More than 110 individuals and organizations have received the provincial award since 1999, but Carbray received one of four unique trophies presented only this year.
The community development and property management co-ordinator of Country Hills Housing Co-operative Inc. helped create the Co-operatives Enterprises of Central Ontario Cluster to promote co-operatives and credit unions in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and elsewhere. A major project was a parade float launched at the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade that depicts a Viking ship powered by a rainbow sail symbolizing different people working together. The float, made possible by many donations of time and funds, has also been used at other parades and is available for other events as part of this year's legacy.
"Florence wanted to undertake this project so area co-ops could come out and tell the community that co-ops were part of it," says Mark Paul of Central Ontario Co-operative Housing Federation. The float was seen across Canada through television and social media, demonstrating that visibility is achieved when "co-ops and members take pride in their co-op and the co-op movement," he adds.
The International Co-operative Alliance estimates that co-operatives have more than a billion members (http://2012.coop) and the livelihoods of about three billion people are made more secure by co-operative enterprises.
The Ontario co-operative movement itself is composed of more than 1300 co-ops, with 1900 locations in 400 communities. Ontario co-operatives employ more than 15,500 people and are supported by a network of 49,000 volunteers.
On Co-op's mission is to lead, cultivate and connect the Ontario co-operative movement. The association is a co-operative created 10 years ago as a resource and common voice for Ontario credit unions and co-operatives. Visit www.ontario.coop to learn more.