Heritage Canada recognizes Inuit co-op movement

A movement that “influenced the development of entire regions”


Meet Canada’s newest national treasure: the Inuit co-operative movement.

The Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. and the Fédération des Co-opératives du Nouveau-Québec were among six new national historic sites, persons and events in Quebec “that define significant moments in Canada’s history,” which received recognition last week from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

“It is undeniable that these persons, places and events played important roles in the growth of Canada and Quebec as we know them today,” said Christian Paradis, minister of Industry and Minister of State for Agriculture, speaking on behalf of Parks Canada. “We can take great pride in the achievements of these individuals which have contributed positively to Canadian life, and feel the utmost respect for these places and events that have influenced the development of entire regions.”

The backgrounder from Parks Canada notes that “the Inuit Co-operative Movement’s democratic and egalitarian principles gave Inuit communities and individuals the power to participate effectively in the management of their local economy, and were a crucial first step in the development of self-government in the North.”

The first co-operative started in 1959 in Kangiqsualujjuaq in Nunavik as a fishery and lumber co-operative, with the FCNQ co-operative network founded in 1967.

In 1972, independent co-operatives in the Northwest Territories founded the Canadian Arctic Co-operatives Federation Limited, known today as the Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., which includes co-operatives in more than 30 communities across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories and generated annual revenues of more than $135 million in 2010.

Today, there are 46 co-operatives in the Canadian North, with about 18,000 members.

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