GUELPH, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 11, 2013) - A joint venture of more than 20 organizations based in the Ottawa area will be held up as an example of co-operation between co-operatives at the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op) congress at the Milton, Ont. Teatro

Conference & Event Centre on Oct. 16.

The Ottawa Co-op Network that started in preparation for the 2012 United Nations International Year of Co-operatives will receive the first Co-op Spirit Award specifically recognizing co-operative engagement. The provincial association redesigned its award categories to highlight this key initiative and three others: co-operative development, education in co-operative organizations, and government relations and advocacy.

Last year the Ottawa Co-op Network held a picnic to mark International Co-op Day in July, and a wine and cheese co-op members' reception during Co-op Week in October. Since its inception, the network has grown from a few organizations to many of different mandates and sizes says Cynthia Mitchell, co-chair of the network.

"Our goal is to build upon the momentum and relationships formed during (the international co-op year) to strengthen the co-op community in Ottawa and foster an active and engaged membership," she adds.

The network continues to hold monthly meetings to share information, plan events for the public and reach out to government officials and media members to raise their awareness of co-ops. In June Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Bélanger hosted a breakfast on Parliament Hill for network members. Later this month, the network will build relations through an Annual Co-op Curling Funspiel. Network members created business alliances, resulting in several solar panel projects, for instance. "We try to cross-promote and attend each other's events as much as possible," adds Mitchell.

Some members and contributors to the Ottawa Co-op Network are Alterna Financial Group, BIAS FREE Co-operative, Inc., Canadian Co-operative Association, Catalpa Housing Co-op, Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario, Des Jardins Cooperative d'Appartements Limited, Families Matter Co-op, Frontline Credit Union, La Siembra Co-operative, L. Simpson Management Services Inc., Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative Inc., Ottawa Women's Credit Union, St. Georges Housing Co- operative, Your Credit Union, Y's Owl Maclure Co-operative Centre Inc., Fromagerie St-Albert Co-op Inc., Conseil de la coopération de l'Ontario, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), Co-operators Group Limited, the Funeral Co- operative of Ottawa Inc, and Co-op Canada Accelerator.

The network will be honored alongside organizer Hannah Renglich of the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network, southwestern Ontario's Libro Financial Group, and government lobbyist Harvey Cooper of CHF Canada's Ontario Region.

The "On Co-op Conference and Celebration: Sharing our Co-op Stories" is an evolution of an annual Co-op Week provincial meeting that started in 1999 in Toronto. This year's day-long program includes discussing a common brand for co-operative enterprises, effective advocacy and laws affecting co-ops, and youth engagement. The provincial co- op awards will be presented at noon.


The Ontario Co-operative Association believes that co-operatives build a better world. We are the trade association that develops, engages, educates and advocates for Ontario's 1,300 co-operative businesses. On Co-op is an information and resources network with a mission to lead, cultivate and connect co-operatives.


The Ontario Co-operative Association provides its member-owners with programs, resources and networks that support their organizations and facilitate growth and opportunity. From the strong foundation provided by our membership, On Co-op builds co-op awareness and vitality, and unites the co-operative movement in Ontario.


Co-operatives are community-focussed businesses that balance people, planet and profit. Co-ops are democratic and value-based, formed to seize local opportunities and meet the needs of their member-owners. As a trusted place to do business, co- operatives are chosen by more than one in seven people worldwide. Twice as many co- ops remain in operation after ten years as other types of business enterprise.

Contact Information:

On Co-op
Audrey Aczel
Communication and Events Manager
519.763.8271, Ext. 24