Elders create a co-op to preserve language and traditions
Synopsis: Elders from Cote First Nation have formed a cooperative to better support youth in their community and help preserve their traditions and language.
“As Co-operatives First’s Indigenous Relations Lead and a Nehiyaw (Cree) woman, I know co-op businesses can be a great fit in Indigenous communities,” says Trista Pewapisconias. “We’re proud of every new co-op we help create — but we are particularly honoured to have supported the Kici Anishinabek Kananakachiwewat Community Service Co-operative.”
Earlier this month, this Elder-led co-op (which translates to “Elderly Knowledge Keepers Community Services Co-operative”) was officially incorporated. We are so proud to have played a role.
The idea for the co-op came from Elders of Cote First Nation, who wanted a way to preserve the Onakawawin language and traditional cultural activities. After months of discussion, the Elders decided to create a non-profit entity to help them achieve their goal. They asked the Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC) to support their idea.
After meeting with the Elders, YTC Economic Development Coordinator Gaurav Thakur recognized the co-op model as a perfect fit for the group’s vision and way of making decisions.
From this point, Co-operatives First had the privilege of working with the Elders to develop the co-op’s incorporation documents and bylaws. Then, through discussions over conference calls and Zoom, we helped them make the Kici Anishinabek Kananakachiwewat Community Service Co-operative a reality.
Based on the goals of the seven founding members, the co-op will carry out traditional cultural and land-based activities, promote healthy and balanced lifestyles, and provide education about the Onakawawin language.
We are so pleased to have worked with the YTC to support this important project. YTC has been a great support to the group — by suggesting the co-op model, connecting them with Co-operatives First, providing staff time to help with the project, and donating the incorporation fees and three months’ office space for the co-op founders. This incredible collaboration shows that amazing things can happen when supportive partner organizations encounter people with great ideas.