|Making a difference - CDF Study tours
Canadian credit union and co-operative members are making a difference by donating their time, talent and treasure to the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF.) In fact over the last four years Canadian co-operators have donated over 10,000 volunteer days and over $9 million dollars in donations which was leveraged into $46 million dollars for co-operative projects around the world.
Participating in a CDF study tour is one way supporters of co-operative development can see firsthand the impact of these donations. CDF study tours, which are participant funded, are a unique opportunity to visit CDF funded projects and to meet with partners and co-op members whose lives are being impacted by these projects.
CDF study tours have taken groups of Canadian co-operators to Cambodia, Peru, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Participants come from a variety of positions within the credit union and co-op sector, from the executive level down. The goal is for participants to learn about co-operatives and credit unions in a developing country and share their stories upon return to Canada. They gain not only an insight into development but the powerful role co-operatives play in this development.
Philippines study tour participants attend a community meeting for
micro-insurance policy holders, 70% of which are women.
A 2015 study tour to the Philippines reinforced to the eight participants how
co-operatives are an important tool for overcoming poverty and bringing communities together. Paul Kelly, CEO of Connect First Credit Union noted that "Seeing the power of co-operatives in the Philippines working at a very grass roots level was very inspiring. A reminder that co-operative values work at a micro level and that Canadian credit unions need to keep those values alive." These sentiments were echoed by Graham Wetter, from Credit Union Central of Alberta, “Seeing this impact in person really reconfirmed the positive benefit co-ops bring to society.” Both Paul and Graham continue to champion CDF’s work within the sector, and both Connect First Credit Union and Credit Union Central of Alberta are major donors to CDF.
By sharing their experiences and stories on return to Canada, participants are able to further the cause of CDF within the co-operative sector and become champion supporters of this work. The tours are action-packed, with participants visiting partners, learning about how projects are implemented and meeting with co-op members who are working their way out of poverty.
Monika Giasson from Gay Lea Foods sums up her study tour experience to the Philippines, “It put in perspective how we are all connected and working towards a common goal - a better world through co-operation."
If you would like more information on how to participate or support a CDF study tour, email Julie.Beckett@coopscanada.coop.