Co-op Development in Immigrant
Communities
Presenters: Melanie Conn, Devco &
Gulalai Habib, Immigrant Services Society
of BC/Malalay Co-op
Afghanistan History
A landlocked country in the heart of
Asia
Population around 22 million
Three names:
-Aryana in antiquity
-Khurasan in the medieval era
-Afghanistan in modern times
Culture and Ethnicity
24 dialects
Dominant languages Dari (Farsi
dialect) & Pashtu
Blend of 26 ethnic races
- ie. Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbecs,
Hazars, Turkmen, Nuristanis
and many others
War and Human Losses
Over 32 years of intensive war &
occupation
Over 2 million people killed
(20% children)
3 million people internally displaced
2-3% of the population disabled
Over 6,700,000 become refugees
Obliteration of infrastructure
Life in refugee camps
 Deprived
of education
 Poor nutrition
 No legal protection
 No citizenship rights or access to
education
 Dramatic decline of literacy &
increase of child labour
 Extremely rough environment,
perfect for terrorist recruiting
Afghan Immigrants & Refugees in BC
Afghans are one of largest groups of
Government-Assisted refugees (GARs)
in BC for the past four years: 26.4%
47% of all Afghan clients settled in
Burnaby in 2006
 Majority of single parent families are
women who lost their husbands in war
Settlement Issues and Obstacles (1)
War trauma & depression
Low literacy
Language barriers
Financial dependence
Economic inequality
Marginalization
Settlement Issues and Obstacles (2)
Raising children in an alien culture
Poor health conditions
Limited opportunities
Lack of culturally appropriate centres &
other resources
Social isolation
Racial profiling since September 11th
Malalay Co-op
Beginnings:
 2003
 20 women
 1300 volunteer hours
 A community solution to move towards
economic security
Three focuses of Malalay:
1.
Develop the co-operative
2. Develop and test an experiential
learning model for new immigrant and
refugee women
3. Identify policy and program
recommendations to create an enabling
environment for new immigrant & refugee
women.
“My dream of the Co-op is not
only to be financially
independent and prove that I
have some skills to contribute,
but also to regain my
confidence and, above all, my
dignity.” Zakia, Dec. 2004
Diversity of Members
Language
 Age
Ethnic background
Mental and physical ability
Language
Marital and social status
Rural and urban experience
Duration of settlement in Canada
Education
Supporters
Project Team
 The
Immigrant Services
Society of BC
 CCEDNet
 Devco
Financial
supporters
•
•
•
•
•
•
Vancity Community
Foundation
Status of Women
Canada
Vibrant Burnaby
West Vancouver
Unitarian Church
WomenFutures
BC Co-op Association
In-kind contributions
•
Afghan-Canadian Women’s Network of BC
•
Immigrant Services Society of BC
•
City of Burnaby
•
Burnaby School District 41
•
Burnaby Learning Network
•
Devco
BC Muslim Women Association
Housing Families in Need Society
BC Co-operative Association
Burnaby Food Co-operative
Individuals
•
•
•
•
•
Lessons Learned
1. A co-op can be a powerful tool for
immigrant and refugee women to
become active participants in
Canadian society as well as in
their own community
•
•
•
Positive images of Muslim women
A bottom-up approach to
development
Time-consuming
2. Role of the settlement
worker
•
Bridge
•
Raise rights of members
•
Multi-skilled
3. Policy Barriers
•
Clawback
•
Need for multi-year funding
Co-op Development Practice
 Unique
•
•
•
situation
Language
Informal co-operation
Settlement issues
Co-op Development Practice
 Governance
 Finance
 Operations
 Lessons
Learned
Co-op Development Practice
Governance
•
Significance
•
Timeline
Co-op Development Practice
Governance
•
•
•
•
Meetings
Quorum
Minutes
Board of Directors
Co-op Development Practice
Finances
•
•
•
Knowledge
Trust-Building
Practice Handling Money
Co-op Development Practice
Operations
•
•
•
•
•
•
Workspace
Equipment
Production
Income
Marketing
Business Consultant
Lessons Learned
1. Applying the Co-op Model
•
Working with a Colleague
• Interpretation
• Translation
• ESL, transportation
2. Role of Co-op Developer
•
Advisor
• Teacher
• Facilitator
• Outsider
3. Women’s Participation
•
Cultural issues
• Effect of war
• Settlement issues
• Need for Patience
4. Autonomy
•
Funding issues
• Group issues
• Feasibility issues
 Development
is much more than
material benefits, and is the sum of
people’s own aspirations, efforts, and
learning towards bettering themselves
materially, socially, intellectually, and
spiritually.
“If we had started a sewing coop ten years ago for Afghan
women we would not need
Welfare today”. Jamila, Oct.
2006
D
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