Inner-City Co-ops, Crafted by Women


Critical to the survival of two Aboriginal co-ops in Winnipeg, Neechi Foods Co-op Ltd. and The Northern Star Worker Co-op, has been their connection and commitment to the greater community

"Neechi Foods Co-op, a full-service grocery store, emerged out of a re-awakening of Aboriginal identity and a desire for renewed self-determination within the Aboriginal community of Winnipeg's North End. During the 1990s, unemployment, abandoned housing, drug dealing, prostitution and other gang activities became rife in the neighbourhood. Yet these were also the formative years of Neechi. Although commercial survival has been often maintained by a very narrow margin, Neechi has never received an operating subsidy. Part of the reason lies in Neechi's enduring commitment and connection to its broader community."

"The story of The Northern Star Worker Co-op is different in detail, but similar in message. Co-op members use industrial sewing machines to manufacture uniquely designed and quilted Star Blankets and other items. Following a tough start, the fledging cooperative gained a new lease on life after its members sought advice from a co-op development support project at Assiniboine Credit Union. Assiniboine helped the co-op to implement realistic pricing and financial controls, develop market focus, and acquire a life-line loan secured by the Jubilee Fund, an inter-faith community loan fund. Assiniboine and the Jubilee Fund also helped to plug managerial gaps with mentorship support. The Mennonite Central Committee arranged for a volunteer placement to help with sales and marketing."

Champagne, Louise
Publication Date: 
Stock #: