By Marco Zenone
As we start the new year I wanted to share some reflections of one of my highlights for 2017. This past November, I was exceptionally fortunate to be invited to represent Bridge for Health co-op at the Canada Co-operative & Mutuals National Meeting in Ottawa and be recognized as an emerging co-operative champion. We were invited to the conference for our exceptional contributions to meaningful youth engagement and emerging recognition of our innovative, process based outlook on workplace health and well-being.
The conference was an informative and engaging 4-day event, that included a parliamentary reception with several Members of Parliament. Our role in the conference was to share our story as an emerging cooperative to the conference attendees and provide a glimpse into our rationale for utilizing the cooperative model. It was a fantastic experience to share the work of Bridge for Health to the participants of the conference. I shared the story of how Bridge for Health was developed: from the idea that health is more than just healthcare. I further explained that all our work is socially minded and we collaboratively and empirically rally around common causes to promote holistic and upstream change in local, national, and international contexts. Conference participants were very impressed by how much our cooperative has accomplished in the just over a year since we were formally created.
I learned that the number of cooperatives has been increasing and that there have been sizeable investments from the private sector to support the cooperative movement in Canada. The federal government has noted that cooperatives are clearly the best type of organization to work towards the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals; and this conference had a clear focus to create an actionable strategy to obtain more concrete federal support for cooperatives.
To me, this conference solidified how innovative the Bridge for Health model is and how strong a force we can be to genuinely ignite sustainable change. Utilizing the cooperative model is innovative; however, I think we are redefining what a cooperative model can accomplish. We are adopting an approach that is focused on setting a platform for equity and well-being that can be adopted in any context and on any issue. As Bridge for Health grows and continues to inspire future members, I have no doubt we will be continued to be seen as a field leader and be recognized as true innovators.