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Press release from CNW Group

Western co-ops among winners as $220,000 awarded in The National Co-op Challenge

Monday, December 03, 2012

Western co-ops among winners as $220,000 awarded in The National Co-op Challenge08:00 EST Monday, December 03, 2012GUELPH, ON, Dec. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Emerging co-ops in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia finished atop the West Region of The National Co-op Challenge, each winning a share of $220,000 in prize money. The announcement was made today by The Co-operators, which created the contest in celebration of the International Year of Co-operatives. In accordance with co-operative principles, it empowered individual Canadians by giving them a voice in choosing the winners from among dozens of emerging co-ops, by voting via Facebook.Good Food Junction Co-op of Saskatoon took 1st Prize in the West Region, while Cortes Natural Food Co-op of Mansons Landing, B.C. and Winnipeg's Peg City Car Co-op finished in the second and third spots respectively, based on the number of votes received between October 22 and November 21.1st Prize: Good Food Junction Co-op, Saskatoon ($30,000)Good Food Junction is a grocery co-op that recently opened in a neighbourhood of Saskatoon whose residents have the lowest incomes and poorest health in the city, and which has been without a full-service grocery store since 1997. The co-op provides the community and its more than 450 members with healthy food, good jobs and a source of community pride. The prize money will help this emerging co-op promote its products and services and expand its membership.2nd Prize: Cortes Natural Food Co-op, Mansons Landing, B.C. ($15,000)Located on beautiful Cortes Island off the coast of British Columbia, Cortes Natural Food Co-op is a grocery store that supports organic and local industries, and goods that promote a healthy lifestyle. The co-op, jointly owned by its local consumer, worker and producer members, will use the funding to help with the purchase of a parcel of land on which it sits. Already the hub of the community, the purchase will create new opportunities for the co-op to serve the island community.3rd Prize: Peg City Car Co-op, Winnipeg ($10,000)Peg City Car Co-op's 108 members share four vehicles, allowing them to live the organization's motto, "Bike. Walk. And sometimes, drive." Its objective is to expand to 400 members with 11 vehicles over the next two years. The funding it has earned will help it reach this goal while raising awareness of its transportation vision for the future."The winners, and all of the contestants in The National Co-op Challenge, reflect the diversity, richness and spirit of the co-operative sector in Canada. As these emerging organizations demonstrate, the future of co-ops in this country is very bright indeed," said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. "Co-ops provide members with a meaningful voice in directing their organizations, so it was only fitting that The National Co-op Challenge would give Canadians a say in choosing the winners. Thousands of people engaged with us through Facebook over the past couple of months, and we are proud of the legacy we've created as part of our celebration of the International Year of Co-operatives."Emerging co-ops from throughout Canada applied, and the 24 finalists produced 90-second videos introducing their co-ops and outlining their plans on how they would use the prize money. Voting was open to anyone with a Facebook page, from October 22 to November 21. For a full list of the winners from all four Regions, please visit The Co-operators Facebook page.About The Co-operators:The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $36 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada and Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. As a proud member and supporter of the co-operative sector, The Co-operators is pleased to celebrate 2012: The International Year of Co-operatives. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.SOURCE: The Co-operatorsFor further information: Leonard Sharman The Co-operators 519-767-3937