Min'munaya'l (Circle of Doll Makers) Co-operative

warning: Parameter 2 to gmap_gmap() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/clc/public_html/includes/module.inc on line 471.

Date of Incorporation: In process June 2001, never completed.

Membership: Five

Activity: Doll making and marketing

Organizational Form: Worker co-operative

Area Served: Cowichan Tribes, Duncan, British Columbia

Introduction

Pamela Eberhardt wrote this case study in 2001 under the guidance of Kathleen Gabelmann of the British Columbia Institute for Co-operative Studies. When the case study was written, the co-operative was in the process of organising and incorporating. However, it failed to incorporate and has not yet organised. Despite its setbacks, Min'munaya'l is not a failure; both Pamela and BCICS believe other groups thinking of starting co-operatives can learn from the experiences of the Circle of Doll Makers Co-operative.

Background

In the community of Duncan, north of Victoria, British Columbia, groups of women gathered frequently to help each other heal and reconnect to lost cultural traditions. They talked, laughed, and cried while making dolls. Over a period of about five years, many local women and children learned this unique art form.

As interest in the art form increased, the group became aware of how doll making may help community members meet many of the challenges they face.

Economics and education are primary concerns in Duncan. Having recently completed First Nations' Studies at Malaspina University College, Pamela Eberhardt wanted to use her educational background and doll making experience to help community members.

For thousands of years, the First Nations of Vancouver Island lived with the land. Before the arrival of Europeans, First Nations people fished, hunted and harvested local plants. The land gave them food, and shaped their culture. When the mass settlement of Europeans began in the mid-nineteenth century, many First Nations people were removed from their land. Relocated, plagued by disease and hunger, they were forced to become part of the wage-labour force. Children were forced to attend Residential Schools, institutions where their traditions and languages were denounced, and often forgotten. Dislocation has left many First Nations people homeless and spiritually lost, their relationship with the land forever changed. Today resource exploitation corporations control British Columbia's land, and First Nations people depend on their European brothers and sisters to help care for their families. Many people have had difficulty adapting to the wage economy. Many local employers will not hire First Nations people, forcing them to seek government welfare. Even those who find paying work in the mainstream economy do not earn enough to adequately care for their families.

First Nations women are particularly challenged. Often denied education opportunities, they are left in the home to care for their large families while male family members seek work. Transportation is problematic, and few homes have telephones. Women often struggle to give their children nourishing meals. Health issues plague the community. Many people have learning disabilities, the tragic result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), and physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Women deal with family violence, suicide and abuse on a regular basis.

Aware of these problems, Pamela Eberhardt wanted to use doll making to bring women together in discussion, facilitating the healing process. She believed a co-operative could serve both the economic and the sociocultural needs of the First Nations community in Duncan. In addition to bringing money into the community and creating employment opportunities, the co-operative would work toward rebuilding community pride and dignity, and restoring the cultural identity stripped from First Nations people during the residential school era.

Located on southern Vancouver Island, Duncan is a popular tourist destination, and thus an attractive spot for a handicrafts business. Many Americans, Europeans and Asians, among others, visit the island annually.Travellers and collectors enjoy purchasing local handicrafts and the art of the Coast Salish people. Pamela envisioned a co-operative enterprise that could serve the local market yet, with Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle all within short distance, could expand into larger markets in the future.

Getting Started: Initial Organisation

The local First Nations Health Centre was one of the co-op's initial supporters. The centre is a place where women meet to learn parenting and health skills. It is also a place where the women can support one another through a broad range of social activities. Pamela introduced doll making to the women as part of this program, and remembers how initial sessions spawned the idea to forming a co-operative:

We started making dolls together in April 1999. At first it was difficult. Some women enjoyed the project, while others had little experience with sewing. Others were more interested in socializing, caring little for sewing, but enjoying the look of the finished product. The next doll making session began a year later (spring of 2000). Again, some took to it more readily than others, but there was a sense of satisfaction when the dolls were completed.

A few months later the group raised the subject of starting a doll making co-operative. Even those who had little interest in sewing dolls were intrigued by the idea of owning a doll company. We began forming the co-op in June 2000. By July, we had submitted a formal request for development funds to the Ministry of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers (which no longer exists). Some women continued to learn the art of doll making during the summer. However, by the end of August 2000 the number of women attending the weekly sewing session dwindled. I continued filling out forms for the ministry and meeting with health centre directors. I made numerous phone calls, trying to gather all the documents and information necessary to form a co-operative. Several unusual circumstances thwarted my attempts to complete our proposal. Our ministry contact had a serious illness in her family, and was difficult to reach most of the time. She also took a temporary leave of absence leaving no one to guide me. Our other major partner in launching this project was unable to attend to the proposal because of administrative duties, and our business consultant had little experience with co-ops, stalling the process for about six months.

Discouraged by the whole ordeal, Pamela was almost ready to give up. Perhaps it was unrealistic to think such a project was possible, she thought; maybe it was not meant to be. All those sorts of thoughts ran through her mind. In January 2001, she made one last phone call to the Ministry of Community Development, Co-operatives and Volunteers, ready to accept whatever happened. To her surprise, the ministry expressed a sincere interest in the project, restoring Pamela's confidence. Three months later, with the combined assistance of the health centre, a co-operative developer, members of the ministry's co-op branch, and the patiently waiting women's group, the co-operative became a reality. Funding was forthcoming, and the first official information session of the Circle of Doll Makers Co-operative took place in May 2001.

Planning and organizing the co-operative had been tedious, gruelling, and frustrating, yet wonderful. At times, the group felt nothing was being accomplished. It was hard to imagine that each small step would eventually lead to a business, and that one day we would be a visible part of Duncan's downtown business sector.

The support and enthusiasm of the professional co-operative developer was key to developing the co-operative. She assisted with the greatest challenge - structure. With her help, group members recognized their individual talents and necessary skills in organizing the group. The group learned business language; for example, comparing dolls from store to store became 'primary marketing research'. This language transformed co-op members into First Nations businesswomen.

It was challenging to organise meetings. The women had over fifty children between them, and many had no transportation or telephone communication. However, with the help of the health centre, day care was arranged and meals and transportation were provided. The meeting room was full.

Many discussions took place in these meetings. Speaking in turn, each woman was given the chance to voice her opinion and ask questions. By the end of the first meeting, a core group had volunteered to meet between larger meetings to help organize the co-op. Pamela gave each volunteer tasks. Together, the group conducted a marketing survey, discussed operations and incorporation, designed dolls, and reported their activity back to the co-op developer, who guided them towards realising their co-operative.

Co-operation in a First Nations Context

Economy:

The co-op's formation was motivated by the extreme poverty of the First Nations community in Duncan. One of the main causes of poverty is unemployment. Many women in the co-operative have not been able to obtain work for diverse reasons: a lack of education; family obligations tying them to the home; racial discrimination; lack of transportation, telephone, or suitable clothing; inadequate nutrition; and in some cases, illiteracy. The co-operative aims to offer employment and training opportunities to reduce local poverty. It is dedicated to training women so they can work in the home. Home-based business is challenging, but it allows women to meet their cultural and familial obligations. In the Coast Salish tradition longhouse season begins in the autumn and ending in spring when the frogs come out. It is a season set aside for the spiritual reinforcement of the Coast Salish community. It is not unusual for members to attend Longhouse ceremonies late into each evening, returning home at two or three each morning. Many women rise early and spend the days preparing for evening events. Cultural celebrations take precedence over employment during the Longhouse season. A home-based co-op allows women to work on their own schedule, accommodating traditional values and daily activities.

Education:

The Canadian education system is also a barrier to employment. The Coast Salish culture is an oral one, and many find the transition to the written system of communication used in Canadian schools difficult. Reading and writing in English does not come easily to some students. Many First Nations people leave school as early as grade 9, putting them at a great disadvantage.

Local educators are beginning to acknowledge First Nations people's different learning style. If the education system was modified to accommodate students' individual learning needs, First Nations people could become a part of the global economy more easily.

Despite a recent increase in attention paid to this issue, obstacles to education remain. First Nations people require education if they are to participate fully in the modern world. Some young people in the community, upset by unemployment and difficulties at school, choose to escape through substance abuse and, in some cases, suicide. Circle of Doll Makers Co-operative hopes to break down barriers to education by offering training and employment to First Nations women.

Community:

In traditional First Nations society, there was no separation between the people and nature. Each individual was connected to each other.Whole villages lived in longhouses, which provided shelter and fostered community.Although they no longer live in longhouses, First Nations still have large, extended families. Many long for the interconnectedness they once shared as a people.

The co-op is an opportunity to connect to the past. The women members will have an opportunity to work together, keep their children close by while sewing, and build an interdependent community of doll makers. Together they will share responsibilities, decision-making, and economic gains and losses. Most importantly, they will have a place to meet, talk, and share their lives. Women involved in the early organisation of the coop commented frequently that they "love coming together in community." It is the way it was before residential schools and the modern world interrupted their way of life.

Culture:

Funk and Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary (1969) describes culture as "the development and refinement of mind, morals, or taste and, the sum total of the attainments and learned behaviour patterns of any specific period, race or people." How do we describe First Nations culture within this context? When some co-operative members are asked about their culture, a silent wall goes up, because many of them no longer themselves. Min'munaya'l hopes to help its members in their attempt to regain their cultural identity.

Many First Nations people suffer negative stereotyping. The outlying community calls them dirty, lazy, and dishonest, and their resulting pain is paralysing and humiliating. Many have lost confidence. They have low self-esteem and often feel hopeless and helpless, making it difficult to seek and obtain employment. Racism has produced violence, frustration, suicide, drug abuse, severe eating disorders, and other life-threatening health problems among First Nations people.

The co-operative honours the pain that lives here. The members want to restore cultural pride through their work. Through doll making, they can present a positive image of First Nations people, and reverse negative stereotypes. Co-op members plan to design dolls that reflect the positive aspects of who they are. They hope this will strengthen their community and assist in the healing process.

Co-operative Vision

The co-op has a vision of creating an organisation where family, work, culture and First Nations spirituality are integrated. The co-op's mission is to provide meaningful employment for its members through the art of doll making. The co-op model was chosen because it fits the needs of the community. It allows members to control their business democratically, gaining valuable business and other skills. In addition to monetary benefits, the co-op's mission is to assist the community in healing the wounds created by the residential school experience - to help restore cultural loss.

Membership / Skills

Co-op members are many different ages and have diverse skills. The women are aged 19 to 65, and their skills include sewing, knitting, beading, designing traditional clothing, crocheting. Several members have computer and marketing skills.

Co-op members originally organised as a support group, which met weekly to discuss health, family life and culture, and to learn crafts. The founding members emerged from this group, and are predominantly Cowichan and Nuu-chah-nulth people, within the larger Coast Salish linguistic group.

Funding

In March 2001, the Ministry of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers gave the co-op a grant of $26,100 for Board and Membership Training, to create a business plan, to hire a co-ordinator and a co-op trainer, and to cover other related expenses. Since receiving the grant, the co-op has sought additional funding for doll making training and start-up costs.

Funding is an on-going concern for the members of Min'munaya'l Co-op. It estimates approximately $150,000 will be needed in its first year of operations. In conjunction with a volunteer from CESO Aboriginal Services, the co-op is developing a formal business plan to help secure available funds. The co-op is in the process of being incorporated, and is conducting marketing research.

Research by the co-op's support team has uncovered potential funding sources, including:

  • Aboriginal Business Canada
  • The Healing Foundation
  • The Co-operators Community, private and non-profit sources are still under investigation.

Support Team

The co-operative has a support team that encourages, educates, and assists the co-op with group development and business planning.

Co-op members are greatly assisted by two people - their co-op co-ordinator and their co-op developer. Pamela Eberhardt is the co-operative co-ordinator. She plans meetings, contacts volunteers and professional services that assist the group, organises workshops, researches funding sources, interviews elders and other resource people, records and organises all financial transactions, and gathers information useful to the co-op. She is also responsible for public relations, advertising, some marketing research, and group morale. The latter is essential to the success of the co-op.

Pamela and the co-op members rely heavily on the co-op developer. She gives the group continuous instruction, direction, and hands-on help in creating a successful structure for the co-op. She is knowledgeable about necessary legal documents, and business plans. The developer also assists in finding funding sources, and contacting other professionals that could assist the co-op.

The co-op developer also provides ongoing support and mentorship to Pamela, who often works in isolation. Her frustration, uncertainty, and confusion are greatly alleviated by the co-op developer's continuous advice and enthusiasm.

The co-op has benefited from the assistance of a business planner, a volunteer from CESO (an Aboriginal Services organisation). She is helping pull together information for the business plan, which will be presented to potential funding sources. Every funding organization wants to see a detailed map of how the co-op will run productively and efficiently.The business planner's assistance is much appreciated, as Pamela has no formal experience in preparing and writing a business plan, and lacks the time necessary to acquire these skills. The projected completion date for the plan is August 2001.

The co-op is also fortunate to have the support of the program advisor in the Ministry of Community,Aboriginal and Women's Services (formerly the Ministry of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers). The program advisor has considerable experience working with First Nations co-operatives, and guides the group in the right direction. She is the co-op's advocate, and has been instrumental in obtaining a donated computer and finding professional services that will serve their interests. She provides an ongoing contact for Pamela, and has been the liaison between the co-operative, the co-op developer, and the ministry.

In addition to the above persons, the marketing researcher and the co-ordinator of the local First Nations health centre co-ordinator have provided services and support. The health centre co-ordinator donates space for meetings, organises day care and transportation, and finding outside resources for the group such as elders, crafts people, and other First Nations organizations. The marketing researcher has taken our dolls to stores and galleries in Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco. The information she found will be used in the business plan.

With assistance of these professionals, the co-op was able to manoeuvre through the mass of bureaucratic forms and applications. The co-op members are not experienced administrators, and needed many resource people to help them complete the paper work. The group's oral culture compounded challenges. Many members were not interested in reading and understanding government documents. The wording in many of these forms is confusing and uses unfamiliar language. Some forms are lengthy and require a great deal of time to complete. In the daily grind of poverty and family need, members begin to feel that their goal is beyond reach.

Obstacles to Co-op Development

Currently, Min'munaya'l needs a home - an office, show room, day care, training centre and kitchen. This space would facilitate planning, meetings and production. With its own space, members believe other women in the community will join. Already, several women have asked about the co-op's progress and have expressed a desire to become members. The group also requires funding to provide a salary for co-op coordinator, whose role is key to developing and organizing the group.

Communication is a large obstacle. Many members are difficult to contact, creating discontinuity and disunity in the group. Those that can be reached be telephone or in person attend meetings, but those who cannot are left out of the process. It is difficult to plan meetings, get documents signed, and assign tasks to volunteers. Usually, a few members end up taking on most of the workload. At times this has diminished team spirit, making some wonder if the membership is truly committed. The co-op needs to develop a more solid structure if it hopes to survive and realise its dreams.

Co-op members struggle to overcome social problems every day. The residential school experience left many First Nations people spiritually broken. Abuse has passed from generation to generation, resulting in violence, suicide, substance abuse, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Because of these daily realities, the co-op cannot predict who will or will not attend meetings. Depression affects some members, and lowers the group's morale. The co-op is planning a business, but it is also dealing with cultural challenges, and members have been creative in their approach to the community's issues. To keep spirits up, the group meets in brightly lit rooms. The women share stories, and wholesome snacks are provided. For some members, co-op meetings are a time to rest and escape the aforementioned problems. The co-op has discussed having a resident elder on site, to counsel members, and has chosen a woman to work with the group on conflict mediation.

Transportation and childcare are also obstacles to the co-op's development. Between 17 women, there are approximately 50 children whose needs must be considered when planning meeting and training sessions. Most members do not have the money for childcare. In addition, most live on the reservation, far from the health centre where co-op meetings and training sessions occur. Members could walk, but some, especially those with children, the distance is too great. Without funding to assist with childcare and transportation, co-op members will be unable to meet. So far, the Cowichan Tribe has generously assisted the project by driving members to and from the training site, and providing daycare. Without continued funding, however, the co-op cannot continue, and it has included requests for childcare and transportation assistance in its business plan and funding proposals.

Co-op members have also decided to suspend summer meetings until September, when some children will return to school. The core business planning committee continues to meet at members' homes, and children accompany their mothers to these meetings. To help with transportation, the co-ordinator picks up and drops off those members who request it.

Bringing members together

In spite of the obstacles, Min'munaya'l has held some events to bring members together. One of them was a doll-designing project. Approximately ten women met, using their diverse handiwork skills to design and produce a doll. The group also co-designed the clothing worn by the doll, creating a vest, headband, dress and boots. When the doll was completed, photographs were taken and distributed to funding contributors.

The co-op also completed a marketing survey. From store to store and gallery to gallery, members carried samples of their work and spoke to managers. They documented and compared prices among the variety of dolls sold in each venue. This information was submitted to the business planner and used for subsequent reports.

The co-op has held several training sessions with the co-op developer. The first gathering attracted 25 women from Duncan, Ladysmith, and Nanaimo. Co-op organiser Pamela Eberhardt was encouraged by the amount of interest in the co-op idea. Women asked many questions about the co-op's formation, and each was given the chance to voice her opinion on the project.

One month later, the group held a second training session. They viewed a video on successful First Nations businesses, drew up charts and plans, and had lengthy discussions about co-ops and starting a business. At the end of the meeting, four volunteers formed an ad hoc vision committee, to write the vision and mission statement for the co-op.

The group spent considerable time investigating a formal name for their co-operative. They chose Min'munaya'l, using the language spoken in their territory. Few women in the group speak the Nation's language, so the group asked an elder to assist them with the correct spelling and pronunciation. We also needed a name for a business registration. Our co-op developer assisted us in this endeavour by going through the lengthy document with us and making sure the forms were filled out correctly. Having completed this requirement, our group is formally registered as a business with the Province of British Columbia.

The group believes participation in this case study has brought members together to assess their progress and reaffirm their goals. The study allowed the co-ordinator to see how far the group had come, and begin solidifying ideas for the future.

Bringing co-op members together continues to be a challenge, however. Recently, the co-op wanted to participate in a local pow-wow. Some members volunteered to sew dolls for the event. The co-op hoped to assess the costs of production, determine the interest among people at the pow-wow, and see how much people would pay for the dolls. Unfortunately, lack of telephone communication and adequate sewing equipment and workspace prevented the idea from realisation.

Organizational Structure

At the time of this case study, the co-op had not chosen an organisational model. Currently, decisions are made by consensus, and the co-op has a three-member board of directors. Directors volunteer their time, assisting in decision-making and business planning processes. Their primary jobs thus far include signing legal documents, allocating funds necessary for co-op development and the business plan, and planning strategies for marketing the dolls. They also lease workspace, organise transportation and day care and plan meetings.

To date, all members'labour has been voluntary. If the co-operative can receive funding, a few people will be paid for their administrative, sales, advertising and bookkeeping duties. More than half the membership will be involved in the actual production of dolls.

To date, neither the board nor management (co-op co-ordinator) have any formal way of ensuring membership participation. However, the board and management have begun drafting a membership agreement form, which includes the co-op's expectations and rules for members and addresses member participation. Tentatively, the coop has suggested each member will hold a share worth forty dollars, and shall be issued a share certificate redeemable upon leaving the co-operative.

Initially, approximately twenty women were interested in joining the co-op, and co-ordinator Pamela Eberhardt welcomed their participation in the development process. Due to the high costs of transportation and daycare, however, management decided to use a core group of volunteers to draw up the business plan and seek funding. Some women expressed little interest in the business side of the co-operative, while others wanted to learn about the financial benefits of co-operation and take advantage of the opportunity to socialise with one another. Consequently large meetings became less frequent, and Pamela decided to form a small, dedicated group to develop the co-op, inviting other women to join when the co-op was up and running.

Links to Community

The co-op is linked to the community through the health centre, where the co-op initially got started, and where it continues to receive support through the "Mother's Morning Out" program. The centre provides meeting space, daycare, and transportation, and links the co-op to other community agencies and individuals who have resources to assist the group in meeting their goals.

The vision committee holds information sessions and doll making workshops to interest local women in the cooperative. The co-op is continually trying to involve the community in its operations.

Future Plans

Min'munaya'l's short-term goals include holding doll making training sessions for co-op members, and organising a business office. Initially, the co-op hopes to train fifteen doll makers. Long-term goals include marketing the dolls to wholesalers and galleries.

The co-op anticipates many challenges, funding being the most pressing. In order to achieve their first goal, they need money to secure a building site, to house business operations and daycare for the members.

Min'munaya'l's sustainability depends on having the means to meet the basic needs of its members. Without them, the project will not be able to move forward.

Lessons learned

Co-op members have learned a great deal from their attempts to organise. Eberhardt says they have learned that it takes many hands and a strong support network to build a co-operative. Success depends on commitment and action from everyone involved. The co-op learned that having members who have strong business skills is the biggest asset to organisation. Community support is also necessary and essential to the success of the group. Mentioning other organizations that supported the group made it easier to enlist the help from other agencies and ministries.

The group has discovered the importance of strong financial support, without which the co-op would be only a dream. They were surprised to realize how many people from other organisations wanted to help them succeed. They have also learned that starting a co-operative can be a slow process; they began in June 2000, this case study was completed in August 2001, and the co-op is still not operating as a business. Patience, persistence, and strong leadership are essential to this process. There were days when the coordinator became discouraged because her many phone calls yielded few answers. Hours of planning, thinking, and doing also went into organizing our co-op, and every detail had to be recorded for potential funding sources and the Ministry of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers.

The group also learned to work around the daily schedules of its members - no matter how carefully planned meetings were, life often got in the way and we had to learn how to work with it. It is difficult to hold business meetings with babies crying in the background, no place to safely lay business papers down, and no phone in the room to check on prices of cloth. However, the co-op realises it faces more challenges than other groups.

Min'munaya'l has suggestions for other First Nations groups considering the co-operative model: ensure the practical aspects of development have been handled first, as they can be barriers to success. Secondly, take advantage of group members with experience organizing events - these are transferable skills and are useful for every aspect of co-op development. Lastly, don't give up when things get tough, and they will! If a group is committed and has a good idea, persistence will outlast the obstacles. Keeping the group ideals in front of you reminds members of why they came together in the first place. Remind each other of your goals, and don't stop working until you reach them.

Update

Since the writing of this case study, Pamela Eberhardt has conducted several meetings with co-op members, who had concerns about the organisation. The women's ages and backgrounds varied. Two are elders who teach traditional crafts (basket weaving, weaving woollen blankets, and beadwork). They also teach traditional language and cultural knowledge to the community. In addition, they support some of the women in the co-operative. One of the co-op's members is a member of the Cowichan Health Centre. Her background is in nursing, social development for families, and infant care, and she is approximately 40 years old. Another member is 25-year-old who works in a clerical capacity for the local Tribes. The diversity of the co-op's members may help explain why the group is having difficulties organising their co-operative.

The community's issues include cultural loss and fear of success. The women believe a successful business may divide their families. Marriages are especially threatened. The women say their husbands do not want them busied with sewing in the evening, because it takes up time couples would otherwise spend together. The men are also unwilling to care for children, and expect women to take children with them to co-op meetings and training sessions. Past experience has shown that in some cases couples were divorced or separated after a woman returned to school or took job training. It is reasonable to assume the same could happen to co-operative members.

The above may help to explain the group's lack of motivation. There are other indications that members hesitate to develop the co-op model. Several times the co-ordinator has noticed that some women appear more interested in social interaction than in business affairs. Frequently, two or three would converse during a meeting, totally ignoring the co-ordinator. When the co-ordinator mentioned this to a Health Centre coordinator, she said, "we need our culture back. Many of us are more concerned about our social state of affairs than our economic situation."

The co-op has also asked members why they rely on the Tribe's van services for transportation instead of taking public transportation. Their answer is racism. Many have endured racist comments from non-natives while riding public transit, and they would rather stay home unless the Tribe provides transportation.

Some members hesitate to become more involved in the co-op because they fear it will fail. Interestingly, members both fear failure from a business standpoint, and fear success from a familial standpoint. Many also fear the unknown. Some members say change brings uncertainty and risk. Members feel uneasy because the co-operative cannot make promises about its potential success or failure.

Taking control of a business is a big responsibility for all co-op members. For many, the papers and forms are complicated and confusing. Not one member volunteered to help the group co-ordinator fill in the necessary forms and applications required by government and funding agencies. Some individuals in the group approached other community members for organizational assistance. The membership possesses few administrative skills, and co-ordinators have yet to enlist anyone willing to participate in the business side of the co-operative.

In view of all the aforementioned, the co-operative co-ordinator has recommended some ways to meet the challenges impeding progress. They include:

  • Forming an elder's council to participate in weekly co-op gatherings.
  • Completing and submitting all necessary business plans, financial statements, and reports requested by the provincial government.
  • With the assistance of Cowichan Tribe members, elders, and Health Centre, arranging weekly gatherings for the purpose of learning the art of doll making and other related crafts. While engaged in the craftwork, the elders will give us their teachings, stories, and values necessary to balance work, family, and spirit.
  • Continuing to explore all possibilities for creating a business that fits with the community.
  • The group co-ordinator will stay in contact with the co-operative developer and those individuals and groups who have offered support to the project.
  • Creating no definite deadline for the completion of the co-op's organisation. Decisions to continue or end the project must come solely from the members, the "Circle of Doll Makers."

Although many groups are able to adopt the co-operative model, Min'munaya'l faces family dynamics, historical events and fear of further family disruptions, making organisation more difficult. The group perseveres, however, because it believes a co-operative can help the local community.

Case Study Information

This case study was developed for a report entitled Situating Co-operatives in British Columbia - 2000-2001, which was prepared for the Province of B.C. (Ministry of Community Development, Co-operatives and Volunteers) by the British Columbia Institute for Co-operative Studies, University of Victoria. To obtain the information for the case study BCICS and the co-operative entered into a partnership agreement. BCICS is grateful to the co-op members for their contributions and time. The case study is published with the approval of the co-operative. Further information regarding this study includes the following:

Researchers: Pamela Eberhardt

Date of research: 2001

Authors: Pamela Eberhardt & BCICS Editorial Group

Date of writing: 2001

Editing: BCICS Editorial Group

Supervision: Kathleen Gabelmann, BCICS Research Co-ordinator

Creator - Author(s) Name and Title(s): 
Pamela Eberhardt
Publication Information: 
Situating Co-operatives in British Columbia, 2000-2001
Date: 
Monday, January 1, 2001
Publisher Information: 
BC Institute for Co-operative Studies, University of Victoria

Location

Duncan, BC
Canada
See map: Google Maps