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

Dec 3, 2012

GUELPH, ON, Dec. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Three emerging co-ops in Ontario have each won a share of $220,000 in prize money in The National Co-op Challenge. 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.

Your Local Market Co-op of Stratford won big, taking 1st Prize in the Ontario Region, as well as being selected randomly from among the four regional winners as the Grand Prize Winner. This earned the worker-owned and controlled grocery co-op a marketing consultation package in addition to $30,000 in prize money. La Siembra Co-operative of Ottawa and Toronto's West End Food Co-op finished in the second and third spots respectively in the Ontario Region, based on the number of votes received between October 22 and November 21.

1st Prize: Your Local Market Co-op, Stratford ($30,000, and Grand Prize Winner)
A workers' co-operative, Your Local Market Co-op is a grocery store that is helping build a more sustainable local economy through its sales of locally grown and produced products. It plans to use its prize money to raise awareness, educate and engage the community through such things as free cooking classes and an enhanced online presence.

2nd Prize: La Siembra Co-operative, Ottawa ($15,000)
La Siembra Co-op imports and distributes fair trade and organic food products from 23 producer co-operatives in 11 countries in Central and South America, and Southeast Asia, which support more than 39,500 family farmers. With its funding, the worker co-op will communicate more widely to educate Canadians about the difference it is making through its Camino brand of products, which include chocolate, sugar and coffee.

3rd Prize: West End Food Co-op, Toronto ($10,000)
The West End Food Co-op is a multi-stakeholder co-op that builds community through food, bringing together workers, producers, eaters and community partners. It provides viable food security initiatives specific to the needs of its diverse west end communities through such things as the Sorauren Farmers' Market and its Community Cannery. The prize money will support the opening of its Food Hub, including a retail store, community kitchen and programing focused on food close to home.

"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

SOURCE: The Co-operators

For further information:

Leonard Sharman
The Co-operators

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