Our stories: housing co-ops
The 2,500-strong community — diverse in ethnicity, age and family makeup — has been a driving force of Atkinson Co-op for over 50 years.
Tamil Co-op Homes has gone through many changes since it was built in 1984, but it has always been a model of what a safe, inclusive and diverse community can look like at its very best. The original purpose of the co-op was to provide housing for Tamil refugees. Today, the largest ethnic groups represented at the co-op include members of Tamil, Burmese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Ethiopian heritage.
At West Glen Co-op in Brantford, age matters. Their multi-generational board of directors is an important aspect of governance, and having senior members age in place helps to maintain continuity.
Along with 85 co-op homes, the Local 75 building also houses the non-profit Hospitality Workers Training Centre and its social enterprise restaurant, Hawthorne Food and Drink. In 2016, Now magazine called Hawthorne Food and Drink “one of the city’s tastiest social enterprises.”
This Sarnia, Ontario, co-op already had a large community garden with 16 plots. Now, thanks to a Greener Co-op Microgrant from CHF Canada and support from local Habitat for Humanity volunteers, they have a greenhouse.
Our stories: co-op members
Growing up in Castlegreen Housing Co-operative, Sarah Jensen can’t remember a time before she started volunteering. At 7, she was sweeping up after community events. At 14, she became the co-op’s Community Garden Coordinator. And at 18, she became the youngest person ever to join her co-op’s Board of Directors.
The way Quinton Rodriques describes his childhood at Cole Road Co-op in Guelph, Ontario, brings to mind idealized visions of a long-ago era: “I always knew I could just knock on a neighbour’s door. All the kids from the co-op would play outside together all day, until it was time to come home for dinner.”
When they moved back to Ottawa after living in the prairies, Jjess Sselwanjja was worried about losing the sense of friendliness and community that they experienced in Alberta.
Members of Hugh Garner Co-op in Toronto and co-op members and supporters across the country are grieving the loss last year of Eleanor McDonald, a true champion of co-op housing and a wide range of social issues.
Domanique Grant has been busy. Last fall, she brought her infectious love of housing co-ops to a series of new projects: a video paying tribute to the past, present, and future leaders of the co-operative movement, her debut album, and an interactive exhibit for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche.