June 23, 2021




The Saskatoon-based co-op start-up organization, Co-operatives First, has received this year’s John Logue ACE Award for its work in co-op education. Presented by the Association of Co-operative Educators (ACE) – an international organization of researchers, educators, developers – the award recognizes those “whose educational programs, technical assistance or research acts as a catalyst for change by creating innovative co-operatives.”

“We are very proud to be recognized for our work in co-op education,” said Audra Krueger, Co-operatives First’s Executive Director. “The Co-operatives First team is constantly developing innovative ways to increase awareness and understanding of the co-operative model. Our goal is to reach new audiences who don’t yet know how to benefit from this unique corporate structure.”

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) and the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS) began funding the newly formed non-profit organization in 2015 because of a lack of awareness of the co-operative model in rural and Indigenous communities. After five years in operation, Co-operatives First has created an impressive suite of workshops, courses, articles, e-books, and other resources to help people learn about — and start — co-ops.

“Co-operatives First has made significant contributions to rural and Indigenous economic development in western Canada,” said Sheldon Stener, Co-operatives First’s board chair and General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at FCL. “We have worked with nearly 150 groups looking to start a co-op and have brought valuable educational tools and resources to often hard-to-reach regions in new and exciting ways.”

Some of the achievements the award announcement highlighted were:

  • Educating over 2000 people through online courses and workshops on governance and the co-operative model, including a course specifically designed for federal government employees and an accredited workshop for economic developers
  • The YourWayTogether.ca website, workshop, and guidebook, which focus on how to form a co-operative on First Nations and suggests ways the model could benefit Indigenous communities
  • TheBackRoadDiaries.ca video series, an annual road trip across western Canada by young storytellers that highlights the benefits and diversity of co-ops in rural and Indigenous communities across western Canada



Dan Matthews
Manager, Strategy and Communications, Co-operatives First
(306) 382-4422


Co-operatives First is a non-profit organization funded by Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Co-operative Retailing System. Founded in 2015, the organization provides co-op start-up resources, such as feasibility studies, business plans, and incorporation support to rural and Indigenous co-op entrepreneurs across western Canada. Our goal is to help leaders in these communities build new businesses, grow local economies, and support community development.

Learn more at CooperativesFirst.com

ACE is a membership organization that links educators, researchers, cooperative members, and cooperative developers across cooperative sectors and national borders to enhance cooperative development, strengthen cooperatives, promote professionalism and improve public understanding.

Learn more at ACE.coop

“Heather and the team at Co-operatives First are top-notch. Not only their knowledge but their understanding of the project. They have truly helped us along every step of the way. Their timely response and knowledge of the steps are extraordinary. They are forthcoming with information. This is one of the most knowledgeable and friendliest teams I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Weyburn Theatre

“Co-operatives First made the process of establishing our Artisan Co-operative a very clear and easy process. The expanse of available tools and resources provided by Co-operatives First answers many questions and lightens the workload. Greatly appreciate having the connections made with Trista and Kyle, they keep the co-operative moving forward.”

Nehiyawaskiy Indigenous Peoples Art Co-op

“Our experience working with the Co-operatives First team was absolutely fabulous. The staff was accommodating, knowledgeable and patient. It was truly a breath of fresh air to have such a wealth of skill and resources available to a non-profit. They were invaluable to our successful launch!”

Heart Linked Community Services Cooperative

“Working with Co-operatives First was fantastic! We are still new to the cooperative world, and we relied heavily on their advice and expertise when drafting our rules/bylaws, and our memorandum of association. The team has experience with many different cooperative models, so they provided advice on what has and hasn’t worked for other cooperatives. We wouldn’t have been able to incorporate without their help!”

Ananda Cooperative

“We have had a very positive experience with everyone at Co-operatives First. They have helped us in multiple ways. Right from the first step in knowing how to incorporate, how to set our business and offering ideas for us to help steer us in the right direction plus allowing us to really make our own decisions. If our decisions go off track, they have gently guided us back to where we needed to be. The Co-operatives first guys are always eager to answer questions, and give ideas to us that got us off the ground.”

South East Butcher Block