Our Story

Rural and Indigenous communities are full of motivated, innovative people who want to live enriching lives in their home community. Of course, some of these communities face challenges – like a lack of businesses and services, government cuts, and people moving away.

But these people don’t need the government or a big company to swoop in and improve local conditions or find solutions. With the right tools and a little guidance, they can do that themselves.

The co-operative model allows those hoping to do it themselves to set up a business or organization, and work with like-minded people towards this common goal. As a corporate legal structure, the model is highly versatile and found in every sector of the economy. 

And, essentially, this means a co-op can be anything – a daycare, a store, a consulting business, a healthcare centre. The model can be used to provide housing, local investment opportunities, or even a way to share cars. Each of these co-ops does the job others (like a government or private business) could do. But waiting for others isn’t always an option. Instead, the co-op model offers an opportunity to do it yourself.

That’s why we’re here. Everyone on the Co-operatives First’s team grew up in a rural or Indigenous community. We do this work because we care about these communities, and we know co-ops can help them grow and thrive. And because we have ongoing support from the Co-operative Retailing System and Federated Co-operatives Limited, we offer this support at no cost to you.

So if you’re in western Canada and you’re thinking about starting a co-op, we can help. Whether you need a business plan, feasibility study, or simply a sympathetic ear, we’re here for you.

Our free guidance and resources help reduce the confusion and stress of starting a new business and we aim to support you every step of the way. We will help you map out a plan, incorporate your business, and, perhaps most importantly, figure out who should do what and how.

Start today.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Good Governance Matters course offered by Co-operatives First. The course provided a solid background on governance generally and specific examples of good governance practices in co-operatives. It is uncommon to find governance training specific to co-operatives so this was refreshing.”

Janet Taylor (Corporate Secretary)

Libro Credit Union

“The Good Governance Matters Course was a valuable course. I shared it with the [Arctic Co-operatives Limited] Senior Leadership Team. If it ever comes up again, I highly recommend others to take it.”

Mary Nirlungayuk (Corporate Secretary and Vice-President, Corporate Services)

Arctic Co-operatives Limited

“The online course, Good Governance Matters was very informative, easy to navigate and discussed issues relevant to our needs as a Board of Directors. This course is a great tool for boards to build their knowledge to become strong, strategic boards.”

Lori Sanders (President)

Sherwood Co-op

“This course has greatly increased my understanding of what good governance could/should look like and how each part (boards, management, members) plays a vital role in the co-operative’s success.”


“This course was highly enjoyable, and relevant to working in not only the co-op space, but with any group that needs to make decisions.”