Upcoming Webinars


Filling the Gaps: Coming Together to Create Community Services

Community service co-ops are popular across Canada and do exciting things in and for their communities. In this webinar, our guests will discuss how the gaps that existed in their community, and how they identified and brought the infrastructure and services needed to address these environmental, social, or health gaps.  Sign up to learn how forming a community service co-op could help your community reach its goals.

The webinar takes place at 1 p.m. (Mountain Time) on Wednesday, June 26th.

Sign up here


For our webinars about Indigenous-specific topics, visit our Your Way, Together website.

Watch Past Webinars

Finding Free Money: Grant writing for co-operatives

Starting a co-op and looking for funding? Think you qualify for grants, but not sure where to start? In this webinar, our Director of Education Kyle White is joined by Co-operatives First’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Cathy Edwards, who shares valuable insights into fundraising using grants and government programs.

Understanding your board of directors’ duties

With your co-op’s annual meeting in the rearview mirror, and some fresh faces on your board of directors, you might have some questions. Like, what’s included in a board member’s job description? And, what does success look like for boards? In this webinar, our Director of Education, Kyle White, gives an overview of the duties your board of directors needs to fulfill. This includes an explanation of your fiduciary duties, important tips to remember at board meetings, and how to be sure your board is making the best possible decisions. This webinar is a helpful introduction if you’re starting a co-op, have recently been elected as a director, or if you need a quick refresher on being a great board member.

Community-led financing: Investing in your own backyard

An investment co-op is a great way for folks in your community to invest additional funds into their backyard and stimulate the local economy. In this webinar, our Community Engagement Coordinator Ryley Hawkeswood welcomed guests Lindsay Alliban of the Gull Lake Development Cooperative and Wendy O’Connor of the Sooke Community Investment Cooperative to talk more about how investing locally can help with local business succession and economic development strategies.

Preparing For Your Co-op’s AGM

Your co-op’s AGM is just around the corner. If you’re feeling a little stressed or aren’t sure you’ve covered your bases, this webinar will help you out. Kyle covers your year-end requirements, how to host an engaging AGM, and how you need to report to government. He walks you through your year-end obligations and how to plan for your AGM, and offers some tips to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you’re part of a new co-op planning for your first AGM, or you’re a new co-op member/director, you won’t want to miss this learning opportunity.

Business Planning Tips from Vancity Credit Union

Starting a business on the right foot means having a solid plan. With Co-operatives First’s Biz Plan Generator, powered by Vancity Credit Union, writing a comprehensive and useful business plan is easier than ever. To celebrate the launch of this new resource, we hosted an insightful webinar with Brian Cade, Community Investment Manager with Vancity. Brian shared valuable tips on what lenders look for in a business plan to help you get started.


Building Futures Scenarios for Rural Western Canada

Are you interested in gaining insight into the future of rural communities in Western Canada? In 2023, Co-operatives First gathered a team of 21 economic development professionals and rural-living enthusiasts to complete an 8-week intensive scenario-building activity, resulting in the creation of 4 distinct possible futures for rural Western Canada. Led by the experienced Certified Foresight Professional Mary Doyle, we gathered data and insights of what rural life in Western Canada could look like 10 years from today.

This webinar provides an opportunity to learn about the practice of foresight and how it can be used to inform futures scenarios.

Ways to do Food and Grocery in Smaller Centres

Many people in rural or remote communities want to add more options for fresh local food, but people who live in these communities know that you sometimes need to get creative in smaller centres. In this webinar, we will feature ways that communities in western Canada have bolstered their local food system with co-operative solutions.


Kevin Raymond, Executive Director at Primrose Lake Economic Development Corporation (PLEDCO) and president of the Île-à-la-Crosse Co-op Association

Caroline Brindle, Founder, C. Brindle Consulting Group and Vice-Chair of Squamish Fresh Co-operative.

Opportunities for Scaling Home-based Businesses in your Community

Home-based businesses bring creativity and variety to a community. Whether it’s woodworking, baking or something completely original, these little businesses provide heart and character not found in larger companies or big box brands. But operating on their own can be somewhat limiting for the entrepreneur. This webinar explores ways these intrepid business owners can scale while maintaining their unique character and independence.

Aging in Place: Seniors Housing in Rural Communities

Providing proper housing and care for seniors in rural communities is a growing concern for many regions. In this webinar, we speak with Monique Chenier, Economic Development and Tourism Manager at Sunrise Corner Tourism & Economic Development, and Harvey Douglas, a Board Member with the Western Manitoba Seniors Non-Profit Housing Cooperative. These two leaders from rural communities talk about their local solutions.


Emotional Resilience and Effective Stress Management

The last few years have been challenging to say the least. Business owners, economic developers, community leaders, and everyday citizens have weathered an emotional storm, and many are burnt out. In this webinar, emotional intelligence expert Hayley Hesseln discusses building emotional resilience and effectively managing stress. Dr. Hayley Hesseln has dedicated her 20-year career as a university professor to teaching and learning. She is an economist and professor at the University of Saskatchewan with extensive experience working with Indigenous communities in the North. Active in education in the North, she has served as a Research Associate for the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies for the University of the Arctic. Dr. Hesseln co-founded EI ADVANTAGE and is responsible for its curriculum development. Dr. Hesseln is Vice-President of EI Advantage, a coaching and training firm specializing in emotional intelligence. Dr. Hesseln is an alumnus of the Royal Roads University Executive Coaching program in Victoria, BC, Canada and a Member of the International Coaching Federation.


Cultivating Welcoming Communities

Immigration provides numerous benefits to a community. For example, it can help fill labour shortages and strengthen the long-term vitality of your community. But it’s essential to have newcomer services that make people feel welcome and support their social and emotional health and well-being. Ensuring housing is available and creating opportunities for connection and belonging are two examples of how to cultivate a welcoming community.


Wendy Petersen, Community Development Analyst, Community Futures Westman and founding member of Hand in Glove, a community-based cooperative that provides newcomers with an opportunity to earn an income, meet new people, and learn new skills. Read their story HERE. Ariel Haug, Gravelbourg Economic Development Officer, baker, artist, and member of the Gravelbourg Artisan Co-operative.




Leveraging your local assets: How to use what you have to create exceptional tourism experiences

Playing to your strengths is a time-honoured strategy for economic developers. For rural economic developers, it’s especially important to leverage every asset your town or region has to claim a stake and make a difference. Strapped for time and money, attracting investment and growing local businesses is a lot more than a full-time job. It’s a passion that attracted the best and brightest amongst us. In this webinar, we’ll speak with two economic development professionals with a talent for turning local assets into an exceptional tourism experience.

The webinar took place Wednesday, June 15th, 2022.

How to be Successful at Economic Development Without Blowing the Budget

Economic developers are not often in the position where they have too much money to do the work they need to do. So, what are some tricks for doing economic development on a shoestring budget – especially when you’re trying to get multi-year projects off the ground? Join business development lead, Heather Hallgrimson, for a lively discussion with Deb Brown and Becky McCray from SaveYour.Town on how to save money while being effective at your job. Deb and Becky will share actionable, pragmatic ideas that apply to a wide variety of contexts. Both Deb and Becky have world-class ideas and the unique ability to communicate them clearly and with a lot of energy.

Featuring: Deb Brown, Becky McCray

Getting Creative with Business Succession

Besides the “silver tsunami” of retiring baby boomers and the ensuing business transitions coming with it, the pandemic has caused most small businesses to rethink their strategies or business models. In this webinar, we’ll talk to two experts with hands-on experience with business transitions and revitalizing existing ones. If you’re an economic developer worried about main street businesses or how to manage business retention and expansion in the age of business transitions, you’re not going to want to miss this episode. Featuring: Alison Anderson, Founder and CEO, Succession Matching, Dan Ohler, Professional Relationship Coach & Employee Ownership Specialist at Dan and Carol Ohler, Relationships by Design

The webinar took place Wednesday, March 16th

Finding Win-Wins: the when, where, and why of partnerships

Partnerships can bring overworked and short-staffed economic development offices and officers a lot of value and capacity. But not all partnerships are of the same quality, and some can bring more headaches than they’re worth. Watch this insightful discussion about when to seek out partners, what to look out for in a partnership, and why you might choose one partner over another.

Featuring: Bev Thornton, Executive Director, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance and Sandy Elzinga, Manager of Community Economic Development, Community Futures Boundary

Hosted by Heather Hallgrimson, Business Development Lead for Co-operatives First, on November 17th, 2021.

Investment, funding and financing: Finding money for economic development

As economic developers, it may often feel like you have to beg, steal, or borrow to get the money you need to do economic development projects. In this webinar, we speak with a panel of economic development professionals who’ve been through it all. Watch it now to learn how they manage to finance projects and the strategies they used to find the money they needed to get projects funded.

Featuring: Lauren Johnson, Economic Development Officer for the Town of Shaunavon and Lana Cowling-Mason, General Manager for Community Futures West Interlake.

Hosted by Heather Hallgrimson, Business Development Lead for Co-operatives First

Arts, Culture, and Economic Development

Art and economic development may not seem like the most natural of strategic partners, but rural communities are turning to arts and culture to attract visitors and businesses alike. In this recorded webinar, Heather Hallgrimson, Business Development Lead for Co-operatives First, speaks with three experienced economic development professionals who have leveraged arts and culture in their communities to promote their hometown advantage.

Fostering Innovation in Rural Communities

Heather Hallgrimson, Business Development Lead for Co-operatives First, and two economic development professionals explore ways to foster innovation in a region through community economic development strategies.

Remote Workers and Covid-19 Trends Impacting Economic Developers

Heather Hallgrimson, Business Development Lead for Co-operatives First, and two economic development professionals dig into how trends set in motion by the pandemic are impacting economic development and discuss how to respond.

Regional Synergies Webinar Series

In this discussion series, Co-operatives First speaks with business and community leaders that have formed regional partnerships. In particular, we explore rural and Indigenous partnerships across western Canada. The goal is to discover how members of neighbouring communities come together to share resources, knowledge, and a vision to create opportunities where not only the individual community, but the region can share in the benefits of working together.

Episode 1: South Island Prosperity Partnership

For the first webinar in the series, we sat down with leaders from South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP).

SIPP is an alliance of over 70 public and private-sector partners in Greater Victoria, including 11 local governments, nine First Nations, three post-secondary institutions, nine industry associations and nonprofits, and more than 30 major employers. SIPP’s goal is to bolster the region’s economic and social prosperity. To do this, they create high-quality, household-sustaining jobs, so that more families can afford to live, work and build a life in the region.

The webinar took place on December 8th, 2021.


Episode 2: Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Alliance

Prince Albert Saskatchewan, known as the Gateway to the North, has a long history with Indigenous communities, not only in the vicinity but to communities throughout Northern Saskatchewan. Through a partnership to generate economic activity, the City of Prince Albert and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation have built a relationship and continue to create business opportunities that are mutually beneficial.

Please watch the discussion with Gary Merasty, CEO of Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies and Ashley Charles, CEO of the Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Alliance and learn what opportunities the partnership is creating and how they approach relationship building.

“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