That’s the question that Ecotrust Canada put to a group of First Nations leaders in Clayoquot Sound.

This spring Ecotrust Canada partnered with BC Hydro and Vancity in a project to better understand the context and opportunities for using the cooperative model as a tool for kick-starting the economies of BC’s struggling First Nations.

On July 27, 2009, Aboriginal leaders in Clayoquot Sound gathered to discuss the concept of a cooperative economy. During the meeting, held at the Temperate Rainforest Field Study Centre in Hesquiat Harbour, natural points of cooperation emerged and opportunities to use the co-op model were identified.

The concept of shared service co-ops amongst the First Nations in Clayoquot Sound resonated as a way to reduce costs, increase ownership of ventures and better meet the needs of community members in the remote region. The gathering explored how the cooperative approach could be used for shared barging and shipping, waste removal, telecommunications and transportation services.

The gathering resulted in participants having a better understanding of the co-op model and identification of some concrete opportunities. Participants concluded that there is great potential, even need, to grow the cooperative economy in Clayoquot Sound.