Credit unions serve as the pillars of community-driven financial services, grounded by the seven cooperative principles. In a time when Canadians are increasingly focused on improving their financial well-being, credit unions emerge as trusted allies they can rely on to navigate through challenging macroeconomic times.  

What are the cooperative principles?  

Written in 1844, The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society founded the modern cooperative movement in Lancashire, England. They created the cooperative principles to operationalize the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. These values and principles form the basis of credit union identity, differentiating them from competitors: 

  • Voluntary membership: Credit unions are voluntary, cooperative organizations serving people without discrimination.  
  • Democratic member control: Credit union members have equal voting rights, can participate in member meetings and the AGM and serve as an elected representative on the board. 
  • Members’ economic participation: Members are the owners of their credit union. They contribute to and democratically control their credit union’s capital.  
  • Autonomy and independence: Credit unions are autonomous and have the power to make decisions based on their members’ needs. 
  • Education, training and information: Credit unions offer educational and training programs to empower their members, their employees and their directors, enabling them to actively contribute to the advancement of the cooperative. 
  • Cooperation among cooperatives: Credit unions collaborate with other cooperatives, strengthening the cooperative movement and extending benefits to a broader community. 
  • Concern for community: Credit unions actively contribute to the well-being of their communities, emphasizing social responsibility and community development.  

Celebrating cooperative excellence in the credit union system  

As purpose-driven businesses, credit unions prioritize supporting their members in building financial resilience, ensuring access to affordable financial services and enhancing overall social, economic and financial well-being.   

For 80 years, Central 1 has been providing essential financial services to Canadian credit unions. Through this work, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing the credit unions’ unwavering dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of their members every day. It’s this dedication and commitment that drives us to be proud co-sponsor of the Gary Gillam Award, in partnership with Alterna Savings.  

Gary Gillam — a leading advocate for social responsibility in the credit union system — supported and promoted the concept of social investment. Established in 1996, the Gary Gillam Award recognizes individuals within the British Columbia and Ontario credit union systems who have demonstrated cooperative values and made significant achievements in social impact.  

We’re pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Gary Gillam Award. Join us in honouring those who exemplify the very essence of cooperative values.

To learn more about the cooperatives movement history and cooperative principles: 

International Cooperative Alliance 

Co-operative Principles by BC Coop Association

Twitter Icon Facebook Icon LinkedIn Icon Email Share Icon

Stay on top of "what's happening" with THE HUB

Other Blog Posts

May 02, 2024

Rising cross-border payments: a new revenue opportunity for credit unions

Mar 28, 2024

Fraud Prevention Month: Tandia Credit Union’s unique approach to fraud prevention education

Mar 20, 2024

Fraud Prevention Month: Establishing a fraud task force for financial institutions