Spotlight on: the Youth Services Co-operative of Manitoba
The Coopérative Jeunesse de Services - CJS (Youth Services Co-operative) is a summer program available to young French-speaking Manitobans aged 12 to 17. Fifteen or so teenagers form a group to start up and manage an enterprise together. They provide services within their community, such as gardening, maintenance, painting, lawn cutting and so on.
By doing this, they develop an awareness of their ability to change the world a little at a time, beginning with their own community, where they bring about change that reflects the needs of the community and their own aspirations.
For young people, the CJS responds to their need to find paid work during the summer, but the impact and spin-offs of their participation don't end there. The CJS introduces young people to the democratic operation of an association, collective labour organization, co-operative management as well as the inner workings of the market.
In the summer of 2011, two CJSs were launched in Manitoba, a Francophone one in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, and another, the first of its kind, in a housing co-operative, the Village Canadien Coop in the Saint-Vital district of Winnipeg.
With the support of local committees and the help of facilitators, more than 30 young co-operative members received training on co-operatives, including: how to manage a co-operative, the seven co-operative principles, the various functions within a co-operative, the role of a committee and a board of directors, how to work together, and the principle of democratic voting. The young people developed a sense of self-reliance and community pride, and acquired a number of skills that will last throughout their lives and help them plan their future.
The results of the Manitoba project were very positive. In 2012, we hope to have at least four CJSs, both in rural and urban communities. Young people are very talented and have an excellent understanding of co-operation. It is up to us to provide them with the tools they need to maintain this extraordinary movement.
Manitoba's CJSs are a good example of the CJS concept. To know more about the CJS concept in Canada, click here. (French only)