Indigenous Cooperatives in Canada: The Complex Relationship between Cooperatives, Community Economic Development, Colonization, and Culture

32 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2015

See all articles by Ushnish Sengupta

Ushnish Sengupta

University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Students; York University - Schulich School of Business

Date Written: August 13, 2015

Abstract

This paper describes the intersection of the cooperative movement and Indigenous communities in Canada. The paper brings a lens of nation and race to an analysis of the cooperative movement in Canada, a perspective that has received limited attention in published literature. Cooperatives have had a dual role in Indigenous communities. The history of Indigenous cooperative development in Canada is inseparable from historical government colonization policies. In the current context, cooperatives have been utilized by Indigenous communities as a tool for economic and social development. Indigenous cooperatives demonstrate innovative combinations of “quadruple bottom line” business approaches, including financial, social, environmental and cultural goals. The extraordinary growth of Indigenous cooperatives in Canada, particularly in Inuit communities in the North, has also been supported by government policy implementation including financial and technical management support. A pan-Arctic comparison of government policies affecting development of cooperatives is provided as counter examples against the hypothesis of “cultural fit” between cooperatives and Indigenous communities. Ultimately, cooperatives are explained as an organizational form that can be co-opted for colonization or decolonization, capitalism or socialism, settler or Indigenous communities for their own specific purposes.

Keywords: Indigenous, cooperatives, quadruple bottom line, community economic development, colonization, culture, Canada

JEL Classification: A13; J15; P13; P16; Z13

Suggested Citation

Sengupta, Ushnish, Indigenous Cooperatives in Canada: The Complex Relationship between Cooperatives, Community Economic Development, Colonization, and Culture (August 13, 2015). Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, Vol. 4, No. 1, (2015): 121-152, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2639146

Ushnish Sengupta (Contact Author)

University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Students ( email )

252 Bloor St. West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6
Canada
(647) 210-2524 (Phone)

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada
(647) 210-2524 (Phone)

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