Harold Chapman, Order of Canada 2016

Nora Russell

We are thrilled to acknowledge long-time Centre supporter Harold Chapman’s investiture into the Order of Canada! Harold has been a stalwart of the Centre for years, a devoted attendee of our conferences, workshops, and seminars and always among the first to comment, share experiences, and make suggestions about initiatives the Centre might usefully undertake in the future.

Harold Chapman

We recently worked with Harold to co-publish his memoir, Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement, and have further connections with him through our mutual, long-term involvement with a number of co-op organizations. Foremost among these is the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE), an international organization dedicated to co-op education. Harold was a founding member of the association and its first vice-president, and ACE and the Centre are frequent participants, sponsors, and partners in each other’s events. Harold also has a longstanding commitment to the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation, whose administrative home is at the Centre, and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association (SCA), whose board is regularly peopled by Centre personnel. And as with the Centre’s activities, Harold rarely misses an SCA event: he is always an enthusiastic participant, and was recently honoured with SCA’s Co-operative Contribution Award.

Growing up on a Saskatchewan farm in the 1920s and 1930s taught Harold the value — in truth, the necessity — of family, friends, and neighbours working co-operatively together for simple day-to-day survival. This experience laid the groundwork for his eventual espousal of the formal co-operative values and principles that underlie the co-op movement and led to more than eighty years as a committed co-op organizer, thinker, policy maker, educator, and activist. His own family, in fact, was the first group Harold organized into a co-operative.

There can be few Canadians who have done more for the development of co-operatives and the people who belong to them than Harold Chapman. He has inspired successive generations of co-operators to build and rebuild the movement, mentoring, modelling best practices, and embedding the co-operative movement and its values in the socio-cultural life of communities locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. A key focus of his efforts has been — and in his one hundredth year continues to be — co-operative education, an interest that began during his university years here in Saskatchewan and blossomed later at the University of Wisconsin.

On the co-op development front, Harold was one of the founding members of the Saskatoon Community Clinic, a health-care co-operative formed in the wake of the doctors’ strike in Saskatchewan in July 1962, which paved the way for Canada’s universal health care system. He was instrumental in establishing co-operative farms for veterans returning from the Second World War, also farm machinery co-ops, housing co-ops, and trapping and fish-marketing co-ops among First Nations people in the north of the province.

As these few examples reveal, Harold’s commitment to co-op values and principles and the co-op business model goes far beyond the mere development of new enterprises and organizations. He had a vision of how citizens could manage their economy and their society in a co-operative way, where people come before profits, and where the social ethic shapes the economic model. He encouraged people to become involved in the determination of their own futures, working together in democratically controlled organizations for the economic and social improvement of themselves and their communities. He remains passionate about adult education and human development, and stresses the importance of building awareness among co-op members and the broader civil society in order to foster active and informed citizens.

During his lifetime, Harold has influenced thousands of people both at home and abroad, and at ninety-nine, he continues to be socially, intellectually, and politically engaged in his community. It is difficult to imagine a more worthy recipient of this national honour, and the Centre is proud, indeed, to be counted among those to whom Harold devotes his attention.

You can read more about Harold here.

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