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Co-op’s Fuel Up to Win is Back

For an eighth year, Co-op members and customers in western Canada can collect game tickets for a chance to win nine different prizes including a $100,000 grand prize. “Fuel Up to Win is a great way for our Co-op members and customers to engage and have some fun,” said Carey Tufts, FCL’s Director of Marketing and Communications. The annual event provides over $8.5 million dollars in prizes and discounts for players. From March 5 until April 29, participating Co-op Food Stores, Gas Bar/C-stores, and Home Centres will distribute game tickets which will give three different chances to win. The “Instant Win” reveal a specific prize or discount inside. Entry into the “Online Sweepstakes” is achieved by entering the PIN or scanning the barcode on non-Instant Win game tickets for a chance to win daily and weekly draws. With the “Collect to Win” portion, participants collect stickers representing different towns with Co-op stores. The stickers match certain categories, once all stickers are collected for a particular category, players submit them to FCL for verification.

“Co-ops are known for giving back to their members and to their communities. This contest is another opportunity to do this with a $100,000 grand prize for one lucky person and $25,000 for a great community initiative,” says FCL.

This is the second year that Co-op has offered the $25,000 Community Donation separately from the $100,000 grand prize winner. When the promotion first began in 2013, the community donation went hand-in-hand with the grand prize, but in 2019 they changed that and made them two separate prizes. The community winner is determined by ratio per capita of entries from individual communities. In this way small centres have an equal opportunity to claim the prize as is evidenced by last year’s community winner. Birch Hills, Sk., with a population of approximately 1000, won the $25,000 community donation which they used to enhance their Youth Skate Park by equipping it and community gardens with washroom facilities and a camping gazebo. The concrete Skatepark was designed by the community’s youth to provide a permanent, multi-functional recreation area for the community. Loaner skateboards are available from the Youth group who operate out of the Birch Hills Community Church. A full size basketball court was completed in 2015 adding to the variety of activities available for the community. The community garden which operates on the same property, has 20 nice sized garden plots that are available at the beginning of the gardening season. The addition of the washrooms and the gazebo make the space even more inviting as a gathering place for community members. Every time you enter the online sweepstakes, your town receives a vote for the donation. The town with the most votes per capita will receive the community donation.  

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) is based in Saskatoon and is the 54th largest company in Canada as well as being the largest non-financial co-operative in Canada. With a total workforce of 25,000 employees they serve 1.9 million active individual members and many more non-member customers at 1,500 retail locations in more than 580 communities across western Canada, the Northwest Territories and northwestern Ontario.

While a profusion of grassroots cooperatives were recorded throughout western Europe and North America in the mid 1800’s, co-operative’s principles can be traced back to 1844 in Rochdale, England. The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society were a group of artisans working in cotton mills. As weavers their pay was so miserably low that they could not afford food. They felt if they pooled what little they had and worked together they could get some basic staples, such as flour, oatmeal, sugar, and butter, at lower prices. The Pioneers also believed that shoppers should share in any profits their patronage contributed to, thus every customer of the shop became a member and had a right to be part of the decision-making process of the business. From these simple beginnings the co-operative ideal was born. The most important principles of current co-operatives emerged from The Rochdale Pioneers: members in a co-operative each have a vote regardless of their investment, anyone can join, profits or surpluses are distributed to members according to their individual levels of participation, and co-operatives undertake educational activities for their members.

More recently farmers were the first Canadian group to successfully develop co-operatives. The dairy industry took the lead and between 1860 and 1900 over 1200 co-operative creameries and cheese factories were developed in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. On the prairies grain co-ops started springing up as early as 1906. By the end of WWI, farmers wanted more control of marketing their products and realized that if they pooled their resources they had greater bargaining power with buyers, thus members of the co-operative agreed to sell their products through the co-operative. In the 1920’s the first of the wheat pools were organized on the prairies. Other examples of co-operatives are Credit Unions.

Despite successes in the 20th century, co-operatives face some issues that challenge the core of their system. The strengths of the co-ops typically lie in rural areas, but with declining rural populations the supports of co-ops are also threatened. In response smaller co-ops are amalgamating with larger ones to strengthen their buying power, but as the base of the co-operative grows it becomes more difficult to maintain a sense of ownership and degree of commitment that is typical of smaller co-operatives especially since dividends are also typically smaller. Modern co-ops must decide whether they will operate as a distinctly different economic system with principles and goals different from the private sector or want to merely own a series of companies which operate in areas where historically they happened to emerge. Federated Co-operatives Limited states that they are “a different kind of business”, one that is “locally invested, community minded, and offer lifetime membership benefits including patronage refunds, quality products, quality service and fair prices.” 

Fuel Up to Win is registered as a No Purchase Necessary contest.

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder