how it all began...

he concept of working together for the greater good can be traced back to the

beginning of human kind. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sharing a common goal with those by your side — you’ve got their back and they’ve got yours.

In Canada, connecting with our neighbours to achieve a better life for all is just how it’s done. Prairie farmers have been aligning together for more than a century, forming the first official co-operatives as far back as the early 1900s.

Farmers realized they could increase buying power and achieve better prices on seed

and crop supplies if they pooled resources and bought wholesale. At the end of each year, they would divvy up profits into equity and cash — a practice so successful it’s still extremely popular today.

If you live in southern Alberta, you probably know of South Country Co-op — in fact, there’s a good chance you’re a member. If you aren’t, you should be.

“Today, our goal is always to serve our members,” Carmen Hudson, South Country’s Marketing and Community Relations Manager. “You don’t need to be a member to shop at Co-op but it’s definitely advantageous to you because then you get to share in our

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profits. As a member, you’re an owner — you get to have a voice, you get to address things that matter to you.”

Medicine Hat started its Co-op in 1956 with 300 members. Vauxhall formed its own in 1961, hosting about 80 members at its first AGM. In 2015, the two groups amalgamated under the name South Country Co-op Limited, continuing to grow as one unit to today, where more than 62,000 people call themselves members.

While the Co-op itself has changed and expanded over the years, the mantra behind it has not — a co-operative of people who work together. One $5 lifetime membership affords

the holder not just a chance to collect dividends for shopping, but the ability to help guide the direction of the Co-op toward what matters most to them.

“We exist for the betterment of our communities,” Hudson says. “We support our communities, we support local — that’s just what we do.”

That support comes in the sharing of profits from sales — $539 million in 2018 alone — but also through a constant stream of support reinvested back into the local community. Whether that’s charities, youth organizations, sponsorships or volunteerism of any kind, your local Co-op is there.

“We support 4H clubs, Canada Food Grains Bank, when we had

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