Support From the Heart: The Multicultural Health Cooperative

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By Len Krimerman

Every year the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation honors one of its members with the "Worker Co-op Merit Award"--an idea we might well want to consider for our own USA Federation. This year they selected Edmonton-based MCHB, a truly remarkable venture which is addressing, in a very special way, the otherwise unmet needs of that city's "immigrant and refugee" communities.

MCHB's twenty-six members --all but one of whom are women -- are themselves "newcomers", having arrived in Canada over the past two decades from such seemingly unlikely places as Turkey, Ethiopia, Sudan, the Philipines, Vietnam, India, Somalia, and China. They know first-hand the many challenges of finding culturally sensitive and affordable health care and other social services. Speaking nearly thirty different languages between them, they formed or joined MCHB in order to fill that gap, connecting newcomers to many different sorts of resources and opportunities and supporting them in "attaining optimum health through relevant health education, community development, and advocacy support". Being from so many different communities and backgrounds, and experiencing the common pain of marginalization, they felt drawn to the cooperative model as a way "the best way," they said, to ensure all of their diverse voices a place to be heard and an equal influence.

NEW VIDEO

Over the past decade, MCHB's cooperative work--always provided at no cost--has become recognized as so valuable that they have secured funding contracts with mainstream health and social service agencies. They would love nothing more than to see that good work replicated, and have begun to plan in that direction. (Virtually all large Canadian cities, like many in the USA, have newcomer communities that comprise 25-50% of their populations.) You can learn more about this award-winning and full-hearted cooperative by sending an email to them at mchb@interbaun.com, and by watching their newly produced video, Support From the Heart, available from them for $25US (includes postage). The video follows the stories of three MCHB members from their initial disappointments with mainstream Canadian society to their development within this empowering cooperative. Order it from MCHB, 10867-97 Street, Edmonton, AB, T5H 2M6, Canada.