Notes For A More Coherent President’s Report
2011 CAIC AGM
Friends House, December 6, 2011
Those of us gathered here today are sharing in a incarnational journey as we explore the meaning of Advent in current times. We see a world being turned upside down as a result of the birth of baby in a stable in a small town in the middle east. We are on the cusp of a moment when everything is made new. The dream that brought CAIC to birth over 25 years ago is intimately woven into what we see as having happened in the first moments of the birth of our faith. We share our resources in harmony with a vision of what we understand as having been born in Bethlehem.
While the liturgical calendar has us moving through Advent, the calendar on our walls has today as being one of remembrance of the murder of 14 young women on December 6, 1989. The reality of a world in which women are disproportionally the victims of violence is one in which CAIC functions. It is a world in which the members of CAIC really difference.
Looking over the groups that CAIC has offered support to this year provides a glimpse in the many ways our visions and that of local communities come together. 10 new loans and loan renewals went out to initiatives that include a women’s centre, community loan funds, affordable housing, a food distribution centre and worker co-ops. Loans were approved, but not yet advanced, to 4 projects that will likely accept our help. As well, after receiving approval for a loan from the CAIC board, one housing project found a different source of funds and one possible syndication with credit unions was found to not be practical. From the St. John’s Women’s Centre in Newfoundland to the Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation) in Alberta, grass roots organisations have found CAIC an essential partner in bringing to life their different visions for a better life for those they work with which in turn helps to weave together a stronger and healthier community for all.
We should be very proud of our shared vision. Because of CAIC there are fewer homeless people in Canada. Because of CAIC there are more places for victims of domestic violence to find a haven. Because of CAIC there are more jobs in Canada. Because of CAIC there are fair trade partnerships between Canadian co-operatives and co-operatives in the developing world. We may not have transformed the world, but we have transformed the lives of strangers.
CAIC’s success is due primarily to the dedicated work of our staff—Valerie Lemieux and Beth Coates. They do the key work to ensure that the proposals the board reviews meet the needs both of borrowers and the mandate of CAIC. And, from our website through newsletters to public presentations, our staff are the ones who share the news of what CAIC is and what we offer to those seeking resources to meet the challenges they have taken on.
Our work is greatly assisted by an advisory board whose skills and expertise are drawn up to help judge the strength and weaknesses of the proposals the Board reviews. Jen Heneberry, Andre Schroer, Paul Connolly, Ted Hyland, Paul Plecash and Karen Knopf give a great deal of time and effort to help ensure the board both due diligence and honouring our mission.
The Board of Directors of CAIC—Arlene Kubiak. Sr. Doryne Kirby, Fr. Paul Hansen, Moira Hutchinson, and myself—share in the hard task of judging the proposals that come before us. It can be a difficult role for us—we are all idealists, all advocates for social justice. The Board struggles with balancing our stewardship of the resources entrusted to CAIC with the deeply held desire to work with others to meet pressing social, economic and personal needs. This can be daunting at times, but the results are truly worthwhile.
The real strength of the Canadian Alternative Investment Co-operatives is our members. For over a quarter of a century CAIC members have trusted each other with our pooled resources and a shared vision of a world in which homelessness, hunger, violence in our homes are compassionately addressed and alterative structures such as community loan funds, co-operatives and community economic development projects are supported at critical moments in their development. Through CAIC our members engage the world in a sustained way. By supporting local initiatives that make a difference in the lives of individuals, we collectively help to bring to life the shalom kingdom.