The Ontario Co-operative Association

The Ontario Co-operative Association

September 26, 2007 14:55 ET

Young Leader Celebrated for Living Her Co-operative Values

GUELPH, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2007) - Sonja Carriere, of Russell Ontario, fell in love with the Co-operative Young Leaders program as a participant. When her three-year experience was over, she came back and co-ordinated the experience for other young people. On October 17th, her passion and dedication to young people will be recognized when she receives the Ontario Co-operative Association's Youth Leadership Spirit Award.

Sonja credits the Co-operative Young Leaders program (CYL) for moving her life in a whole new direction. The program focussed her natural leadership and facilitation skills and boosted her confidence levels. Once she completed the three-year curriculum as a participant, Sonja returned to facilitate the program. She joined the Ontario Co-operative Association, organizer of the CYL program, as youth program co-ordinator for three summers to bring the CYL experience to others. In that role, she was able to directly contribute to the learning and development of youth.

While pursuing her Bachelor of Education degree, Sonja began to incorporate the teaching of co-operatives, and the experiences she gained from CYL, into her lesson plans. As a French monitor, she would create activities for students to learn French outside of their traditional classroom settings. And as a tutor and teaching assistant, the co-op sector's values and principles were taught alongside the subject of the day.

Sonja continues to be involved in programs that promote co-operatives and empower young people. She moved to Ghana in September to participate in a six-month international youth exchange program sponsored by the Canadian Co-operative Association. When she returns to Canada, Sonja will begin full-time work with On Co-op organizing and promoting the co-op association's lifelong co-operative learning strategies, including CYL.

Cynthia Lushman, her supervisor while at On Co-op, says of Sonja's ongoing commitment to youth empowerment calls her, "a natural leader, who inspires by example. She guides young people, interacts with them and fosters a sense of co-op learning."

The Co-operative Youth Leadership Spirit Award will be presented on Wednesday October 17 during the 9th annual Co-operative Spirit Recognition Awards banquet and ceremony. Sonja, still in Africa, has appointed a family member to accept her award. The awards ceremony, the crowning jewel of the Co-operative Conference and Gala, takes place at the Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Road West in Burlington ON.

The Co-operative Conference and Gala, now in its 7th year, is a two-day event that brings together co-op sector supporters, champions and friends from across Ontario and beyond for professional development, meetings and networking. The conference includes tours of Hamilton-area co-ops and more than a dozen workshops and sessions. This October, the Spirit Recognition Award banquet, a tradition in the Ontario co-operative sector for almost 10 years, will celebrate the successes of 10 of Ontario's most distinguished co-operators - including Sonja Carriere.

The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op), host of the Co-op Conference and Gala, and the Co-operative Spirit Recognition Awards ceremony, is a resource and common voice for Ontario credit unions and co-operatives in the areas of co-operative development, government relations, membership and communications, and lifelong co-operative learning.

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