Credit Cooperatives in Quebec
By Jaroslaw Pryszlak
populaires Dejardins (all other
Ukrainian credit unions belong to La Fdration des caisses d'conomie
La caisse populaire ukrainienne was able to obtain this unique status only because a portion of the Ukrainian community of Montreal is Eastern Rite Catholic. Even so, its organizers obtained membership only after arduous and persistent efforts.
In the spring of 1951 a meeting of the initiating group of the future Caisse populaire ukrainienne was held. For the most part these were immigrants of the third, most recent, wave who were fluent in French, having studied in France and Belgium. One of their aims was to establish relations in the cooperative field with the francophone population of Quebec. The initiating group examined the constitution of the future credit union, to be called the Ukrainian Savings and Credit Cooperative (Ukrainska Kooperatyva Oshhchadnysty i Kredyty), and requested membership in La Fderation des caisses populaires Desjardins. And here they met with complications.
The first complication was that a request such as this from an ethnic group was entirely without precedent. The second complication was, without doubt, the statutory stipulation that membership in the Caisses populaires Desjardins was restricted to Catholics only, whereas the constitution of the newly founded Ukrainian credit union clearly stated that membership was open to individuals of all Christian denominations. This provision the executive of the newly formed credit union refused to change. Naturally, the initiators of the credit union knew full well that to adopt as restrictive a membership requirement as that of the Caisses populaires Desjardins in the context of such a small ethnic group as the Ukrainian community of Montreal, itself divided internally between the Orthodox
and the Eastern Rite Catholics, could not only be damaging economically, but it would neither serve as a model of democracy nor promote Ukrainian in the city. And so, thanks to the insistence of its initiators and to the intervention of Father Irenei Nazarko, Father Ivan Hawryluk and Father Josophat Jean, the executive of the new credit union was finally granted membership in La Fderation des caisses populaires Desjardins more than a year after its initial application. At the time, of all the ethnic groups, this privilege was granted to Ukrainians alone. In January of 1994, a Chinese credit union became a member of La Federation caisses populaires Desjardins.
In 1953, the newborn Ukrainian Savings and Credit Cooperative began serving its members out of the private residence of its first administrator, Ivan Telishevsky. Today, under the new name of La caisse populaire ukrainienne, it serves its members out of the Ukrainian Youth Centre on rue Beaubien in Rosemont, built in 1975, where it offers all types of modern, high quality, computerized services.
These details underline quite clearly that a complex organizational birth, difficult economic circumstances, and eventual prosperity are characteristic features of the history of most of Ukrainian credit unions both in Quebec, and in Quebec as a whole.
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