Meet CCEC member, Roan Reimer. Roan attended YES Camp last year, is returning this year and was elected as a Grand Marshal for the 37th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade.  They say, “Being selected for this role means a great deal to me.  Being able to bring focus to LGBTQA+ youth is crucial to the future of the movement, particularly in the ever increasing presence of trans and gender-variant folks, who are the most at odds with much of society.”  

Grand marshals are community leaders who represent the theme of the current year's pride festivities and action.  In previous years they have marched in the Pride parade with various organizations, or attended as a spectator.  This is their first year being actively involved in all of pride week.   They feel the Pride festival is important because it celebrates LGBTQA+ culture and individuals, and inspires action in support of causes vital to our survival.  This coming pride celebration is particularly important as it will draw attention towards the trans and gender-variant community, which receives much less support than most other groups within the larger community.

They see that CCEC supports the LGBTQA+ community by offering financial security without the involvement of corporations and large banks which contribute towards the class divide and systematic oppression of privileged individuals. Community-run organizations such as CCEC keep crucial aspects of societal life open to who might not otherwise be able to access.  The co-op structure also engages us in keeping this resource accessible, and optimally beneficial to all those involved.  CCEC also provides opportunities to youth for participation in validating and personal-development spaces, such as the community sponsorships available for YES camp. 

The Vancouver LGBTQA+ community's success in providing continuing support to it's people can be attributed to support from community organizations, and the unrelenting work of many LGBTQA+ individuals. An emphasis on the support and development of young people as community leaders will bring us ever-forward in fight for liberation. 

Why am I a member of CCEC? I joined CCEC due to my values regarding community cooperation and protection of grassroots community engagement, such as that offered by small credit unions. My family has been involved in CCEC for most of my life, so when the time came for me to formally operate my finances, it was the perfect fit.


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CCEC Credit Union members are proud to sponsor ten youth participants at YES Camp this summer. Each year at CCEC Credit Union, the YES Camp thermometer goes up in the branch and our members contribute to the fund to pay up to 100% of the registration fee for our youth to attend YES Camp. Campers tell us this one week co-operative leadership camp is a transformative experience for youth and parents. Our youth members apply for scholarships and the winners names are drawn randomly.

YES Camp, previously called Camp Rainbow has evolved and changed with the times over the past 30 years.  Our local teens who would not be able to attend camp without financial assistance, gather with youths from across BC and participate in fun interactive skills training such as self-awareness, co-operation, communication, global awareness, environmental sustainability and leadership. 

Camp participants write thank you letters with comments including, “The sense of community and safety is overwhelming.  I’m returning home with improved communication and conflict resolution skills and faith in myself.  I learned that I am not alone.”

CCEC members donate to the fund for various reasons and one mother who donates each year says she gives because she wants her daughter to have the opportunity to go to camp when she is old enough.  There is often a friendly rivalry among some businesses and the ‘claim to be the first member to donate.  Donations are accepted year-round with the campaign kick-off in May and continuing to mid-June. 

CCEC Credit Union is a single branch credit union on Commercial Drive.  It was founded by Vancouver’s self-help community including co-ops and not-for-profit groups, to meet their financial needs.   Our goal is Economic Democracy.


For more information contact:
Joanne MacKinnon

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Meet Nelson Ahumada, CCEC member since he received his first cheque as his own business, Andes General Contractors (and Concrete Services), says he is thankful to Canada.  Nelson has a concrete construction company working on large commercial and industrial complexes, that he has grown from 4 staff in 1998 to 38 staff in 2015.  He’s come a long way since arriving in Vancouver from Chile, with a wife and young daughter, looking to make a better life.

When he landed in Vancouver, as his brother-in-law was living here at the time, he spent three years working for a concrete company during the day and for a cleaning company at night.  He didn’t speak English and was self-taught.  His advice is, “Work hard, work smart, dream and try to make your dreams come true.”  He’s been a Canadian citizen since 2004 and is proud to have raised two daughters here and call Canada his home. 

He was referred to CCEC when a big bank was putting a $10,000 cheque on hold for 10 days that he needed cashed to pay his staff.  One of our Member Services Reps said, “Don’t worry.”  Our staff person made a few calls and, while Nelson waited, confirmed the cheque was okay to cash.  Since that day, Nelson says, “I haven’t looked back and wouldn’t think of going to another bank.”  He likes the community bank feeling he gets when he comes to the branch or does his banking over the phone. 

Just like CCEC who gets most of our new members by referral, Nelson doesn’t have business cards and relies on his network of friends in the industry for new business.  He is currently working on the New West Skytrain station and has worked previously with BC Hydro. 

Nelson doesn’t rest on his laurels and has started a new business in Cancun building houses.  He goes to Mexico every two months and builds up to five houses per year.  For more information on this venture, visit  
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"I love seeing much needed climate solutions in action but my excitement over something that should be common place reminded me of how rare it is to see solar panels on buildings in much of Canada", says Ben West, CCEC member and Co-founder of The Great Climate Race.


The original was published at He writes: 

On my sisters Marissa's birthday earlier this week we decided to go try out some ice cream sandwiches at a place she had read about on a Toronto food blog. The brownie filled cookie treats were shockingly good but it was what I saw on the way to get those treats that stuck with me. En route, I saw solar panels on the roof of a building in downtown Toronto and I found myself feeling both excited and annoyed. In some ways solar panels are ubiquitous in our day to day lives on everything from road signs to calculators but still rooftop solar is pretty rare to come across in our country. I see some evidence of change  when I visit my family in Toronto. Recently there has been an influx of solar in Ontario as the result of the provincial government's feed-in-tariff (FIT) program that makes it easier to sell power on to the grid and therefore also easier to get financing on projects or even to have your roof leased by a solar power company. That's great but it's also just the tip of the iceberg. Germany actually gets far less sunshine than Canada yet they are the world leader in solar and we lag far behind. Canada could be a  renewable energy superpower. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility . We all have a role to play in the era of climate change. Right now, unfortunately, Canada is on the wrong side of history as we all struggle to face what the United Nations has called the single biggest threat facing humanity today.

For years it has been clear that with solar and other renewable energy technology we have the capacity globally to drastically reduce pollution caused by burning fossil fuels for energy. This is exactly what we need to do.


Meanwhile in Canada, time is wasted on  doing the exact opposite: focusing on new oil pipelines and other fossil fuel projects. Countless exhaustive climate reports demonstrate the dangers of a destabilized climate yet we are faced with the expansion of fossil fuel dependence. Every government on earth shares this understanding yet not nearly enough is being done. The Pentagon describes climate change in the clearest terms when it calls it a "threat multiplier". This means it takes social and political problems along with public safety concerns and makes them far worse. More extreme weather events and degraded ecological systems we rely on have big implications for everyone.  Food insecurity for the most vulnerable and skyrocketing food prices for wealthier countries is just one of the serious problems made worse by a destabilized climate.

The World Bank released a UN backed report recently that said global investments in renewable energy technology like solar power needs to at least triple in the short term. The technological wizards at MIT also put out a report recently that stated that "massive expansion of global solar generating capacity to multi-terawatt scale is very likely an essential component of a workable strategy to mitigate climate change risk.”

As a climate campaigner, I know all too well that all of this can feel a bit daunting. What can we do to make real change happen? One thing is clear.  There is a disconnect between the actual potential for renewable energy technology and the perceptions that the technology isn’t ready yet. So I am trying something new in an attempt to change that misconception. I co-founded The Great Climate Race, a run to crowdfund for local solar energy projects, as a way to give people a connection to viable climate change solutions in their own communities. By, raising funds for solar local projects and seeing them come to fruition in our communities we all can have first hand experience with what is possible and play a role in doing something to make meaningful change.


This week, we are launching our #PutSolarOnIt campaign where we ask you to imagine where these solar projects could be located. We will seek nominations for community organizations that could be the recipients of solar panels paid for by funds raised by race participants. For starters, we’re asking people to post pictures of themselves pointing at buildings in their neighbourhood that could have solar panels on them. We want you to think about all the lost opportunities for change for the better. Where do you think those solar panels should go?


Running in the Great Climate race is not only a great opportunity to burn off calories from ice cream sandwiches it’s a chance to dream big. Let’s make solar panels more than a rare treat, let’s make sure we make the most of the opportunities we have now. I want my sister and everyone else to have hope for a safe and beautiful world. Taking action on climate change is a race against time but we have everything we need to face the challenge and succeed right now.


Ben West, Co-Founder & CEO 

The Great Climate Race



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Located on Powell east of Victoria Drive, Cease and Senaqwila are creating a welcoming space for indigenous people to connect to their community and to each other. 

Raven and Hummingbird Tea Co is a mother daughter enterprise for long-time CCEC members, Cease and Senaqwila 

 Wyss. Just like Cease, the paddles in the shop have been on a long journey.  After 20 years of running a tea business in her home, she has partnered with her daughter, a 3rd year Communications Major at SFU, to open a special place in East Vancouver.  Senaqwila and Cease say, “We want to encourage and inspire indigenous people to open a business.”

 Their space showcases a different indigenous artist each month, offers workshops and hosts fundraisers.  This Friday night, June 12,  come to the kickoff for the POWELL ST SESSIONS that will be Friday evenings throughout the summer  Presented by BEEZ KNEEZ EVENTS, Sunblock Spectacular, is the art show curated by Senaqwila Wyss + Jamila Pomeroy, creators of Beez Kneez Events.

 Past events hosted include a fundraiser for Indigenous Midwives; and Wolverine’s Organic Farm and Community Garden Campaign in Chase.  In July they will offer Wild Salmon information sessions in collaboration with Dawn Morrison.  Cease’s wild tea blends will be combined with the home-brew Kombucha, bannocks and soups will be served.  In the fall, they will have a trade mart showcasing Indigenous Food and Medicines.  They are currently open only on the weekends serving bannocks and teas by donation and will soon be open at least 5 days per week.  When you drop by, be sure to check out their drying rack!  Cease and Senaqwila say, “We want to work collaboratively with our community, to foster local, seasonal products, artists and encourage more indigenous economic development.”


Cease Wyss
Senaqwila Wyss
1875 Powell St
Vancouver, British Columbia
(604) 336-2567

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Ben West, CCEC member,  has been an outspoken environmental campaign organizer and social commentator for over a decade.  His newest project is The Great Climate Race, a crowdfunding run for local solar energy projects.  Climate change is the biggest risk we all face.  It has been described by the Pentagon as a “threat multiplier” leading to greater global instability.  We have no choice but to make a transition towards renewable energy and smarter land use and transportation.  The only question is will we do it in time.  It will be very difficult to deal with the large scale changes needed without dealing with underlying issues of inequality.  

“I see this as a way to give people something meaningful to do to address climate change.” 

For over almost 15 years, Ben West has been working as an activist and organizer.  His focus has been on climate change and other  environmental issues but he has also dedicated himself to making the links with social issues and doing First Nations rights related solidarity work.


Why am I a member of CCEC?

I feel strongly that local autonomy and community involvement are critical to
solving the social and environmental problems that we face.
The concentration of wealth and power in the big banks is a huge problem.
CCEC embodies my values and puts them into practice.
I love knowing that the money I put in the bank is being invested
in responsible ways that helps my fellow community members.


As the Executive Director for TankerFreeBC, he has spent the last 5 years working to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan oil pipelines and associated oil tankers.  He says, “It can be frustrating spending so much time trying to stop bad ideas from becoming a reality.”  He realizes that if he is successful at his job basically nothing happens.  He continues, “A nightmare doesn't become real but still the status quo is not sustainable and so much more needs to be done. “ 

While Ben has always talked about energy alternatives and climate solutions, he has wanted to do more.  Last year, while running in the East Side 10k, he realized that his new hobby was actually a doorway into a new opportunity to organize people around the solutions he was eager to focus on.

He tells the story that was the genesis of The Great Climate Race: I was part way up a hill close to the start of the race and saw a group of people with placard ahead of me. I felt guilty. What were they protesting? Was this race supporting a company doing harm in the world? Was the event negatively affecting the community? As I got closer I realized that these protesters were actually a cheer squad. I had spent so many years surrounded by signs that said STOP this or STOP that I had a time imagining people holding signs that simply said GO! I was so energized by their support and the event itself that I entered a bunch more races and was repeatedly blown away by the generosity and determination of this community.


The inaugural Great Climate Race will be on November 8th at Stanley Park in Vancouver to raise awareness about climate change and funds for local community solar projects.  They will donate the solar panels to non-profit community groups.  His objective is to see that everyone involved experiences a hands on connection with energy alternatives to help spread awareness that the solutions exist today.  Also, he says, “It’s a great way to connect our health as individuals with the health of the planet.”



For more information and to get involved, contact Ben West.

twitter @BenWest or @ClimateRace

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The Credit Union (CU) Foundation of BC Education Awards application deadline is June 15, 2015.  Apply online.  Visit the CU Foundation website  for more information.

Did you know? 

In the Fall 2014, the Foundation awarded $108,000 in Education Bursaries to 108 members and future members of BC Credit Unions.  During 2014, the Foundation provided over 175 students with financial assistance totaling over $173,000 from all areas of study.  Since 2000, The Credit Union Foundation of BC has provided almost $2.0 million in funding in support of education and the co-operative values.

Many CCEC Members have been recipients of the award.  Apply today!  


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Meet CCEC member Kathy Whittam who was looking for a fit in the “bright green future she is inspired by globally.”  After participating in a Green City Walk in Berlin, she came home to find her dream tours were not being offered in Vancouver. She is inspired by people of all ages who are 'doing something', that add up to make a difference.  However, a big risk is an oil spill or a climate catastrophe that would cause steps backwards as we strive to be the Greenest City in the World

She mapped her favorite green initiatives, researched and walked to make a 4 hour tour worth sharing. She sees her challenge as igniting a fire of interest that motivates all walkers to be active in a greener future.

Why am I a member of CCEC? I joined CCEC as we were looking for more
 co-operative connections in our life.   When choosing a credit union, we went as local
as we could and have been happy knowing that the money we earn is reinvested
in the communities we live and work in.  With my touring business,
I want to make sure my money is reinvested in the communities I'm so inspired by every day. 
I enjoy feeling a strong sense of community with my bank.

Kathy Whittam, President of Greenest City Walking Tours, has collected stories of how things have come to be green in Vancouver and feels that the City is full of great communities and people doing amazing things together.  Her tours highlight the people power behind the places and spaces, and allows for conversations where she can engage others to take action wherever they live.

Her 4 hour "Grassroots to Resiliency" tour is a 9+km whirlwind for people who love taking in beautiful views, hearing stories of inspirational people and ideas, who dig all things sustainable and like to be active.  This summer she plans to launch "Community Roots" tours running 2-3 hours and mini-tours that are accessible to all ages and abilities.

She feels there is a thirst to explore cities on a more personal level, and is happy to offer an experience that appeals to locals and travelers who want to explore corners of the city they may not otherwise see or know.

Her tours allow her to use her passion, skill and experience to contribute to the positive shift in her own way.  She says, “I tell a great story while helping people grasp how all these green pieces fit together to weave a path for our collective future potential to follow.”

Over the next few years she wants to continue walking around our town, sharing stories she knows, and learn from the people she gets to walk with!  She says, “This is a huge opportunity for me to learn from others while I show off our green super stars!”  Kathy plans to build on the tours until she runs out of ideas.

More importantly, she wants to collaborate with fellow green-keeners to offer in depth peeks that better showcase the work they are doing in our communities. 

For further information and to join a tour:

greenestcitywa walkingtours

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