Children of the Earth Art Co-op

Chair in Co-operative Enterprise


Art sale by Children of the Earth at the University of Winnipeg on November 20, 2015


The Children of the Earth Co-op was formed in September of 2014 when the students were approached by a program at the school called Journey and Succeed (JAS for short) who wanted to help the students make a business model of there school. JAS had already helped students develop an entrepreneurship program and a medical program and now wanted to make an after school program that was more directly about Co-ops. After a few presentations to teach the students about co-ops and a few more meetings the students decided that their co-op would be an art co-op. Since Children of the Earth High School is a traditional based school the students decided it made sense for the art co-op to be focused on traditional art. The co-op would sell the art of students who attended the school to help tie the school into the co-op. After a month and a half the Children of the Earth co-op was up and running; the co-op was open to anyone who was a student of the school.

Manitoba Cooperative Association (MCA) Support

In order to get Children of the Earth Co-op up and running the artists needed supplies and the members needed business knowledge; Manitoba Co-op Association (MCA) was able to help with both. The goal of MCA was to teach the students about how co-ops work and how they can be used to strengthen and develop communities, the model of student run co-ops was taken from Quebec(a province were student run co-ops are more common) and altered to fit the needs of MCA and Children of the Earth. MCA was able to help expose the artists to the business side of the co-op, they were also able to breakdown costs and help allocate where profits should be spent; from paying the artists to buying more canvas’s and other supplies.

When the Co-op first started and needed financing MCA and the Children of the Earth High school were able to help fund the co-op through a loan. MCA gave the Children of the Earth co-op a small loan of a $1000, after the co-ops first art show were they made a profit of $2500 the co-op was able to repay the loan immediately, pay the artists and buy more supplies becoming financially self-sufficient. MCA still helps support the co-op and its ideas; when the members of the co-op have new ideas to help further the business, MCA will run feasibility studies on the ideas presented by the members and help then figure out the best way to approach or implement said ideas.

Organization Structure

The president of Children of the Earth Co-op was nominated by the members early on. The co-op membership remains exclusive to students but they hope to expand sometime in the future to allow people outside of the school join. One of the biggest challenges for the co-op is that not all students can make it to all of the meetings all of the time; this can be a challenge as one of the basic needs for a co-ops survival is trust and cohesion amongst the members. The co-op finds that the best way to combat this is by getting to know the other members; since both the members and the artists are classmates teamwork can built in school to help strengthen the co-ops cohesion.