A Multipurpose Centre Managed by a Cooperative
In 2014, the Corporation de développement économique Wabak Pimadizi (CDEWP), which is located in the Anishnabe community of Lac Simon, implemented a project on which its team had been working for several years: the construction of a multipurpose centre featuring a grocery store and a community hall. To administer this centre, the CDEWP opted for the creation of a cooperative, a model that aligns well with the sharing of Anishnabe culture.
The Wabak grocery store, which is administered by the Coopérative de solidarité Wabak, opened in June 2014 under the Bonichoix banner. From its first years of operation, the cooperative was very successful. In fact, in 2017, three years after its opening, its number of members had already almost doubled and stood at 525, a percentage increase far beyond the expectations of the Director General of the CDEWP, Mr. William Cheezo.
Before it opened, community members had to go to Val-d´Or to make their purchases. Now they can shop directly in the community, which is much more convenient for people who do not own a car. The grocery store is also used by the population of Kitcisakik, which is located about 40 minutes from Lac Simon. The fact that people can shop in the community allows them to buy fresh produce and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals at a good price, while contributing to the local economy. In addition, the opening of the grocery store has created around 20 jobs, which are mainly held by young people from the community.
Adjacent to the grocery store is a beautiful community hall, which can be used on a variety of occasions, such as bingo nights, community gatherings and school activities. The hall, which can accommodate many people, can also be rented by organizations from outside the community.
The multipurpose centre project had already been considered in the 1990s, but it was only launched in 2011 after a feasibility study had demonstrated its potential for the region. It was after a fundraising process that the project was able to see the light of day. The experience acquired during the realization of this project enabled the CDEWP to carry out other projects including the opening of a service station in February 2020.
In conclusion, the Coopérative de solidarité Wabak administers essential services for the community of Lac Simon, which have improved the quality of life of its population and facilitated their access to quality services.
Further information on the community can be found at lacsimon.ca.