IWCC
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The Hearts and hands

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mission

 

Our smiles and hands make more than just food.  We cook with love to bring people together, create community and embrace diversity. Every spice, every recipe and every entrée provides an international experience you won’t forget.
Let us share our world of food with you!

 
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about us

 

The seed for the co-op was sown over 20 years ago. What began as a social enterprise initiative of local community partners to address the needs of women new to Canada, soon blossomed into a worker co-op created by those women. We acquired language and business skills which supported us in creating the worker-owned catering business.


We come together in community to share in the experience of a new home, in the cooking of our cultural cuisines, to practice English and to provide financial support for our families. Over the years many women have worked with the co-op. We know that getting settled in a new country, with a new language and culture is difficult. The co-op offers an opportunity for women to make connections in their new community.

 

OUR roots

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In 1995, the South Island Women for Economic Survival (SIWES) initiated a co-op development project for immigrant and refugee women. The BC Ministry Responsible for Multiculturalism and Immigration and the Federal Department of Canadian Heritage Multiculturalism Program agreed to fund the project. Once the funding was in place, SIWES searched for a community partner to aid in the organization and development of the project. The Intercultural Association (ICA) of Greater Victoria became the project partner, offering administrative services, resources, and access to participants in their women's cooking groups.


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In September of 1996, ten women became participants in the first phase of the co-op development project. The women comprised of a diverse range of ages, different levels of English literacy, and diverse nationalities. Nations represented at the beginning were India, Japan, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ecuador, Holland, Vietnam and El Salvador. For the next two years, the women participated in a custom made co-op business development program. 


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At the end of the two year project, five of the original women decided to work together and develop a catering business structured as a worker co-op. The group received new funding from the Co-op Development Branch, BC Tourism and Small Business, and the Pacific Coast Foundation to purchase kitchen equipment. A use agreement was negotiated with the Fairfield Community Association for its commercial kitchen. In June of 1998, the co-op group began catering as well as producing and selling food at the Moss Street Market. The co-op was incorporated one year later.


 

If you would like to learn more about worker co-ops, please go to the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation.