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Vancity pays tribute to Dr. Ian MacPherson

Vancouver – November 19, 2013

We are saddened by the recent death of Dr. Ian MacPherson, Canada’s foremost co-operative historian.

In the early years of Vancity’s Bologna Co-operative Studies Program, Dr. MacPherson was a fixture in the orientation of the tour participants. In meetings with Italian co-operators at the University of Bologna and the European Research Institute on Cooperative & Social Enterprises, our Italian peers frequently referred to Dr. Macpherson’s substantial work and their deep admiration for him.

“My last meeting with Ian was earlier this year at a gathering of stakeholders in Victoria to discuss Vancity’s initiative to support the creation of a social co-operative to serve seniors,” says Vancity employee Elvy Del Bianco. “He was in top form: soft-spoken, crystal clear, insightful, with a truly infectious sense of humour. An inspiring figure who will not be easily replaced.”

Vancity employee Catherine Ludgate says, “Dr. MacPherson was a significant contributor to Vancity’s work in the area of co-op development. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was brilliant at humanizing academic theory and work. I recall his self-deprecating approach to sharing his considerable wisdom with participants in the Vancouver lectures that preceded our Bologna trips. A giant of co-op theory and practice, he will be much missed.”

“Dr. MacPherson always spoke passionately about co-ops and co-operation, and the importance of staying true to our principles as a lynchpin for the success of our sector,” says Derek Gent of the Vancity Community Foundation. “I will greatly miss his honest reflections and insights, his encyclopedic knowledge, his 10,000-foot perspective, his boisterous chuckle, and how much he cared about his community. I encourage everyone to read his work and extend his legacy.”

Dr. MacPherson was a former president of the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and chaired the International Co-operative Alliance committee that revised the co-operative principles in 1995. He co-founded the Canadian Association for the Study of Co-operation and authored the book A Century of Co-operation, which was published by CCA in 2009. He also founded the BC Institute for Co-operative Studies, (later re-named the Centre for Co-operative and Community-Based Economy), and recently was promoting an Initiative for Peace and Social Inclusion.

Dr. MacPherson inspired many co-operators, including some Vancity employees, and we will miss him. We honour his life and many accomplishments and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.