In Canada, there are only five housing cooperatives that have been developed by Aboriginal people and serve an exclusively Aboriginal membership. Three of these cooperatives are in London Ontario, one is in Simcoe County, Ontario and the other is in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During the winter of 2013-2014, the researchers embarked on a qualitative study to understand the successes of these cooperatives and to understand the current challenges they face. The project aimed to honour ancestral traditions by incorporating Aboriginal values such as story-telling into the research method. An advisory committee was developed that included Elders, Aboriginal community activists and academics.
Through this approach we strive to better understand Mino-bimaadiziwin in Aboriginal cooperative members. This is an Anishnabe (Ojibway) term meaning the “good life.” It can be understood as the ideal life that all Aboriginal people aspire to, whether they live in the city or elsewhere. Cooperative housing can allow for a culturally appropriate environment, and it encourages self-determination. The pride of collective ownership over the property is conducive to achieving mino-bimaadiziwin for urban Aboriginal people. Members are empowered to make decisions governing their housing; they have gained greater autonomy over their housing.