Co-operative Formed to Save the Finlandia

The Finlandia Hall in Thunder Bay
The Finlandia Hall in Thunder Bay

Many hands lighten the load. Yhteistyö on voimaa

The Finnish Labour Temple has been the anchor of the Bay and Algoma neighbourhood for 110 years.  It has seen the birth of movements, welcomed waves of immigrants, and shaped the social fabric of Thunder Bay.  It is a place that has reinvented itself and the community many times over. It’s now time to do it again.

Let’s bring the community back into the hall.

To that end, we are fundraising with the goal of buying the Finnish Labour Temple and its properties, including Tapiola, and then restructuring them into a multi-stakeholder cooperative – one that is transparent, democratic and run by you, its members.  The cooperative will open the space for more diverse cultural, artistic, historical and educational activities that better reflect the fabric of the community without losing its Finnish roots. It will also encourage collaboration across stakeholder groups in a sustainable and modern way.

Over 100 years ago, the Finnish immigrant community pulled together its resources during difficult times. They cared about the Finnish immigrant men who worked hard in the bush camps and had no families to come home to in the city, and no home-cooked meals. That is the origin of the name “Hoito” which means both “to care” and to “look after”.

Founded in 1918 as a cooperative, the Hoito successfully navigated the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and other social and economic crises under this ownership model, which ended in 1974.

During these uniquely challenging times, it is this original inspiration of working together to create a caring community, that provides us momentum towards a new chapter in the life of the Finnish Labour Temple.

A multi-stakeholder cooperative? How is this done?

Step one is to organize. It starts with a meeting and builds from there. Minutes of the meetings are kept and decisions are made collectively.  There is an interim board during the development stages and then when the first AGM is held, members vote to elect their representatives.

Our vision includes participation from multiple cultural organizations, community and labour groups, and others that together will guide the Finnish Labour Temple through its next 100 years. We want this to be a vibrant, community space, and we would like to see the Hoito return to its cooperative roots.

If you don’t know much about cooperatives, that’s ok. We have access to expertise and resources to guide us in this process, so we won’t be flying blind. If cooperatives are new to you and you’d like more information about them, click here.

Step two is to fundraise. It is important to get as much money as possible and as fast as possible in order to place a feasible offer for the properties. It’s also important to work with credit unions (also cooperatives) to find workable and fiscally responsible options to this challenge.

If you’d like to donate already by credit card now, please use the Go fund me page started by Lyndsay Williams. You can access it here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-the-hoito

If you’d like to donate by e-transfer, cheque or cash, please follow our Facebook Page: Finlandia Co-Operative of Thunder Bay: (https://www.facebook.com/Finlandia-Co-operative-of-Thunder-Bay-109683810762002) for updates – we are setting up an account with Bay Credit Union on Algoma Street and details will follow.

We are happy to answer questions and welcome you to take part in this exciting new chapter of the Finnish Labour Temple. Please email us at  finlandiacoop.tbay@gmail.com and we’ll get started.

Sincerely,

Saku Pinta, Heleena Stephens, Paula Haapanen, Anneli Tolvanen, Maria Mantyla, Lyndsay Williams and James Taylor