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Cooper Institute celebrates 25 years

Friends of Cooper Institute gather at Timothy's on May 29

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friends of Cooper Institute gather at Timothy's to celebrate 25 years of community development work on PEI.

Cooper Institute marked its twenty-fifth anniversary on Friday, May 29th at Timothy’s, on University Avenue in Charlottetown with friends and colleagues, celebrating its rich history of collaboration with other Island groups working for social change.

The program included poetry and music as well as a display of photographs and news clippings from the past twenty-five years. A special tribute was given to Marie Burge, who has been a key member of the collective and staff person since the beginning. Here is what Marie's friend and colleague in Cooper Institute, Maureen Larkin, had to say:

I know that Cooper Institute is very proud of the fact that we are a Collective, and we work very hard to make decisions and plan our work Collectively. But on this, our 25th anniversary, we would like to say a special word of appreciation to one person who has been at the heart and center of Cooper Institute since its inception in 1984. That person is Marie Burge. Marie has been a key person in our collective for many reasons. Firstly, for her capacities, her intelligence, and her innumerable skills which all of us have had the joy of seeing in action.

There is no one in the Collective who has not said at one time or other: "ask Marie, she will know". And darn it she almost always does. She not only has considerable skills, but she uses them consistently for the good of the community and for the Collective. But a more important contribution to Cooper Institute is her passion and vision. Her clarity of vision and her tenacity in promoting this vision have been key factors in shaping Cooper Institute as an organization that is rooted in the community and committed to being a leader from behind in community issues. Marie has an unshakeable trust in the capacity of people to shape their own destiny, to solve their own problems, and to chart their own journey to the future. This has been an underlying principle in all the work that Cooper Institute does.

Marie always has an open door. No matter how many things she has on her plate, she has the amazing capacity to be open to whomever drops inB either for a visit or to discuss a problem or issue. As your compañeras, Marie, we are constantly moved by your generosity, your good humour, and your steadfast optimism that things will work out for the good. I could go on B but I won't. Marie, as a small gesture of our appreciation for all the things you have done for Cooper Institute, we would like to present you with a Red Oak B to be delivered to your house. We just have the picture here today. Just as the Red Oak is planted firmly in PEI soil, thank you for putting your roots firmly in the soil of Cooper Institute.

In the lead-up to an interview with Marie in September, 1984, Wayne Collins then of CBC Island Morning, said, "Farmers, fishermen, factory workers, women and any organized group that wants to effect social change have a new ally, the Cooper Institute." Twenty-five years later, Cooper Institute hopes it can continue to be a true ally of those who are left on the margins of communities and societies at home and throughout the world.

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