2023 marks 50th anniversary of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation
To mark the anniversary, ACGC is working to compile the network’s history. Below is a draft of our history, pieced together through oral storytelling, newspaper articles, and archival records. If you have information to add to this story, or have suggested corrections, please contact email@example.com.
The story of what is now the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation begins with a life-changing trip to Ghana for the World Council of the YWCA for one Alberta woman. It was there, in 1971, that Calgarian Doreen Orman was so moved by first-hand stories of womens’ lives under apartheid in South Africa, that she returned to Alberta and mobilized support to create the Alberta Council for International Cooperation (ACIC), a coordinating council created to mobilize provincial funding for international cooperation initiatives.
The council was registered as an official society on 7 December 1973. Soon after, ACIC persuaded the Government of Alberta to create a fund to match local donations to international cooperation and awareness-raising projects. The fund started in 1974-75, with the Alberta government matching the $1million raised from public donations in the province, resulting in the support of 28 Alberta-based non-governmental organizations to partner on 58 projects in 34 countries (see the history of this fund here). Organizations met monthly under ACIC to discuss sector trends, and provide advice on project funding. By 1978, ACIC had 36 member organizations.
Starting in the late 70s, two communities of organizations began to emerge – one focused on development education and raising awareness of global issues in Alberta, and one focused on providing international relief and development overseas. While ACIC eventually disbanded, the two communities continued to co-exist under various formal and informal structures, doing separate but mutually important work, until the mid-1990s when federal government cuts to both public engagement and international assistance projects threatened the critical work of the entire sector. The crises brought the groups together again under a common mission to ‘mobilize Albertans as global citizens committed to a just and sustainable world’. On 7 June 1996, the provincial council was reformed as the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC). Over time, ACGC was able to add full time staff, opening an office on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton in 2009, where it remains until today.
Meanwhile, the Province of Alberta continued to provide matching funding for international development projects under the Department of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs, followed by the Wild Rose Foundation between 1993-2009, and eventually the Ministry of Culture’s Community Initiative Program – International Development Program, until the Alberta government ended all funding in October 2019. As mobilization for reinstatement began, the world was hit with the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite rising global need and calls from ACGC members to support global communities impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the fund was not reinstated. The council continues to call on the provincial government to reinstate funding, to continue the important 45-year legacy.
While not a straight path from the formation of the first provincial council to today, the journey is marked with the conviction, passion, and dedication of Albertans, who until today continue this important legacy of international cooperation, by raising awareness and taking action to reduce poverty, address inequality, in solidarity and partnership with communities worldwide. Join us, in our 50th year as a network, as we honour our past, and inspire a commitment to global cooperation for future generations.
Our first annual report
In spring 2023, executive director Leah Ettarh worked with the Glenbow Western Research Center Archives at the University of Calgary to review and scan files that were donated by the family of ACGC’s founder, Doreen Orman. Among these early documents was a full-colour copy of the network’s first annual report, which includes context surrounding the first change of the organization’s name from Alberta Committee of International Agencies to the Alberta Committee of International Cooperation (ACIC).
Take a look at ACGC’s first annual report.