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Sahara Shaik: Continuing the legacy of co-op youth leadership

Sahara Shaik’s involvement in co-ops started the same way it does for many people: she was looking for an affordable place to live, an especially difficult task in Vancouver.

It was a long search, but she eventually found a home at Wit’s End Co-op, a welcoming community built around a central courtyard that encourages a sense of community among its members.

Sahara describes her co-op as “a diverse place, with members of many different ages and backgrounds,” but where “everyone is united: if I need any help, I have somebody I can go to.”

After attending one of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC)’s workshops, Sahara was eager to learn more about the co-op movement. Although she had only recently moved into her co-op home, she decided to run for CHF BC’s Board of Directors.

On CHF BC’s Board, she has enjoyed the opportunity to learn from her fellow Directors. In February 2018, Sahara also attended the Vision Summit as an emerging leader delegate, where she had the opportunity to meet other co-op leaders from across the country. She also co-presented a workshop on young member engagement at CHF Canada’s 2018 Annual Meeting.

As she puts it: “Young members should be the vehicle to drive the co-op movement forward.” Sahara draws inspiration from the early leaders of the co-op housing movement, many of whom, like her, were young people searching for affordable and community-driven housing.

For her, education is key: making sure co-op members, especially young members, know how they can get involved. She looks forward to bringing the skills she’s developed in her marketing career to help spread the word about co-op housing:

“People should be aware that the housing crisis can be solved, and that co-ops are a part of that solution.”