Sid Pobihushchy

Sid Pobihushchy

Doctor of Civil Law

Born in Saskatchewan of farming parents for whom co-operation was a way of life, Sid studied engineering at the University of Manitoba, then subsequently worked for the British Columbia Forest Service, Stora Forest Products and Texaco Canada. In 1984, he graduated from Saint Mary's University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Both here and later at both the Universities of Alberta and Michigan he studied political economy. He came to believe in and to be a major spokesperson for “an alternative form of economy…..the co-operative economy”.

In 1968 he joined the faculty at the University of New Brunswick where he rose to the rank of full professor 14 years later. For eight years he served as the chairperson of the Department of Political Science.

A born teacher, he was awarded the Dr. Allen P. Stuart Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. During his teaching career he researched and wrote on many topics and was particularly interested in aboriginal peoples and co-operatives. He has authored a significant number working papers and articles on political economy on co-operatives. Recently he served on the Advisory Board for the Masters of Management in Co-operatives and Credit Unions Programme at Saint Mary's University.

He has a reputation in co-operative circles not just in Canada but internationally as a co-operative thinker and educator. In the early 1990’s Dr. Sven Book from Sweden was asked by the International Co-operative Alliance to meet with co-operative thinkers from around the world as part of an exercise in updating the co-operative principles and values. Canada was one of the last stops on his year and a half long quest and he had a brief meeting with Sid in Kingston Ontario at the Learned Societies. He was so impressed by Sid’s thinking that he changed his travel plans to spend a day with him in Fredericton. His assessment was “You don’t know how lucky you are to have one of the four or five best co-op thinkers in the world right here”.

Sid served not only on the co-operative boards, but on the boards of many other community organizations as well. That said, his co-operative contribution includes nine years as President of Atlantic Canada’s most successful consumer co-operative and eighteen years on the board of Co-op Atlantic (retail level sales of about $1 billion a year), the regions retail and farm co-operative wholesale central. The most innovative and dynamic ideas that came to the Co-op Atlantic Board came from Sid. Many people feel that his contribution was key to making Fredericton Direct Charge Co-op enormously successful and vital to ensuring that Co-op Atlantic survived during a period when almost all the independent grocery businesses in Atlantic Canada disappeared. He brought the same vision and integrity to the Board of The Co-operatives, Canada’s largest general insurance company, and the York Credit Union board and other boards upon which he served. Sid also served on the board of the Tucson Co-operative Warehouse. It is the only known instance of a Canadian co-operator having been asked to sit on the board of a co-operative that does not even do business in Canada.

The Board President of the Tucson Co-operative Warehouse recently noted that “Sid has been available to his co-operative friends in the United States ‘in whatever way you can use me’ and has spoken at a variety of venues always contrasting the ‘what is’ with the ‘what could be’. His knowledge of history and economics along with his direct experience of co-operatives from inside out has been inspiring as well as practically helpful as many of us have struggled to spread the co-operative message here in the United States. His knowledge and passion are powerful”.

It has been suggested that if Sid had devoted the time, energy, intelligence and vision to corporate boards that he gave so freely to co-operatives and community groups he would be very well off today. Instead, he deliberately chose to make his contribution on a voluntary basis to First Nations groups, farmers’ organizations and co-operative business.