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Cooper Institute’s 40th Anniversary

ACIC congratulates Cooper Institute on reaching their 40th Anniversary! Cooper Institute has been a cornerstone of the nonprofit community in PEI and has been a longstanding member of ACIC. 

Cooper Institute was founded in 1984 by Reverend Andrew MacDonald, Dr. Irene Burge, Marie Burge, and Reverend Vince Murnaghan, Irene Doyle, Maureen Larkin, Basil Kelly, Marie Hendricken, and Reg Phelan. Through the years, Cooper Institute has had several dedicated staff and board members that have worked tirelessly to accomplish their many goals. 

Cooper Institute is the namesake of William Cooper. Cooper arrived to what we now call Canada in 1820 (it was called Canada then also) as a land agent- a stand in and rent collector for an absentee, British landlord. The exploitation and lack of rights for tenants he saw when he arrived in PEI, however, instead inspired him to fight for land rights and tenants’ rights. Cooper Institute has continued this work, over a century and a half later and counting, through many initiatives they have been a part of, including Don’t Frack PEI, Save Our Seas and Shores, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Lands, and the PEI Fight for Affordable Housing. But Cooper Institute is a powerhouse whose issues are far reaching, and they have also worked fiercely for women’s rights, migrant workers rights, food sovereignty, a livable income, the protection of democracy, and more. 

The anniversary was celebrated at Charlottetown’s Haviland Club on May 31, 2024. The event was marked by a gathering of individuals and organizations who came together in support of the Cooper Institute and commemorated with speeches and recognition of staff and board past and present, a singalong led by PEI’s Tony Reddin, and lively conversation. The energy of the evening reflected that of Cooper Institute’s 40-year history: collaborative, fiercely empathetic, and seemingly endless. 

Cooper Institute remains a powerful name in PEI’s nonprofit sector due to their commitment to getting work done; their talks are equitable and collaborative, and they always spring forth into action. Cooper Institute has come to the direct aid of women and migrant workers, organized countless rallies and petitions, proposed Basic Income Guarantee Demonstration project to the government, helped to create a rent registry to help tenants maneuver illegal rent increases and renovictions, and so much more. 

ACIC is proud to be one of the twenty-eight groups with whom Cooper Institute is currently working. Most recently, ACIC and the Cooper Institute worked together for ACIC’s 2023 Symposium Cost of Change: Championing Social Justice, health, and Well-Being for All; through ACIC’s Partnership Enhancement Fund, Cooper Institute brought prominent migrant worker activist Gabriel Allahdua to Prince Edward Island, where he enhanced public knowledge about the issue by participating as a panelist in the symposium, speaking at the Migrant Workers forum, and signing copies of his book, Harvesting Freedom: The Life of a Migrant Worker in Canada. The partnership between ACIC and Cooper Institute stretches far, however, as founder Marie Burge was also one of the first people involved in ACIC, and board and staff member Ryan MacRae is joining the ACIC board this year!  

It has been a pleasure to see the Cooper Institute’s many successes over the years, and we are eager to work with them again. 

Congratulations to the Cooper Institute and all its staff and board members- past, present, and future! 

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