SUCO, 55 years of solidarity
1961: The birth of SUCO/CUSO
SUCO/CUSO were among the first secular non-governmental organizations (NGO) in the field of international cooperation. They were created in the first decade of international development in Canada.
Created as part of an initiative by Canadian universities, SUCO (Service universitaire canadien outre-mer) and its counterpart, CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas), formed a Canada-wide organization with seven administrative regions. SUCO covered Québec and Acadia.
The need to raise awareness and educate the Canadian public on the realities of international cooperation became evident and was a priority for the ten regional offices. In addition, SUCO began to connect with communities and lend its support to local self-development initiatives. During this period filled with struggles for liberation, and while denouncing all forms of imperialism, SUCO continued its political analysis. An organization dedicated to sending volunteers abroad slowly became a cooperation and solidarity organization. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) gradually withdrew its financial support for SUCO’s regional offices in Québec, and their number decreased from 10 to 2.
Following tensions dating back to the 1960s, SUCO and CUSO separated in 1981. In 1983, CIDA did not renew its contract with SUCO. Overnight the number of countries where SUCO was active dropped from 22 to 5 and the number of staff decreased from 45 to 4. The remaining team tried its best to maintain its course. Between 1984 and 1988, thanks to the support of its partners in Québec and abroad, SUCO overcame this financial crisis and secured funding for basic infrastructure. Out of this difficult period was born, among other things, a bank of 12,000 donors who provide financial support to SUCO’s activities. CIDA finally resumed contributing to SUCO’s budget in 1988.
The 1990s and 2000s
During these two decades, SUCO continued to work with its Southern partners while developing an approach to local development and to agri-environmental issues.
Both approaches were aimed at strengthening communities’ capacities to act so that they could take control of and actively participate in their development.
SUCO also developed different tools such as the manuals Machete Verde and Djakout Peyizan that were used to establish a comprehensive agri-environment program in the countries where it operates. During this period, SUCO diversified its activities. In addition to sending volunteers, SUCO helped to finance local partner projects and international cooperation internship programs.
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