Thomas Rampersad - 1st Manager of the Credit Union.The year was 1948 and the Second World War had ended. Trinidad and Tobago was under British Rule and the threat of communism/socialism was heavy in the air.

The church organization played an important role in the growth of
credit unionism as it fought against the community's social
problems. The principle of the movement was to have a common
bond of association. A principle that still exists today.

It was in this scenario that the concept of a credit union in Canning
and Company was conceived.

Eileen Lippincot - Secretary to Maurice Quesnel at head office.Enter Thomas Rampersad: In the late 1940s in Trinidad and Tobago, the predominant religion was Roman Catholicism and there were many forces in the society, which sought to leave out the church, because of its belief that everyone was equal. An Irish priest at that time introduced the system of cooperatives among parishioners, holding meetings for all those interested and teaching them the basic principles. Thomas Rampersad, founding member chuckled as he affectionately remembered it being called the "20 Basic Questions."

Thomas remembered that working conditions were hard at the time and grasped the Church's idea of private ownership of a business, run in a cooperative manner. He was fascinated with this basic philosophy and made a personal decision to make credit unions his life's vocation.

The two premier groceries Canning and Co. and United Grocers were both located on Frederick Street in Port of Spain. Thomas walked into Canning and Company and asked the then boss, Louis Girod (whom he later referred to as the Godfather of the Credit Union), for a job and was given a job as a delivery boy. In those days he worked for $5.50 cents a week. In 1948 he was promoted to Kardex Clerk and moved over to the warehouse with five other fellows. It was there that Thomas began teaching the cooperative concept.

Original signatures of the registration of the Canning's Employees Credit Union, October 14th 1952.Rocking in his chair more than fifty years later, Thomas remembered that one day "a chap named Phenmore Cummings", a porter working for $3.50 cents a week, came to him in distress and told him how he owed a moneylender "Mr. Joe," (who worked with them) $5.00 for the past 18 months and all he could afford to pay him was one dollar a week interest. This usury was commonly referred to as "getting a five for a six." This gave Thomas an opportunity to practice what the church had taught him. He put the cooperative concept into practice.

Thomas brought everyone together and informed them of Cummings' troubles. He explained to them, if they all saved 25 cents a week they would be able to lend Cummings the $5.00 to pay off Mr. Joe and in return Cummings will pay 10 cents interest. They all agreed. It was at this point the Credit Union philosophy, to which 50 years later we still adhere, was first put into practice at Canning and Co. Simply "people helping people".

Norbert Grannum - 1st President of CECU.As the cool breeze of the morning blew into his living room, a smile crossed Thomas' face as he remembered crossing the road to purchase the first inventory book of the credit union: an eighty-page single line copybook from Pereira and Company. The first contributors to this savings plan were Michael Beharry, Panchu Seepersad, Phenemore Cummings, George Archer, Mr. George and Thomas Rampersad. When Cummings paid off Mr. Joe it came to light that many other workers had the same problem and the plan got bigger to help as many people as possible. Eventually it got too large and Thomas was not able to manage it and had to close it down. They were able to save $100.00 and at the time of closure, he refunded everyone their money.

No one had informed management, since at that time it was not common for workers to associate with management. However Canning and Co stood apart from the rest. Mr. Girod was quite aware of what was taking place and asked Thomas if he would assist in running a credit union for the company. Mr. Girod then explained that in order to register a Credit Union, two years of study was required with an examination at the end of this period to ensure they knew enough to run a credit union.

Panchu Seepersad - One of the first contributors to the Saving's Plan designed by Thomas Rampersad.In 1950 Messrs. Norbert Grannum (Unionist at the warehouse) and Thomas Rampersad, along with Mrs. Eileen Lippincott (Secretary in Head Office) -to name a few- formed the study group. The study group met every Thursday at 5:00pm at the soda fountain on Queen Street in Port of Spain.

It is for this reason that Louis Girod is viewed as the Godfather of the credit union. He ensured all management got involved in joining the credit union and making regular contributions. This is very significant as it serves to re emphasize the unique culture of the company, one that was transposed into the credit union.

The Canning's Employees' Credit Union Cooperative Society (CECU) was formally established on October 14th 1952 and employees of the grocery every Friday would make voluntary contributions. On February 2 1953, CECU's inaugural meeting was held and the first President of the Credit Union was elected: Mr. Norbert Grannum, Warehouse Manager. Present were 24 employees of the grocery and supermarket divisions. Within a year, membership grew to 100, shares to approximately $8,000.00 and loans to $7,200.00.

Canning's Employees' Credit Union has a very rich history. Our success throughout these last fifty years can be attributed to the dedication and commitment of our founding members. It is because of the solid foundation of brotherhood, economic democracy and individual self-help that, we are among the ten top credit unions in Trinidad and Tobago.

Left to Right - Beryl Yearwood, Sheila Chaves and Member. Beryl hands out a citation to credit union member as Sheila looks on.