Explore Masters Of Their Own Destiny, the Coady Story in Canada and around the world, in digital form. These digital archives contain images, audio, and video of the people who helped to spread the message of the Antigonish Movement around the globe.

The Antigonish Movement evolved from the pioneering work of Rev. Dr. Moses Coady and Rev. Jimmy Tompkins in the 1920s. The local community development movement originated as a response to the poverty afflicting farmers, fishers, miners and other disadvantaged groups in Eastern Canada. Dr. Coady and his associates used a practical and successful strategy of adult education and group action that began with the immediate economic needs of the local people.

The philosophic principles of the Antigonish Movement were well established as guidelines for the work of the Movement beginning in the 1930s. However, it was a decade later that they were articulated. In 1944, in a lecture to students at Acadia University, Professor Harry Johnson defined six principles that, on reflection, he claimed had been the defining, critical principles of the original Antigonish Movement.

These six principles were later endorsed by Dr. Coady.

  • The Primacy Of The Individual

This principle is based on both religious and democratic teaching: religion emphasizes the dignity of human beings, created in the image and likeness of God; democracy stresses the value of the individual and the development of individual capacities as the aim of social organization.

  • Social Reform Must Come Through Education

Social progress in a democracy must come through the action of citizens; it can only come if there is an improvement in the quality of the people themselves. That improvement, in turn, can come only through education.

  • Education Must Begin With The Economic

In the first place, the people are most keenly interested in all concerned with economic needs; and it is good technique to suit the educational effort to the most intimate interests of the individual or group. Moreover, economic reform is the most immediate necessity, because the economic problems of the world are the most pressing.

  • Education Must Be Through Group Action

Group action is natural because people are social beings. Not only are people commonly organized into groups, but their problems are usually group problems. Any effective adult education program therefore, must fit into this basic group organization of society. Moreover, group action is essential to success under modern conditions; you cannot get results in business or civic affairs without organization.

  • Effective Social Reform Involves Fundamental Changes In Social And Economic Institutions

It is necessary to face the fact that real reform will necessitate strong measures of change that may prove unpopular in certain quarters.

  • The Ultimate Objective Of The Movement Is A Full And Abundant Life For Everyone In The Community

Economic cooperation is the first step, but only the first, towards a society that will permit every individual to develop to the utmost limit of her/his capacities.

Respecting the inherent dignity of every person, the Institute believes in a participatory group process of development based on adult education and socioeconomic cooperation to effect positive change in both local and global institutions and structures.

The ultimate purpose of the Institute's work is to contribute to the creation of a more just and equitable world, both for this and for future generations, where all can enjoy the "full and abundant life" envisioned by Dr. Moses Coady.