A new fund has been created with the goal of kick-starting co-operatives in Western Canadian Aboriginal and rural communities.

The $5 million fund is called Co-operatives First and it will be used to provide start-up capital to help start co-operatives in such areas as health care, housing, industry and business development.

The funding is being provided by Federated Co-operatives Limited and is part of the the two-year Co-operative Innovation Project.

As part of the project, researchers have contacted 37 per cent of rural and Aboriginal communities in Western Canada.

They also found 41 per cent of Aboriginal respondents said they do not know what a co-operative is.