Business and Banana Suits: What’s New with Fair Trade in Ottawa

OttawaOttawa-Gatineau is home to about 1.3 million people, and many residents are active in a variety of fields from business to development to technology. This involvement helps shape the National Capital Region’s unique political and social ecosystem.

When it comes to supporting fair trade, the spirit of involvement is epitomized by Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable (FTOÉ), a group of volunteers who are working hard to achieve a Fair Trade Town designation for the city. To date, Ottawa-Gatineau is home to two Fair Trade Campuses, one Fair Trade School, and four Fair Trade Workplaces.

Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable hopes to achieve the remaining requirements for designation soon. They include garnering political support from local councillors and continuing to promote all things fair trade in Ottawa, Gatineau, and suburbs. Volunteers are having a great time running around town snapping photos of Fairtrade products for both the Fair Trade Town project and their social media pages. As Ottawa’s fair trade hub, FTOÉ supports organizations, schools, and workplaces in the community by sharing resources, human power, and—most importantly—banana suits.

Fair Trade Campus Program

The University of Ottawa became a Fair Trade Campus in March 2014, and Carleton University in February 2017. Right now, both schools are working to obtain the new Silver and Gold standards set out by the Canadian Fair Trade Network in partnership with Fairtrade Canada. At the same time, the universities are preparing for Fair Trade Campus Week (FTCW) 2019.  In the past, FTCW helped University of Ottawa forge a relationship with La Siembra, makers of Camino Fairtrade chocolate, and this relationship continues to cultivate. La Siembra first got involved by providing free samples for events. Next, University of Ottawa invited the co-operative for a fondue and chocolate tasting. Now, Camino takes an active role in planning for FTCW and contributes to the annual Fair Trade Bake Sale.Camino

Meanwhile, Carleton University plans on launching two campaigns: one focusing on closing the gap between what businesses believe consumers know about Fairtrade and what consumers actually know. The other aims to promote Fairtrade cotton with a sleek campus T-shirt designed in partnership with Green Campus Cotton. 

Fair Trade School Program

On March 26, 2019, École secondaire catholique Pierre-Savard officially became a Fair Trade School—the first in the National Capital Region. The school’s fair trade committee has been working since 2017 to achieve this designation, building a strong team, raising awareness, planning and hosting events, and procuring Fairtrade products for students. 

At Pierre-Savard, students have fun finding creative ways to promote fair trade. For example, one event involved lowering the school’s heat to illustrate the importance of energy conservation. To counteract the cold, the committee handed out Fairtrade hot chocolate.

For another event, students shared Fairtrade chocolate and locally grown apples to promote responsible consumerism, whether it be the consumption of local or international products. 

Students at Pierre-Savard have never been prouder to promote Fairtrade. They recently painted a new mural that symbolizes what is important to them, and it includes Fairtrade products and the fair trade movement.

Students at Pierre-Savard hope that their designation encourages other schools to follow suit. They want everyone to work together to ensure a brighter future for all generations.


AuthorEmanuel Lukawiecki is a member of Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable and a student at École secondaire catholique Pierre-Savard.

Originally published in Fair Trade Magazine – Summer/Fall 2019 Edition