Fair Trade Programs Update: January 2019

ProgramsCulinary Program Whisks in Fair Trade Products

On November 28, 2018, the Technical Vocational (Tec-Voc) School in Winnipeg became a Fair Trade School. In the lead-up to its designation, the school started including fair trade throughout its curriculum.

For instance, Tec-Voc’s culinary stream, led by teacher Livia Gloux, is sourcing fair trade coconut and cocoa, and is looking into certified bananas and spices. Meanwhile, the business stream is running a school store where students can buy fair trade coffee and chocolate. The school has also partnered with Assiniboine Credit Union to teach students accounting and support them as they find work locally once they graduate.

“We are honoured to be recognized as a Fair Trade School,” said Kathleen Mira, lead teacher for Tec-Voc’s fair trade initiatives. “Our school motto is ‘Think Green! Act Gold! Be a Hornet!’ This motto emphasizes the importance of environmental considerations and of being a good and supportive global citizen. Being a part of the fair trade initiative is in keeping with this mantra, as we want to promote fairness and a quality of life for all.”

All across Canada, students and teachers at Fair Trade Schools are finding creative ways to incorporate fair trade principles and products into courses and more. Tec-Voc is a fantastic example, one of many.

Author: Sarah Heim is national programs manager at the CFTN.

Ambassador Program: Turning Passion to Knowledge

When Nikki Mertens first heard of the Fair Trade Ambassador program at Simon Fraser University (SFU), she was studying sustainable business. Feeling like she knew about environmental sustainability but lacked knowledge on the social sustainability side, Mertens signed up to be trained as a fair trade advocate on campus.

In 2017, Mertens was selected to go to Ecuador as part of the CFTN’s Origin Trips program, fulfilling SFU’s annual commitment to send two students to meet with farmers and co-operative members in the Global South.

Inspired by her time in Ecuador, Mertens has been actively promoting fair trade on campus ever since. During the 2018 Fair Trade Campus Week, she led the Fair Trade Bake Sale, raising funds to enable more students to join Origin Trips in the future.

“I believe universities have the purchasing power to lead the way in advocating for ethical products,” Mertens said, “I want to help change the way the next generation of citizens consumes.”

Thanks to local champions like Mertens, the Fair Trade Campus and Ambassador programs continue to grow, and more Canadians are hearing about fair trade and buying certified products.

Author: Sarah Heim is national programs manager at the CFTN.

Volunteers: The Core of Fair Trade Town Groups

At the centre of every Fair Trade Town program is a team of committed volunteers working to raise community awareness and increase political and business support for the procurement of fair products. A major challenge for these groups is recruiting and retaining volunteers after a town is designated.

To engage volunteers, the new leadership team at Fair Trade Toronto aims to make meetings fun and informative. During its monthly two-hour meetings, Fair Trade Toronto usually spends the first hour learning about a topic, such as living incomes, and the second hour planning events.

Fair Trade Toronto has also found success dividing volunteers into teams based on each person’s skills and interests. The organization currently has three committees: compliance, education, and events.

Since most volunteers want to stay active and informed, the team at Fair Trade Toronto runs a website with educational materials and handy links, such as cftn.ca and fairtrade.ca

Moreover, Fair Trade Toronto encourages its volunteers to reach out to schools and teachers, and look for opportunities to speak about fair trade. It’s a great way to spread the word, promote the organization, and connect with future volunteers.

Author: Sarah Heim is national programs manager at the CFTN.

Quebec Update

by Fouzia Bazid

In Quebec, there are currently eight Fair Trade Towns, eight Fair Trade Campuses, nine Fair Trade Schools, 24 Fair Trade Workplaces, and two Fair Trade Faith Groups—and the province also held 29 Fair Trade Events in 2018. These grassroots programs have worked with organizations such as Association québécoise du commerce équitable, Carrefour de solidarité internationale, and Oxfam-Québec to raise awareness about fair trade and encourage people to engage with trade justice.

In addition to working with established fair trade programs, these organizations are guiding the dozen campuses and several cities, including Montreal and Quebec City, that are on the road to designation, and will continue to advise them as they complete the process.

Across the province, designations of Fair Trade Workplaces and Fair Trade Events are on the rise, and applicants are no longer limited to the offices and functions of fair trade partner organizations. Rather, recent designations have come from a variety of sectors: For example, the Montreal airport, a law firm, and a marketing firm have all obtained Fair Trade Workplace designations in 2018.

Author: Fouzia Bazid is a project manager at Association québécoise du commerce équitable.

Originally published in Fair Trade Magazine - Winter/Spring 2019 Edition