Gimli, Manitoba. Driving Fair Trade forward

By Shania Sveinson

Shania is a Grade 12 student at Gimli High School who is spearheading Fair Trade Grad as well as rejuvenating Gimli’s Fair Trade Town Committee.

In 2009, the small town of Gimli, Manitoba (pop.6000) became Canada’s sixth Fair Trade Town. This was thanks to the dedication of a great group of people and the hard work of the Youth Community Partnership (YCP), a group of local students, along with merchants, political representatives, teachers and parents.

Over the years since Gimli was recognized as Fair Trade, knowledge about Fair Trade has increased dramatically. Numerous local businesses sell Fair Trade products, and YCP has held multiple Fair Trade events to raise awareness and educate the community.

When asked about defining moments and what the Fair Trade movement looks like in Gimli, Shania had this to share:

Students at Gimli High School are very passionate about Fair Trade and making a difference globally. We hold different events throughout the year to educate people on what Fair Trade is, and how you can integrate Fair Trade into your life. In December of 2011, we held a Fair Trade Ethical Fashion Show, where we had students model ethicallyFT Gimli sourced clothing; it was a roaring success, and many people came out to take part.

On February 14th, 2012 YCP held their very first Fair Trade Coffee Haus to kick off the Fair Trade Manitoba One Month Challenge. This event was held at a local coffee shop called Kaffe Haus where local musicians played and guests enjoyed delicious Fair Trade coffee and tea. Guests were engaged in discussions on Fair Trade and many signed on to the One Month Challenge, which sought commitments from people to begin buying Fair Trade products. Not only were we educating people about what Fair Trade is, but we had Fair Trade products available such as coffee, tea, chocolate and t-shirts for people to purchase. We have now held three different coffee houses over the past year, all for the same purpose, to raise awareness in our community.  In addition to all of this, we also had our school cafeteria serve muffins made with Fair Trade bananas and chocolate chips.

Looking forward, we are working towards making Grad 2013 a Fair Trade event. We have ordered Fair Trade hoodies from justshirts cooperative in El Salvador and our plans are to provide Fair Trade coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate at the dinner. We have high hopes to be one of the first Fair Trade grads in Canada, and we will do whatever we can to see that it happens.