St Kateri Catholic Elementary Designated Alberta’s First and Canada’s Third Fair Trade School!
Fort McMurray, Alberta | June 24, 2015. St. Kateri opened its doors in August 2014. From the initial planning of the school, social justice was a priority of the administrators. The schools namesake, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, encourages us to build a world of justice and peace among ourselves and among all nations.
“I’m very pleased to see how our students have embraced learning about fair trade and have become more interested in social justice issues. This foundation of knowledge about fair trade has definitely opened their eyes to how they can help make the world a better place”, states Valerie Dyck, principal of the school.
“Fair trade is much more than just buying products. The principles of fair trade are intertwined with many social justice issues. Teaching kids at a young age to care for the environment, other people, and communities empowers them to become lifelong activists and global citizens” says Emilie Maine, organizer and advisor of St. Kateri’s Fair Trade Committee.
In our community, one of the high school social justice clubs, Teens for Change at Holy Trinity, have had a strong fair trade presence with their annual fair trade market. The committee at St. Kateri School saw that there would be a benefit to students learning about fair trade before entering high school.
In a campaign video to become Fair Trade Ministers on student council, students Saakshi Arvikar and Devanshi Bhatt state; “As Fair Trade Ministers, we help other students understand what fair trade is all about, and if there are any fair trade activities, we help with them.”
The mother of Saakshi, Shilpa Gokhale explains “It is very important for my kids for when we go back home to India, a developing country, to understand that fair trade is something that we have to support, because in our home country, many people are being exploited. My kids now look for the logos to know that the people making the products get their fair share. Buying Fairtrade does not affect the customers, but it makes sure that what you are buying is not causing harm. It should be promoted everywhere in the whole world!”
At St. Kateri, students as young as eight became engaged with fair trade and social justice when Emilie Maine taught lessons in their classes.
Rachel Quito, school counselor and teacher advisor for student council says, “As a counselor, through this approach, our students have learned to be open minded and honest and to act justly. Research shows that children who have developed these traits play by the rules, take turns, share, and listen openly to all sides without judgment. A child who learns fairness will be much more tolerant, civil, understanding, and caring, and he/she will grow up to the best kind of citizen, worker, friend, parent and neighbor we can have.”
St. Kateri looks forward to expanding awareness of fair trade not only in our own school, but also in all of Fort McMurray.
“The commitment shown by St Kateri Elementary has been nothing short of inspiring. From coffee to clothing, fair trade has been front and centre from start to finish. It has been a pleasure working with the school, while look forward to taking it even further in the months and years ahead!” – Sean McHugh, Executive Director, Canadian Fair Trade Network.
“This engagement has a real positive impact in changing the lives of farmers, families and their communities in the Global South. We are proud of the students and staff involved who have made this designation a reality.” says Hugues Tshibemba, a/Executive Director, Fairtrade Canada.
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