Trinity College Named Canada’s 16th Fair Trade Campus!

May 24, 2016 | Toronto, Ontario. Trinity College has been designated Canada’s 16th Fair Trade Campus, rounding off a busy Fairtrade Month!

An event was held at the dining hall to celebrate the new designation, where a certificate was delivered commemorating this achievement. Students, faculty, and administration were in attendance, sampling Fair Trade coffee and chocolate and engaging in discussion with members of the Fair Trade Committee.

“Trinity College has led the way, introducing a range of fair trade products to its food services. In recent months, they have worked hard to become a Fair Trade Campus. It is therefore my pleasure to be able to congratulate them on becoming Canada’s 16th Fair Trade Designated Campus” – Sean McHugh, Executive Director, Canadian Fair Trade Network.

“The Fair Trade Campus designation is a reflection of hard work and commitment to the values of justice, respect, and sustainability. Congratulations and thank you to Trinity College for their ongoing support of the fair trade movement and the Fairtrade producers of the world. You have empowered your campus community make a meaningful contribution towards ending the cycle of poverty.” – Mélissa Dubé, Outreach Coordinator, Fairtrade Canada

The Fair Trade Campus movement was initiated three years ago when Engineers without Borders (EWB) hosted a case competition on how the entire University of Toronto St. George (UTSG), in which Trinity College is located, could be made a Fair Trade designated campus.  In years previous, EWB had tried – and failed – to do so, despite a formidable effort. The two key reasons for why UTSG posed a particular challenge, and why this challenge necessitated a case competition, are:

The case competition’s winning team, which included the current student President of the Fair Trade Committee, Kawin Ethayarajh, was then asked to execute their proposed plan, a grassroots approach that would work on convincing the many dining institutions at the University of Toronto to go Fair Trade. With the help of University of Toronto President Meric Gertler and Vice-President of Operations Scott Mabury, both of whom were supportive of the initiative from its onset, the student members of the committee were soon joined by Vice-President of Ancillary Services Anne MacDonald. Dr. Harriet Friedmann, Professor of Geography and Sociology and an authority on the politics of food, also joined the committee soon after.

In conducting a comprehensive audit of all dining institutions on campus, the nascent committee was able to map the sprawling web of food services – a crucial first step. Critically, they found disparate groups of institutions, most of which were bound to a particular college – such as Trinity – that oversaw all their affairs. This necessitated a shift from a university-level approach to a college-level approach; after conferring with Fair Trade Canada, it was agreed that each college would have to become its own Fair Trade designated campus.

Trinity, whose food services department is managed by Chartwells, a vocal proponent of Fair Trade, was among the first to meet the criteria for a Fair Trade designated campus. Both former Food Services Manager Cale Watling and current Food Services Manager Kevin Ribeiro were instrumental in helping meet these requirements. Administrative support for the idea – at the college level, since the UTSG President had already backed the initiative – soon followed in the form of Assistant Provost Jonathan Steels. With clear goals and the full backing of all necessary stakeholders, the committee then worked tirelessly to implement the necessary changes with respect to Fair Trade product availability and signage.

In concert with their efforts at Trinity, student members of the committee also devoted time to educating the student body on the merits of Fair Trade – how it supports fair wages, improves labor conditions, protects the environment, and generally improves the lives of the disenfranchised in the developing world. They held events around campus, leveraged social media, and partnered with the Sustainability Office’s Green Ambassadors – a university-wide group with student, faculty, and administrative members across all colleges – to help mold a culture of more conscientious consumers.

The University of Trinity College is proud to be among the first colleges at UTSG to be designated a Fair Trade campus, and its Fair Trade Committee hopes that both the college and the strategy taken to make it a Fair Trade designated campus will serve as exemplars for the years to come.