October 1, 2020 | It is somewhat fitting to announce today, on World Coffee Day, that Simon Fraser University has been recognized by Fairtrade Canada and the Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) as the first educational institution in the country to attain the highest level of Fair Trade Campus designations – the Fair Trade Gold Campus status. Fair trade is about making a positive difference in the lives of farmers, workers, and communities in the Global South. Since being named a Fair Trade Campus back in 2012, SFU has supported that goal by making an impact and showing leadership on its campuses, in its neighboring communities, and across Canada.
“Congratulations are in order! SFU continues to set the high bar when it comes to committing to sustainability and trade justice,” says Julie Francoeur, Executive Director of Fairtrade Canada “Campuses who are equally committed to fair trade and sustainability can now look to SFU as the model of how campuses can make tangible impact in the lives of producers in the Global South.”
SFU has not only changed its procurement policies committing to serving fair trade products like coffee, tea, chocolate and bananas on its campuses, it has also worked with major food service companies and coffee chains to encourage them to serve fair trade products across Canada. As an example of its advocacy work, Starbucks introduced Fairtrade certified espresso at SFU in 2013, a first on any Canadian university campus, and now offers it on many other campuses across the country. “What started out as a grass roots student initiative on its campus ten years ago, SFU has become an exceptional leader doing much to raise fair trade awareness across Canada and inspiring others to do likewise,” says Sean McHugh, Executive Director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network. “SFU has mentored campus leaders across the country, continually added more fair trade products for sale on its campuses, supported small, locally-owned companies, and worked with multi-national corporations to increase the availability of fair trade certified products.”
In 2018, SFU launched an award-winning, student-run Fair Trade Ambassador program, where students have not only been educating others on its campuses through academic presentations, a YouTube video series, and by introducing Fairtrade certified roses to SFU at Convocations. Our Fair Trade Ambassadors have engaged with the community by helping the University Highlands Elementary School, The Point Church, and the SFU Childcare Society to become fair trade designated as well. In 2019, Fair Trade student ambassador Elysha Fong brought national attention to SFU, when her essay entitled “The Value of Campus Work: Enjoying Personal Growth Opportunities Beyond the Classroom”, detailing how fair trade opportunities made available by SFU has changed her life, was featured in the American NACAS College Services magazine winning the Grand Prize.
“We are honoured to be the first campus to receive this Fair Trade Gold Campus recognition. This achievement is the result of faculty, staff and students taking action and speaking out in support of farmers and workers in the global south, not only at SFU but in our communities as well. We are proud that many of these students have continued to embrace the values of fair trade and social justice after graduation and into their professional careers”, says Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s Chief Commercial Services Officer. SFU’s fair trade journey, started by a few students being vocal ten years ago, to today’s golden announcement, has made a real impact improving lives for farmers and their families.
Story originally published on October 1st, by Simon Fraser University