Well kids, we have finally done it. We are officially a Fair Trade Campus!
Some of you may be thinking that we already were a fair trade campus, you noticed the signs that appeared early this school year in the SFUO businesses and Chartwell food outlets, your coffee had a lingering aftertaste of something that could only be described as “dark roasted, earthy tones of justice for farmers”, or maybe you have just seen a girl wandering around taking photos of fair trade signage and awkwardly explaining to the café employees that she was given permission to photograph them (if you ever want to cause a ruckus, show up at a food outlet with a camera and a clipboard) but one way or another- we are now recognized as a fair trade campus by FairTrade Canada.
This involved a lot of work over the past few years and I would like to give a well-deserved shout out to the Engineers Without Borders who have supported the movement the entire time, to Chartwells for being absolutely accommodating in the process, and to your student-run businesses especially PIVIK and Café Alternatif who have gone above and beyond the Fair Trade certification standards to offer you a variety of fair trade products and not just the required coffee, teas, and chocolate.
Yes, that is all that is required currently by FairTrade Canada to qualify a university as Fair Trade- all certified coffee offered at university-run businesses, three certified teas, and one chocolate bar if chocolate bars are being sold. This is a bare minimum requirement but it is a start! We are also working towards increasing products available all over campus and to petition the external food outlets (Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Hortons, etc) to offer fair trade alternatives through the development of the Fair Trade working group which is a subgroup of the SUDCOM food working group.
As I am retiring from this post at the end of this year (and from the life of an undergraduate student), I won’t be around to push these changes but I promise you to leave some passionate folks in charge who will continue the fair trade movement here on campus. Also, keep an eye on our Facebook page in the next few days to see what we have planned as a Fair Trade launching event. Lots of tasty fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate are sure to be given away!
Stay Fair, uOttawa!
~merissa mueller - former campus sustainability coordinator (and a damn fine person)
photo credit - jonathan rausseo