Fair Trade Campus Week Rocked uOttawa

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Avocado farmers visit the uOttawa campus during Fair trade campus week
If we are all being honest, I think we can admit that the majority of us have heard of fair trade, have a vague notion of fair trade, but honestly have no idea what fair trade is actually all about.

The University of Ottawa was inaugurated as Canada's 7th FairTrade Campus in 2014, thanks largely to the many student volunteers and Food Service employees who pushed to get this designation. I won't go into what it means to be a Fairtrade campus, you can look up all the criteria online.

But I will share with you some interesting insight that I gained during Fair Trade Campus Week (FTCW). I was surprised to find out just how important fair trade is to the environmental movement.

Ben and Jerry's pins
So you may have already noticed that I keep jumping around the spelling of Fair Trade. This is not a mistake, seriously, it isn't. Fair trade is not the same as Fairtrade.
Fair trade is a concept about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.

Fairtrade is a brand. It is the organization that certifies that the products you purchase follow all the guidelines to ensure that fiar working conditions and equitable prices are paid.

And now you know...

Avocados farmer take question during Fair Trade Campus week

We were fortunate enough during FTCW to have some avocado farmers come and visit the campus to talk about their experience back home. Let me tell you, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. Aside from the tremendous environmental considerations (which honestly, even I didn't know very much about), the farmers spoke about how they have created their coop to compete against large agro-conglomerates in a way that supports their community.

They showed us examples of how they are working to create fair working conditions for their people and how they are giving back within their community. They spoke about medicines they were able to buy for older workers, and they spoke about not using inorganic pesticides for the health of their workers and for the health of the land.

One really nice story they spoke about involved how women in their community were feeling marginalized because the heavy work done by the males tended to exclude them from participating. So, with true grit, many women within the group created an apiary to harvest honey and to ensure the pollination of their crops. They are now an integral part of the cooperatives operations.

Free Ben and Jerry's ice cream served at uOttawa
The week wasn't only about getting educated about Fair Trade, there was also a lot of fun to be had. Muggy Mondays was out in full force pedaling Fairtrade caffeine to the masses, and we had a special ice cream day thanks to Ben and Jerry's (yeah that's right, their ice cream tastes awesome and is jammed full of FairTrade ingredients)!

Actually, there were a lot of suppliers that sent us products to share and display.

As always, Kicking Horse had our backs for amazing coffee at Muggy Mondays, and Camino donated tonnes of chocolate for sharing (mmmmmmhhhh).

This year, Just Us Coffee also sent us some coffee that we will be using at the Friel-good Fridays events we have set up in the Friel Reisdence.

We also got a healthy dose of Four O'clock teas which we are also using at the Muggy Mondays table.

And Ethical Bean sent us a bunch of coupons that we have been distributing in the hopes of encouraging people to buy more fair trade products.

And what's to come...

Well there were a couple of other suppliers who sent us some items that we have special plans for.
Fair World Sports sent us some some sports balls which we displayed during FTCW but we have also planned a special photo shoot with the Gee-gees to highlight the importnace of "Fiar Play". You know, the idea that kids should be playing with soccer balls, not making them in slave condition in some factory.

We also received a bunch of coffee pods from One Coffee. We are hoping to use these pods to entice single coffee users on campus to switch to Fair Trade. They have a pretty delicious product so I think it will be an easy proposition.

So if you are interested in knowing more about Fair Trade, you are in luck because Fairtrade Canada is headquartered in Ottawa. There are also a bunch of great groups in the City (like Fair Trade Ottawa Equitable) and on campus (like Engineers Without Borders) who can help out.

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