Fair Trade Magazine - Summer/Fall 2013

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FREE Summer / Fall 2013

fair trade C A N A DA’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

Bolivian coffee producers History of a social movement Fair trade versus free trade?

The co-operative forces behind your bananas


summer / fa ll



2013 |




on the ground 8

Power to the People

Fair trade offers the means to empowering producers, as well as businesses and consumers.

growing change Handmade Connections Fair trade has a long history in building relationships with


UBC’s Journey to Becoming a Fair Trade Campus

UBC was the first campus in Canada to achieve campus designation.

artisans across the world.



SFU’s Fair Trade Campus Designation

SFU is not content with designation. It aims to push the sustainability envelope with corporate franchises.


The Importance of Trade

Free trade and fair trade are often positioned against each other, but are they really so different?

Education and Voice Bananas are becoming a staple crop in Peru, and co-operatives are taking the helm.


product profile 19 Bananas Read about the history of this popular fruit. on the cover History of a social movement..........................................................10 The co-operative forces behind your bananas.........................16 Bolivian coffee producers................................................................20 Fair trade versus free trade?........................................................... 28


Coffee in Bolivia

Publisher’s Letter........................................................................................ 6

While more than 22,000 families produce coffee

What is Fair Trade?.................................................................................... 7

in Bolivia, only a very few of them are able to access international markets.

Fair Trade in Canada.............................................................................. 30



Publisher Sean McHugh Editor Bryce Tarling Associate Editor Erik Johnson Design Wade Stewart We want to hear from you! 514 – 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 1-604-785-0084 | editor@cftn.ca

Canadian Fair Trade Network Réseau canadien du commerce équitable The Canadian Fair Trade Network is a non-profit organization that works to advance fair trade in Canada. It supports collaboration within the fair trade movement to encourage awareness and support for fair trade products and practices. It envisions Canada as a global leader in social and environmental responsibility. Fair Trade Magazine is published by the Canadian Fair Trade Network. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without publisher’s written permission. Not responsible for unsolicited editorial material. The information provided in this magazine is for educational and informational purposes only. Fair Trade Magazine makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information it provides, but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from errors or omission.

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Elma Morales from the Fairtrade certified FECCEG coffee farmers' co-operative in Xela, Guatemala

Meet the boss.... Farmers and workers co-own the Fairtrade system itself. If it didn’t work for them, they’d fix it. Make your purchases work for farmers as well as they work for you. fairtrade.ca



publisher’s letter

Shifting Priorities


rice fluctuations for food products in the global market are by no means new phenomena. However, in recent years, they have become more pronounced. Two years ago, coffee prices hit record highs of nearly US$3 per pound. Now they’ve fallen to US$1.20—well below the level of sustainable production. Cocoa prices on the other hand sat around US$1,500 per ton in 2005, then peaked at US$3,500 in early 2010. Today they sit around US$2,200. If these shifts in price seem significant, it’s because they are—especially for those who produce and rely upon them in their daily lives. What’s more, market prices often have little to do with the actual costs of production. While market f luctuations can be expected, many producer nations are ill-equipped to deal with them, and many are unable to benefit even when prices are high. Countries like Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire (they supply almost 60 percent of the world’s cocoa)—or Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, India, Ethiopia, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico (the

top 10 exporting nations of coffee)—have seen limited social, economic, and political improvement during the “good” times, never mind the bad. Much of this has to do with the fact that producers, due to limited opportunities in dealing with global markets, must take whatever prices are offered—which are often even below global market price. Today’s consumers demand more from businesses dealing in international products. The result is that we’re seeing companies address social and environmental issues by working through more transparent and streamlined supply chains and supporting price guarantees and social premiums. These efforts help mitigate the effects of market fluctuations and support development at the domestic level. This edition of Fair Trade Magazine looks at how fair trade empowers not only producers, but businesses and consumers as well. Renee Bowers gives us a look at the history of fair trade and its deep roots in working with producer communities. Victoria Wakefield and Mark McLaughlin offer perspectives on how UBC and SFU have been able to push for more ethical practices on their campuses. We also look at some of the pressing issues being faced by producers in Bolivia and Peru. We all have a role to play in encouraging social and environmental sustainability. Fair trade offers a powerful means to support the work of others. 2

Sean McHugh Publisher, Executive Director Canadian Fair Trade Network

Manitoba is a leader in Fair Trade Become a part of Manitoba’s Fair Trade movement! MCIC’s Fair Trade program can help you: • • • • •

Engage the public through Fair Trade campaigns and activities Advise your school or business on ethical purchasing and policy List your business in our Fair Trade Manitoba Consumer Guide Offer resources like our Ethical Fashion Show Kit, Fair Trade materials, display materials, and publications Recognize your next conference, fair or festival as a Fair Trade Event For more information and to sign up for our Fair Trade eNewsletter visit www.FairTradeManitoba.ca or contact us at fairtrade@mcic.ca or (204) 987-6420

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What is Fair Trade? Fair trade is a powerful tool that goes beyond charity and other aid-based programs. At its core, fair trade aims to empower

Goals for fair trade

marginalized producers to improve their own living conditions.

• ensure

With the proper resources, capacity, and access to key relationships, disadvantaged producers are able to earn their own means to a better life for themselves and their communities.

Process and verification Fair trade evaluates the conditions under which our goods are produced and traded. Certification and labeling systems are used to verify fair practices because process standards cannot be verified by looking at a final product.

Protections versus rights Many international development programs are geared toward establishing protections for workers around the world, yet workers wouldn’t need these protections if they had proper rights to begin with. Fair trade aims to empower producers by ensuring they have access to the rights they deserve. This involves letting them have their say in the issues that affect them.

The fair trade movement Fair trade offers a vehicle for promoting discussion and awareness around global issues. It’s about rethinking our production and consumption systems, and recognizing the role that we play in creating a fair and sustainable world.

farmers and producers are

paid a fair price that accounts for a number of factors including cost of production and adequate living standards • build

stronger relationships

between producers, consumers, and businesses—streamlining supply chains to reduce inefficiencies and create more direct trading relationships • support

producer organizations to

improve their access to markets, tools, resources, and industry knowledge • support

communities by creating the

means to invest in infrastructures such as health and education • ensure

proper standards for

working conditions, environmental sustainability, and respect for cultural identity

Despite its long history among niche markets, fair trade is relatively new for mainstream consumers, and it is still evolving. The fair trade of today won’t be the fair trade of tomorrow. It is our responsibility to recognize our role—whether it be as a consumer, business, institution, or certifier—to ensure that our notions of fair trade continually meet the challenges of global development. We have the power to make choices that support greater accountability and transparency. By supporting the awareness and availability of fair trade products, we encourage a more responsible vision for the future while contributing to the development of sustainable communities.



on the ground



Importer and Distributor of Fairtrade Certified Flowers for Canada and the USA

www.f lorimex-vancouver.com

Power to the People How fair trade empowers us all BY MICH A EL ZELM ER


GROWN FAIR PICKED FAIR ENJOYED FAIR Fairtrade Certified Roses Available year-round at the following retailers Thrifty Foods Choices Markets Whole Foods Market Planet Organic Claytons Heritage Market Awesome Blossom Flowers on 9th Olla Flowers Wascana Flower Shoppe Distributors Custom Floral Express Pro Organics ®


for locations please scan

mpowerment sits at the very core of fair trade, but it’s too often just another lovely sounding word left undefined in a laundry list of others, liberally peppered throughout brochures and websites. But what does it mean, and more importantly, what should we want it to mean for fair trade? Simply put, empowerment means increasing control over our own lives. In fair trade, the conversation around empowerment has mainly focused on farmers and workers in developing countries, and it’s not hard to imagine why: many of the things we buy are often produced by people who suffer from hunger, poverty, and general insecurity. All but the most hard-hearted among us feel a natural revulsion when we first connect this truth to our everyday purchases. Our outrage, tempered only by a sense of powerlessness that often follows, leads us to file our newfound, joy-sucking knowledge somewhere between “things we can do something about” and “things we can’t.” So we turn to fair trade as something we can do to alleviate these issues.

Empowering farmers and artisans Empowerment begins with the self, and there are few things as empowering as small-scale farmers and artisans joining up to form democratic co-operatives. Through co-ops, people cease competing with each other and begin to harness their collective power.

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If a small-scale farmer has only a little bit of power, then a well-run co-op of a thousand—or even tens of thousands—has considerably more. This power is especially potent when they negotiate fair terms with companies that want to buy their products, but it extends much further to include working with regional and national politics, and planning collective investment in farms, environment, education, health, and more. So if the goal is empowerment, then co-operatives are the preeminent vehicles of choice for their effectiveness and accountability to the farmers themselves. They are the best way to deliver on the objectives of fair trade, and that’s because the farmers are in the driver’s seat. With products like coffee, cocoa, sugar, and cotton, where so much is grown by small-scale farmers, there is almost no reason for them to be sourced from anywhere but co-operatives. Be wary of claims to the contrary.

Empowering workers Products from larger farms, factories, and set-ups generally known as “hired labour” have been controversial in fair trade for as long as they’ve coexisted, in part because the beneficiaries (workers) are not in the positions of power that make fair trade work so well for farmers and artisans in cooperatives. But hired labour can work, particularly when workers are organized into independent unions. Regardless of




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your own opinions about unions in Canada, there is simply no better mechanism for worker empowerment in this context. Fair trade involving hired labour should always be certified by an independent body, and we should look for one with an explicit worker empowerment approach and labour credibility like the Fairtrade system.

If the goal is empowerment, then co-operatives are the preeminent vehicles of choice. Empowering you








Fair trade is at its best when those who are to be empowered are calling the shots themselves. This certainly means farmers and workers in developing countries, but it also means you. In supporting producers, fair trade becomes a tool for our own empowerment. We’re limited in our ability to comprehend what it means to be a marginalized farmer or worker in a developing country—let alone understand what is needed to empower them—because so much of the problem is hidden from our view. It’s natural to ask the businesses we support to show us that we’re not complicit in the suffering of others through our purchases. But we should be wary that businesses might be motivated more by a desire to keep us as customers than by any understanding of the problem, so we turn to certifications to set the standards for fairness and to ensure our purchases meet them. When looking to fair trade certifications, pay close attention to how empowerment fits. A good system will involve all affected parties in the standards-setting process, particularly the intended beneficiaries. A good system will also have programs that run in parallel to certification that focus on empowerment and capacity building. The best systems will include those who are meant to be empowered at the very heart of decision making. The best systems will include you. 2 K


to overcome poverty


a better society



people around us

the world



P ro


be to


p am


Michael Zelmer has been an advocate, researcher, writer, and occasional critic of fair trade for more than ten years. He is currently the director of communications at Fairtrade Canada.

www.sfu.ca/fairtrade CF TN.C A |



Handmade Connections Handicrafts and the formation of North American fair trade


Trading of ethically produced handmade goods is based on an idea that sits at the heart of fair trade: Relationships matter.


he connection-based structure of fair trade developed from the work of a few innovators who had a vision to alleviate poverty through the sale of traditional crafts. At this vision’s core was (and still is) the idea that trade should involve a true partnership between buyer and seller—one that empowers producers, builds their capacity to do business, and improves the quality of life for their communities.

A history of relationship building Many say the fair trade movement began in 1946 when Edna Ruth Byler, a volunteer for the Mennonite Central Committee, visited a sewing class in Puerto Rico. She discovered that despite the hard work of the local women, and their extraordinary talent for producing handmade lace and other fabrics, they still lived in tremendous poverty. Byler had the idea to carry these pieces back to the United States and sell them to American shoppers, returning the profits directly to the women producers. Her work eventually became more structured and led to the formation of SelfHelp Crafts. The organization, now known as Ten Thousand Villages, opened its first fair trade shop in 1958—eventually expanding into Canada in the 1960s—and is now the largest fair trade retailer in North America.

In 1949, another organization, Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation, or SERRV International, formed based on the efforts of Church of the Brethren relief volunteers working in postwar Germany. The volunteers returned to the United States with refugee-produced crafts, which they hoped to sell for earnings to give back to refugees. Today, the pioneering organizations Ten Thousand Villages and SERRV International are joined by many other fair traders who share their commitment to providing economic opportunity to small-scale craftspeople and farmers in the global south.

Why it works These early pioneers referred to themselves as “alternative trade organizations”—a name that reflects the ethos of creating truly unique trading relationships. Fair trade has always been about first considering the needs of people and communities, a priority often overlooked in conventional trading relationships. As global trade has become more competitive, outsourcing from global brands has led to a “race to the bottom” in which companies seek the cheapest and fastest means of production.

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The innovative formation and subsequent growth of the handicrafts movement served as the foundation for the holistic approach taken by dedicated fair traders today. The Fair Trade Federation has approximately 250 members in the United States and Canada, while the World Fair Trade Organization has approximately 400 members worldwide—each demonstrating a full commitment to the fair trade model. The Fair Trade Federation uses its nine principles of fair trade as an overarching framework for its members and other fair traders: • Create opportunities for economically and socially marginalized producers • Develop transparent and accountable relationships • Build capacity • Promote fair trade • Pay promptly and fairly • Support safe and empowering working conditions • Ensure the rights of children • Cultivate environmental stewardship • Respect cultural identity

To find FTF members in the United States and Canada, visit FairTradeFederation.com

Images of Edna Ruth Byler courtesy of Mennonite Central Committee Photo Archive

In this context, dedicated fair trade organizations have a new role to play. Fair trade is seen as a way to lift artisans out of poverty while celebrating their traditional handmade items. At the same time, the partnerships based on fair trade provide workers with the resources to turn their work into viable businesses. By advocating for direct relationships with small-scale producers and shorter supply chains, dedicated fair traders provide an alternative to the hidden abuses that so often take place in a globalized world. This dedicated fair trade model also provides an alternative to large scale, industrialized agriculture and the hazards that result.

Formal network of traders From the 1950s onward, the fair trade crafts movement developed a more formalized structure in North America, Europe, the global south, and elsewhere in the world to support craftspeople and farmers. In 1989, a global network of committed fair trade organizations formed and became the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO, formerly International Federation of Alternative Traders). As awareness of global

Edna Ruth Byler

poverty and economic inequities between the global south and the global north increased, many new fair trade organizations began to form. In the 1970s, United States- and Canada-based entrepreneurs, who defined their businesses with the producers at heart, began to meet regularly, exchange ideas, and network. This informal group (originally known as the North American Alternative Trading Organization) would formally incorporate in 1994 and become the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). As the number of fair trade organizations has grown over the past half century, so has the sophistication of their products, which are designed to appeal to customers who are globally aware, and now include a wide range of home goods, accessories, and garments.

Membership and product certification The FTF and WFTO are both membership organizations that focus on holistic fair trade relationships aligned with common fair trade principles, which stem from an interest in helping people rather than merely selling products. CF TN.C A |


feature Member organizations are screened for their commitment to these principles and are verified as a whole, rather than the individual products that they sell. Included in the principles of these organizations is the idea that traders in the global north share equal responsibility in maintaining fairness with producer partners in the global south. The principles also include essential concepts such as providing advance payment to producers, maintaining longterm relationships, and building the capacity of artisans and farmers to improve their skills and access markets. The Fairtrade International (FLO) system, which formally came together as an international body in 1998, represents an alternative route to certification that evaluates and certifies a company’s products, rather than the company as a whole. This approach focuses more on fair pricing, fair terms of trade, and how a product was produced. Because of the tremendous success and impact of the FLO system, a number of similar certification labels have emerged within the North American market. While the membership and certification systems are quite distinct, they are often seen as complementary.

Fair trade has always been about considering the needs of people and communities, a priority often overlooked in conventional trading relationships. The movement today The same principles that led Edna Ruth Byler to advocate for women artisans in Puerto Rico are now used to guide the work of dedicated fair traders, offering a wide range of ethically made handicrafts, personal care products, coffee, and food to consumers worldwide. By providing an alternative model of interaction between buyer and seller, fair trade has empowered producers all over the world. For consumers in the global north, this structure has also helped develop a critical public awareness around trading relationships. Now more than ever, consumers see themselves as a crucial part of the equation. Our decisions to support fair trade within the marketplace influence the way businesses are able to prioritize people. 2 Renee Bowers is the executive director of the Fair Trade Federation.

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DRINK RESPONSIBLY With each cup of Fair Trade Certified coffee you drink, you are helping provide a better education to the families of coffee-growing communities around the globe. Together, we’re cultivating a better world.

Congratulations to

McGill Student Housing and Hospitality Services on receiving the Fair Trade Designation.

To learn more about Fair trade coffee for your workplace visit us at:




This is empowerment! Your Fairtrade purchases make more of a difference than

to the producers of thousands of Fairtrade products

you might know. Yes, producers are paid a fair price for

around the world this year alone. Social premiums

their products. Yes, they are often paid in advance.

empower small farmers and cooperatives to actively

Yes, strict labour standards apply (including gender equity

participate in providing programs and services within

and a ban on child labour.) However, there is far more to

their communities, and to support small producers with

the Fairtrade story — a “social premium” is built into the

technical training and infrastructure improvements.

price you pay. Over 250 MILLION dollars will be returned

Interrupcion Taste Me Do Good guarantees fair pay,safe working environments for the people harvesting the foods we enjoy, and greater sustainability for the earth we all share. We are a community working to build a better farming and nutrition system centered on the human being, through conscious consumption, sustainable development, fair trade and organic farming. We supply organic Fairtrade apples, pears, kiwis, blueberries and other products to natural food retailers across Canada. We continually invest in the sustainability of each of our supply chains and in building a network of producers and consumers joined by the common desire to build a better world through responsible action. Much more information is available at www.interrupcion.net and on our facebook page at www. facebook.com/TASTEMEDOGOOD

In February 2012, Peru experienced unprecedented catastrophic flooding. Banana producers with plantations near rivers were inundated by the flooding, some for 6 weeks, which killed plants and destroyed irrigation systems. In an effort to help restore the livelihoods of some of the BOS banana producers, two Vancouver retailers, Choices Markets and East End Coop, in cooperation with two credit unions and Discovery Organics, a campaign called “Pennies for Peru” was started, collecting outdated Canadian pennies to help these producers. To date, over 500,000 pennies have been collected, which have paid for new dikes along the river, repairs to irrigation canals and new, stronger roads.


In Peru, summer holidays begin on Christmas Eve and continue to Easter Monday. Social premiums and matching donations from a banana importer in France and from Discovery Organics have funded a summer camp in Salitral, Peru for two years in a row. Organized by the BOS organic banana cooperative, 1,100 kids from ages 3 to 12 learn handicrafts, sewing and dancing. They play in organized sports events, and even spend a day at the beach. Most of them have never seen the ocean before, which is just 100 km from their homes.

Dentistry and eye care are far from the financial reach of most rural people in the Global South. Many Fairtrade producers use their social premiums to build and operate dental offices and eye clinics for the benefit of entire communities. The dental clinic pictured here has been funded by COPROBICH, a small producer organization representing over 3,400 indigenous quinoa producers in the highlands of Ecuador.

In the spring of 2010, Chile experienced a devastating earthquake. Green Tribe, a Fairtrade cooperative of blueberry growers went into action. Their Fairtrade social premiums earned from their blueberry harvest were matched with funds raised by Interrupcion and Discovery Organics. Over 50 natural food stores in Western Canada helped raise tens of thousands of dollars alone. In all, over 100 houses damaged during the earthquake belonging to their field workers were repaired or replaced, and emergency food was delivered to small towns in the area. That’s Fairtrade!

Community Farm Store, founded in 1993, proudly stocks a wide range of certified organic, ethical, fairly traded products from around the world. Our mission is to support small producers everywhere, from local vegetable growers in Cowichan Valley to the banana producers in Peru. Consumers can change the world by making conscious purchasing decisions.

Phone: 250-748-6227​ Unit 101, 330 Duncan Street, Duncan BC, V9L 3W4​ info@communityfarmstore.ca​


Discovery Organics is a BC owned independant organic fruit and vegetable wholesaler serving retailers across Western Canada. Discovery’s procurement team have worked for years in Latin America developing export programs with thousands of small producers, bringing Fairtrade bananas, mangos, avocados, berries, kiwi, apples, pears, grapes and melons directly to natural and organic food retailers.

With seven stores and a gluten-free bakery across Metro Vancouver and the Okanagan, BC, Choices Markets is Western Canada’s largest local retailer of Fair Trade, local, and organic foods. Choices, 2012 Fair Trade Canada Inaugural Retailer Award and recipient of the Fair Trade Vancouver Retailer Award for 3 years running, is committed to carrying as many Fair Trade and Grower Direct products as possible, with Fair Trade listings increasing 300% over these three years. Choices is an advocate of food producers, setting aside time to get to know the people who grow and produce the foods that go home with its customers. Choices is also a strong supporter of local organizations that work toward building healthy, sustainable communities, whether through food, education, health or environmental initiatives. As proud locals, we’ll always be 100% Canadian owned and operated and fully committed to reducing our impact on the environment.


Education and Voice How Peruvians improved their lives selling fair trade bananas BY GLAUCE FLEURY

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Take a snapshot of Piura—the region in northern Peru

Peruvian origins

where farmers grow fair trade organic bananas—and

Previously, Piura farmers grew conventional bananas for local markets. Year after year, as production increased, the local market stopped being as lucrative. At the end of the 1990s, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a program to produce organic bananas to differentiate from other markets. “Our neighbour Ecuador is the largest exporter and producer of conventional bananas, so we saw an opportunity to enter the market selling organic,” says Castro. But when Peruvians first started selling their new product, they faced certain challenges, especially when individual farmers signed contracts with multinationals to distribute in foreign markets. “This model limited our opportunities to negotiate conditions like price, quality, and volume. That’s why we created the co-operative.” Once they became certified Fairtrade, and increased their prospects to negotiate international markets, they began exporting on their own. Approximately 5,000 hectares of Piura farmland is dedicated to growing organic and fair trade certified bananas, of which 90 percent are exported to Europe and North America, where the climate won’t allow the fruit to grow. According to Castro, Piura can export up to 100,000 boxes of bananas, each weighing 18 kilograms, every week. For such a high volume, the better prices from fair trade certification have provided the small-scale farmers with funds to reinvest in their land and earn higher incomes. “We generate a foreign capital inflow of US$50 million per year, and each hectare of bananas creates 1.2 stable jobs per day,” Castro says.

compare it to 10 years ago; you’ll see huge social change. Literacy rates have improved remarkably, allowing many children from farming communities to attend post-secondary education. According to José María Lecarnaqué Castro, founder of the Central Association of Small Producers of Organic Bananas (CEPIBO), this development has been “due to the stable prices of fair trade bananas.”

Popular commodity Bananas are one of the most popular and widely consumed fruits in the world. Canadians alone eat an average 6.5 kilograms per person every year, second only to apples in terms of fresh fruit consumption. Despite the mass appeal, however, the banana industry is ripe with many troubling issues. Many banana farmers around the world don’t earn enough to feed their families and are forced to work long hours (up to 14 hours per day) with no overtime pay. They also have no protection against sudden layoffs and are often exposed to unsafe working conditions. With the exception of cotton, the banana industry uses more agrochemicals—many of which have been classified as hazardous by the World Health Organization—than any other in the world. These chemicals pollute natural environments and saturate workers’ homes, food, and the workers themselves. Why is the Peruvian market appealing? Castro says bananas from Peru have a low risk for contamination. “Due to [Peru’s] climate, which is both warm and dry, our bananas don’t develop the disease known as Black Sigatoka, which requires chemical sprays to be controlled,” he says. Another reason is that Peru doesn’t have violent weather patterns that could affect the seasonality of its crops. “We have El Niño, but it isn’t frequent, so we can assure our importers they’ll have good bananas throughout the whole year.” Knowing the fruit will be available 52 weeks per year is crucial for Canadian importers. “Every time consumers go to the grocery store, they buy bananas. Kids love the fruit because they just have to peel it. It doesn’t need to be cut or sliced and doesn’t make a mess like, for example, mangoes,” says Randy Hooper, managing director of Discovery Organics, the only fair trade banana importer in the western Canada. But despite their popularity, expectations are high among Canadians. “[Bananas] are one of the most complicated commodities to work with. They’re perishable and have to be just the right colour.” If they’re not? The consumers don’t buy them.

Benefits of fair trade While Peru has been able to invest in better education and improve literacy rates, much of this has been made possible through social premiums. For each box of fair trade bananas sold, co-operatives earn an additional payment of US$1 in premiums (beyond the minimum fair trade price), and this money is spent according to the decisions of each organization’s democratic assembly. In the case of CEPIBO, they’ve used the premiums to train farmers; create educational, environmental and health campaigns; and improve their harvesting and postharvesting infrastructure, which is necessary for packaging and preparing fruit for export. To build this capacity, the co-operative required 70 facilities, each costing more than US$30,000.

Receiving the “perfect” banana takes three to four weeks. This is about how long it takes from when farmers cut the fruit to when consumers find it on store shelves.




Piura region, Peru Castro also asserts that being a member of a co-operative has given farmers the means to better navigate international markets. “[Fairtrade certification] gives small-scale producers more empowerment to negotiate their contracts. This power was almost zero before the year 2000,” he says. “The premiums helped us develop our capacities as farmers and leaders. Now we also have a voice in the political spaces.” And since these operations are located in rural areas, migration to big cities has decreased, as workers can now find jobs in their hometowns. “It’s important to have those opportunities for the ones who went to school, and are interested in going back to their community,” says Emma Van Pelt, who holds the operations position at Equal Exchange, a fair trade company that offers bananas imported from Peru and Ecuador. “Education is beautiful and should be available to everybody.”

Delivering the goods Receiving the “perfect” banana takes three to four weeks. According to Van Pelt, this is about how long it takes from when farmers cut the fruit to when consumers find it on store shelves. Once an order is placed, farmers cut the bananas while they are still a very dark green. They then wash, place stickers, and set them in boxes that get loaded into a shipping container. The container is transferred to a large vessel carrying thousands of other products. The bananas are chilled to 14 degrees, so they don’t ripen too early.

With Equal Exchange, the fruit arrives at the Port of New York via the Panama Canal. After the produce is verified by the United States Department of Agriculture, Equal Exchange’s warehouse takes the container and informs distributors that the fruit is available. “The bananas are put into big rooms full of ethylene, which makes the green turn yellow. They’re sent to the stores when they’re yellowish green. That’s when the consumer wants to buy them,” explains Van Pelt. According to Van Pelt, many consumers understand the merit in knowing where their food comes from. “There’s more buzz around ethical supply chains,” says Van Pelt, who has noticed increased visibility in the wake of the recent issues with the Bangladesh garment industry. “It’s all there. All we have to do is start making those connections and not think about isolated incidents,” she says. “[Supporting] social benefits means understanding how these systems work and understanding the choices we make in our purchases.” 2 Glauce Fleury is a journalist from Brazil who studies writing in Vancouver. She recently won the IABC/BC Student Communicator of the Year Award of Excellence.

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product profile shape, colour, size, and flavour as the one you eat tomorrow. It is one of the most consistent and reliable fruits found in the supermarket, with no variation between conventional and organic varieties. The monocultural nature of the banana industry has been a concern for quite some time, as diseases that threaten one banana plant essentially threatens extinction for the entire industry—a fate that befell the Cavendish’s predecessor, the Gros Michel, or “Big Mike,” in the 1960s.

Bananas today


Contentious from the start


he roots of the banana industry lie in the histories of monopolistic multinationals such as United Fruit and Standard Fruit (which later became Chiquita and Dole respectively) that came to dominate banana-growing regions in Central and South America. Throughout the 20th century, regions in Central America would be labelled “Banana Republics,” an epithet that would become associated with brutal military dictatorships and slave-like working conditions for plantation workers. The banana industry would also be responsible for innovations such as built-in refrigeration in transport ships and the use of controlled atmospheres and chemicals to delay ripening. It also pioneered the use of chemical sprays and monoculture plantations in producing high volumes for export and consumption.

One banana, just like the other? Bananas are actually giant berries, grown from plants that are more large herbs than trees. In Canada, most of us eat only one variety of banana, the Cavendish, which is essentially propagated through stems that grow laterally from a main stem, or corm, of a banana plant to form independent corms themselves. Each new plant is essentially a genetic clone of its parent. The banana that you eat today will have the same

Today, few banana plantations are owned by fruit companies themselves. Instead, they are owned by local partners who sell to large exporters. This allows multinationals to choose their suppliers across national borders based on who can offer the lowest price. This proves to be a significant issue for growers, who are forced to cut costs in production, contributing to unsafe working conditions, poor wages, and environmental degradations. Fairtrade International reports that in 2011, Fairtrade certified bananas were grown by 80 producer organizations in 11 countries worldwide. More than 18,000 people work according to Fairtrade standards, which guarantee fair wages and proper working conditions, as well as commitments to environmentally sustainable production. During the reporting period, banana producers received more than €14 million in Fairtrade Premium money. For hired labour organizations, 59 percent went to support workers, while other funds were contributed to community development, education, and health services. For small producer organizations, 67 percent of this money went to investing in businesses or organizational development to improve production and processing. 2

While North Americans almost exclusively consume Cavendish bananas, there are hundreds of other varieties of the fruit, mostly in Asia and Africa. India is the world’s largest producer of bananas, growing 20 percent of the world’s supply. But the 17 million tons of about 670 different varieties of bananas that India produces annually are consumed locally. Conversely, the second largest producer of bananas, Equador, which produces about a third as much as India, exports more than 98 percent of their bananas for foreign consumption.




Coffee cherries ready to be harvested.

Coffee Connections Challenges for Bolivian Producers BY JON I WA R D IM AGES BY JON I WA R D A N D L AY YONG TA N


l Camino de la Muerte, or Death Road, winds through mountain gorges filled with hairpin turns where crosses are a common, sobering sight. Visibility is poor as we barrel along, shrouded in thick fog and dust stirred up by vehicles ahead. On one side of us is an 800-metre ravine—a vertical cliff face on the other. At its worst, the gravel road is wide enough for only one vehicle, though it operates as a fairly busy, two-way highway. Cars, buses, and trucks must negotiate encounters—often blindly

around corners—until there is a spot wide enough for oncoming vehicles to inch perilously by. Drivers begin their journeys by muttering prayers and spilling drops of beer on the ground as a sacrificial offering, a plea for protection from Pachamama, or Mother Earth.

A lack of infrastructure The treacherous road is a prime example of the lack of infrastructure in Bolivia, a contributing factor to issues such as poverty, and limited access to education and health care. As one of the least developed nations in Latin America, Bolivia has some of the greatest income inequality in the world. According to a 2001 census, 64 percent of the population doesn’t earn enough to meet their basic needs. And the Canadian International Development Agency reports that one in eight Bolivians earn less than US$1.25 per day, with women and children living in rural areas being among the most vulnerable. My work in Bolivia was arranged by Crossroads International, which began working with the country’s producers in 2006. The organization has contributed to a fair trade certification guide, established trade partnerships for farmers, and created the means for vital cash injections in the form of Fair Loans.

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Lack of demand for fair trade products forces farmers to sell their product for well-below Fairtrade minimums, and even below market price. their own living conditions. They have better access to health care and education, clean drinking water, and communication and transportation services. However, successful coffee production represents only one aspect in reaching their potential; the challenge of market access still remains. Vincente holds crushed coffee cherries after washing and pulping the beans.

Life on the farm During my time there, I worked with coffee producers at altitudes ranging from 1,200 to 1,700 metres, spending time with farmers such as Genero Ramos and his family. Like other producers in the area, he lives surrounded by jungle, up a bumpy, dusty road in the isolated Quilla Quillani hill community, with his wife Elizabeth and their five children. We toured their land, scrambling up and down steep slopes through the jungle terrain. It was clear that planting and harvesting over several hectares of land is an immense undertaking. With the resources provided by Crossroads International, Fair Loans have helped rural communities in Bolivia develop their coffee growing industry and have consequently improved

Challenges for producers The United Nations has identified the lack of market access in this coffee-rich area as a key factor in keeping the majority of rural Bolivians below the poverty line. Even if farmers ensure they operate according to Fairtrade certification standards, it doesn’t mean that they’re able to find buyers who are willing to pay fair trade prices. Often, due to a lack of demand for fair trade products, farmers are forced to sell their product for well-below Fairtrade minimums, and even below market price. This is where I came in. My role was to connect Canadian micro-roasters who support fair trade practices with local coffee producers. Ramos and other farmers in the region belong to an organization called Cooperative North East Integrated Agricultural Cooperative (COAINE). Members of COAINE

Joni Ward with Genero Ramos and his family.





produce shade-grown, washed arabica coffee grown organically at high altitudes. The co-operative includes 180 coffee-growing members. Beyond ensuring a fair wage and access to Fairtrade premiums, the financial stability provided by the co-operative gives these families access to health services, education, and other social services that would otherwise remain out of reach for these rural communities. While more than 22,000 families produce coffee in Bolivia, only a few of these producers are able to enter international markets. Despite abundant coffee production, these families are challenged by language barriers, a landlocked location, and limited access to technology and other resources—all of which makes for an uphill struggle in promoting their product among international buyers and establishing lasting trade partnerships.

Making connections



Roasters from Canada had an opportunity to connect with several members of COAINE at a community meeting arranged by Crossroads International. They engaged in lively discussion, learning from one another, sharing and listening with respect and receptivity. The roasters were able to observe the washing, pulping, fermenting, and drying processes, and also try their hands at picking coffee cherries. Two of the micro-roasters negotiated contracts with COAINE, agreeing to share a container from this year’s harvest. In the fall of 2013, 19,600 kilograms of coffee beans will be shipped to Canada. When it arrives, I will be delighted to see the project come full circle—and to take those first sips only a couple of blocks from my home. Making a personal connection with the producers was a truly wonderful experience. It’s important that we recognize the efforts of others in earning a living as they provide us with so many of the luxuries we enjoy. The distance between buyers on this end of the supply chain and the producers on the other can be vast, with long and bumpy roads between them, but we can improve these connections by creating lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. 2 Joni Ward recently returned from Bolivia, where she volunteered with Crossroads International as a fair trade and marketing specialist. Previously, she managed a Ten Thousand Villages store in Montreal.


photo credits

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growing change

UBC’s Journey to Becoming a Fair Trade Campus BY V ICTOR I A WA K EFIELD


he University of British Columbia (UBC) became Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus in January 2011, but our journey toward ethical procurement began in the 1980s, when we began supporting ethical working standards with our No Sweat policy for UBC-branded clothing sold at our campus bookstore. From there, it was a natural transition to fair trade coffee, despite the limited options available at that time. By 2005, heightened awareness within our marketplace led to a greater demand for fair trade coffee on campus. At that time, prices for fair trade coffee were 25 to 30 percent higher than non-fair trade, a difference that ultimately restricted our ability to switch. But despite the extra cost, we began offering fair trade coffee as a premium option—at a premium price. After significant research, we found a roaster in Seattle who offered quality coffee at a competitive price. We were thrilled to partner with them. Unfortunately, shortly after our launch, this roaster changed its blend and roasting process, which we felt resulted in inferior quality. This challenge opened up the door for us to partner with a local roaster of fair trade and organic coffee, Ethical Bean. It proved to be a good fit. We buy 8,975 kilograms of fair trade coffee, or nearly 1,436,000 eight-ounce cups of coffee each year at UBC, and this volume helped us secure competitive pricing through a multi-year agreement with Ethical Bean. This allowed us to offer a retail price at par with non-fair trade coffee, proving that ethical sourcing can be affordable. We then added tea to our lineup of fair trade products and had similar success, maintaining margins and a favourable retail price. Two years ago, Cadbury introduced a limited selection of fair trade chocolate bars that were already being sold on campus, which brought us very close to qualifying for Fair Trade Campus designation. All that remained was to form a committee responsible for monitoring continued compliance, setting annual goals, and measuring performance while reporting annually to Fairtrade Canada. The UBC chapter of Engineers Without Borders received support from our president, and the committee was formed. Once we received our fair trade designation, we worked with our suppliers to expand our selection of fair trade products. Milano Coffee, a local boutique roaster, recognized the value and began offering Fairtrade certified coffee, which led to the development of a special UBC blend of fair

UBC fair trade statistics (2011–2012) •

8,975 kilograms of fair trade coffee, or nearly 1,436,000

eight-ounce cups sold •

429,000 fair trade tea bags sold

More than 8,300 fair trade chocolate bars sold

More than 1,885 kilograms of fair trade bananas purchased

trade coffee. We then added a fair trade ice tea, expanded our chocolate selections, and included fair trade ingredients like sugar and bananas into products such as banana bread and cakes. Being designated a Fair Trade Campus has allowed us to support education and dialogue around fair trade and to engage other communities. Despite our successes, however, we still face challenges, particularly in terms of awareness. A 2012 survey conducted by the UBC Sauder School of Business found that most respondents did not understand the concept of fair trade and several admitted that they did not recognize Fairtrade certified products on campus. To further engage our campus, in March 2012, UBC held its first Fair Trade Week, aligned with the global awareness event Fair Trade Fortnight, where we provided activities and events focused on awareness. We also held a Fair Trade Fair featuring suppliers and products available on campus, as well as lunch-and-learn sessions emphasizing the value of Fairtrade certification. This past year we have continued our journey as a Fair Trade Campus, working directly with the many franchise outlets at UBC, promoting sustainability and ethical purchasing. The dialogue and support has been rich and varied, potentially laying the groundwork for a greater availability of affordable fair trade options, both on and off campus. 2 Victoria Wakefield is purchasing manager for UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services and chair for the UBC Fair Trade Campus Committee.

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SFU’s Fair Trade Campus Designation Building support for change



hen I first arrived at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in January 2012, I quickly discovered that a passionate group of students and staff were working to change our campus policies and procurement habits in order for us to become designated as a Fair Trade Campus. What’s more, they decided to appoint me as the new chair of the SFU Fair Trade Committee. The problem for me was that I didn’t know what fair trade was really about. I had previously seen fair trade coffee for sale in specialty coffee shops and on grocery store shelves, but why was this so important to our university? Given my new role, I needed to figure this out quickly.

New insights I initially thought fair trade was only about the coffee and tea products themselves, but I soon realized that it was all about helping farmers in developing countries earn a decent living and bring much needed funds into their communities. I learned that many small, family-run coffee farms are often taken advantaged of by professional coffee buyers and exporters, called “coyotes” in Latin America, and the numerous layers of middlemen in the procurement stream allow very little money to trickle down from the coffee drinker to the coffee producer. Fair trade steps in to protect and empower these small farmers. Fair trade provides a minimum guaranteed price to coffee farmers and reduces the role of middlemen. When the market price drops below the minimum price, the farmer still receives the fair trade guarantee for their product. A guaranteed minimum price keeps small farmers in business and prevents the decay of rural communities that rely on agriculture. It enables more families to send their children to school, rather than having them work in the fields. For SFU, a key part of our strategic vision is to demonstrate community and global leadership. By becoming a Fair Trade Campus, we are working toward our goal and making a difference.

Campus designation When I arrived at SFU, we already had a Fair Trade Committee with representatives from our student government, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), faculty, and administrators from the CF TN.C A |


growing change Sustainability and Ancillary Services offices—all supporting fair trade on our campus. We also had two members from Fair Trade Vancouver assisting us. We gained real momentum when our EWB students dressed up as costumed super heroes to engage our university president. This little feat and the resulting publicity earned our committee the support we needed to carry through with our mission. We approached the university’s main food service provider, Chartwells, to suggest they switch to fair trade coffee and tea products. Asking a major corporation to move away from its approved suppliers required a huge task on their part. To switch to fair trade, they would have to source and test new products, determine pricing, and secure distribution channels. Chartwells welcomed our determination, realizing that our objectives and values aligned with theirs. Together we worked to find acceptable fair trade products for our dining hall, restaurants, cafés, vending machines, and convenience store. SFU also organizes many conferences in Vancouver. At these conferences, we now exclusively serve fair trade coffee, and provide guests with fair trade sugar and at least three types of fair trade tea. Chartwells also persuaded one of our most visible franchises on campus, White Spot Triple O’s, to offer only fair trade coffee. We also worked with our student government and our other independent coffee shops on campus to change their coffee and tea products. Throughout this process we found that there was a broad variety of fair trade certified coffees and teas available in Canada, and we could obtain them for prices that did not affect our customers.

Working with franchises

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While we’ve been able to make changes at the food outlets we control, we are still working to improve the services offered by our franchises on campus. Currently, Fairtrade Canada does not require independent franchises to offer fair trade products for a university to earn a campus designation. However, SFU has made its commitment to fair trade, and we have decided to hold off on allowing franchises to expand their operations on campus until they can align their services with our principles. Starbucks is a popular coffee shop on many Canadian campuses, and although they can provide a couple of fair trade coffee blends, such as Café Estima and Italian Roast, we look forward to seeing more. The company has been able to make great improvements in offering fair trade products in Europe, and we are pressing them to offer similar products in North America. Tim Hortons, however, is a sore spot on our campus. Tim Hortons coffee is not fair trade certified, which is disappointing to our community. Although Tim Hortons makes claims to its sustainable coffee practices, their programs lack the oversight

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and transparency that is necessary to align with our principles as a Fair Trade Campus. SFU and the University of British Columbia have been working together to push both Tim Hortons and Starbucks to offer more fair trade products to Canadian colleges and universities. It is important that we all take fair trade to the next level and start this dialogue with these companies and other food providers. Working together across Canada, we will bring about substantial change, improving the lives of farmers and their families in developing countries and ensuring social, environmental, and economic benefits for communities around the world. Because that’s what it’s about. 2

There was a broad variety of fair trade certified coffees and teas available in Canada, and we obtained them for prices that did not affect our customers.

Mark McLaughlin is the executive director of Ancillary Services at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

To learn more about the Fair Trade Campus program, visit Fairtrade.ca

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growing change

The Importance of Trade Making a global system work BY SE A N MCH UGH


hen we talk about supporting fair trade, it’s important that we recognize why we support the movement and global trade, and how it can help address the growing concerns of our world.

Origins of trade While our global trading system has evolved into something very complex, it finds its roots in the barter system and is based on a simple principle: the exchange of goods can benefit all parties involved. As trading relationships evolved, however, traders began to specialize in specific goods or services. This is where the notion of “comparative advantage,” a term coined by the economist David Ricardo, comes into play. By focusing their energies on what they were most efficient at, individual parties could then exchange these for other products or services they needed. On an international scale, this model of trade is more efficient than having individual nations produce everything within their own borders; this becomes especially relevant when we consider certain products can only be grown in certain regions. This was the promise of Adam Smith’s concept of the invisible hand. Smith believed the forces of supply and demand would coordinate production and consumption, ensuring a natural equilibrium within the marketplace, and that the pursuit of individual profit and well-being would eventually lead to greater benefit for everyone involved in the system.

Manifesto of the Poor Solutions Come From Below Francisco Van der Hoff Boersma Co-founder of Fair Trade


SMALL FARMS Resistance Reconciliation Resilience

Few can deny that trade has contributed to flourishing economies, significant advancements in technological innovation, and an increase in the comfort and well-being of billions of people on this earth. However, these benefits have not been shared equally, and in many cases, have not come without sacrifice; many people in the world still live without basic daily needs, such as access to clean water, healthy food, adequate shelter, education, and medicine. So what’s gone wrong?

Issues between concepts and reality While the ideals of trade promise much, they have been limited by systemic imbalances and imposed conditions that exacerbate pre-existing inequalities. These influences originated from past colonial interests, much to the resentment of the developing world. To protect their industries, developed nations established regulations and policies in the form of trade tariffs (taxes placed on goods), agricultural subsidies (money provided by governments to reduce the cost of goods), and quotas (limits on imports and exports). These regulations effectively reinforce the systemic imbalances of the past, typically adding artificial costs to imports from developing countries and forcing foreign producers to lower their prices. Yet many developing nations have been prevented from using similar policies by global institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, all of which push free-market policies that have never even been fully adopted in the north. As global commodity prices fluctuate and market prices drop, the world’s poorest are often the most vulnerable to these changes and consequently suffer the most. This is because many developing nations lack adequate social infrastructure— minimum wages, workers’ rights, brokering services, and insurance programs—to protect their residents. Individuals

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Francisco Van der Hoff Small organic coffee farmer and founding member of U.C.I.R.I Co-op

6/6/2013 3:19:38 PM

are left to fend for themselves and become more susceptible to exploitation. Examples of this can be seen among banana producers in Latin America, cocoa farmers in West Africa, or coffee producers across the globe. While there is a consistent high demand for these products in developed countries, producing nations rarely see any lasting benefit and continue to face challenges in dealing with environmental, political, social, and economic issues. In other words, while many of the world’s largest financial bodies promote free trade, there have always been systemic barriers to achieving the theoretical purity conceived of by Smith and Ricardo. Global trade has yet to achieve free trade, let alone fair trade. The United States Department of Agriculture distributes between US$10 billion and US$30 billion in subsidies to American farmers, which can lead to oversupply and deflated prices on world markets. Not only have these subsidies remained high even during years of record profits, they are often paid to the largest and wealthiest multinational corporations, leaving small-scale producers at a disadvantage.

Making trade better Much of the discussion around free trade and fair trade has had a polarizing effect between the two systems. Supporters of free trade claim that the minimum pricing distorts markets; whereas, supporters of fair trade view free trade as a mechanism for hindering growth and eroding social and environmental protections within developing communities. Despite its existing inefficiencies, global trade can be mutually beneficial. Not only does it allow for the creation of wealth, but it also affords us the many products that have become a part of our daily lives: coffee, chocolate, sugar, cocoa, tea, and other various commodities that we would be reluctant to give up. Trade is good, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better. It’s important to recognize that certain safeguards are necessary for the well-being of workers around the world, and that as long as everyone plays by the same rules, we can get back to building relationships based on mutual benefit. Fair trade actually embraces many of the ideals of capitalist free trade; the distinction is that we aim to give everyone a fair chance. 2 Sean McHugh is the executive director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network.

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Fair Trade in Canada 1



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1 } Vancouver, BC


Fair Trade Vancouver has appointed a new executive director, Catarina Moreno, and recently hosted a re-launch event in early May with special guest speaker Michael Zelmer of Fairtrade Canada.

2 } Castlegar, BC


Selkirk College qualifies for Fair Trade Campus designation. The campus announcement is expected to come early in the fall semester.

3 } Calgary, AB


Calgary hosted the Canadian Fair Trade Network’s first National Fair Trade Conference and annual general meeting in January. Stakeholders from across the country came together to discuss challenges in the fair trade movement and their visions for the future.



7 } Toronto, ON



Toronto officially became a Fair Trade City on May 10. Celebrations for the event took place at Toronto’s City Hall, featuring presentations by city councillor Mike Layton and Fairtrade Canada executive director Tom Smith. Liam’s Letters, a children’s book that educates about fair trade had its first printing on May 10. Contact Fair Trade Toronto for information on how to order.

4 } Winnipeg, MB



Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation has committed to sourcing C$1 million of fair trade products—including coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate for casino restaurants, events, and gift shops. Manitoba’s successful Fair Trade One-Month Challenge, which has been held during February and March over the past seven years, is being rebranded as the “Fair Trade Challenge” and will take place from October 31 to November 29, 2013.

5 } Montréal, QC


McGill University qualifies for Fair Trade Campus designation. The campus announcement is expected to come early this fall semester.

National Fair Trade Conference, Calgary, AB

6 } Halifax, NS


Downtown Halifax had its second annual Fair Trade Bazaar in May. It featured a number of local businesses, offering products that included textiles, beadwork, yarn, yurts, and carpets.

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Fair Trade Bazaar Halifax, NS

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