Le premier mois de l’année tire déjà à sa fin, alors que l’on se dirige tranquillement vers le mois de l’amour. Eh oui, c’est encore le temps de se demander qu’est-ce qu’on aimerait bien offrir à notre bien-aimé (e)! Afin de vous rendre la tâche un peu plus facile cette année, Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable a pensé vous faire quelques suggestions qui seront difficiles à résister… la moitié du travail sera fait pour vous, il ne vous restera qu’à décider quelle option est la meilleure pour vous!
Il va de soi que l’on vous propose d’abord d’aller jeter un coup d’œil au magasin Ten Thousand Villages dans Westboro, sur la rue Richmond. En plus de trouver du chocolat et du café – des favoris de la St-Valentin – vous pourrez mettre la main sur de nombreux objets artisanaux très originaux provenant de divers pays à travers le monde! Des bijoux, livres, cartes, chandelles, et plusieurs autres articles sont à découvrir! Ce fut une magnifique découverte pour moi il y a quelques années – et c’est maintenant mon arrêt favori pour faire des cadeaux, quelle que soit l’occasion.
Si vous êtes plutôt dernière minute – ça arrive à tout le monde – je vous invite à vous rendre au plus près magasin Bulk Barn, car il offre de nombreuses variétés de produits équitables en terme de thés et chocolat! Je vous encourage fortement de donner une chance au chocolat Divine, qui est parmi un de mes préférés à ce jour (surtout celui au gingembre)! Le magasin offre aussi plusieurs sortes sous la marque Camino, un classique du chocolat équitable, vous ne pouvez pas vous tromper avec celui-là, je garantie! Un arrêt à l’épicerie est plutôt votre genre? Pas de problème! Quoi de mieux qu’une bonne tasse de chocolat chaud?! Plusieurs épiceries offrent des contenants de chocolat chaud Camino. Si vous voulez être un peu plus attentionné(e), ramassez quelques ingrédients équitables, dont des pépites de chocolat ou de la noix de coco, et cuisinez de bons biscuits pour accompagner la tasse de chocolat chaud! Ça, c’est gagnant!
Avec une petite recherche google rapide, vous verrez aussi qu’il existe plusieurs autres produits équitables, qui ne sont pas communs de la St-Valentin, mais qui peuvent faire bien des heureux quand même! On compte parmi ces produits de l’huile d’olive, des épices, des jus, du linge fabriqué à base de coton, des produits de beauté et plusieurs autres. Je vous souhaite un excellent mois de février, et que l’amour puisse être au rendez-vous!
Pour plus d’informations sur les magazins qui vendent les produits équitables, visitez Ethical Tree (désolé, disponible en anglais seulement).
Laissez-moi vous raconter une histoire que peu connaissent très bien, mais qui est for intéressante et mérite d’être partagée – celle du commerce équitable! Vous vous sentez probablement comme une personne qui fait sa part pour les droits humains et l’action sociale en achetant des produits bio, organiques et maintenant équitables, mais savez-vous vraiment ce que vous appuyez, ce que vous encouragez en posant ce geste? Savez-vous où tout a commencé? C’est ce que vous vous apprêtez à lire, et donc vous coucher avec un peu plus de savoir qu’il y a quelques minutes!
Il existe plusieurs histoires sur l’avènement du commerce équitable. On dit que celui-ci est né aux États-Unis lorsque Dix Mille Villages (formellement Self Help Crafts) a commencé à acheter des produits du Porto Rico en 1946. L’entreprise a ensuite développé des relations d’affaires avec le sud vers la fin des années 40, et ainsi, le premier magasin officiel vendant des produits issus du commerce équitable a vu le jour en 1958 aux États-Unis. Du côté de l’Europe, on remonte aux années 50 alors qu’Oxfam UK commença à vendre des produits venant de réfugiés chinois et c’est en 1964 que la première organisation de commerce équitable a vu le jour chez les Européens. Dans de nombreux pays d’Europe dont les Pays-Bas en particulier, on lança des messages encourageant l’achat de produits équitables à maintes reprises, avec des slogans incitant la bonne volonté de ce secteur.
Lors des années 1960-70, des organismes non gouvernementaux en Asie, en Afrique et en Amérique latine ont perçu le besoin d’entreprises de publicité justes qui supporteraient, aviserait et offriraient de l’assistance pour aider les producteurs moins nantis. Plusieurs de ces entreprises furent établis et leurs relations étaient basées sur la transparence, le partenariat, le respect et le dialogue. On visait ultimement l’équité dans le commerce international. Plus tard, les Nations Unies se sont joint au mouvement où en 1968 il eut une conférence sur le commerce et le développement, en Inde, avec le message clé qui a retenu l’attention, soit « Trade not Aid ».
On peut observer aujourd’hui le commerce équitable à l’échelle mondiale. Selon l’Organisation mondiale du commerce équitable, on compte plus d’un million de producteurs et de travailleurs dans autant que 3000 organisations de 70 pays et plus du Sud. On retrouve des produits du commerce équitable dans de nombreux endroits au Canada – les magasins de commerce équitable ou d’artisans, les supermarchés et plusieurs autres. Les fruits, le chocolat, le thé et le sucre sont de bons produits où commencer lorsque nous sommes nouveau dans le monde du commerce équitable. Par ailleurs, on trouve les huiles, les noix, le coton, les herbes et épices ainsi que l’or, qui peuvent tous être achetés de manière équitable. Le site de Fair Trade Canada est une bonne place où trouver de l’information à n’en plus finir sur cela.
Somme toute, le commerce équitable est sur la bonne voie, soit continuer de se faire connaitre de plus en plus, et ce, partout à travers le monde!
L’Halloween approche, votre costume n’est pas acheté, vos bonbons encore moins et vous vous demandez encore si ce sera la même chose cette année : les dernières friandises médiocres du magasin grande surface et le fameux costume de chat dont vous reportez d’année en année.
Bon. Arrêtez. Cette année ce sera différent. Prenez-vous quelques jours à l’avance et profitez de cette fête pour promouvoir le commerce équitable. Je ne vous demande pas de porter fièrement le logo comme nouveau costume cette année, le chat fera, si c’est ce que vous voulez vraiment! Les bonbons, par contre, ça c’est une autre histoire! Saviez-vous qu’il existe des options équitables pour votre distribution de friandises? Eh bien oui, si vous n’étiez pas au courant, maintenant vous l’êtes et ça risque de changer quelques petites idées pour vos achats de dernière minute.
Qui n’aime pas le chocolat? Non, n’essayez pas de me convaincre que vous n’aimez pas ça, je ne le croirai pas. Bon, maintenant que nous sommes sur la même page, laissez-moi vous introduire à des sortes de chocolat qui risquent de faire tourner des têtes – et des enfants qui voudront revenir plus d’une fois à votre porte!
Les barres de chocolat Camino sont une des meilleures alternatives pour l’Halloween, en termes de friandises équitables. Le chocolat se vent en petit format, parfait pour en distribuer aux enfants (et plus grands) qui viendront sonner à votre porte à la tombée du soleil et à vos amis que vous verrez à la fête sur le campus! En plus, les différentes sortes vous feront rêver : framboises, caramel écossais et sel marin, intensément noir et plusieurs autres, que vous voudrez sans doute découvrir dans de plus grands formats!! Si vous êtes plutôt du genre à rester à la maison ensevelis sous vos couvertures avec un bon breuvage chaud, j’ai une bonne nouvelle pour vous! Camino offre du chocolat chaud et du café sous plusieurs variétés dont l’unique chile et épice! D’ailleurs, Camino vient de sortir six nouveaux mélanges de café, que vous voudrez assurément ajouter à votre liste d’épicerie. Comme si ça ne pouvait pas être assez convaincant, Camino est une coopérative canadienne avec ses bureaux à Ottawa, eh oui, en plus d’être équitable et biologique, Camino a ses bureaux dans notre ville! À vous de découvrir ce que vous gouterez en premier!
Si vous êtes plutôt du genre à aller faire votre épicerie chez Whole Foods, vous trouverez les chocolats individuellement enveloppés « Endangered Species », où si vous aimez mieux la traduction francophone de « chocolats en voie de disparition ». Quel beau thème pour l’Halloween, n’est-ce pas! Ce qui est intéressant et assez unique de ces chocolats, c’est que les graines de cacao viennent de la Côte d’Ivoire et sont issues d’une coopérative familiale qui aide la communauté! Vos sortes préférées, dont chocolat au lait et chocolat noir sont disponibles pour rassasier votre rage de chocolat, une enveloppe à la fois!
Maintenant que vous êtes un peu mieux orientés pour faire vos courses d’Halloween, je vous souhaite de passer une Halloween des plus épeurante et festive! N’oubliez pas le café équitable pour le lendemain, qui vous sera surement utile après la nuit blanche que vous passerez!
FTOÉ vous remercie de vouloir du changement et aider le commerce équitable à se faire connaitre de plus en plus! On vous rappelle que les producteurs de cacao sont aussi reconnaissants, on y va un pas à la fois, commençons ensemble avec l’Halloween!
We all want to make good consumer choices, but sometimes knowing what’s out there is really difficult!
So FTOÉ has put together a list of the Halloween-sized chocolates that are available this year (both milk and dark chocolate) to give out to the kiddies, and where you’ll be able to find them for purchase!
Camino dark chocolate minis
“Bitesize pieces of our rich and sophisticated dark chocolate that melts in your mouth with exquisite smoothness. Certified organic. Fairtrade certified. Certified kosher. Gluten-free.” [Source] These items are made of 57% dark chocolate that is both dairy-free and vegan.
“Individually wrapped for Halloween, this is premium, shade-grown, ethically traded chocolate that both kids and grown-ups will love. Endangered Species Chocolate sources cocoa beans from family-owned cooperatives in Ivory Coast where the income benefits the community. Ten percent of Endangered Species’ net profits are donated to fund species and habitat conservation efforts. Available in Milk Chocolate (kosher) and Dark Chocolate (vegan and kosher).” [Source] Packaging now carries the Fairtrade Certified mark (no photo available).
This statement came from someone I was conversing with about consumer choices and doing less harm with them. And I agree with them. At the same time, just saying that Fair Trade isn’t perfect overlooks what Fair Trade is. So let’s talk about the things that Fair Trade is–and the things it isn’t.
What Fair Trade is
Fair Trade is a redistribution of power. The Fair Trade movement came about because there were huge differences in the quality of life between producers and artisans in the Global South and those in the Global North. In other words, countries like Canada were depending on developing countries to provide produce and other products and were expecting a certain price point, regardless of the human toll that might take. So Fair Trade was developed in response to that. It is a recognition that all human beings are worthy of respect, a safe work environment, and a wage that will allow them to meet their basic needs.
Fair trade is supporting alternative agriculture models. Instead of huge, multi-national corporations owning land that may well have displaced indigenous folks in a land grab, Fair Trade farms are small-scale, family-owned and typically part of a cooperative model. The conventional plantation model means a workforce comprised mostly of hired labour whose main concern (and understandably so) is getting a pay check. They are typically paid very little, and in some cases, workers are trafficked (especially in the cocoa industry, where trafficked child labour is a very serious and prevalent problem). These workers are fighting tooth and nail to survive, so they are not usually concerned with the quality of the product, the efficiency of the work they do, or the health of the environment.
On the other hand, cooperative models make farmers owners as well, meaning that the more efficient and in touch with the environment the farm is, the more the cooperative’s farmers stand to gain in terms of increased profits and a safer community for their families. When Fair Trade producers are part of successful cooperatives, communities become more prosperous in general, as the economy gets a boost and the Fairtrade Premium is often invested in programs that benefit future generations and the broader community.
Fair Trade is in support of small producers and small businesses. Instead of encouraging the support of multinationals that often unethically acquire land overseas, Fair Trade leaves the production of produce where it ought to be: in the hands of small producers that live in harmony with their local environment. Large companies that grow their own produce in a plantation setting will clear-cut acres of land, demolishing habitat for wildlife and wreaking havoc on the area’s natural biodiversity. They usually grow monocultures (that is, single crops), which doesn’t help with plant biodiversity, either. They will hire many workers who have very little stake in the wellbeing of the land.
Fair Trade smallholders typically live on the land they farm, often having inherited the farm from their parents, who inherited it from their parents, and so on. They simply have more to lose if the land becomes infertile or unsafe to live on. You are much less likely to use toxic chemicals that will poison the local water sources if you know your children will be drinking out of them.
Sometimes folks will ask about supplying the demand of companies that use the produce to make their products. The good news is that Fair Trade cooperatives are often large enough to collectively meet the demand of bigger purchasers, meaning that they can sell to buyers who would conventionally only be able to have their demands met by large plantations. It makes a world of difference to small producers who would otherwise have no real bargaining power or ongoing buyer relationships, and have to rely on very competitive local markets instead.
What Fair Trade isn’t
Fair Trade isn’t necessarily organic certified. This is a major point of confusion for folks who aren’t immersed in Fair Trade information 24/7. Fair Trade and organic certifications, while often going hand-in-hand, are not the same thing. Fair Trade certification has environmental standards, but it focuses even more on labour standards. Organic certification mostly looks at the environmental impact of production, more or less leaving the social impact out of it. So of course there are benefits to both: Fair Trade certification vigorously defending human rights, and organic certification strictly monitoring environmental impact. The best choice is to look for products that are both Fair Trade and organic certified, because then you get the best of both worlds. And that’s fairly easy, because according to Fairtrade Canada, half of the companies that are Fairtrade Certified are also organic certified.
Should Fair Trade match organic with its environmental standards? Maybe. But it’s not specifically what it set out to do, and Fairtrade International has historically tended to focus on making sure that its human rights protections are as strong as possible before clamping down on specifically environmental protections–and it’s up to individual consumers to decide if they’re OK with that or not. For my own part, I’m more than happy to buy Fair Trade, organic products and let each certification do what it’s best at.
Fair Trade isn’t a political advocacy group. It’s not campaigning to change policy in Canada, overseas or anywhere, really. It is a consumer movement. It is a movement that doesn’t really need policy change to be successful, because it is about relationships between producers and consumers. As long as policy doesn’t get in the way of trade in general, Fair Trade and policy have very little to do with one another. More than anything else, it focuses on the power consumers have with the dollars they spend–something that, in my opinion, is very clever and focused on entirely too little in the grand scheme of things. Hitting large companies in their wallets is about as political as you can get, and you don’t need to petition the government to do it.
Fair Trade isn’t a fix-all (or even long-term) solution. Everyone who works deeply in Fair Trade understands that it does what it can with a bad situation. Capitalism in itself is a very violent system with regard to how it interacts with a lot of different parties, and it is not sustainable for us to continue to consume the way we are in the Global North. And perhaps the greatest shortcoming of Fair Trade is that it doesn’t directly address the idea of just consuming less. Sure, it’s great if I buy that beautiful purse that was hand-crafted by a Fair Trade women’s cooperative in Nepal, but if I already had 10 purses at home that work just fine, did I really make a positive impact with my purchase? Consuming more than we need to is something that we’ve been trained to do, but it’s long since time to break that habit.
There are also massive, intentional disparities that exist between various groups of people, and capitalism maintains these power dynamics. Many who do gender work have asked if Fair Trade does enough to ensure gender equity, and it begs the question: is that Fair Trade’s job? If it isn’t, then surely it’s someone’s, and so it becomes very clear quite quickly that Fair Trade is not a complete solution to the world’s socioeconomic problems.
In Fair Trade’s defense, what it does, it does very well. No other consumer movement so successfully shifts the power from the large multinationals to small producers and small businesses, and at a time when even political leaders are essentially owned by corporations, that is worthwhile work. But as with anything, it is important to think critically and deeply about the movements we support, and understand where gaps lie so that we can push to continually improve these movements that we hold so dear.
Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable (FTOÉ) is looking for enthusiastic volunteers for the position of Community Leader. We are looking for multiple volunteers across the city for leadership positions that can be performed in volunteers’ local neighbourhoods. This is a great opportunity for those who use public transit or live outside the downtown core and may struggle to travel to across the city.
Required tasks and responsibilities
Deliver community outreach in a specific municipal ward in order to obtain local community support (ideally the ward that would be assigned would be the area in which the volunteer lives)
Develop an action plan for how they plan to obtain letters of support from residents of their ward, with help from FTOÉ Directors
Communicate with FTOÉ Directors on what resources they will need to achieve their plan, as well as regular updates on the progress they are making on their action plan
Distribute educational materials to community members about fair trade as required and requested
Organize events to get the community involved in the campaign, as part of their action plan
Attend a training session, during which the volunteer will have support developing their action plan (this will take place in the downtown Ottawa area, but all other work can be done remotely)
Commit approximately 5 hours/week to executing their action plan, or as necessary to hit the targets they set in the plan
Collaborate with other volunteers if/when support from FTOÉ team may be needed
Participate in occasional calls and/or meetings with FTOÉ leadership
Volunteers will primarily work from home
Skype will be used for calls and meetings wherever possible
This is NOT a canvassing or telemarketing position
Access to a reliable internet connection and ability to use common software (e.g. Skype, internet browser) as necessary
Fluency in English
Ability to communicate effectively with diverse community partners
Availability for one of our training sessions (see application, below)
Prior experience in community organizing is an asset, but not required
Prior knowledge about fair trade is an asset, but not required
Knowledge of French and/or other languages is a strong asset
To apply for this position, please complete the application form here.
We thank all applicants, however only those candidates who are selected for an interview or the position will be contacted.
FTOÉ recognizes the value of diverse perspectives and welcomes applications from individuals with marginalized identities.
As food movements are slowly beginning to emerge, evolve, and expand to all areas of the world, people are gradually trying to bring back elements of their life to a local stage. Documentaries have begun to open people’s eyes to the world of agricultural production and consumption. Images of animals in factory farms, and genetically-modified, pesticide-filled fruits and vegetables fill an hour-and-a-half documentary, leaving viewers with a sense of anger and guilt for being a part of that system of production. Viewers also witness instances of the disturbing, unethical treatment of animals, in addition to learning of the potentially harmful side effects of eating things that are not naturally produced. Understandably, the thought-provoking images and unsettling information shown have begun to upset many people.
Consumers want to ensure the health of their children, and that they themselves will live long and healthy lives. This notion has sprung into a new movement known as being a locavore: someone who desires to consume local food. It is a movement where consumers become more interested in eating food that is produced locally, typically within a 100-mile radius from their home. One essential aim of this movement is the desire to create a more sustainable food system, and to break the dependence on mass-produced food imports. As such, purchasers strive to be more eco-conscious and take care of where their home is, while supporting those around them.
The locavore movement has generated a key opportunity for local producers, as a new market has opened up for their products. For instance, in Ottawa a Locavore Artisan Food Fair takes place a couple times a year, where local produce, sweets, and products are available for purchase in one convenient location. In other areas of the city, such as on Parkdale Avenue, at Brewer Park and in the Byward Market, there are farmers’ markets that are open in the summer seasons. But when it gets too chilly, consumers can find solace in knowing that there is a winter solution for their locavore cravings at the Lansdowne Park Farmers’ Market every Sunday. Vendors have everything from local seasonal produce, to jams and jellies, all the way to locally-made kitchen aids.
Being a locavore is a growing, new trend where people can take charge of their food consumption and make a difference–even in their own backyards! City dwellers may lack the space to grow their own food, but they can still eat locally, and have fresh fruits and vegetables year round. You can benefit from eating seasonally, and enjoy lettuce that could have been picked an hour before you bought it at a market! And nothing tastes better than fresh produce. Being a locavore is a trend that helps support the local community and encourage sustainability, and it is an opportunity to consume food that may be organic. Food revolutions are catching people’s attention, whether from reading an article in the paper or seeing a documentary on Netflix. The locavore movement is a great way to take part in something local that carries the good vibes that people want in their lives. It’s a food movement based on good, and let’s admit it, who doesn’t like a good snack?
Back in 2011, when FTOÉ first got started, one of the first things we did was meet with City Councillors with Fair Trade roses and chocolate to make sure that they knew there was a push in Ottawa for Fair Trade. Fast forward four years, and we’re just coming off the 2014 election, with fresh faces in City Hall. FTOÉ needs support from the Councillors to make Fair Trade Town status happen, and so we knew it was important to meet with the Councillors–especially the new ones–to establish or renew our relationship with them.
Specifically, what FTOÉ needs from Councillors is the following:
City Council needs to pass a motion in favour of Ottawa becoming a Fair Trade Town. This motion will most likely go through one of two committees: CPS or FEDCo. Please click the committees for information on which Councillors sit on them, to see if yours is there!
FEDCo, which manages the financial side of Council, has to put through a modified Purchasing Policy that requires all coffee, tea and sugar purchased by the City of Ottawa to be Fair Trade. This will require the cooperation of the Councillors who sit on the committee, so please check to see if your rep is on FEDCo. If they are, your voice is extra important in the work we’re doing right now!
City Hall has to appoint someone to sit on the official Steering Committee for FTOÉ, which will meet twice per year and renew our Fair Trade Town status. This commitment can be fulfilled by a Councillor, or a City Staff, or any representative, and is quite low-effort. The heavy lifting in FTOÉ will always be done by the volunteer base. And a City Hall rep is in the future–this is only necessary once we get very close to Fair Trade Town status, so our priority now is to focus on requirements 1 and 2.
FTOÉ has an extensive history with some Councillors and a very vague relationship with others, which is where the FTOÉ support network comes in. Sometimes Councillors tell us, “I only care if my constituents care, and they don’t care.” We don’t think that’s true. We think that people in all parts of the National Capital Region are passionate about social justice, environmental sustainability and supporting small-scale producers instead of multinationals.
Today, we have something you can do to help us with the Fair Trade Town campaign: write to your representative in City Hall. Let them know that you care about these issues, and that the work that FTOÉ does is important to you. Let them know that you want them to formalize an agreement for them only to buy Fair Trade coffee, tea and sugar through their purchasing policy, and ask them to require that any independents that operate on their premises do the same. Ask them to vote “yes” when we bring a motion before Council, asking Council to support Ottawa becoming a Fair Trade Town. And if you’re not in an area where Fair Trade business is already booming, ask them to keep in mind that people like you want to be able to purchase Fair Trade (and local, organic, and other related food movements) and that’s more difficult when their representative isn’t pushing for it.
A bit of history
If you’d like to have a peek at FTOÉ’s history with the City Councillors, below you’ll find information on each round of meetings, as well as some photographs with the Councillors!
Now ancient history, volunteers from FTOÉ (this is so long ago that we weren’t even called FTOÉ yet!) met with Councillors for Valentine’s Day. Here, some volunteers from the EWB Ottawa City Chapter are posing with the Councillors. They even got some media coverage!
At this point, FTOÉ was finally starting to get off the ground (name and all!), and it was time for Mike (our Municipal Outreach lead) to meet with Councillors to know where they stood on Fair Trade Town status, and to make sure they have a steady supply of chocolate and love from FTOÉ!
This year, due to some major goings-on in FTOÉ and a new strategy, we focused on quality rather than quantity. We corresponded a few times with key Councillors that we knew were going to help us with a bit more of the heavy lifting, and set to really working on finding important leverage points within City Council.
2014 saw FTOÉ needing to restructure how we interact with Councillors. For the first part of the year, it was not possible to catch up with Councillors, as they were busily campaigning. In the last part of the year, there were some changes in Council, leading to a re-evaluation of where we stood. We spent some time planning our strategy for 2015, moving forward.
As I write this, 2015 Councillor meetings are still ongoing! We have met with some of the brand new Councillors, as you will see below (and more updates will be made to this page as we meet new people). We have also reconnected with some old friends in Council, this time with a very clear game plan: to get an understanding of how the process works (especially within FEDCo) and how we can best leverage positive changes to the purchasing policy.
FTOÉ is currently looking to fill a leadership position within its team. If you feel passionate about Fair Trade, have leadership qualities (or aspirations) and a little extra time to give, be sure to apply now!
Steering Committee elections will take place in August of each year. For information on committee positions, please contact us.
As the Communications Coordinator, this candidate would manage a team of tech-savvy volunteers who keep our web and print communications professional and effective. A successful Communications Coordinator would feel comfortable with the following tasks:
– Communicating with media contacts and overseeing the writing of press releases
– Overseeing the creation of content for our website and social media platforms, and keeping these platforms up-to-date
– Ensuring materials released are translated into both official languages in a timely manner
– Collaborating with other leadership as necessary to promote FTOÉ initiatives
– Designing or overseeing the design of web graphics and print materials released by FTOÉ
You may have noticed that there is some language mixing on the site.
It’s all right; you’re not imagining that half of the content is available in only one language, or that phrases like notre team are considered 100% acceptable to us. It’s something we’ve made a conscious decision to do, and it’s called mixed bilingualism.
Mixed bilingualism is a method of mixing two different languages in the same space. In a nut shell, you use every opportunity you have to incorporate both languages, and in our case, those are French and English.
That’s where we get page headings like about nous and dans les news. That’s also where we get the occasional page that’s only available in one language, or pages that alternate languages. It’s a way of integrating both languages into the same space, which we feel is important.
And here are a few of our reasons why.
It saves us a ton of work.
We’re a volunteer organization, and we don’t always have a ton of financial or time resources. And, I might add, the Communications team is already carrying more than an equal share of their weight in the FTOÉ context; a ton of what we do is communication and it’s not a huge team. So instead of having our Comms team update two separate and complete websites, we’ve merged them into one, pretty much cutting the web volunteers’ workload in half.
It keeps our volunteers passionate.
I’m about to get real with you: there was a point when every time a Francophone volunteer joined FTOÉ, they would get saddled with translation, because we needed so much of it done. Often, these volunteers would get fed up and go somewhere else where they felt their work was more interesting and valued. It’s a huge shame, because we have so many passionate, brilliantly creative volunteers that want to create original content and get excited about a really tangible contribution that they’ve made. So instead of making our Communications team use almost half of its time doing translation, we’ve decided to create a space where Francophones can create amazing original content in French and have it stay in French, so that they love their work with FTOÉ and stay in the family for longer.
It saves us a ton of space.
In a perfect world, there would be no logistical problems with just putting 100% of the content in both languages, all the time. In reality, there are space limitations, particularly in places like navigation menus! Mixed bilingualism allows us to put everything in a fairly small space and cater to both of our major linguistic audiences. Because, really—how many people don’t at least have a good enough understanding of the other official language to make it through the navigation?
It shows solidarity with our Francophone following.
In many ways, Francophones are still not accommodated in a ton of places, and have to find their own ways to deal with web content. Often, that means keeping translation software handy. The reality is that most Anglophones aren’t used to having to translate content to understand it. We feel that putting the onus on Anglophones once in a while could be a little inconvenient for them, but it also shows solidarity with our Francophone readers. Especially since FTOÉ has not always been a leader in bilingualism—even though we represent a massively bilingual region—we felt that this was a reasonable step to demonstrate that we do, indeed, value our Francophone following and feel grateful for the extra efforts they have often had to put into browsing FTOÉ materials.
So if you were a little confused, we hope this clears it up. We do thank you for your patience during our transition, which wasn’t always the smoothest, and look forward to hearing what you think of the new website!