“Take a Step for Fair Trade” creates Canadian opportunity for global change

OTTAWA, May 1, 2012 – Kicking off alongside Fairtrade Fortnight (May 1), the “Take a Step for Fair Trade” campaign provides an opportunity for Canadians to register their personal socially-conscious contributions towards a national effort. The project, spearheaded by Fairtrade Canada, is already working alongside businesses, organizations, community groups and passionate individuals to hit a goal of 150,000 steps taken across Canada by year’s end.

The campaign launch coincides not only with Fairtrade Fortnight, but also with a growing consciousness among consumers about the consequences of day-to-day purchases for producers across the globe. Each year, sales of Fair Trade products grow by about 30% globally, empowering more and more small-scale producers in the process.

The campaign invites the Canadian public to take its own step for Fair Trade this year. Whether it be to try a new Fair Trade product or to switch out the coffee served in their workplace, Canadians are already showing their enthusiasm by adding their voice to a growing number of supporters across the nation. “I’m already really passionate about Fair Trade, so for me, the campaign is a chance to challenge myself,” says University of Ottawa student, Lia Walsh. “But a lot of my friends don’t even know what Fair Trade is, and they’re getting involved just by learning more. The campaign has something for everyone.”

It’s not just individuals that are taking steps this year. Organizations, businesses, schools, and faith groups have begun planning “Take a Step” events across the country. Home-grown talent like The Dragon Den’s Arlene Dickinson and CBC’s George Stromboulopoulos have already voiced their support.

“This campaign is a chance for people to see the kind of impact even small steps can have,” says Sean McHugh, director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network. “Something as simple as buying one Fair Trade banana becomes significant when 150,000 other people are doing the exact same thing. It’s a step that could make a huge impact on the lives of producers and their families in the developing world, and this campaign is trying to help people to see that.”

For more information or to register steps, visit http://fairtrade.ca/step.

Fair Trade Ottawa Equitable endorses uOttawa Fair Trade Campus campaign

Lia and Sura show the Fair Trade love!

OTTAWA, December 15, 2011 – A group of volunteers in Ottawa that is seeking Fair Trade Town status for the nation’s capital is encouraged by a student-led campaign at the University of Ottawa to work toward the equivalent designation for the campus.

“Universities and colleges are an important part of the city’s fabric and community,” says Michael Creighton, Chair of Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable (FTOÉ). “The University of Ottawa’s achievement of Fair Trade status would be a significant step toward getting Fair Trade status for the city.”

FTOÉ has been collaborating with a number of organizations, businesses and community groups to get Fair Trade Town designation for the City of Ottawa by Fairtrade Canada. This would mean greater availability of Fair Trade products city-wide, as well as an official declaration of support from the university administration and municipal leaders.

Ryan Ward, in collaboration with uOttawa’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, is leading the campaign on campus. It has received support from the University administration, including President Allan Rock and the Office of Campus Sustainability.

“Our administration has already been convinced. Now it teeters on the point of student acceptance. I want them to be aware of it and buy into it,” says Ward.

At just under 40,000 students, the University of Ottawa is the largest campus in Ottawa and welcomes students from all corners of the globe. As such, the university is one of Ottawa’s leading ambassadors to the world and is often looked to for leadership on important issues.

Achieving Fair Trade Status would make uOttawa only the second in Canada to do so, after the University of British Columbia.

“Fair Trade is a standard that says that the producer who has made this product has received a minimum wage for their work,” says Ward. “Students are transitioning into independent consumers and should know that Fair Trade is an available ethical option.”

“The campaign has grown exponentially since we realized this spring that Ottawa is ready to become a Fair Trade Town,” adds Creighton. “The support for a Fair Trade Campus at uOttawa is encouraging.”

Background Information

About Fair Trade: Fair Trade is an alternative and ethical way of doing business with the developing world. Unlike conventional trade which seeks to obtain the lowest possible prices for imported products – no matter what this means for the quality of life of farmers and producers – Fair Trade seeks to ensure that farmers are able to live a life of dignity.

About Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable: Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable is a group of community members focused on promoting the availability of fair trade products while at the same time raising awareness about fair trade issues. Our goal is to collaborate with all members of the community from the municipality, students, government leaders, local business, and the general public. http://www.fairtradeottawa.ca

About EWB uOttawa: EWB uOttawa is the official chapter of EWB at the University of Ottawa. It brings together students who are passionate about international development to focus on challenges to human development and connecting Canadians to Africa, including via Fair Trade. EWB uOttawa also works with the chapters at Carleton University and the Ottawa City Network. http://www.uottawa.ewb.ca/

About Fairtrade Canada: Fairtrade Canada is a national, non-profit Fair Trade certification organization, and the only Canadian member of Fairtrade International (formerly the Fairtrade Labelling Organization). The Fair Trade Towns campaign is an exciting initiative that encourages communities to support Fair Trade at the local level and seeks to increase availability and awareness of Fair Trade Certified products. http://fairtrade.ca/en/getinvolved/fair-trade-towns

Download the full press release (PDF)

Wickedly Westboro leads the way with Fair Trade Halloween

Consumers, businesses and community groups choose Fair Trade chocolate this Halloween

Ottawa, ON – There’s a whole new concern seizing chocolate lovers this Halloween, and it isn’t related to fuller waistlines.

Fair Trade chocolate has been cropping up more and more in Ottawa’s stores, with a particular concentration of Fair Trade products available in Westboro. It’s no surprise, then, that the Wickedly Westboro celebrations will be asking children and parents alike to ask where their chocolate comes from.

The Wickedly Westboro celebrations are slated to take place on October 29 from 10am to 4pm, and the diverse line-up already includes the spooky scavenger hunt, pumpkin carving at the Superstore, and a spectacle from magician Elliot Smith. But whether it be through Ten Thousand Villages’ Fair Trade Halloween costume contest or the Camino chocolate that children will receive in their goody bags, it seems that Fair Trade will be on everyone’s mind at Wickedly Westboro.

Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable (FTOÉ), a local coalition with the purpose of promoting Fair Trade in Ottawa, has been collaborating with the Westboro BIA to bring a Fair Trade message to the Wickedly Westboro celebrations. This is only one of the events that FTOÉ has been involved in as part of the national Fair Trade Halloween campaign initiated by the Canadian Fair Trade Network. Volunteers will be selling Fair Trade chocolate on the University of Ottawa campus on October 20 and the Carleton campus on October 26, with other events taking place throughout October. FTOÉ will also be working with local businesses to make sure that parents know where they can buy Fair Trade chocolate to hand out to trick-or-treaters this year.

While Halloween candy may seem too small to make a big difference, it makes up 8% of the chocolate consumed annually in North America. Only 0.1% of the world’s cocoa is Fair Trade, which is a big problem for Lia Walsh, a University of Ottawa doctoral student and FTOÉ volunteer. “Cocoa production is known for being particularly exploitative. We’re talking about child labour, dangerous working conditions, and poverty wages, if the workers are getting paid at all. It’s simply not possible to grow cocoa in the world’s wealthiest countries—it falls to producers in parts of the world where Fair Trade is the only reasonable reassurance that people aren’t being exploited.”

So what can consumers do to make sure that they can feel good about the treats they’re handing out this Halloween? “Fair Trade is becoming more and more popular,” says Walsh. “Smaller companies like Camino and Green&Black’s have certified all of their products as Fair Trade and organic, and they’re even available in the organic aisle of most supermarkets. Even larger companies like Cadbury are finding that there’s a market for Fair Trade. They recently got Fair Trade certification for their Dairy Milk bar, which is great because it means that now we can walk into any corner store and buy Fair Trade chocolate.”

Fair Trade chocolate ensures fair wages, safe working conditions and environmental sustainability, as well as guaranteeing that no child labour was involved in production.





Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable (FTOÉ)
Works to promote Fair Trade in Ottawa with the final aim of achieving Fair Trade status for the City of Ottawa according to the criteria set forth by Fairtrade Canada. FTOÉ is a coalition of volunteers that encourages the community to get involved in the effort to promote Fair Trade as an alternative model of consumerism. For more information, visit http://www.fairtradeottawa.ca.


Download the full press release (Microsoft Word format)