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Canada’s 5th National Fair Trade Conference

by Jasmine in Events

Last month was the 5th National Fair Trade Conference; the conference was a three-day event, held at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was organized by The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN). The conference held a variety of fair trade related sessions and had 45 speakers and facilitators at the conference.


On Friday, the sessions that were held were:

  • Fair Trade Town Workshop – Torrye McKenzie (CFTN), Melissa Dubé (Fairtrade Canada), Erin Bird (Fair Trade Calgary), Zack Gross (Fair Trade Manitoba): The workshop held discussions on how to engage municipalities, collaborate with local businesses and create effective fundraising and awareness campaigns. Talks about of setting goals were also discussed, and post-designation resources and materials were reviewed.
  • Building Fair Trade Business – Jennifer Williams (Goodfood2u), Darryl Reed (York University), Bill Barret (Planet Bean), Martin Van Den Borre (La Siembra), Jennie Coleman (Equifruit): This session discussed the benefits Canadian businesses receive from fair trade, how businesses and advocates can improve their collaboration to support the movement, as well as how to create a fair trade business as a co-operative.
  • Fair Trade 101 – Eric St Pierre (Oxfam Quebec/AQCE), Dustin Johnson (CFTN): This session went back to the history of fair trade, sharing photos and tales that highlight the key leaders and moments in the growth of the fair trade movement. The essential fair trade principles were outlined to exhibit how these principles have underpinned the movement since its inception
  • Fair Trade Campus Workshop – Torrye McKenzie (CFTN), Melissa Dubé (Fairtrade Canada), Mark McLaughlin (Simon Fraser University): This workshop was dedicated to helping people face the challenges of Fair Trade Campus designation, and discussed the various ways to keep momentum going after receiving designation; address how to move forward from the basic requirements, incorporate additional product categories, and manage a campus committee. This session also discussed the actionable strategies to engage franchises, such as Tim Horton’s.
  • Fair Trade Financing – Jennifer Williams (Goodfood2U), Darryl Reed (York University), Bill Barret (Planet Bean), Martin Van Den Borre (La Siembra): Opportunities for Canadian fair trade businesses to connect with financing partners through Social Funders were discussed at this session, as well as the reasons why financing is crucial for ensuring growth and long-term product availability. The session also touched on ideas for growing fair trade business in Canada and highlighted some of the resources available to small businesses.
  • Updates and New Developments in Fair Trade – Erin Bird (Fair Trade Calgary), John Young (Fairtrade Canada), Ann Ferguson (Fair Trade Federation), Errol Sharpe (Fernwood Publishing): This session explored recent developments and accomplishments in the fair trade movement. This included a new focus on climate change and labelling initiatives. The session also discussed the growth of the Small Producers Symbol, the launch of WFTO’s Guarantee System, and the value additions at the origin and key priorities for the year ahead.
  • Fair Trade, Organic Agriculture, and Climate Change – Dr. Andrew Hammermeister (Director, Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada), Monika Firl (Co-operative Coffees), John Young (Fairtrade Canada): The session explored some of the natural affinities between fair trade and organic agriculture movements to confront climate change, share information about new developments and valuable insights. Possible next steps and collaborative project work were proposed, and potential partnerships amongst certifiers, grassroots organizers and advocates, and the full spectrum of stakeholders across each of their work were discussed.
  • Marketing Fair Trade Products and Retail Engagement – John Marron (Fairtrade Canada), Mischa Kaplan (Rainbow Foods), Kim Chackal (Equifruit): The session examined the best practices for marketing fair trade products, the importance of providing staff education, and how the promotion of company values can assist fair trade businesses to reach potential consumers.
  • From Bean to Cup: Understanding the Fairtrade International certification system – Shannon Brown (Fairtrade Canada), Jose Abad-Puelles (Fairtrade Canada): The session explored the certification behind the international Fairtrade Mark. The session outlined the certification process, what standards the Mark represents and more.

The Saturday sessions were:

  • Community Outreach Workshop – Torrye McKenzie (CFTN), Melissa Dubé (Fairtrade Canada), Tess Pooran (Saint Mary’s University), Erin Bird (Fair Trade Calgary), Zack Gross (Fair Trade Manitoba):This session went over strategies for engaging diverse audiences through the use of social media, presentation, booths and static displays, etc. Information and updates on the Fair Trade Event, Workplace, and Faith Group programs were also shared.
  • The Fair Trade Movement & The Co-op Sector in Canada – Karen Miner (Saint Mary’s University), Darryl Reed (York University), Andrea Kohut (Canadian Co-operative Association): This session looked at the Fair Trade Movement and co-operative sector in Canada, focusing on the two movement’s similarities in values and principles and exploring ways on how to get co-operatives and fair trade groups to collaborate with one another.
  • Fair Trade: What Are We Trying to Accomplish? What are our goals? – Monika Firl (Co-operative Coffees), James Mwai (Fairtrade Africa), Sean McHugh (CFTN): This session looks at the big picture of fair trade and bring the movement’s goals into focus
  • National Fair Trade Standard: Pros and Cons – Krista Pineau (Ecocert Canada): This session discussed the positives and negatives associated with creating a national fair trade standard, considering recent developments in the EU and the examples set by organic and halal certifications.
  • Fair Trade Coffee – Jose Abad-Puelles (Fairtrade Canada), Lloyd Bernhardt (Ethical Bean), Carmen Labbé (Kicking Horse Coffee), Steven Zubalik (Laughing Whale Coffee Roasters): The session discussed the on-going efforts of promoting fair trade coffee in Canada, and how purchasing fair trade coffee benefits producers.
  • Trade Justice: What Could It Look Like? – Gavin Fridell (Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies): This discussion outlined the possible look of trade justice in the future.
  • Sustainable Public Procurement – Donna Dagg (Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries): The session examined the continuous effort to drive changed by leveraging large-scale sustainable procurement in Canada. A case study was presented that applied fair trade goals to an average town’s purchases, which demonstrated the tangible impact for farmers and producers.
  • Fair Trade Flowers – John Forsyth (Florists Supply): Attendees were informed on the status and process of the cut-flower industry, exploring the expanding network of florists selling fair trade options and how purchasing fair trade flowers can benefit the communities that grow them
  • Trade Policy – Emma Moss (Dalhousie University), Ian Hudson (University of Manitoba): This session explored how a more equitable prioritization of social, environmental and economic goals achieved through such policies could create market pressure to promote sustainable, fair trade practices as compared to conventional trade agreements that work to undermine protections and take advantage of cheap labour
  • Fair Trade Canada Membership Meeting: This meeting provided updates on strategy, finances and governances changes.


The final sessions held on Sunday were:

  • Fair Trade Schools Workshop – Torrye Mckenzie (CFTN), Melissa Dubé (Fairtrade Canada), Bev Toews (Olds High School), Sarah Hanif (Fair Trade Vancouver), Jenn Vanderlaan (McKay Public School), Amber Minor (McKay Public School): This session updated attendees the growth of the Fair Trade School program, the potential to engage national and provincial partners, and strategies to encourage post-designation participation. The session also looked at the current supplies and teaching resources and highlight ways to effectively manage Fair Trade school committees.
  • Fair Trade Sugar – Martin Van Den Borre (La Siembra), Andres Gonzalez Aguilera (Manduvira Co-operative, Paraguay): This session examined the barriers sugar producers face and reviewed recent developments in the industry and the availability of fair trade products in Canada.
  • Domestic Fair Trade: Where and How Does It Fit – John Lindsay (McGill University), Nora Burkey (Saint Mary’s University): Discussions were based on the following questions: what is domestic fair trade all about, how does it work, what should it be called, and more.
  • Sustainable Investment: The other side of the coin – Avery Gottfried (CFTN/Fair Trade Vancouver): How businesses use money to generate profit was reviewed and ways to use investments to support businesses that value sustainability was discussed
  • Fair Trade Clothing – Shannon Brown (Fairtrade Canada), Darryl Reed (York University0, Madison Hopper (Fair Trade Toronto): This session looked at the needs that are required for businesses to produce fair trade garments.
  • Official Development Assistance and Fair Trade – Martin Van Den Borre (La Siembra), Andrea Kohut (Canadian Co-operative Association), Andres Aguilera (Manduvira Co-operative Paraguay): This session examined the efforts to see funds spent on Official Development Assistance on projects that focus on empowerment, such as fair trade co-operatives; and explore models for ODA spending that create long-term sustainable livelihoods.


Furthermore, the conference held a tradeshow event and the Canadian Fairtrade Awards, hosted by Fairtrade Canada. Fairtrade Canada gave out sixteen awards at the conference, awarding the following:

To read more about the conference, visit the CFTN’s website here.

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Trent University – Fair Trade Campus

by Jasmine in Fair Trade Campus

In April 2014, Trent University became Canada’s 8th Fair Trade Campus. The campus received its designation from Fairtrade Canada because of their long-standing history of ethical leadership, and commitment promoting the fair trade movement. This designation was made possible because of the continuous dedication and collaborative efforts of Trent students, administration, faculty, and the Fair Trade Trent group.

The Fair Trade Trent group, a working group part of Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) Peterborough, initiated the push for Trent University to achieve the Fair Trade Campus designation. Two years before receiving their well-deserved designation, the group held several campaigns and events on campus. These campaigns and events include:

  • Scare Them Fair: A campaign for Halloween where the group encouraged students and the community to celebrate the holiday with fair trade chocolate.
  • Ten Thousand Villages Sale: Held in November, this event promoted fair trade holiday gifts and wrapping
  • OPIRG’s annual Peace Week: During this week, OPIRG successfully carried out a stimulating discussion on Fair Trade issues
  • My Fair Valentine:  A campaign held in February where fair trade chocolate and hot chocolate were handed out
  • Fair Trade Presentations: An educational Fair Trade presentation that was held for students at a local secondary school

Currently, the group oversees that Trent University continues to meet the fair trade campus requirements.

Trent University is dedicated to educating and spreading awareness about fair trade issues and offering a variety of Fair Trade certified products across the campus. Many of the fair trade products the campus offers are available in several food outlets, vending machines and catering on campus. Furthermore, Trent University has implemented two purchasing policies with respect to fair trade

Since receiving their Fair Trade Campus designation in 2014, Trent University has continued to work hard to educate the Trent community on the Fair Trade movement. The university organizes several Fair Trade events throughout the school year; these events include:

  • The Ten Thousand Villages Festival
  • Fair Trade Campus Week
  • Trent Annual Fair Trade Celebration

Learn more about Trent University as  Fair Trade Campus by checking out their sustainability website and OPIRG Peterborough 

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