Fair Trade: one step towards a better world

Brittany Brooks _ Fairtrade 03As hundreds of institutions celebrated National Fair Trade Campus week, Brock University stood out a little more as it became recognized as a Fair Trade designated campus.

Anneka Bosse and Charissa DiMarco are two Brock students who founded the Fair Trade club in October of 2011 and immediately started looking for ways to bring the fair trade movement to Brock. They quickly started to worked members from Brock Univeristy Students Union (BUSU) and Brock Dining Services as well as with Heather Hill, regional manager of General Brock in order to make their goal a reality.

The honour is great, but does not mean much if students don’t understand what fair trade is and why it’s so significant, a common discrepancy Bosse and DiMarco have become quick to explain.

“Most people think fair trade is just fair wages, but it really promotes social and environmental sustainability. On top of fair wages for the producers there is the fair trade premium which goes to the fair trade communities to support local projects. And they vote democratically on where they want the money to go in order to develop their community in the way that they want to,” said Bosse.

Fair Trade also supports worker rights and environmental sustainability by using as little, if any, pesticides, making safer working conditions and a green production line.

Brock is now the second university in Ontario to achieve fair trade status, following Guelph University who was the first and joining the ranks of the University of British Columbia, Simon Frasier University and McGill University.

All of their efforts have amounted to receiving Fair Trade designation on Campus, a honour given by Fair Trade Canada. The criteria is based off three categories: availability, visibility and committee. Having established a committee out of several students and faculty members, the next categories were up to the club to monitor.

Availability means that non-franchise stores (Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, etc), sell 100 percent fair trade coffee, three types of tea and one type of chocolate. As well as ensure that fair trade standards are met for catering events and meetings for BUSU and for the University at large.

Visibility means having a certain amount of signage and a fair trade product for sale, as well as ancillary info, so that people understand what fair trade is and where to buy it. There is also a need for some sort of celebration.

 Brittant Brooks _ Fairtrade 04So in light of National Fair Trade Campus week, the Fair Trade Club gave out bananagrams (bananas with a saying written on the peel), chocolate, posters, magazines and tea that were all fair trade certified.  The club also organized a screening of the documentary Black Gold on Wednesday, which shows how framing communities are affected by coffee production. On Thursday of the week, the Fair Trade Coffee House took over the Guernsey Market and hundreds of students ate their lunch taking in the melodic sounds of several musicians.

The Brock Fair Trade club became an Action Group under OPRIG (Ontario Public Interest Research Group). The overarching goal is to bring more fair trade products on campus instead of just support for events and funding.

“We’re in a place where we can act, educate and empower, and try to figure out the best way to reach members of the community,” said Bosse.

To Bosse and DiMarco, becoming a fair trade campus is an important step for fair trade workers but also for all members of the Brock community.

“I think the University has such a big impact on everyone’s lives and supporting things like fair trade supports something bigger. Giving students the opportunity to buy something empowers others and also empowers themselves,” said Bosse.

For more information, visit yourbrock.org/fairtrade.

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