Fair Trade Vancouver Blog

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International Development Drinks networking event October 5th at the Blarneystone

International development drinks blarneystone vancouverOn Wednesday October 5th, 2011,The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB) will be continuing their series of networking events. International Development Drinks will be taking place at the Blarneystone this month and will feature keynote presenters Fiona Rayher, co-founder of Gen Why Media, and Ben West, healthy communities campaigner from Wilderness Committee.

Whether you're interested in meeting new people, or just having a drink, the event is a great place to meet local people who are involved in sustainable development.

Read on for more details and be sure to follow us at #devdrinks for more updates.

FTV Members recap this month's events

A large part of Fair Trade Vancouver's work in spreading awareness about Fair Trade happens in getting involved with events around the city. Over the past couple of weeks, you may have seen us at both the Autumn Shift Festival on Main St., and UBC's Meet Your Maker on campus. Read on to see what our members had to say about the events.


Autumn Shift Festival Recap

By: Grace Boutilier

In keeping with our mandate of educating our fellow city-dwellers, FTV recently participated in the Main Street Business Association's Autumn Shift Festival on Saturday, September 17th. Flanked by the likes of Sustainable Sweets and Translink, this was an opportunity for local non-profits and businesses alike to demonstrate their commitment to assist community members in a 'mindset shift' to compliment the seasonal change.

Ten Thousand Villages celebrates its 65th anniversary this weekend


Ten Thousand Villages will be celebrating its 65th year this weekend! Big congratulations go out to a company that's been involved with Fair Trade before the idea even existed. Over the years, the non-profit organization has been able to run a sustainable business that is based on dignity, respect, and social conscience and has benefitted artisans in low-income communities around the globe.

Keep reading to find out how you can join in the celebrations this weekend at Triangle Square in Vancouver.

An excerpt from their media release reads:

On the October 1st weekend, Fair Trade pioneer Ten Thousand Villages will celebrate its landmark 65th year of crafting change around the world. When Edna Ruth Byler first brought Puerto Rican needlework to North America in 1946, the term Fair Trade did not exist. Her volunteer project to provide market access for artisans spearheaded the Fair Trade movement in North America and eventually evolved to become Ten Thousand Villages. “Ten Thousand Villages has a long history and much to celebrate,” says Donald Epp, CEO of the organization’s Canadian division. “Retailers that have been in business for sixty-five years are few and far between, as are retailers that focus on the well-being of their suppliers and their bottom line. The fact that we are also staffed in large part by volunteers makes Ten Thousand Villages nothing short of amazing.”

Fractures in Fair Trade: Fair Trade USA leaves Fairtrade Labeling Organization

Fair Trade in the News: What is the significance of Fair Trade USA’s split from the Fairtrade Labelling Organization?

If you follow Fair Trade news you may have noticed that some pretty important things have happened in the Fair Trade world in the last few weeks – namely the decision of Fair Trade USA to leave the Fairtrade Labeling Organization in favour of its own certification system.  I would like to take a few minutes and use this space to explain a bit more about this decision, and explain a bit more about what sort of implications this might have for Fair Trade in the coming years.

What happened?

Two things happened last week that really made the headlines in Fair Trade:

  1. 1.     Fair Trade USA (the national Fair Trade body in the United States) independently decided to open the certification of Fair Trade coffee to hired labourers and plantation workers (September 12th); and
  2. 2.     Fair Trade USA and the Fairtrade Labeling Organization announced that Fair Trade USA would be leaving the FLO certification system.

How were Fair Trade USA and the Fairtrade Labeling Organization connected before?

Beginning roughly around the 1940s, Fair Trade as we know it today, began in reaction to the exploitive trading relationships and harsh working conditions that were common in many tropical commodities industries (coffee, chocolate, and sugar to name a few). Direct trade relationships were initiated by church and community groups in order to create direct trade relationships with producers, effectively creating an alternative trading route parallel to conventional trade. These alternative trade relationships created direct partnerships among producers and consumers and were defined by better prices, longer-term contracts and personal relationships.

JiggyTV covers the KidSport Fair Trade Soccer Match

JiggyTV recently posted a video on the KidSport Fair Trade Soccer Match that happened in August. The video features Julia Rhodes as she interviews members from Fair Trade Vancouver, KidSport BC and several of the players that played in the soccer match. Check it out to see the great times had by everyone who showed up to support the event.



For more on the event, check out: Recap: KidSport Fair Trade Soccer Match a Success!


Jeff Geipel visits the artisans of Shanti Uganda


Jeff Geipel, previously the executive director for Fair Trade Vancouver, recently visited the women who make the handicrafts of Shanti Uganda.

The following is a story written by Jeff about his experience visiting the Women's Income Generating Group, which is made up of 21 HIV positive women. These are the women who make the beads and bags that Shanti Uganda sells all over North America.


Hello friends,

Over this past summer, I spent six weeks doing research work for Shanti Uganda, in the small town of Kasana, in central Uganda.  You probably know Shanti Uganda for its Fair Trade beads and bags on sale in Vancouver, but you might be surprised to learn that all of their profits go back into the organization to fund a birth house in Uganda.  The centre offers prenatal services for mothers-to-be, delivers babies in a safe environment, and provides follow-up services after births.  Uganda routinely ranks among the most unsafe countries in the world for childbirth, and so Shanti Uganda provides a desperately needed service.

My focus during the research was the Women’s Income Generating Group, or WIGG.  Twenty-one HIV positive women make up the group that make all the beads and bags that Shanti Uganda sells in North America.  The five women of the textiles group make bags at the centre using donated sewing machines, while the beading group members spend most of their time crafting paper beads in their own homes.

tcktcktck interviews Tuulia Syvänen, Chief Operating Officer at Fairtrade International

tcktcktck, an advocate for the global climate movement, recently featured an interview with Tuulia Syvänen, Chief Operating Officer at Fairtrade International. Fairtrade International works to set international Fairtrade standards and provides support to Fairtrade producers.

-From Heather Libby of tcktcktck

TCK: Why did Fairtrade International decide to join the GCCA?

TUULIA SYVANEN: Fairtrade is a movement that represents over a million disadvantaged producers across the developing world, many of which are struggling with the effects of climate change. As we heard increasingly about our producers’ plight, we decided that we must take action to help them tackle this issue, and to make sure their voices and demands for technical and financial support are heard. The Global Campaign for Climate Action is a perfect platform for Fairtrade to share real-life stories of the challenges farmers face and to raise awareness on the seriousness of climate change. It will also allow us to join forces with other civil society organizations to demand additional technical and financial support for producers who so badly need it.

Come see us at the Autumn Shift Festival September 17

The Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association is hosting the 2nd Annual Autumn Shift Festival from 12-6 pm on Saturday, September 17th, 2011. This popular community event celebrates the shift in season from summer to autumn and the shifting in attitude in our community towards sustainability, responsible living and an increasing interest in all aspects of urban gardening.

Fair Trade Vancouver will be out in full force with a mandate to create awareness around the importance and availability of Fair Trade products via handouts, product displays and, of course, our vibrant mascots. Our booth will be located at space #26 on 10th Ave (for reference, our neighbors are Sustainability Sweet and GVC Credit Union).


Keiran in San Diego

This one's from back in July, but for those of you keeping up with Keiran, here's a post that he wrote on his blog a while back:


Fair Trade: Cafe Virtuoso

Leaving San Diego I planned a short stop at Café Virtuoso, a local Fair Trade coffee roaster.  I was a little late getting on the road but my delayed departure led to a surprising bonus. Every Friday morning they host a small tasting session that anyone can join in on, where they check on the quality of a couple of batches of coffee. Result! I love coffee and this was a great way to end the US part of my trip.

Spoon in one hand, spitting cup in the other, I went to work to decipher the complexities of four different coffees. And of course the slurping. I managed to do this a little too well on my first slurp and nearly got into a fit of coughing. Apparently it meant my airwaves had got a full dose and that’s a good thing. During the session I talked to Stephan, one of the company partners and he told me how they check the aroma of the coffee beforehand (among other things) while the tasting itself looks at flavour, acidity, body and aftertaste. I left it to the pros to figure out the exact differences between the coffees but was able to pick out differences between the coffees they had. Something to look into in future I think.

ONEbean Coffee Company works to keep it Fair

ONEbean is a local coffee company that works closely with several non-profit organizations and has participated in a number of community events (you might have seen them recently at the KidSport Fair Trade Soccer Match). Although they've only been around for about three years, you may have heard about the work they've been doing with a number of schools and community organizations and has won the City of Surrey business excellence award two years in a row.

Check out this article about them posted in the Langley Times:

When you buy, you give

By Natasha Jones - Langley Times

Change is often achieved in baby steps, by ONE person at a time . . .  and now, in the case of an innovative Langley business, by ONE bean at a time.

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