Making Winnipeg a fair trade city organization’s goal

Movement ensures fair price for producers

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Winnipeg has been known for all kinds of things over the years -- from mosquitoes and murder to heavy metal music and wrestling -- but a local group is hoping to add a more meaningful one: fair trade.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/05/2015 (2748 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg has been known for all kinds of things over the years — from mosquitoes and murder to heavy metal music and wrestling — but a local group is hoping to add a more meaningful one: fair trade.

There are already 21 fair trade communities across Canada, including Brandon and Gimli, and Fair Trade Manitoba would like Winnipeg to follow suit.

Fair trade is an international movement that aims to change the terms for many products we buy by ensuring the farmers growing them, primarily in less-developed countries, earn a fair price.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Sean McHugh, executive director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network, says fair trade is a relatively easy way to have a positive impact on the world.

“We think it’s the right thing to do in terms of supporting producers in developing countries who are exporting products to us like coffee, tea and sugar that we use all the time,” said Zack Gross, outreach co-ordinator for Fair Trade Manitoba.

Other fair trade products include spices, bananas, wine, beer, cocoa, clothing, children’s toys and soap.

In order to become a fair trade city, a council has to pass a resolution in favour of the idea and bring in three fair trade products available in city-owned facilities. A city spokesperson was not available to comment this week on the idea.

Many of us may already be buying fair trade liquor and don’t even know it. Susan Harrison, spokeswoman for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, said it supports “sustainable procurement” and looks at the environmental and social requirements for any products that may go on its shelves.

“We recognize there’s a social benefit of fair trade products of guaranteeing fair prices to farmers,” she said.

Manitoba liquor stores stock wines such as About Us Chardonnay from Chile, Soluna Premium Malbec from Argentina, Six Hats Shiraz and House of Mandela Sauvignon blanc from South Africa and Fair vodka from France.

Sean McHugh, executive director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization, said there is a growing movement to shift away from international development models and look at the impact each of us has on the world.

“It’s a way to align values with the way you purchase items like coffee, tea or sugar. A city can support more sustainable supply chains with how they purchase,” he said.

“It’s a relatively easy thing to do to have an impact on the world. Fair trade is about switching supply chains from ones that are exploitable to ones that are sustainable.”

‘Fair trade is about switching supply chains from ones that are exploitable to ones that are sustainable’– Sean McHugh, executive director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network

McHugh said his group is also contacting coffee shops, retailers, church groups and non-profit organizations to see about them getting fair trade designations.

The requirements are hardly onerous — they only need to carry a minimum of two fair trade products on their shelves.

The fair trade talk will heat up next February when Winnipeg hosts the fourth annual National Fair Trade Conference.

The conference has grown every year from just 75 delegates in 2013 to 330 in Montreal in January. McHugh said he expects between 350 and 400 delegates will descend on Winnipeg.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Saturday, May 23, 2015 8:49 AM CDT: Adds photo.

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