A New Year for Fair Trade Vancouver

The 2016 year was one with many changes for the FTV team! Sadly quite a few of our FTV veterans moved on to other equally great opportunities. However, it was also with great pleasure that we welcomed several more fresh and talented faces to our Fair Trade Community! Because of this, Fair Trade Vancouver’s work and outreach during the 2017 year will increasingly support businesses and institutions in their transition towards acquiring fairer products.

Please click here if you are interested in joining or learning about our community!

Here’s what we got up to for 2016!

April 13, 2016 – all about argan oil – A Fair Trade Vancouver education night event

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coffee scrub

Participants making Fair Trade body scrub to take home


April 28-30, 2016 – BMO Health Sports and Lifestyle expo booth

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Visitors entering our Fair Trade product giveaway

Visitors entering our Fair Trade product giveaway


July 9-10, 2016 Vancouver International Soccer Festival

Volo Athletics (maker or FT sports balls) provided the official Fair Trade match ball for the festival

Volo Athletics (maker or FT sports balls) provided the official Fair Trade match ball for the festival

Athletes playing with the Fair Trade Certified match-ball

Athletes playing with the Fair Trade Certified match-ball

SoccerFest_013 ice cream scooping

Visitors enjoying their free Fair Trade Certified Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!

Visitors enjoying their free Fair Trade Certified Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream!

Aug 14, 2016 –the Steeles’ annual BBQ  – Canada’s first fair trade designated private event

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Aug 18, 2016 – Coffee That Changes Lives: A Fair Trade Vancouver Education Night

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Javier (farmer) sharing his story




Participants enjoying a professionally supervised coffee tasting


Participants learning about what it really takes to make the perfect Latte


We were also present at the February Federation of Independent Schools Association of BC convention,  the Fairtrade Canada AGM, and of course the Annual CFTN Fair Trade Conference in Winnipeg!

Our 2016 Annual General Meeting was held on January 3rd, 2017. You can check out a full summary of our 2016 year through our Official AGM Minutes.

Fall Fair Trade Gift Ideas by Jill Kirwan

Give the Gift of Fair Trade! Some Fair Trade Gift Ideas for Loved Ones

Choosing the perfect gift for a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary or even a little ‘pick me up’ is no mean feat. We all want to give a gift that has some meaning or value behind it. For your next special occasion, why not consider a Fair Trade certified gift? With the fantastic range of fairly made products available online and in stores, there is truly something for everyone. Check out our useful gift guide for some inspiration…


For the Fashion Fan

The number of fair trade fashion houses is on the increase these days, with big brands such as Patagonia and People Tree producing fair trade certified clothing. There are also many boutiques that do online delivery so you can find something special and unique for him or her.


Patagonia (https://www.patagonia.com/shop/fair-trade-clothing)

People Tree (http://www.peopletree.co.uk/)

Ten Thousand Villages (https://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/)

Kindred Apparel (http://www.kindredapparel.com/)


For the Homebody

For the house-proud friend who loves to keep their home looking beautiful and inviting, simple gifts such as organic fair trade candles, essential oils and soaps can be found easily in many eco-focused stores and markets around Vancouver, such as Choices or Pomme Natural Market. A bouquet of fresh fair trade flowers is also a wonderful and cheerful gift that will add life to any home.


Fable Naturals (http://www.fablenaturals.com/?c=d9703a36dec2)

Dr Bronner’s (https://www.drbronner.com/)

Fullbloom Flowers (http://www.fullbloomflowers.ca/)


For the Foodie

The range of fair trade certified food and drink is ever increasing, along with the level of quality. From decadent dark chocolate truffles to red wine and olive oil there is no shortage gourmet products to choose from. Why not make up a deluxe fair trade food hamper for your loved one to enjoy?


Pomme Natural Market, Choices, Donald’s, Wholefoods, Famous Foods, or Online (http://www.houseofmandela.com/; http://www.lasiembra.com/camino/; http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/; https://www.africanbronzehoney.com/; http://www.benandjerrys.ca/)


For the Jewellery Enthusiast

Fair trade jewelry is taking off in a big way. From necklaces, bracelets and earrings to brooches, rings and tie clips, you’ll find something for everyone. There are many online traders on Etsy who work with Fair Trade certified material.


Search “Fair Trade Jewelry” on Etsy.com

Ten Thousand Villages (https://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/)

Fair Trade Jewellery Co. (https://ftjco.com/)

Hume Atelier (http://humeatelier.com/)


Simple Shortcuts to Making Everyday Life more Fair Trade Friendly by Jill Kirwan

The prospect of buying Fair Trade can seem overwhelming at first, especially for those of us who are living on a budget. However it is possible to make a difference by starting small and working your way towards becoming a completely ethical consumer. By making gradual changes to your shopping habits, you will become more aware of the availability of fair trade produce in your area.

If you want to make the switch right now, start off by making these five simple changes towards becoming more fair trade friendly.


Make your Caffeine Fix more Conscientious

Whether your morning vice is tea, coffee or a hot chocolate, start your day right with a cup of your favourite Fair Trade brand. Practically all grocery stores stock at least one brand of Fair Trade tea, coffee and hot chocolate – Allegro, Kicking Horse, and Camino are just some of the high quality brands that are easy to find at many Vancouver groceries. For a more detailed list visit here.


True Blue Treats

Many of us hanker for something sweet to get us through the day, or grab something convenient on the way home to keep us going until dinner. Next time you want to satisfy your sweet tooth or have a little snack, challenge yourself to making sure what you purchase is Fair Trade certified. Not only will it make you think twice about what you are putting into your body, you will enjoy a treat even more knowing that it has been produced sustainably by workers who receive a fair price for their job. Look out for brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Level Ground, and Green and Black’s, which have all gained popularity in recent years, and should be available in many convenience stores. For more ubiquitous brands Nestle Kit-Kat and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars are now made with Fair Trade cocoa. Just look out for the logo!


Be Fair Aware!

Even if you don’t buy 100% fair trade, you can still help to increase awareness of the important work that Fair Trade does. For instance, you can engage your colleagues in a conversation about it over a cup of Fair Trade coffee. If you feel comfortable in doing so, you can also suggest that your workplace, school, church or any community group you belong to serves only Fair Trade coffee and tea. There are even programs available to help you spread the word! Being exposed to Fair Trade products can help raise interest and awareness among the people in your life.


Take a Stand at Lunch Time

When you visit cafes and restaurants, pay attention to any Fair Trade options on the menu. If you do not see a Fair Trade option, inquire with a server or leave feedback. If businesses are aware of what their customers want, they are more likely to make the switch to Fair Trade produce.


Educate Yourself

If you like the idea of Fair Trade but you feel as though you don’t know much about it, take a few hours some weekend to familiarise yourself with the concept of Fair Trade and how it works. This will help you engage with others on the topic and raise awareness in your own way. Vancouver Public Library offers a wealth of publications on the topic of Fair Trade, and numerous resources are just a Google search away. You can start on the Fairtrade Canada website!









A Golden Opportunity to learn more about Fair Trade Gold

This Monday April 20th join Fair Trade Vancouver for our presentation and panel discussion on Fair Trade Gold.

The evening will include an excellent lineup of speakers who will introduce artisanal small-scale mining (ASM), discuss its role in the gold supply chain and highlight the latest work to improve production practices.

Small-scale miners work in remote, marginalized and harsh conditions, doing back-breaking work to make a living. Their access to markets is limited and they rarely receive a fair price for their gold.

Fairtrade gold and precious metals is a groundbreaking initiative that offers a lifeline to poor and exploited small-scale miners around the world. It links consumers of jewelry with the source of their purchase.

Learn more and RSVP at www.meetup.com/fairtradevancouver.ca



Ongoing Fair Trade events and planning – get involved!

All in all we have to say that 2015 has already been a great year at Fair Trade Vancouver, and it’s only mid April!

Thanks to everyone who’s come out to our monthly planning meetings and attending our MeetUps. We are excited and driven to host more events and engage in compelling conversations about what ethical sourcing and fair trade really means in Vancouver and around the world. The next month and a half are shaping up to raise that bar.

April’s MeetUp features businesses and researchers who have explored what it means to certify gold as fair trade. We are so excited to learn more about the challenges and opportunities for those involved in the gold industry throughout the supply chain, and learn about how to make a difference from here in Vancouver. See our MeetUp page for more information.

Fair Trade Month in May will present a number of ways to get involved and show your support for fair and better trade around the world from right here in Metro Van. Come join us for our last planning meeting before kickoff on Tuesday, April 28th, and then stay tuned for opportunities to join the movement. The month’s first event will provide you the chance to shop Fair Trade from some fantastic local companies at their Mother’s Day Pop-Up, and we are excited to announce more campaigns throughout the month. If YOU have an idea please let us know! Come out to a MeetUp and let someone know, or contact us at marianne@fairtradevancouver.ca to share your thoughts.

Thanks for your interest in Fair Trade!

Fair Trade Made: A Recap by Erik Johnson

2155343327_f52a80aa23_m “I have an opportunity to buy a t-shirt for $1.35,” said Kemp Edwards, CEO of Ethical Profiling. “Does that sound like a real price?”

This question—asked during Fair Trade Made, a meetup hosted by Fair Trade Vancouver—underlines the widespread inequalities within the garment industry.

On Monday, February 16, 2015, fair traders from around Metro Vancouver gathered to sip yerba mate, scoop guacamole, and listen to a panel of experts, including Edwards, discuss the issues  facing the garment industry, the obstacles, and some possible solutions.

According to Andy Hira, a Professor of political science at SFU and an expert on the garment industry in Bangladesh, multi-national clothing companies use labour surpluses in developing countries to drive down costs and meet our culture’s “just-in-time fashion demands.” Hira described how the Rana Plaza disaster prompted company-led safety initiatives, but intense global competition among factories and a lack of long-term relationships between companies and manufacturers complicates enforcement of collective labour rights and minimum wages.

But the solution isn’t to stop buying clothing made overseas.

“These jobs are really important for developing countries,” said Hira. “We have regulations for environmental standards. We have regulations for child labour, for minimum wage. So why can’t we have these regulations abroad?”

What happens when North American consumers and companies take initiatives to procure sustainable apparel? Amy Roberts, Director of Sustainability at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), explained how fair wages and a grievance system have empowered workers at the Pratibha garment factory in India. In its program with Pratibha, MEC pays fair prices for certified goods, as well as an additional premium that goes directly to workers—they decide how to use it. In advance of the monsoon rains, Pratibha workers used premium funds to purchase brand-new raincoats for everyone at the factory.

When asked about what we can do to promote change, Edwards challenged the group to take specific action. “Look for opportunities to use your voice,” he said. “We have to speak for ten people or a hundred people.” He asked attendees to rethink margins across supply lines, celebrate the companies that are doing good things, and lobby the Canadian government to level the playing field by eliminating tariffs and duties on fair trade certified goods.

Hira suggested that any long-term solutions will need legislation from local governments, to fund consistent enforcement of labour standards and to grant workers the rights to unionize and receive fair wages. “We want to use fair trade to show how supply chains can be developed using ethical production practices,” said Hira. “But ultimately, what we want is for this to become normal routine, just like it is in Canada.”

“Until the workers themselves are empowered to push for their own rights,” Hira added, “it’s going to be hard for outsiders to actually solve the problem.”

Join us this Monday at Fair Trade Made

Fair Trade certification has seen great successes in agricultural goods like coffee, chocolate, and tea, though it is less often associated with the apparel sector. In 2014, we saw the first companies certify their manufacturing processes as Fair Trade Certified, MEC being among them. This demonstrates progress in the apparel industry, though also prompts a number of questions about how to address supply chain concerns from top to bottom.

How does the Fair Trade model approach the apparel sector? What other certifications are working to protect labour and environmental rights along the apparel supply chain? What are the challenges and opportunities to incorporate ethics into what we wear?

This Monday, February 16th three panelists from around Vancouver will gather at The Profile on Water Street in downtown Vancouver to discuss opportunities and challenges for applying ethics to apparel industry.

· Fair Trade Vancouver: Who we are, what we do, and why we put on events like this
· Anil Hira: SFU, Professor of Political Science
· Amy Roberts: Director of Sustainability, MEC
· Kemp Edwards: CEO/Co-Founder of Ethical Profiling

This event is free and open to the public. Please share widely!

RSVP on meetup.com/fairtradevancouver, or e-mail marianne@fairtradevancouver.ca with any questions.

Follow us on MeetUp to volunteer and get involved!

Are you looking to get involved with Fair Trade Vancouver in the coming months? We need your help! Fair Trade Vancouver has on-going needs for volunteers to help with communications, event planning, design, and much more and we meet at least once pe
r month.

The best way to get involved is to sign up to follow our MeetUp page: http://www.meetup.com/fairtradevancouver/fight for a fairer world

By signing for our MeetUp page, you will receive e-mail announcements of up-coming MeetUps, and have access to notes and recaps of meetings and events past. We do our best to post all MeetUps on our Twitter and Facebook pages as well.

Our next two meetings of the year are scheduled for Wednesday November 19th and Monday December 1nd. Everyone is welcome, and no previous experience or understanding of Fair Trade is required. The purpose of our meetings is to chat a bit about Fair Trade, identify events and ways to talk about Fair Trade around Vancouver, and then staff them, organize them, and get the word out!

We look forward to meeting you soon!