The movement has taken hold in the City of Selkirk. Thanks to the tremendous support of local businesses, community groups and engaged youth, the city has officially earned its designation as a Fair Trade Town.
Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson joined the entire city council in making the announcement at a special ceremony at Ecole Selkirk Junior High School on May 9.
“This is a testament to the great sense of social and environmental responsibility shown by so many people in our community,” the mayor said. “This really shows that Selkirk has a strong social conscience and recognizes the powerful way fair trade reduces global poverty through everyday purchases.”
Fair trade works by offering better trading conditions to benefit small-scale farmers and workers and reduce poverty and child labour while building prosperity in marginalized or developing communities primarily in the global south.
Local Businesses Join In
In February, 2017, a steering committee was formed to obtain a Fair Trade Town designation for the City of Selkirk. The committee had to fulfill certain goals, which include educating the community about Fair-Trade products, and gaining local and political support for the movement.
The committee also worked with local businesses to inventory the available fair trade products like coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate and flowers. As it turns out, many already had several fair trade products on their shelves. Products must carry the ‘Fairtrade’ mark to be included in the inventory.
“That so many of our local businesses were already involved speaks volumes about their awareness of fair trade and what it means to our global community,” Mayor Johannson said. “This is a great reflection of how so many of our businesses are aware of the impact fair trade can have. It also reflects the broad support this movement has in our community overall.”
Youth In Action
The steering committee included several community groups including Youth in Action from Ecole Selkirk Junior High, students who are studying and pursuing social justice initiatives.
“When we explored concepts like hunger and poverty, my students were very interested in Fair Trade,” explained Aisha Mahmood, group leader and teacher at the school. “We didn’t know a lot about it, so we decided to start to create awareness of Fair Trade in our school, as when schools focus on fair trade, we show solidarity with children in poorer countries.”
Ms. Mahmood added the school is now working towards its Fair Trade School Designation. The City of Selkirk earned a designation as a Fair Trade Workplace last March and followed that up with a Fair Trade Workplace of the Year award last month. The city’s Chief Administrative Officer noted how quickly the spirit of fair trade has embraced the city.
“It is really impressive how all of this has come together so quickly,” Duane Nicol said. “This shows that our residents, students and businesses understand and appreciate the values that are embodied in fair trade and how it contributes to improving the quality of life for our global citizens. Part of our ability to move forward so quickly was due to the input and support of Zach Gross from Fair Trade Manitoba who really served as a coach, mentor and catalyst for our steering committee.”
City Latest in a Growing LIst
With the designation, the City of Selkirk becomes the latest in a growing list of Fair Trade Towns.
“In today’s interconnected world, every city is a global city. The environment doesn’t recognize municipal boundaries, and basic human rights are everyone’s responsibility,” Nicol said. “Choosing to use fair trade products is one way our little city can have a meaningful global impact.”
Fair Trade Canada was delighted to welcome a new member to its global community of more than 1,600 Fair Trade Towns world-wide.
“Beyond excited to welcome Selkirk to the fair trade community as Canada’s 23rd Fair Trade Town! With the municipality leading the way as a Fair Trade Workplace, the town was able to receive their designation in record time,” said Sean McHugh, Executive Director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network who was in the city for the announcement. “Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the campaign. We see Selkirk rising as a mover and shaker within the national fair trade network!”