Wolfville, N.S. to be Canada’s first 'fair trade town'

Wolfville, N.S. to be Canada’s first 'fair trade town'

A small town in rural Nova Scotia will be Canada’s first designated “Fair Trade Town” after city council passed a motion to use and promote fair trade products.

The town, Wolfville, is roughly 100km northwest of Halifax and has a population of 3,800.

The designation was established in conjunction with fair trade advocates TransFair Canada, who are hoping other Canadian towns and cities will be inspired by the hundreds of towns in the UK, Belgium, France and Sweden who have become fair trade friendly since the international movement began in 1999.

Fair trade essentially means a fair return to producers, usually through smaller importers buying directly and circumventing the large, multi-national corporations that often keep suppliers, regions or countries in an impoverished and dependent state.

In an interview with the ChronicleHerald, Bob Stead, Wolfville Mayor, said the town plans to advertise its new status on a launch that will coincide with Valentine’s Day, when fair trade products such as chocolate are bought and sold in great numbers.

The town, he said, “accept[s] the concept of fair return to the producer of a good product.”

In addition to agreeing to officially support “fair trade” products – which also means that only fair trade products like coffee, tea and sugar will be used in municipal buildings – towns that apply for the designation must meet five other criteria.

The second is to have a specific percentage of fair trade products available within the town.

Thirdly, support from schools, the faith community, and local workplaces must be in place.

The fourth criterion is to ensure support from local media and conduct public awareness campaigns. Sustaining momentum of the initiative by creating a fair trade steering committee is also critical.

Lastly, fair trade towns committees would seek to tie in the initiative with environmentally sustainable practices through establishing creative programs that seek to expand ethically and environmentally sound practices.

Small towns, explains Chantal Harvard, Media and Public Relations Coordinator for TransFair Canada, are ideal for incubating the initiative.

“It’s better in small and medium-sized towns,” she says. “People know one another and there is more of a sense of community.”

On the other hand, she explains, the designation can be successfully established within sections of cities, such as the boroughs around London. The world’s first recognized fair trade town is Garstang, located in the Borough of Wyre.

Harvard says that Wolfville embraced the fair trade town idea more readily due to the local presence of Canada’s first certified fair trade coffee roaster, Just Us Coffee Roasters Co-op.

“We were the first fair roaster, so it’s pretty exciting that this will become the first fair trade town,” Deborah Moore, the co-op’s founder, told the Chronicle Herald.

Wolfville, home to Acadia University, also boasts the world’s only “Fair Trade Museum.” It also declared itself a “nuclear free zone” in 1985.

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Craig Anderson

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