Christmas shoppers who care where their gifts come from and who made them can choose from a wide array of fair trade products at the Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale at the Ottawa Mennonite Church this month.

Ten Thousand Villages, which has held church sales for over 20 years, opened its first permanent store on Richmond Road in 1999 and its second on Bank Street in 2007.

“There certainly is an increased awareness over the years of what fair trade is, but there still certainly are lots of people who need to learn. It’s not universal knowledge yet,” said assistant store manager Kathy Neufeld.


The principles of fair trade, she said, include fair wages for producers, safe working conditions and environmental sustainability. It’s also about establishing stable, long-term relationships with the artisans who make the products.

“If they’re making something and it’s no longer selling in North America, we work with them to develop new products,” Neufeld said. “We don’t just drop them and move onto another group, so it’s basically trade they can count on.”

While most people have heard of fair trade coffee or chocolate, shoppers can find fair trade jewelry, toys, musical instruments and more from over 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The sale also features an education room to provide information on the origins of all the products.

The sale runs 3 to 8 p.m. Fridays and 10 to 4 p.m. Saturdays throughout November at the Ottawa Mennonite Church.

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