Needy fare well through fair trade

<p>Monica Scheifele has seen the difference fair trade can make.</p>


City event offers world’s wares responsibly

Monica Scheifele has seen the difference fair trade can make.


The Ottawa resident was in the Philippines 13 years ago when she met a poor local family. “They lived under a bridge and made baskets,” she said.


But after they began to sell their goods through Ten Thousand Villages — North America’s largest fair trade retailer — the family’s quality of life improved, and they were able to move into a house.


“It made a huge impact to be able to see these people and how they live, where they live and the changes that happen when they get a chance,” she said.

Starting today, and every weekend this month, Ottawans can also impact artisans and producers from around the world. The Ottawa Mennonite Church is hosting a Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale, featuring products by fairly paid artisans in more than 50 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“I think by purchasing an item that has been fairly traded, you can give a gift twice — once to the person who receives it and to the person that makes it,” said Scheifele, the event co-ordinator.

Canadians are more conscious now of fair trade as an organized movement that promotes fair prices for producers in developing countries. But they should always ask questions, even when items are marketed as fair trade, said Errol

Mendes, a professor of international and human rights law at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

“Nothing is 100 per cent,” he said.

But a fair trade festival locally is good for promoting consumer consciousness, he said.

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