You can make a difference in the lives of people in the Global South by the everyday choices you make. By purchasing Fair Trade products, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, bananas, sports balls, t-shirts, you are supporting a system where producers are paid fairly, no child labour is used and environmental standards are upheld.
Fair Trade is an alternative to the current free trading system, where the producers aren’t paid a wage that can cover their costs while also ensuring that their families have access to the basic necessities; the working conditions are often unsafe and harmful to the worker’s health and well-being; very little regard for the local environment was taken into consideration; and often children who have been kidnapped, and possibly sold, are involved directly in the production process.
However, there is hope in the form of an alternative trading system. Fair trade seeks to un-do the wrongs that are present in our current free trading system. Under a fair trading system:
- Producers are paid a fair living wage that includes a social premium, which must be reinvested in the community to help better the living conditions of everyone within that community.
- Producers have access to pre-production lines of credit so that they can purchase the tools and supplies that they need to effectively produce, and then sell, their products.
- Producers are expected to implement sustainable environmental practices, so that the production process can continue for generations to come.
- Products must come from democratically organized cooperatives, which means that everyone owns a share of the product and has a voice, and a vote, that must be listened to at all times.
- Direct trading relationships are established between the Global North (developed countries) and the Global South (developing countries) so that some of the middlemen in the supply chain are eliminated and more money can go back to the producers in the community where the product was produced.
- No child labour is involved in any stage of the production process.
- Invite MCIC to your school to do a Fair Trade workshop.
- Check out Fair Trade Manitoba’s website for information about fair trade, events, ways you can take action, and even where to find fair trade products in Manitoba.
- Fair Trade Federation has some excellent ideas & resources to bring the topic of fair trade into the classroom.
- Check out the Fair Trade Resource Network for even more learning tools, as well as some excellent video/movie suggestions.
- MCIC developed a resource kit for teachers complete with curriculum connections, additional information and various print, online, and video resources. Download your copy here.
The following resources are provided by MCIC members with regards to this issue:
Engineers Without Borders
Invite Engineers Without Borders from our local University of Manitoba chapter to do a workshop on Fair Trade with your students. Resources and lesson plans are also available (for middle years and high school).
The Marquis Project
Serving the Westman area, the Marquis Project has workshops and simulation games aimed at early years through high school. They also offer fair trade simulation games, like the Fair Game.