Commitment to conscious consumer habits continues to be a priority at Selkirk College with students and staff contributing to the fair trade movement.
Five years ago, Selkirk College became the first community college in Canada to be approved as a Fair Trade Designated Campus. Since that time, student volunteers have been striving to increase awareness and representation of this movement at all college locations in the region.
Selkirk College Sustainability Coordinator Laura Nessman (left) and student Fair Trade Coordinator Sonia Domarchuk-White have been working hard to spread the message about fair trade. In 2013, Selkirk College was the first community college in Canada to be a Fair Trade Designated Campus.
“We are proud to celebrate our fifth anniversary as a Fair Trade Designated Campus,” says Sonia Domarchuk-White, a second-year Integrated Environmental Planning Program student and the college’s Fair Trade Coordinator. “We first earned our official fair trade designation in the spring of 2013, so a lot has been learned and a lot has been accomplished.”
Changing the Way We Trade
Fair trade is an alternative approach to conventional trading methods which supports responsible companies. Most often these companies are based in developing countries and are those which value their employees, the communities where they operate, and the environment. Fair trade certified companies provide a fair wage for goods and services rendered, regardless of volatile market prices.
“These companies empower their employees with a decent living wage, which allows them to invest in their own communities,” explains Domarchuk-White. “They follow good environmental practices which protect the local natural resources. Fair trade companies also have standards for safe working conditions for their employees and prohibit child labour.”
Currently, all of the coffee and most of the teas served on the Castlegar Campus are fair trade. The campus bookstore offers a wide range of fair trade items, including chocolate.
The campus has also hosted a number of fair trade events this year. On Halloween, students and staff were encouraged to choose fair trade chocolate, and educated about the poor working conditions and unsustainable wages paid to non-fair trade cocoa producers. There was a fair trade market on campus for the winter holiday season offering numerous products from all over the world.
During the college’s Sweater Day energy conservation event, students and staff were offered fair trade hot cocoa to help keep them warm. On Valentine‘s Day, students wrote letters of gratitude to fair trade farmers and enjoyed some fair trade tea.
“Selkirk College remains committed to the ideals of the fair trade movement and encourages everyone to look for the fair trade logo in your local establishments,” says Domarchuk-White. “Our hope is that everyone supports those companies which are dedicated to enacting positive change in our world.”