Fair trade Fridays at the U of C

By Beenish Khurshid

The University of Calgary’s Engineers Without Borders club is attempting to make the U of C a fair trade campus.

EWB has been holding ‘Fair Trade Fridays’ in a push to promote Fair Trade on campus.

“Fair Trade Canada came to EWB with this Fair Trade Campus idea to try to get EWB to implement it because there are chapters across Canada,” said Sara Wilde, co-organizer of Fair Trade Fridays.

Fair Trade Canada is an organization dedicated to promoting fair trade products in Canada.

EWB is working with Fair Trade Canada to promote the Fair Trade Campus program.

“[EWB] has a very good relationship with Fair Trade Canada,” said Wilde. “The Fair Trade Campus program is designed to acknowledge institutions that have shown leadership … through their support of Fair Trade,” states Fair Trade Canada on its website.

To be considered a Fair Trade Campus three standards need to be met.

First, there are targets for the availability of fair trade products on campus, though these standards only apply to the university and students’ union, not to independent businesses and clubs.

The second category is visibility, which is about promotion and exploration of the concept of fair trade.

The last category focuses on ensuring that there is a committee that will keep the Fair Trade Campus momentum going.

“Part of our interest . . . stems from friendly competition,” said co-organizer of Fair Trade Fridays Kelly James. “University of British Columbia became the first Fair Trade Campus in Canada last year and now it’s a race to be the second.”

Fair Trade Fridays focuses on the second category — visibility.

“We offered free fair trade coffee and tea as well as chocolate every Friday morning and we used to do that in Science Theatres. It was quite successful last year,” said Wilde.

James said he reached out to over 40 people each week. “So it was pretty busy.”

EWB is planning to hand out free fair trade products such as coffee and chocolate in an attempt to encourage the student population to learn more about Fair Trade.

“You can buy fair trade. A lot of people [think] it’s more expensive, but it’s not — especially the coffee. If it is more expensive it’s going to be pennies or dimes more, and that doesn’t really make a difference,” said James.

EWB hit a road block when Meetings and Special Events Services initially did not allow the club to set up a table in Science Theatres due to issues with proximity to food vendors.

“We are discussing different options. We don’t want to burn any bridges with anybody,” said Wilde.

Their initial idea was to give out chocolate and coffee guerrilla style, on random days.

However, Meeting and Special Event Services has now confirmed a table for Fair Trade Fridays in Science B.

EWB will be in Science B in the mornings on November 4 and 18 and December 2, 9 and 19.

“We do want to get fair trade coffee and the fair trade message out there, and it is a fun opportunity for us to get to know our fellow students as well,” said Kelly. “We encourage fair trade around campus.”