Did you know that May is Fairtrade Month in Canada? Well, I guess the title gave that part away…
But what you may not know so well is what Fairtrade Month actually is.
I’m here to clear all of that up! I’m going to discuss not only the what of Fairtrade Month (in Canada), but also the who and the why.
What is Fairtrade Month (in Canada)?
Fairtrade Month is a little different in Canada than elsewhere. In fact, in other places, it’s a fortnight rather than a month! (Looking at you, UK!) But in Canada, it runs all month (May) to increase the visibility and (ultimately) the sales of fair trade products. This helps create a more of a positive impact for producers in the Global South.
So in short: the more people buy fair trade products, the better it is for fair trade producers.
You see, currently, fair trade producers face a really unfortunate problem. Some skeptics of fair trade suggest that fair trade producers could not keep up with the demand of goods. But in fact, we see the opposite. Some producers get their amazing produce Fairtrade Certified, and then because so many consumers are choosing non-Fairtrade brands, they have to sell some of it at market prices. If you’re not well versed in trade, you may not know that the market prices can be really volatile. (That’s why under fair trade, a fair price that covers production must always be paid.) So that’s where Fairtrade Month comes in.
During Fairtrade Month in Canada, you’ll see all sorts of retailers participating, including the Rosette Network Ltd.! We’ll be running a special 20% off promotion on the Rosette Fair Trade store in celebration. And partly we do this because it helps people to dip their toe into fair trade brands. Often they find out, “Wait a minute! This is my new favourite brand!” It helps increase value for new customers in particular. It’s a lower-risk way to see the difference their purchase makes and also how high-quality fair trade products are!
During Fairtrade Month in Canada, you’ll often hear brands and advocacy groups talking about the impact of fair trade on producers and their communities. And that’s great! The flip side is that conventional trade often leads to producers feeling powerless and exploited. Fairtrade Month helps consumers realize that by buying that delicious, fair trade chocolate, they’re also opting out of the conventional trade system that marginalizes—rather than empowers—producers.
Who organizes Fairtrade Month in Canada?
Fairtrade Month in Canada is organized by none other than the gold standard of certifiers: Fairtrade Canada. For a bit of background, Fairtrade Canada is part of Fairtrade International, the best-recognized and most highly-respected certifier in the world. It has dozens of organizations (like Fairtrade Canada) in countries all over the world. Fairtrade International has the highest fair trade standards, and also places a huge value on the needs of producers. And they put their money where their mouth is: 50% of their board is made up of producers. So there is literally no way for them to make decisions without the producers’ blessing. How cool is that?!
Because Fairtrade Canada runs Fairtrade Month in Canada, you’ll see a lot of the Fairtrade Canada/Fairtrade International mark. That’s the mark that you see here to the left. Does that mean that everything else isn’t fair trade? No, of course not! It just means that because the people who are associated with that mark are running the show, it’s going to mean higher visibility for that specific mark. And I’m OK with that, because their standards are super great, and it’s already a mark that lots of people recognize. It makes it simpler to dive a bit deeper with folks when you don’t have to explain from scratch.
So for instance, the promo that we’re running on Rosette Fair Trade will include only products with this mark. Why? Because the campaign focuses on that mark primarily, and keeping a clear and simple message is important. (Remember Occupy Wall Street? Nobody could figure out what their goal was for a long time, because their messaging was pretty confusing.) We’re keeping it simple: look for this mark to know it’s a high-quality, Fairtrade Certified product. And then we’ll do education around other marks at times when Fairtrade Canada isn’t the star.
Why do we need a Fairtrade Month in Canada?
We used to have Fairtrade Fortnight like the UK, before we got Fairtrade Month in Canada (thanks, Fairtrade Canada!). In the UK, Fairtrade Fortnight is in February, but for reasons that an Ottawan like me can easily understand, Fairtrade Fortnight in Canada was in May. (Can you imagine handing out fair trade breakfast at a bus stop on a February morning in Ottawa? No thank you. But with Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable, I have totally done that in May!)
But the real difference is that the fair trade movement is still kind of young in Canada. Having the same two weeks to do as much outreach as the UK is pretty much impossible. We simply don’t have the same existing supports that they do! So Fairtrade Canada came up with a new idea: Fairtrade Month. That would give advocacy groups over twice the time to make an impact!
While Canada is slowly increasing its consumer consciousness around things like fair trade, organic and local food movements, we’ve got some catching up to do. And since everyone comes together during Fairtrade Month in Canada, it means that the impact is much greater!
What does Fairtrade Month look like in Canada?
Fairtrade Month is the most active time of year for fair trade advocacy groups, and a time for brands to show off their products! You can definitely expect things like social media giveaways, more educational resources from your favourite brands and organizations, and all sorts of amazing promotions.
And producers will be everywhere. Like, actually everywhere. Since they’re the centre of the movement, Fairtrade Month really tries to signal boost their words and stories. This helps folks feel more connected to the individuals that are producing the products that we buy.
To keep in the loop about all of our Fairtrade Month celebrations, make sure to follow Rosette Fair Trade on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn! And check out the Fairtrade Canada website for more details on who’s participating this year!
Happy Fairtrade Month!
Pin this for later!