Fair trade communities celebrate Fair Trade Month

May is fair trade month, an event being marked by fair trade communities across the province.

May is Fair Trade Month and residents are invited to help celebrate the fact that the village is a fair-trade community.

A fair-trade community is one that has applied for the designation. In order to receive this designation, certain criteria needs to be met. The criteria varies, depending on the size of the community.

“Because we’re a small community we have to have at least one coffee shop serving fair-trade coffee, and one business selling it,” said mayor Karen Hamling. “We’re very fortunate because we have at least one coffee shop selling it, and we have Overwaitea and we have Home Grown (Market) selling products.”

Both Home Grown Market and Overwaitea will be setting up displays about the fair-trade movement from May 12 to May 14.

Fair trade is a social movement aimed at helping producers in developing countries attain better conditions for trading and promoting sustainable farming. Some fair-trade products include coffee, cocoa, fruit, chocolate, even wine and gold.

Nakusp became a fair-trade community in 2009, the first in the British Columbia and the forth community in Canada to do so. It started when a group of students at Nakusp Secondary School (NSS) were doing a project on the environment and energy.

“They came and they talked to council and asked them if we would become a fair-trade town,” said Hamling. “They put all the information forward to us, and I sent them back for more information. They did and they came back and we made the resolution to become a fair-trade community.”

Over the last few years the Interact Club has been involved in the project. They recently had a presentation at NSS about the importance of the fair-trade movement.

For Hamling, celebrating Fair Trade Month helps residents to be more aware not only where the products the buy come from, but how fair trade helps the producers of those products.

“In developing countries, where before they would be working for somebody with very little pay, and have to work long, long hours, they (the companies involved with fair trade) now have 50 per cent of fair trade,” she said. “They get better living conditions and working conditions and they also end up receiving a certain amount of money at the end of the year that they can do whatever they want in their communities with. They can improve their water, or buy equipment to improve their working conditions.”

“They’re going to start travelling, and they’re going to start going out and earning their living, and I think it’s always good for any of us, whether it’s students or adults, to recognize that there are things we can do to improve conditions for other people around the world.”