By Mélissa Dubé
Having studied in international development, I knew of fair trade, but it’s not until I stumbled upon an opportunity to volunteer with Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable in 2012 that I really started to discover what a powerful movement it is.
In early 2013, I had the chance to attend the 1st edition of the National Fair Trade Conference in Calgary and I was hooked. If you’ve attended conferences in the past, there’s a chance that you were in a room full of like-minded people and that is exactly what struck me: I had not really experienced that before, at least, not to that extent. There I was, sitting next to small business owners and passionate volunteers who were discussing strategies on how to grow the fair trade movement in Canada and I found it so inspiring and humbling to witness people so committed on all fronts. Imagine being part of something that you can support every day by making conscious choices like that chocolate bar you’re about to buy or that discussion you’re about to have with your colleagues about which coffee to get for that upcoming meeting. These “small” changes on our behalf do have a true impact on the lives of millions of farmers and workers and their community.
Since 2013, I have had the chance to attend 5 National Fair Trade Conferences across the country, sadly missing one. Every time I came back from a conference, I felt even more energized and ready to take on whatever was ahead of me. Needless to say, I’m very grateful that this upcoming year it’s taking place in the city that I’ve been wanting to see become a Fair Trade Town for years.
If you’re looking for a meaningful movement to be a part of, if you want to widen your network of like-minded people, if you want to learn more about the reality of farmers and workers in the Global South or about basic human rights, you’ve got a great opportunity coming to you in early 2019. Attend the 7th National Fair Trade Conference in Ottawa on March 1 and 2 and I can guarantee you that you will not regret it!