Dalhousie seeks “fair trade” designation

Dalhousie campus is currently hoping to become the second fair trade campus in Canada.

Staci Farrant a dietician at Aramark, stands in front of the fair trade coffee offered in Howe Hall (Kimber Lubberts photo)

By Kimber Lubberts

Dalhousie campus is currently hoping to become the second Fair Trade Campus in Canada. The University of British Columbia became the first school to do so in January of last year.

Staci Farrant, a registered dietician working at Aramark, the food services provider at Dalhousie, says the process to become a fair trade campus has been underway since fall 2011.

“It’s not a certificate, it’s more than that, it’s a designation,” she said. In order to become a certified fair trade campus, a school must meet a set of standards set by Fair Trade Canada.

Such standards include: all coffee available on campus must be fair trade, there must be three types of free trade tea available and there must be visible campus signs detailing what it means to be fair trade. This designation applies directly to the residence dining services at Dalhousie, excluding the franchises on campus like Tim Hortons and Second Cup.

Students are offered three varieties of fair trade coffee on campus (Kimber Lubberts photo)

Part of the hope in becoming a fair trade campus is that the franchises will become free trade as well.

While he supports the fair trade transition, Steven Mannell, director of the College of Sustainability at Dalhousie, says there are still many complications that need to be addressed.

Even if the campus were to make a successful shift, Mannell is concerned about people making ethical decisions consciously.

“Has it fulfilled the promise of fair trade? How fair is fair?” he said, suggesting the challenge in becoming fair trade is more than sporting the label–it is about making people aware of social justice, equities and trade. The label of a fair trade campus might eliminate the need for people to think about these issues and consciously make a difference.

One of the signs required by Fair Trade Canada to be visible around campus in order to be a Fair Trade Campus. (Kimber Lubberts photo)

This issue is partially addressed by the signage and visibility required by Fair Trade Canada.

At this point, Dalhousie is waiting for the designation from Fair Trade Canada.

In all of the residence buildings, students are offered a choice between a Rainforest, Wild Savanna, and 100% Cloumbian blends of fair trade coffee as well as a colourful display of signs about Fair Trade.

Staci Farrant discusses Dalhousie’s transformation into a Fair Trade CampusRelated Audio