Idealism rises to the fore as Revelstoke applies for Fair Trade status

David F. Rooney
David F. Rooney

The hard work and dedication of an idealistic band of local residents has resulted in Mayor David Raven signing an application that will, if it is accepted, make Revelstoke an official Fair Trade Town.

“It feels good — I’m mailing the application today,” said Revelstoke Fair Trade Committee member Susan Knight. “But I am a little nervous because we have nothing to measure our application against.”

The committee is composed of Knight, Mary Clayton, Shirley Berg, Josee Zimanyi, Christy Shaw, Corin Flood and Lisa Cancilla-Sykes. Together they have waged a months-long campaign that has achieved all of the goals it was required to meet. However, Knight says it it has no idea “if we’ve done enough or if we have to do more on some of them.”

“I guess we’ll find out,” she said.

The goals it was supposed to meet are:

  1. The local council uses Fair Trade Certified products and supports the Fair Trade Towns campaign
  2. Stores and restaurants serve Fair Trade Certified products
  3. Workplaces, faith groups and schools use and promote Fair Trade Certified products
  4. Public awareness events and media coverage held on Fair Trade and the campaign
  5. A steering group created for continued commitment
  6. Other ethical and sustainable initiatives promoted within the community

The application was sent today to TransFair Canada (, which governs the Fair Trade certification process in this country. There currently are six official Fair Trade Towns and 12 — including Revelstoke — pending.

Knight and other members of the committee have for months worked to make this community one that believes in the value of Fair Trade. They are idealistic but where would our country be with out that kind of vigour and idealism?

“The campaign has been well-received in Revelstoke,” she said in an interview today. “People know that buying Fair Trade-certified products is the right thing to do.”

Fair Trade-certified coffees and chocolates are produced by small landowners — peasants, really — working through cooperatives that market their goods directly to buyers who believe they deserve a fair price for their product. They bypass the huge multi-national corporations that control those markets and that pay them a pittance for their efforts.

Knight’s right about local people’s recognition that the farmers who produce the foods we consume deserve a fair return. Institutions like the City, the Community Centre, the United and Anglican churches, the Revelstoke Public Library, BC Hydro and the Avalanche Centre  Centre all purchase and serve Fair Trade-certified coffees. Individuals, too, purchase these products from Cooper’s, Southside, the Farmers’ Market and PT Farm Market. But if there’s a glitch it’s probably at the level of the individual consumers who are used to purchasing say Maxwell House or Nabob and often don’t look to see if there’s a Fair Trade-label on their coffee, cocoa or chocolate.

“It would be really nice to get everybody on board,” Knight said. “Fair Trade-certified products are a little bit more expensive (than run-of-the-mill brands) but their quality is excellent.”

And when you purchase quality you’re rarely going to be disappointed. And, on that note, I think it’s time for a nice hot mug of Fair Trade-certified coffee…