Fair trade/no-sweat workshop held at York


Above: Some of the participants at the fair trade workshop

Fair trade was a major topic of conversation recently on York’s Keele campus when The Fair Trade Workshop for Academic & Fair Trade/No Sweat Practitioners took place on June 22. The event was part of a university/NGO partnership initiative spearheaded by Professor Darryl Reed, coordinator of York’s Business & Society Program (BUSO).

The workshop brought together academics with fair trade/no-sweat organizations throughout the country, including representatives from Oxfam Canada, Ten Thousand Villages, Équiterre, La Siembra, Planet Bean, TransFair Canada and the York Catholic District School Board.

The workshop aimed to lay the groundwork for a series of research projects designed to address the practical needs of fair trade/no-sweat NGOs. In the morning session, NGO representatives raised the issues that they felt required the most attention, and in the afternoon session, a roundtable discussion was held about possible projects designed to address these issues.

The NGOs asserted their need to have more empirical work conducted on the fair trade market in Canada; more systematic research carried out to demonstrate the benefits and weaknesses of fair trade in the South; and a national network created to link the NGOs and provide a forum for greater communication between them.

To address the issues raised by the NGOs, the participants discussed a number of possible components for research projects. The project concepts will be explored and developed into research proposals.

The fair trade workshop and research agenda are part of a broader initiative at York – the University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS). One of the basic purposes of the UCGS is to bring together development scholars from York’s many different programs and research centres, as well as from other universities in Canada, to explore developmental issues and formulate new strategies. This was reflected in the range of the academics participating in the workshop.

Workshop participants

In addition to researchers from McMaster University, University of Guelph and Université du Quebec à Montréal, a large number of  York researchers participated in the workshop, including Ananya Mukherjee-Reed (left), director of York’s International Secretariat for Human Development & Democratic Governance (political science); Fahim Quadir, coordinator of the International Development Studies Program (social science); Viviana Patroni (above, right), director of the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC) (social science); Howard Daugherty (left), director of the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation (Faculty of Environmental Studies); Ricardo Grinspun (right), CERLAC fellow (economics); Ellie Perkins (below, left), professor (Faculty of Environmental Studies); Jody Warner (reference librarian, Scott Library); and J.J. McMurtry (below, right), PhD candidate (business & society, social science).

Gavin Fridell, a PhD candidate in political science at York, sent the above article to YFile. He is writing his dissertation on Fair Trade Coffee.


Below: Some of the representatives of Oxfam Canada who participated in the workshop