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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

A Fair Trade Town

We were delighted to read Catherine Sinclair’s article on fair trade in Valley Voices (“Wakefield: Quebec’s first fair trade town, say what?” May 27). We have long-admired how enthusiastic, creative and proactive the Wakefield Fair Trade Committee has been over the years.

Here in Chelsea, we have been a Fair Trade Town since 2016, when we celebrated with a big event outside La Fab and unveiled Asha Kline’s winning fair trade logo for Chelsea after a competition at Chelsea Elementary School. In 2017 we held a well-attended fair trade fair at Mill Road Community Space, and last year we installed a Fair Trade Town sign outside our municipal building in a ceremony with some local fair traders. Over the past few years, the Chelsea Fair Trade Committee has served free fair trade Camino hot chocolate at various community events, such as La Grande Marche, Chelsea Christmas Market and the Chelsea Winter Trail Celebration.

More than ever since we became a Fair Trade Town, Chelsea’s Freshmart, IGA, Boucanerie and Les Fougères shop have stocked a variety of fair trade products, including coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate and bananas, with big increases in sales of some of these products since 2016. Our local social enterprise, Beads of Awareness, has also been active, selling fairly-traded products made by artisans in Uganda at local markets and events.

Did you know that when Les Fougères conducted a blind coffee-tasting with staff, Wakefield’s Bean Fair was voted the best, so it became their restaurant standard? They and other local restaurants and cafés, including L’Orée du Bois, Le Resto, Les Saisons, Biscotti, Le Palmier and Meech and Munch, as well as Chelsea’s new vegan restaurant Naturally Vero, all serve ethically-sourced fair trade or direct trade coffee and/or tea.

When we established our Chelsea Fair Trade Committee, part of our mission was not only to encourage the sale and use of fair trade products in local stores and restaurants, but also to encourage residents to shop locally and support businesses in our community. While we have always had a supportive community, this has become more of a reality since COVID-19 than ever before, and more of a necessity if local businesses are to survive this pandemic.

Our grocery stores, restaurants and the Proxim pharmacy have risen to the occasion, offering phone and online ordering and safe curbside pickup of their products and meals, while Beads of Awareness is offering socially distant garage shopping; residents have been supporting them in droves. Les Fougères owner Jennifer Part believes this new model is here to stay and has responded by launching an expanded take-out menu and online store of their gourmet meals and products. Other businesses are reinventing themselves too.

The services we have in Chelsea have been a dream for many just a short drive away in Ottawa. How lucky we are! Please continue to shop local, support our businesses and stay safe.

Submitted by Chelsea Fair Trade Committee members: Ruth Tabacnik, Farrah Fatideh, Kay Kerman, Janet Intscher and Sue Bramley.


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