CTV: UBC named Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus

May 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

 Congrats to UBC for leading the way. Hope to see this on other campuses across Canada!!

UBC named Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus
CTV

By: Kendall Walters, ctvbc.ca

Date: Thursday May. 5, 2011 5:07 PM PT

There’s something different about the way the University of British Columbia wakes up and smells the coffee in the morning – the steaming caffeine poured into warm mugs across campus is fair trade.

UBC just became the first Fair Trade Campus in Canada. The Fair Trade Canada designation follows Vancouver’s recognition as a Fair Trade City this time last year.

Coffee, tea and chocolate bars sold at UBC and student society AMS-run eateries are ethically purchased and provide equitable compensation to farmers for their product.

The commitment does not include campus franchises – Starbucks, Tim Hortons and White Spot.

Kaan Williams is the director of fair trade with the UBC chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He was instrumental in pushing the designation initiative forward.

“It’s not just a recognition of past activity at UBC,” he said. “It’s also a commitment to retain the momentum that UBC has.”

The campus had already put into effect many policies fitting with Fair Trade Canada’s designation requirements. UBC has offered fair trade coffee for the past decade; the campus sold nearly 1.5 million cups of fair trade coffee in the last year alone.

“All the reactions I’ve heard so far were enthusiastic and excited,” Williams said. “People are excited to see some recognition for what’s going on here at UBC.”

Only a few extra steps had to be put in place to meet designation restrictions.

The campus dedicated itself to using fair trade products whenever possible, Williams said. That’s why it’s gone beyond the minimum requirements of the designation.

Fair Trade Canada asks that Fair Trade Campuses sell only fair trade coffee and offer at least three fair trade teas and one fair trade chocolate bar option.

Nearly all of the teas offered at UBC are fair trade and campus eateries are also selling fair trade tropical fruit such as bananas.

“We’re always looking for new things to use as well,” Williams said.

The designation has already fueled action by local businesses.

Vancouver-based coffee companies Milano and Ethical Bean have jumped on board. Milano produced its first fair-trade certified blend of coffee for UBC.

And there’s buzz in the air of fair trade designation hopes at several other Canadian universities. Williams has already been contacted by other institutions interested in following UBC’s example.

Andrew Parr is the managing director of UBC student housing and hospitality services. He was closely involved in the designation.

He said the campus wasn’t aiming to be the first fair-trade certified in Canada, but he said he thinks it’s a nice message to other institutions.

“This is something that is feasible and doable and worth doing,” Parr said.

The initiative is a matter of educating students on something more than the subject matter they study in the classroom, Parr said, adding he hopes the move can help UBC students become more socially-conscious citizens.

Williams agreed.

“That’s a nice way that we as an institution are able to make an influence in a broader community,” he said.

UBC joins 100 global universities that have already made the commitment.

Statement made by John Lewis on the Resignation of Mubarak

February 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the American Civil Rights Movement made this statement after hearing news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt:

“What we have witnessed in Egypt today is nothing short of a non-violent revolution. The peacefulness of this transition on the streets of Cairo is a testament to the people of Egypt–to the discipline of the protestors and the military–who resisted any temptation to descend into brutality.  They demonstrated so eloquently the power of peace to persistently broadcast their message of change.

 “As a nation and as a people, especially this nation which found its own beginnings in a revolutionary movement, we must always try to find ourselves on the just side of budding movements of non-violent change.  We must always give credence to any effort that leads to a more truly democratic world society that values the dignity and the worth of every human being.  We must always nurture and empower movements which respect freedom of the press, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and the inalienable right to dissent.”

The Egyptian Revolution: The Fall of the Pharaoh February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mabrook Ya Masr!

Congratualtions to the people of Egypt for achieving their aim of overthrowing their dictator Hosni Mubarak. After 18 long days of protest, you have shown the world that peaceful (peaceful on the side of pro-democracy protesters) protests, and a nation standing together united with one voice for a better future can change the face of a nation and make history. Others in the world promote war for the sake of such endeavors (toppling dictators) and have caused mass suffering and destruction, but we see today what a nation’s own citizens can do when they have the will and determination to take a principled and peaceful stand against injustice. Your bravery has inspired the world as we watched you stand, day after day, in the face of violence, arrest, and even death, for the sake of the rights we in the West take for granted.

We pray for you, and for a better future for Egypt. We pray for those who died.

May God bless all of your efforts.

Response to PM Stephen Harper’s Statement on Egypt

February 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement on Feb 1st  on recent events in Egypt:

“Following President Mubarak’s announcement today that he will not seek re-election, Canada reiterates its support for the Egyptian people as they transition to new leadership and a promising future.

“Canada supports universal values – including freedom, democracy and justice – and the right to the freedom of assembly, speech and information. As Egypt moves towards new leadership, we encourage all parties to work together to ensure an orderly transition toward a free and vibrant society in which all Egyptians are able to enjoy these rights and freedoms – not a transition that leads to violence, instability and extremism.

“We commend the many groups, such as the Egyptian military, who have worked hard to support freedom of assembly and to minimize violence during recent demonstrations. We stand by the people of Egypt, young Egyptians in particular, for their steadfast support for the fundamental values that Canadians profoundly share with them.

“We also extend our condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed or injured during recent events.

“We urge all parties in Egypt to renounce violence and allow peaceful and meaningful dialogue between the people and government to address political, economic and social concerns. This dialogue should lead to free and fair elections and a government that supports universal values.”

——

I sent a letter to the PM concerning his statement:

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

While I applaud your support for the demands of the Egyptian people, I am greatly disappointed that the Canadian government has not expressed greater concern for the Egyptian government’s actions against its citizens.

Calling for an end to violence on both sides does not send the right message to Egypt, the world, and concerned Canadians. The Canadian government should be expressing outrage for the Egyptian government’s use of violence used against protesters, the loss of Egyptian lives, the shutting down of the internet, and the control of communication. We stand for the values of freedom of speech and assembly, and support the spread of democracy. We in the West supported these values when it came to the people of Tunisia. But when it comes to the dictator Mubarak, we are weak in sending the same message due to his support of Western interests in the Middle East.

People of the world perceive this hypocrisy in Western governments. Canada should be a leader in speaking up for Egyptian rights, and speaking against the repressive Mubarak regime.

_________

You can email the PM at: pm@pm.gc.ca

In Solidarity with the People of Egypt

February 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

In honour of today’s (Feb 1st 2011) Million Person March in Egypt, I would like to express my support for the people of Egypt as they continue their struggle for the basic civil rights and freedoms they’ve long been deprived of.

Many of us here in the West look on in awe and admiration as a nation rises up after years of repression under a military dictatorship to claim justice, liberty, and democracy for their people. We should remember that we have the power to support them from where we are: they need our prayers, and for us to share information on their plight with those around us. They need us to pressure our governments to support this just cause, and for us to write to newspapers and media to address any misinformation and deliberate political spin that takes away from that cause for the sake of Western interests in the Middle East.

People of Egypt, may God bless you with the strength and courage to continue in your struggle.
May He aid you in these difficult times, and may He grant you success.
Ameen.

Why G20 Protest?

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

In the days before the G20 summit in Toronto, much of the local debate centered around the right to protest/the right of the police to keep the area safe and clear. Many observers who were not involved were completely unsure of why people were even protesting, and simply dismissed protesters as troublemakers with an ambiguous set of causes. Though I agree that a few who showed up were simply troublemakers, the majority of the protesters had every right to be there and had very valid reasons for doing so. There were a large number of individuals representing different groups with specific aims, but I’d like to post an description from the G8/20 Toronto Community Mobilization website in the hope of giving a general picture of why thousands (around 10,000) showed up to protest:

The so called ‘leaders’ and bankers of the twenty richest countries are meeting in Huntsville and Toronto on 25-27 June 2010 at the G8 and G20 Summits. They are meeting to make decisions that will result in more exploitation of people and the environment. They want to ensure that the systems that increase colonization, wars and displacement are maintained. In direct resistance, we are coming together to create a just world that puts people before corporate and elite profit.

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network is collaborating for change in Toronto and in the world.  Join the process; everyone is a part of this work.

The network is a collection of Toronto-based organizers and allies, that will use the fleeting moment of the G8/G20 meetings in Toronto in June 2010 in Ontario to come together and share the work that we do every other day of the year.  We will build the momentum for a movement for Indigenous Sovereignty and Self-Determination, Environmental and Climate Justice, Migrant Justice and an End to War and Occupation, Income Equity and Community Control over Resources, Gender Justice and Queer and disAbility rights.

With power and vision, people of colour, indigenous peoples, women, the poor, the working class, queer and trans people and disabled people will create and lead alternatives; will decide for themselves; will transcend the systems that oppress them and keep them from talking to one another.

Source: http://g20.torontomobilize.org/getinformed

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