Selkirk, Man., earns fair trade town designation after community push

A Manitoba city just joined the ranks of more than 20 Canadian communities designated as fair trade towns.

Latest addition to list of 23 Canadian cities

Between 2005 and 2006, the fair trade chocolate business grew 200 per cent in Canada. ((Martin Mejia/Associated Press))

A Manitoba city just joined the ranks of more than 20 Canadian communities designated as fair trade towns.

On Tuesday, Selkirk, Man., was officially granted the title by Fairtrade Canada after local organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Selkirk Record newspaper and community schools came forward with the idea earlier this year.

"The local community made it a priority," said Selkirk chief administrative officer Duane Nicol.

A fair trade town must have:

  1. An active steering committee.
  3. Fair trade certified products available throughout the town (in proportion to its population). 
  5. Events, activities and media engagement need to be organized to generate public support.
  7. Support from the community.
  9. Political support.


To be a fair trade town, communities have to meet criteria broken down into five categories, including making fair trade products available and garnering community support. 

Since 2007, 23 Canadian cities and towns have signed up, including Selkirk as the most recent addition to the list.

Nicol said Selkirk's young people were key to driving the success of the project.

"They were the ambassadors. They really sold the program, they talked about it," he said. "They're so passionate about making fair trade something that everybody knows about."

Nicol said becoming a fair trade town is a way for his community to make a positive impact on global producers through purchasing power, but earning the title made a difference closer to home, too.

"It's all about the community engagement. It's not just city-driven or staff-driven. It's really about all the different organizations, the people in your communities," he said. "And from that perspective, it's getting people to work together for a common purpose, and there's a value just in that.

"But it's a strong message, particularly to our young people who get this, that we wanted to make sure people knew that Selkirk was a progressive city, is a progressive city, and this is one way we can demonstrate that. It activates the community."

With files from Marjorie Dowhos, Isaac Wurmann