Lainey Oleka, Robin Sagi and Sarah Judd – Fair Trade Toronto
Click on the video above to watch their story!
The concept of ‘fair trade’ is well-known to most people, at least as a label, but how many can say that they really understand what it means? Robin Sagi, Sarah Judd, and Lainey Oleka can. All three have worked with Fair Trade Toronto to engage with fellow students and to transform Humber College into a wholly Fairtrade designated campus.
Each stresses that it’s important not only to be aware of global inequality, but of how our individual attitudes and purchasing decisions play into the international relationships between Canada and the producers of our food and goods. “When I began to see the connections between globalization and free trade, and the growth of the inequality around the world, it became hard to ignore,” Sarah says, citing problematic yet often overlooked industries like monopolized banana production or the use of conflict minerals in smartphones. For Robin, learning about the importance of food to social justice came in elementary school, as she accompanied her father delivering meals to the elderly. Lainey had a lifelong interest in global issues, but it wasn’t until she joined Humber College’s International Development program that she felt confident enough in her understanding to be outspoken and become more active.
In the same way that each followed a different path towards Fair Trade Toronto and their current work, each of the three cites a different obstacle to educating their peers and encouraging informed consumption. Lainey struggles with ‘accountability’, an oft-quoted buzzword that she feels, “should be felt on an individual level before it can grow to cover an entire venture,” going on to emphasize how important it is for individuals to take personal responsibility for their beliefs by following through with their actions. Robin describes the difficulty of finding your voice in a field as broad and complicated as international development. “Knowing where you stand in all that takes time… At first when I got into fair trade I found it difficult to explain… I’d wanted to tell them everything I knew.” That same vastness, and the many different approaches one can take, is what Sarah finds most challenging. Not only do different fair trade supporters have different ideas about success, but gaining support from the staff and students is a separate piece entirely from gaining traction with the administration in order to change policies.
All three agree that engaging with and supporting youth is critical to building true change and that the drive to address economic inequality through efforts like fair trade are reliant on broad reaching systemic change.
Fair Trade Toronto (FTT) is an independent, volunteer based organization. FTT promotes Fair Trade in the City of Toronto and aims to unify the Fair Trade community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to increase public awareness. FTT is also part of a greater Fair Trade organization (Fair Trade Canada) that allows them to connect with the national and international communities.
In celebration of International Development Week 2016 OCIC is recognizing Lainey, Robin and Sarah as three of seven Ontario youth in the Global Changemaker Youth Ambassadors program for their contributions to international cooperation and social justice.
For full stories on all seven Global Changemaker Youth Ambassadors visit ocic.on.ca/what-we-do/influence-by-informing/ocic-global-changemaker-youth-ambassadors-2016/
More information on OCIC’s International Development Week 2016 activities: ocic.on.ca/what-we-do/influence-by-informing/international-development-week-2016-program
This initiative is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.