Ian Ross was our guest speaker on October 4, and is the owner of Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade store at 162 Locke Street South. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Burlington Arts Centre. Ian is a graduate of Concordia University and UC Berkeley California.
Ten Thousand Villages is centered around the concept of fair trade and has been operating since 1946. This concept is centred around sustainable development for the world’s poor and also around securing the rights of marginalized producers and workers in developing countries. The purpose of the company is market development in the poorer nations such as Cambodia, Haiti, and India. The fair trade movement started in Puerto Rico. Ten Thousand Villages operates thirty five stores across Canada. The Hamilton store is the number 2 store in terms of growth in the country. The company processes $40 million in sales worldwide and has 80 stores in the USA.
Ian’s talk centred around the principles of fair trade and ended with a three pronged challenge to the Rotarians of our club. Fair trade is centred around the principles of fair play, trade people can count on/commitment to a sustainable enterprise, empowerment of women/absence of child labour, protection of the environment, supportive community, and empowerment of the poor.
Ian asked the club to consider three activities in Hamilton:
1) Establish Hamilton as a fair trade city through submitting ‘letters of support’ to the city (contact Ian Ross),
2) Using fair trade coffee and teas for our weekly club breakfasts (it does not present an additional cost),
3) Align our personal values with the values of fair trade so as ‘not to live off the backs of people,’ which means shopping fair trade wherever we go. He challenged Rotarians and their friends to shop at his location on Locke street.
Ten Thousand Villages fair trade product line features handcrafted jewellery and personal accessories, natural home décor, and food and skin care products that celebrate both cultural traditions and environmental responsibility. Examples of products include Cambodian bombshell jewellery, jewellery made from oil cans, and handcrafted women’s textiles from India.