World University Service of Canada

World University Service of Canada

May 07, 2009 14:40 ET

Alternative Development in an Unstable World: Mary Wiens Speaks About "African Gold: Fair Trade and Shea"

Fair Trade Shea Now available across Canada with Ten Thousand Villages

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 7, 2009) - Knowledge shared throughout the millennia by generations of African women meets the 21st century, during Fair Trade Month! Ten Thousand Villages and Uniterra welcome their partners from Burkina Faso to celebrate Certified Fair Trade shea butter. Ms. Kourtoumi Chalim Aschlet Niangao and Mr. Abou Dradin Tagnan represent the Union of Producers of Shea Products of Sissili and Ziro of Burkina Faso, where shea is the third-largest export. CBC Radio's Mary Wiens will be on hand for the Toronto Ten Thousand Villages event, part of the Canadian "Good For You, Good for Them" Campaign.

Shea, dubbed "the gold of African women", is well known for its moisturizing and protective properties. Equitably-traded organic shea turns those benefits into real gold for nearly 3,000 women, who've doubled their income as a result of this collective. Since earning fair trade certification in 2006, producers have poured much of their earnings back into community projects such as literacy groups for women, programs for children orphaned by HIV and Aids, and the construction of a childcare centre. These are welcome developments in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranked at 173 of 177 on the Human Development Index.

Despite the economic downturn, Canadian sales of fair trade shea products are on the rise. Ten new personal care products, prepared with certified fair trade shea, will be launched this month at Ten Thousand Villages' 47 stores throughout Canada, at festival sales and on its web site. Shea Delapointe, a Quebec-based family business and a Ten Thousand Villages supplier, imported nine tons of certified fair trade shea in 2008, expected to double in 2009, thanks to fair trade partnerships between Canadian entrepreneurs and African producers! Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto and Port Colborne, Ontario's first fair trade community, will all host public events to celebrate.

Ten Thousand Villages is Canada's oldest and largest fair trade organization, selling accessories, home decor and gift items crafted by artisans around the globe through its network of 47 stores, hundreds of festival sales and e-shopping. Through fair trade, Ten Thousand Villages provides sustainable income to artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. Uniterra is an international volunteer initiative jointly run by the Center for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) and World University Service of Canada (WUSC). For nearly 15 years their volunteers have supported sustainable shea butter production in West Africa.

Event Highlights

Montreal: Fair Trade Fair (May 2) - Quebec City: Fair Trade Fair (May 9), followed by an African cocktail reception at Cafe Nagua (May 15, 5 to 7 pm) - Port Colborne: Shea Celebration at First Lutheran Church (May 19, 7 to 9 pm) - Toronto: Shea Celebration at Ten Thousand Villages on Queen Street W. (May 22, 5:30 - 9:30 pm) followed by a Meet and Greet, same location (May 23, 12 - 3pm) - Ottawa: African cocktail reception at WUSC office (May 26, 5 - 7pm).

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