Market making world of difference

Saturday's Global Village Market supports fair wages and decent working conditions

Caroline Hild and Rita Taenzer sort through some of the handmade bags and caps that will be available at this year’s Global Village Market

Caroline Hild and Rita Taenzer sort through some of the handmade bags and caps that will be available at this year’s Global Village Market

If you are looking for some truly unique Christmas gifts, you may find just what you need at the Global Village Market on Saturday.

The annual show, which features only free trade items, has been running since 2003. And there will be more than just craft items for sale. On offer will be everything from soda pop and candy through to paper products from India and bath products from an Alberta Indian band.

What makes shopping at the Global Village Market different is knowing where the products come from. Rather than being produced in factories that use child labour or crowded sweatshops, all the items purchased at the market support fair wages and decent working conditions for artisans and people’s co-operatives around the world.

This will be our eighth year, said Sandy Andres, a member of the organizing committee. She and Sue Mackay-Smith have been involved in the project since the beginning, getting their start working with Ten Days For Global Justice.

That was where they developed connections, working with groups in the developing world, and helping get their information out to the global community. They were also able to sell some products from these groups, with the money being funnelled back to them.

“That was sort of the beginning of what we did here. We just expanded the market part with the fair trade things we could get,” said Mackay-Smith. “We had put out feelers to find different sources. Then you would have to establish credibility and make sure they are who they say they are and that they are justified in getting our business.”

The market has been very successful. For just one Guatemalan co-operative, Andres said, they have generated $8,000 since 2003.

“It makes us feel good because these women are getting twice as much or more than they would in the regular market,” said Andres. “And they are able to feed their families and make a better life for themselves. It makes you feel good.”

And this time of year, people are looking for Christmas gifts, which account for a lot of their annual sales, said Andres. Buying from the market, she continued, means you give twice.

“You are getting a gift and you are gifting those people that made the things. I think that holds true for us,” she said.

Grandmothers for Africa will once again be involved with the fair, operating the Granny Cafe, where shoppers can stop for a bowl of homemade soup, tea or snacks. They will also be selling Dodi Morrison’s book, Okanagan Reflections, to help raise money for their projects in Africa.