Another Fair Trade first for Port Colborne

Students, staff and dignitaries celebrated a special day at McKay Public School Tuesday. The school received designation as Ontario's first Fair Trade School.

Students, staff and dignitaries celebrated a special day at McKay Public School Tuesday. The school received designation as Ontario’s first Fair Trade School.

Port Colborne celebrated another Fair Trade first Tuesday as McKay Public School was designated the first Fair Trade School in Ontario.

“We did it,” Amber Christie, teacher and Chair of the Fair Trade Committee at McKay Public School. “We are officially Ontario’s first Fair Trade designated school.”

“What’s better than being Ontario’s first Fair Trade school in Ontario’s first Fair Trade town,” she said.

“I think it is awesome,” said Arianna Dodds, one of the student members of the McKay Public Schools’ Fair Trade Committee. “Because we are supporting Fair Trade.”

“I like how people can get a fair deal because I don’t like things that are happening in the world right now like not enough pay for workers in third world countries,” she said.

Her wishes for the future are: “I hope more schools will become Fair Trade schools and that all workers in third world countries will be able to get a fair deal.”

Fairtrade Canada is a program that endorses the using of products produced by workers who are treated fairly in workload and wages by their employers. From the Fairtrade Canada website : “Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. It’s about supporting the development of thriving farmer and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.”

Port Colborne became Ontario’s first Fair Trade City on June 12/2009.

“We worked really hard on this with Jane Nigh, not just we at City Hall, but we as community worked very hard back in 2009 to become Ontario’s first Fair Trade city,” Niagara Centre M.P. Vance Badawey said, who was Port Colborne’s Mayor when it was designated. “It was very important, not in terms of being designated, but in what you are actually doing.”

“You’re leading by example and you are inspiring a great deal of people from other countries by respecting what they (workers) are doing, how they do it and giving them the ability to bring their products across the world and be fairly treated and fairly compensated for that,” he said.

“Now we have McKay Public School who is Ontario’s first fair trade school,” he said. “It’s important that these students have taken on a leadership role. It’s inspiring, their respect for others, they are inspiring their peers by just simply thinking about what Fair Trade is all about.”

“They are respecting and they are inspiring and at this age and as individuals they should be extremely proud of themselves,” he said.

Regional Councilor David Barrick was on Port Colborne’s City Council under M.P. Vance Badawey when the city was designated and was thrilled to come and celebrate McKay Public Schools’ celebration.

“I am incredibly proud to be here today to recognize and honour the students at McKay Public School for being the first in Ontario to have the Fair Trade designation,” Counc. Barrick said. “I remember when I was a city councilor we made that happen for the city back in 2009.”

“It’s another example of the social responsibility that Port Colborne demonstrates on a regular basis,” he said. “Not only as the first Fair Trade city, but, Port Colborne drove the region for the first curb side battery recycling in Ontario, and recently Port Colborne High School was the first in Canada to have a program for recycling bicycles and giving them to those who need them.”

“So this is yet another demonstration of the social responsibility Port Colborne demonstrates on a regular basis, so, it is important to be here today to recognize the students for this accomplishment and their leadership,” he said.

Port Colborne Deputy Mayor John Mayne added a bit of perspective to the accomplishment.

“I used google to find out that in 2016 there are 3,977 elementary schools in the Province of Ontario,” Deputy Mayor Mayne said. “And you guys are number one out of 3,977. So that is something to be very proud of.”

“It is a great honour that the first Fair Trade school is in our community that was the first Fair Trade city in Ontario,” he said.

Jane Nigh Fair Trade Town Committee Member welcomed the students of McKay Public School to this special group.

“We are Fair Trade People right?” Nigh said. “You are a Fair Trade school. I am so pleased for all that you have done.”

“It is your actions and your support that will help change the world of trading into fairness,” she said. “Changing poverty and frustration into dignity for workers.”

Wainfleet Township also has students attending McKay Public School and Mayor April Jeffs spoke about its importance in respect to children becoming more aware of their world around them.

“I was very inspired that they were the first school in Ontario,” Mayor Jeffs said. “A lot of work went into it and the students and faculty should be commended. I think it is a great opportunity for the kids to learn so much outside of our bubble here in Niagara and there is such value in that.”

DSBN Trustee David Shaubel was very appreciative of the school and their show of leadership in this achievement.

“This is a first, not only in Niagara Region, but the first in all of Ontario,” Shaubel said. “You need to pat yourselves on the back and congratulate yourselves.”

“This shows a lot about you students, first that you are socially conscious,” he said.

“You have shown the leadership as students that is an important philosophy for all of Canada,” he said. “I love the fact that you made it one change at a time, you are the beginning of change for the world.”

With the Fair Trade designation the school will have to maintain the status through continued Fair Trade support and educational initiatives.


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