Gaining global citizens

By Lorne Stelmach

A one day conference in Morden recently asked middle years students to think about the people behind the products they buy.

And the hope of the Generating Momentum conference November 30 was that the students would learn how they can make a difference by how we choose to spend our money.

With the session theme of Go Fair Trade, organizers hoped the students who took part will carry that message back to their schools and spread the word.

"It is always amazing to hear what the students do when they return to the schools," said Janice Hamilton, executive director of Manitoba Council for International Co-operation, which sponsors the annual conference.

The timing of the event - with the recent WE day celebration held in Winnipeg - suggests more youth are becoming more aware of these kinds of issues at a younger age, Hamilton suggested in a news release.

"It demonstrates students in Manitoba are increasingly taking action as global citizens and getting involved with international development issues, such as fair trade."

The Go Fair Trade Middle Years Conference brought together 44 students from six schools in the Prairie Rose, Hanover, Borderland, Prairie Spirit, Garden Valley and Western school divisions.

Through a variety of sessions, they learned about the benefits of fair trade for the producers and people of our world.

The sessions used a series of simulation games, circuit sessions and workshops through which students could discover answers to questions such as:

- Where do the products we buy come from?

- Who produced them?

- Were they paid a fair wage?

- How can we make a difference in the lives of millions of producers in the global south?

One session for the middle years students from Bothwell School, Carman Collegiate, Cartwright School, Ecole Morden Middle School, Parkside Junior High and Winkler Elementary assigned groups roles ranging from producer to customer, and they had to act through the relationships between each and how they were impacted.

The morning session included an opening plenary and circuit sessions on public speaking, planning and promoting and how to develop a Fair Trade procurement policy for their school. In the afternoon, students participated in creative workshops on theatre, digital photography, silk screening and video making.

The purpose was to inform and encourage the students to take action and improve fair trade availability in their schools and communities.

Morden was chosen as one of five host locations for this year with other similar events being held in Winnipeg, Beausejour, Minnedosa and Gimli. The Morden conference was the second in a series of five that are being held throughout Manitoba from November to March.

To learn more, go online to the and websites.