Bangladesh Artisans

DSC_7453Most of us have heard the familiar saying that goes something like this: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This proverb has been that used so often that it has perhaps lost some of its meaning. And yet I still feel compelled to quote it here, because it’s what was running through my mind throughout my discussion with Samuel Masih from Noah’s Ark International.

FT TownOn May 20, 2014, the City of Brandon, Manitoba was officially declared a Fair Trade Town. Brandon is proud to be the 19th Fair Trade Town in Canada, and the second in Manitoba.

As part of the Fair Trade Town Steering Committee and manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in Brandon, I am often asked the question: “What does that mean?”

It is an excellent – and important – question! What exactly does it mean to be a “Fair Trade Town”?



RS8814_CIMG3925On a cool, bright Sunday morning, an elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a jovial manner walked into our store. He was looking for a gift for a friend. While he didn’t have a specific idea in mind, he mentioned that his daughter had suggested that he check out Ten Thousand Villages. And so, that morning he was there to pick up a unique handcrafted gift for a special loved one.



Relief Sale 1Every year since 1996, Ten Thousand Villages has set up a big tent at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale.

The annual event draws thousands upon thousands of people from the local area, around the province, and even from the United States. The 2014 event, which was held on May 30 and 31, generated $320,000 for the local and international relief, development, justice and peacebuilding efforts of MCC Canada.

Top imageNow that the warm weather is here, the season for entertaining friends and family in our outdoor spaces is in full swing.

As soon as the snow finally melted away, we here at Ten Thousand Villages could hardly wait to throw a garden party! What better way to celebrate the change of seasons than by enjoying good food and good company with some fair trade flair.

To make your own “Fair Trade Flair Garden Party” easy as pie, just follow our simple four-step process:




Soccer BallThis coming Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’m feeling a little sentimental.

I don’t generally get excited about holidays – but for some reason, this year feels different.

My father has been experiencing some health issues, so I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the many happy memories I have of my childhood. For example, when the Toronto Blue Jays made it to the World Series, he was that Dad who bought the maximum number of tickets you were allowed to purchase. My sister and I invited a bunch of our friends to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.

RS7280_L1027903-scrTurning off a bustling street in Kolkata, on to a dirt road, we were suddenly transported into a quiet village where the noise of the city was silenced. Children ran along the dirt roads and adults talked amongst themselves in the streets, while open fires warmed a late afternoon snack of samosas. We were led through a metal gate and down a grassy path. We then entered a workshop full of cotton, silk and thread.

It was here that we met the women of the Panchannagram Mahila Samity workshop where, 32 years ago, they formed their workshop and started to stitch beautiful stories through fabric and the traditional Kantha stitch.

Waterloo StoreWhen my best friend and I were in high school, we used to go to Ten Thousand Villages in Uptown Waterloo and say, “When we’re grown-ups with our own homes, we’re going to fill them with stuff from Ten Thousand Villages!”

Now that I am a “grown-up,” one of my favourite tasks has been making thoughtful choices about what things I bring into my home. (And it just so happens that many of those things are indeed from Ten Thousand Villages!)