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National Volunteer Week 2015

Ten Thousand Villages Volunteers Get Back As Much As They Give

April 2015 (New Hamburg)—When Herb and Shirley Schultz began volunteering for Ten Thousand Villages back in 2003, they had no idea it would have such a profound and lasting impact on their lives. Not only has the retired couple made decade-long friendships, but they feel a sense of purpose even when completing tasks as simple as pricing South African jewellery or unpacking ceramic bowls from Vietnam.

After all, each item they touch has been expertly handcrafted by an artisan partner and is a testament to the powerful effect Fair Trade has on entire communities globally.

“Volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages reminds me there’s a broader vision of need and opportunity throughout the world, and I feel good being able to make a positive contribution,” says Herb, a retired pastor who volunteers at the head office in New Hamburg, Ontario.

Herb and Shirley are only two of the approximately 3,000 Canadians who volunteer their time, expertise and energy to Ten Thousand Villages, the largest and oldest Fair Trade organization in North America. While known for its fair wages, it has also helped create safe working conditions for artisans and producers. Whether they’re creating stunning wall art from recycled metal drums in Haiti or fashioning discarded bullet shells into necklaces in Cambodia, international artisans feel the respect and dignity that come from earning fair value for their work.

Now all volunteers across Canada are getting their annual shout out during National Volunteer Week, which takes place April 12-18 this year – a time to recognize, celebrate and thank volunteers. According to Statistics Canada, nearly half of all Canadians volunteer.

“Ten Thousand Villages was built on the efforts of volunteers who saw a need, and chose to do their part to create opportunities for others to thrive,” says Ryan Jacobs, chief executive officer for Ten Thousand Villages. “Today, we employ more than 100 people across Canada, and yet our day-to-day efforts continue to be supported by a strong base of volunteers at our head office and in our stores. We’re grateful that so many generous individuals give of their time and talents to advance our cause.”

Stephanie Barth, manager at the Ten Thousand Villages store in Waterloo, Ontario, agrees. She works with 30 volunteers, with three or four picking up shifts each day. It can be a challenge scheduling and training everyone, but the results are worth it. Each volunteer she accepts has a vested interest in seeing Ten Thousand Villages thrive.

“Whether they’re new Canadians wanting to learn English, students or retirees, we have a wide variety of people who volunteer here, and they all care about what’s happening in the world,” she says.

For those wanting to volunteer at a Ten Thousand Villages store or festival sale, but worry they don’t have the time, Barth offers some advice: contact your local store and see if positions are available. Many volunteers work just one shift a week.

Almost anyone can find four hours in a week to do good and feel good too.

About Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages Canada is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, one of the country’s largest international relief and development agencies. The organization deliberately marries the concept of fair trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices. From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, Ten Thousand Villages strives to meet the “triple bottom line” of economic, environmental and social sustainability. 

Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler's car to a network of more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewellery, home decor, art, sculpture and personal accessories made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 29 countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. For more information, visit www.tenthousandvillages.ca

 


 

‘Tis the Reason

Ten Thousand Villages invites Canadians to give gifts that give back this holiday season

 

New Hamburg, ON (Oct. 21, 2014) – For many, the holiday season is all about finding that perfect gift. This year, Ten Thousand Villages is releasing their carefully curated ‘Tis the Reason holiday collection, encouraging Canadians to experience the joy that comes from giving high-quality, ethical gifts that give back, goods handcrafted by artisans in marginalized communities around the world.

For almost 70 years, Ten Thousand Villages has worked to bring unique treasures from around the world to Canada, supporting their mission to create sustainable opportunities for artisans in 29 countries to earn a fair income through beautifully crafted products, all embedded with rich stories of hope and a stable way of life. The 2014 collection includes ethically- sourced, fair trade Christmas decorations, jewellery, children’s toys and tableware all carefully crafted by artisan groups, along with fair trade coffee and chocolate.

Ceramic DescriptionsOne featured product this holiday season comes from Tran and Thuy Kinh, artisans in the pottery village of Bat Trang on the shores of the Vietnam Red River. Tran and Thuy operate a ceramics workshop that provides income to more than 45 people in the creation of beautiful tableware, which is then sold in Ten Thousand Villages locations across North America.

“We are thrilled with the treasures included in our 2014 holiday gift collection. Our holiday jewellery and ornaments are always popular with those looking for ethically sourced gifts that sparkle, and this year is no different,” said Holly deGraaf, Director of Retail Operations and Public Relations at Ten Thousand Villages. “However, what I’m personally excited to highlight this year is our Bat Trang tableware from Vietnam. Through fair trade, these skilled artisans receive more than fair value for their work – they regularly share stories of finding respect, dignity and hope.”

The traditional Bat Trang style is characterized by blue and white dinnerware and tiny ornaments featuring intricately detailed patterns. These beautiful ceramics are handcrafted and incredibly durable. For Tran, the fifth generation of his family involved in the art form, Canadians choosing ethical giving provides the opportunity to build a better future for his family and community. 

“We’re so grateful to partner with this family and the Bat Trang group,” said deGraaf. “Their compelling stories and beautiful work have inspired us to share more broadly the message that ethical giving does make a difference. We know there are many reasons to give this holiday season. Why not give a bowl that helps a village?”

For more information on Bat Trang and Ten Thousand Villages, visit www.tenthousandvillages.ca

About Ten Thousand Villages

For almost 70 years, Ten Thousand Villages has been establishing long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans lack opportunities for stable income. The commitment to support artisans around the globe is strengthened through fair trade compensation practices that include cash advances and prompt payments.

Ten Thousand Villages Canada is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, one of the country’s largest international relief and development agencies. The organization deliberately marries the concept of fair trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices. From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, Ten Thousand Villages strives to meet the “triple bottom line” of economic, environmental and social sustainability. 

Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler's car to a network of more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewellery, home decor, art, sculpture and personal accessories made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 37countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. For more information, visit www.tenthousandvillages.ca

Media Contact: Paola Di Clemente; paola@grafmartin.com or 519-342-3703 x5

 

 


 

 

Angels to Apples

Ten Thousand Villages Canada supports Breakfast for Learning,
inviting Canadians to give a gift that fights child hunger this holiday season

New Hamburg, ON (Oct. 24, 2014) – With statistics from the Conference Board of Canada revealing that 1 in 7 Canadian school-age children lives in poverty, Ten Thousand Villages Canada is taking its fair trade practices one step further this holiday season. For the second year, Ten Thousand Villages has chosen to join forces with Breakfast for Learning in fighting child hunger here in Canada, as well as overseas through its global network of artisans. This November and December 2014, two dollars from each purchase of Ten Thousand Villages’ fairly traded Angel ornament will be donated to Breakfast for Learning, one of Canada’s leading national charities dedicated to child nutrition programs.

This unique, handcrafted angel is a brand new design for 2014, exclusive to Ten Thousand Villages Canada. It is the perfect feel good gift that gives back. Due to the incredible demand in 2013, Ten Thousand Villages stores across Canada quickly sold out of the beautiful Angel ornament. This year, the fair trade retailer is poised and ready to build on that success, partnering with artisans in the Philippines to bring even more of these handcrafted angels to Canada, and providing even more Canadian children with the nourishment they need.

“We’re so pleased to support Breakfast for Learning for a second year,” said Holly deGraaf, Director of Retail Operations and Public Relations at Ten Thousand Villages Canada. “Last year, the overwhelming response clearly demonstrated that Canadians care. Through this partnership, this collectible angel is not only helping provide children overseas with healthy meals, but will support school-based breakfast, lunch and snack programs for Canadian children as well.”

 

Artisans from Saffy Handicrafts (Social Action for Filipino Youth) in the Philippines use the translucent, off-white capiz shell of the windowpane oyster and shimmering painted wire to give each ornament its exquisite look. The angel is nestled in a handcrafted gift box from Get Paper Industries in Nepal, a cooperative of 125 artisans, crafted from handmade paper and non-toxic dyes.

With 66 million children across the developing world attending classes hungry, the need is great. Saffy Handicrafts was founded to create alternative sources of livelihood for impoverished women and youth. Today, Saffy Handicrafts employs more than 1,000 people. These artisans benefit not only from a fair wage and safe working conditions, but also receive access to educational seminars, vocational training, financial and medical assistance, and profit-sharing opportunities.

“We’re so glad that Ten Thousand Villages is joining us in our commitment to providing Canadian children and youth with the nourishment they need to learn, grown and succeed,” said Samantha David, Executive Director at Breakfast for Learning. “We’re proud to be a part of the Angels to Apples initiative.”

The 2014 Angel ornament will be available in Ten Thousand Villages locations across Canada and online on November 1, 2014.

About Ten Thousand Villages

For almost 70 years, Ten Thousand Villages has been establishing long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans lack opportunities for stable income. The commitment to support artisans around the globe is strengthened through fair trade compensation practices that include cash advances and prompt payments.

Ten Thousand Villages Canada is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, one of the country’s largest international relief and development agencies. The organization deliberately marries the concept of fair trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices. From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, Ten Thousand Villages strives to meet the “triple bottom line” of economic, environmental and social sustainability. 

Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler's car to a network of more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewellery, home decor, art, sculpture and personal accessories made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 37countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. For more information, visit www.tenthousandvillages.ca

About Breakfast for Learning

Breakfast for Learning is committed to ensuring all children and youth in Canada attend school well nourished and ready to learn, helping them reach their full potential in the classroom and life. As one of the largest national charities dedicated to nourishing children, Breakfast for Learning has been helping to support student nutrition programs in every province and territory for over 20 years. In the 2014/15 school year, Breakfast for Learning funded 2,174 breakfast, lunch and snack programs, supporting 271,663 children and youth with more than 44 million nourishing meals and snacks. Since 1992, Breakfast for Learning has helped 3.6 million children and youth enjoy over 554 million healthy meals and snacks. For more information or to donate, please visit www.breakfastforlearning.ca.

Media Contact: Paola Di Clemente; paola@grafmartin.com or 519-342-3703 x5

 

 


 

Response to Typhoon Haiyan

Dear staff, volunteers and customers:
As you may know, we have been tracking the wellbeing of our artisan partners in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. While they are reeling from the horrendous impact of the storm on their country, and on loved ones and acquaintances, they report having escaped relatively unscathed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people of the Philippines as they’re faced with this inconceivable devastation.


As a tangible way to show our solidarity with them in this difficult time, Ten Thousand Villages Canada and Ten Thousand Villages in the United States will donate 10% of sales from e-commerce and company stores on Wednesday, November 20 to MCC’s typhoon relief efforts. Board stores have been invited to participate as well.
MCC is working through Church World Service to fund urgent food and non-food items, and with other partners to determine needs for long-term recovery. MCC is known for working long after media interest has dwindled, helping communities recover and rebuild from devastation. We’re proud to be able to help support these efforts.


I echo the words of Pam Raffensberger, CEO of Ten Thousand Villages in the USA:
"Compassion is a core value of our business at Ten Thousand Villages; we work with artisans in developing countries and vulnerable communities. While our partners in the Philippines were spared from the typhoon’s damaging and deadly path, their hearts suffer for their countrymen and women, and the effect of the disaster on their nation’s economy and morale is almost unimaginable. It is our wish that in addition to meeting the urgent needs of affected people in the Philippines, our donation might serve as a demonstration of kindness and a sign of hope for the thousands who have lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones."


It is at times like this that I am especially proud to work at Ten Thousand Villages. Not only are we making this donation, but we will also put a strong focus on the beautiful products from the Philippines. Ten Thousand Villages buys items made by these talented artisans, and sells them online, in our stores and at festival sales. In so doing, we have the privilege of being part of the dream of every artisan every day: Earning a meaningful, dignified living.


The country as a whole will certainly need charity and international support to rebuild and recover – and we’re honoured to support MCC’s relief work to that end. And for the individuals with whom Ten Thousand Villages partners, who want more than anything to be able to support themselves and their neighbours through their own labour, we’re pleased to showcase their products in the coming days. Through our donation and our sales of products from the Philippines, we hope to play a small role in the long-term stability and security of our artisan partners and the people of the Philippines.
In the weeks and months ahead, please join me in remembering and supporting those touched by this incredibly destructive storm.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jacobs
General Manager
Ten Thousand Villages Canada

 


 

Give an Angel, Feed a Child

Ten Thousand Villages Canada announces collaboration with Breakfast for Learning
& invites Canadians to give a gift that gives back this Holiday season

New Hamburg, ON (Oct. 14, 2013) – With statistics from the Conference Board of Canada revealing that 1 in 7 Canadian school-age children are living in poverty and 1 in 3 attend classes hungry, Ten Thousand Villages Canada is taking Fair Trade practices one step further this Holiday season. Ten Thousand Villages is joining forces with Breakfast for Learning in fighting back against child hunger here in Canada as well as overseas through its global network of artisans. This November and December 2013, two dollars from each purchase of their fairly traded Angel ornament will be donated to Breakfast for Learning, one of Canada’s leading national charities dedicated to child nutrition programs.

Angel ornamentSimply Beautiful.

This delicate, handcrafted Angel, exclusive to Ten Thousand Villages Canada, nourishes body and soul. Artisans from Saffy Handicrafts in the Philippines use the translucent, off-white capiz shell of the windowpane oyster and shimmering painted wire to give each ornament her exquisite look. The gift box from Get Paper Industries in Nepal, a cooperative of 125 artisans, is crafted from handmade paper and non-toxic dyes.
“This beautiful Angel makes a truly thoughtful teacher, hostess or corporate gift, adding a touch of sparkle to Holiday décor and an opportunity to address two important issues: global justice through fair trade, and childhood hunger here at home,” said Holly deGraaf, Director, Retail Operations and Public Relations at Ten Thousand Villages. “Now, fair trade is not only helping to provide artisans’ children with healthy meals, but will support school-based breakfast, lunch and snack programs for Canadian children as well.”

Simply Fair.

Community Development is one of the 10 principles essential to fair trade, as outlined by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). With 66 million children across the developing world attending classes hungry, the need is great. Saffy Handicrafts (Social Action for Filipino Youth) located in the Philippines, was founded by a Belgian nun in 1966 to create alternative sources of livelihood for impoverished women and youth. Today, Saffy Handicrafts employs over 1,000 people. These artisans benefit not only from a fair wage and safe working conditions, but also receive access to educational seminars, vocational training, financial and medical assistance, and profit sharing opportunities.

"We are passionate about investing in children and are thrilled to join Breakfast for Learning in achieving their vision of giving children the best chance of success in life", shares deGraaf.

The Angel ornament will be available in Ten Thousand Villages locations across Canada and online on November 1, 2013.

About Ten Thousand Villages: Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, one of the country’s largest international relief and development agencies. The organization deliberately marries the concept of fair trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices. From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, Ten Thousand Villages strives to meet the "triple bottom line" of economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler's car to a network of more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewellery, home decor, art and sculpture and personal accessories made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 35 countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

About Breakfast for Learning

Breakfast for LearningBreakfast for Learning (BFL) was founded in 1992 as the first and most comprehensive national organization in Canada dedicated to the direct support of school nutrition programs and the healthy development of children and youth. Knowing that when a child is hungry, it’s hard to learn, Breakfast for Learning’s mission is to ensure that every child in Canada attends school well-nourished and ready to learn.
Having served over 400 million meals, Breakfast for Learning champions a made-in-Canada model that brings together private, public and volunteer sectors to provide food in caring, community-centered programs. In the 2012/13 school year, Breakfast for Learning helped serve almost 54 million meals to more than 349,500 students in almost 3, 400 nutrition programs across the country.
Working to empower communities to start and sustain child nutrition programs, Breakfast for Learning offers nutrition grants, nutrition education materials, equipment funding and award- winning best practices tools. Breakfast for Learning also supports ongoing child nutrition education that demonstrates the link between proper nutrition and learning.
For more information, visit www.breakfastforlearning.ca.

 


 

Ethical Commerce - Simply Beautiful. Simply Fair.

Ten Thousand Villages marks Fair Trade Month by celebrating hope and dignity for women around the globe.

New Hamburg, ON (Sept. 16, 2013) – Shocking statistics reveal that while women perform nearly two-thirds of the world’s work hours, they only receive one-tenth of its income. Carrying the uneven burden of the world’s poverty means that many women and girls face harassment, unequal treatment and discrimination in the workplace, especially within the agricultural and textile industries. This October, Ten Thousand Villages is celebrating what fair trade means for women around the globe by marking the 10th anniversary of Fair Trade Month. Ethically-minded consumers and retailers are uniting with the aim of raising consumer awareness about the availability of quality, fair trade products that protect the environment, support communities and improve lives. 

Simply Fair. 

Gender Equality is one of the 10 principles essential to fair trade, as outlined by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). With women representing 70 per cent of the world’s poor, the need is great. Fair trade organizations ensure that women’s work is always properly valued and rewarded. Women are fairly paid for their contribution to the production process and are empowered within their organizations.

Simply Beautiful.

Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest fair trade organization in North America. Through fair trade, artisans receive more than fair value for their work – they regularly share stories of finding respect, dignity and hope. For the women of the Pobitra program in Bangladesh, for example, fair trade means all these things – along with a chance for a new life.

Victims of the Bangladesh sex trade, the women of the Pobitra program take part in an eight-month training program that also educates them on health and hygiene, literacy, mental health, human rights and peace. Upon joining the program, the women, known as “Survivors,” make a public commitment to embrace new opportunities and on completion, are given a blue sari to symbolize their rebirth. Their backgrounds are heartbreaking, yet their stories of transformation are beautiful.
The women work alongside each other to make handmade natural soaps and beautiful throw blankets made of recycled saris, under the name Sacred Mark. The products are then purchased by Ten Thousand Villages and made available in stores across North America.
“We are grateful to partner with the women of Pobitra. Their compelling stories and beautiful work have inspired us to share more broadly the message that fair trade matters. Fair trade makes lives more beautiful here and around the world,” shares Holly deGraaf, Director, Retail Operations and Public Relations at Ten Thousand Villages.
Ten Thousand Villages will be celebrating Fair Trade month with in-store and online specials and in-store events throughout October.

About Ten Thousand Villages: Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, one of the country’s largest international relief and development agencies. The organization deliberately marries the concept of fair trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices. From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, Ten Thousand Villages strives to meet the "triple bottom line" of economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler's car to a network of more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewellery, home decor, art and sculpture and personal accessories made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 35 countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.


 

Tragedy in Bangladesh Challenges Canadians to Spend Mindfully

  May 13, 2013 (New Hamburg) – Pause for a moment. Think about the people who made the clothes you wear, or grew the fruit you had for breakfast, or crafted the items that adorn your house. Do you wish for them the same rights you enjoy as a Canadian?

 This question, which Ten Thousand Villages has been asking for more than six decades, has taken on new meaning in light of the recent garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. And with the death toll now over 1,000 and rescue operations ceased, many thoughtful Canadians are asking the same question.

 “We at Ten Thousand Villages are disturbed by the dismal conditions faced by many of our brothers and sisters around the world,” says Ryan Jacobs, general manager of the organization, “people with the same hopes and dreams we have, but who have few options for safe, meaningful work.”

 Ten Thousand Villages grew out of the desire to address the question of fairness within international supply chains, and built a business model that has come to be known as “Fair Trade”. As the largest and oldest Fair Trade organization in North America, it has helped create safe working conditions and provided fair income to artisans and producers in countries around the world. This vision has resulted in economic improvement in many countries, including Bangladesh. By partnering with Ten Thousand Villages, artisans receive the respect, dignity and hope that come from earning fair value for their work.

 “The way Ten Thousand Villages and other Fair Trade organizations do business presents unique challenges. But we won’t compromise when it comes to the wellbeing of the artisans who produce our products,” says Jacobs. “Many Canadians already feel the way we do, but this recent tragedy has pushed the benefits of mindful consumerism and ethical fashion into the spotlight again.”

 Ten Thousand Villages is known for offering fair wages, yet its business practices are different than traditional retailers in an even more significant way: rather than working through intermediaries, it fosters direct connections with artisans, creating healthy working relationships and mutually beneficial trading partnerships. Transparency and accountability are key.

 “We know the people who produce our products,” says Jacobs. “We value direct connections so we can verify that working conditions are safe, standards are met, and people are being paid fairly and are not being taken advantage of.” 

 Although supporting Fair Trade organizations is one way to create change in the retail sector and demonstrate concern for the lives of men and women around the world, there are other ways to make a difference.

  •  Ask questions. If you’re unsure where a garment is made, ask the retailer. What kind of assurances can they give you that the piece of clothing was not made in a sweatshop?
  • Don’t assume that because the item costs more, it was produced in an ethical way. In many cases, that’s true, but price can also increase simply to cover high marketing, branding and supply chain costs.
  • Boycotting Bangladeshi garments is not necessarily the answer. Although tragedies make headlines, there are other ethically run, safe and respectful garment manufacturers in the country who employ thousands of men and women. Demand good governance in the region instead.

 “Everyone deserves the right to work in a safe environment,” says Jacobs, “and our hearts go out to the families of those who recently lost their lives in Bangladesh. In their honour, Ten Thousand Villages encourages Canadians to remain engaged in this important conversation about ethical purchasing, and to exercise the power of thoughtful spending decisions.”

 About Ten Thousand Villages: Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCCC), is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America and works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. Through a network of 36 retail stores, festival sales and e-shopping, Ten Thousand Villages Canada sells artisan-crafted personal accessories, home decor and gift items from around the globe. Artisans’ income pays for food, education, healthcare and housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), a coalition of handicraft and agricultural producer organizations, and Fair Trade organizations from both the North and the South.


 

Ten Thousand Villages Canada Commitment to Fair Trade and Artisans Leads to Reorganization in 2013

March 18, 2013 (New Hamburg) – For over six decades, Ten Thousand Villages has provided fair income to artisans and producers in countries around the world. As the largest and oldest non-profit Fair Trade organization in North America, this vision has changed the face of villages through economic improvement in areas as far-flung as India, Peru, Cambodia and Uganda.

In the wake of domestic retail challenges, Ten Thousand Villages Canada is reenergizing its vision and efforts to stabilize the organization. This commitment to future sustainability requires a significant reduction of high infrastructure costs and overall downsizing of national operations. As a result, Ten Thousand Villages will close 10 retail locations and reduce head office staff by about 20 positions in 2013.

34 Ten Thousand Villages retail stores will remain open, as will its recently re-launched online store.

“The decision to make these retail and staffing changes was not an easy one – and certainly not one we make lightly – but it is a decision we need to make to ensure we are able to support our artisan communities for years to come,” says Ryan Jacobs, general manager of the organization. “We are fully committed to our mission of improving the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged people. That remains our primary objective.”

The new plan will uphold the organization’s operational principles and Fair Trade business practices, leverage current strengths, and partner more closely with its sister organization, Ten Thousand Villages in the U.S.

“I am confident that this significant adjustment to our business model will strengthen Ten Thousand Villages and help us fulfill our mission of partnering with artisans around the world,” says Jacobs. “We thank all of the committed staff, volunteers and customers who have supported our vision and have given so generously of their time and talents.”

Please direct all inquiries to: vision@villages.ca or 519-662-1879, ext. 475