I just sent this in to the editor of our local paper - you might want to do the same.

Dear Reader,

At this Easter time of year, for a reason that I still cannot fathom, chocolate rabbits and cream eggs adorn our store shelves. As if any of us needed any excuse to eat chocolate, in fact some of our waistlines prove the point that chocolate is the last thing we need. If you need a motivational push to help your self-control this year ? have a look at www.stopthetraffik.org

Some of you may have followed the fight to bring justice to the cocoa trade and for others this letter might be the first you have heard of it ? so for those of you who this is new to, let me give you a little background that may make you think twice about which chocolate you buy this Easter.

35% of the chocolate we eat is made from cocoa harvested in the Ivory Coast. A 2002 study estimated that there were 200,000 child labourers in the Ivory Coast and a substantial minority of those were trafficked from Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo. Currently the ILO (International Labour Organization) is conducting studies to verify that number, but some estimates place the number of trafficked children at over 2000! (Incidentally, the ILO does not dispute the earlier studies results) That?s 2000 child slaves in our world, 2000 children sold from their homeland and forced to work in dangerous conditions. That, my fellow citizens, is not right. As a result of these findings there have been several attempts by both US Senators and justice groups to legislate that all chocolate be certified as ?slave free.? Unfortunately, the chocolate companies, the very companies that we purchase our cream eggs and our Easter treats from, were able to convince the senate that they would set about with their own protocol to certify all of West Africa by 2005. That has not been achieved and while there is progress, the major chocolate companies cannot say with accuracy that their chocolate is slave free.

Can you imagine, neighbour, the outcry if the chocolate that I purchased this Easter was complicit in a system that enslaved your 12 year old son, or perpetuated a cycle of trade that allowed for your 14 year old daughter to be sold for $100? Would we allow it? Wouldn?t we stand up and say NO! Wouldn?t we vote with our money and avoid those products, wouldn?t we demand that our government not only work to protect the consumer from being complicit in this slavery supply chain, but wouldn?t we also want them to act to oppose such a horrific misuse of power in the name of greed?

The good news is that you can do something about it ? you can make things different. Our power as consumers is larger than you may think! Cadburys, bowing to public pressure in the UK have recently announced that their Dairy Milk Bar will be certified ?fair trade? by the summer of 2009. We can make a difference with the chocolate we buy ? so this week ? buy lots of chocolate, but buy fair trade! Head down to 10,000 Villages or Valumart as they both carry Fair Trade chocolate bars.
We all know that we would never allow such a horrible crime against some of the most vulnerable people in our society to take place here in Niagara on the Lake, so please, don?t allow it to take place just because it isn?t in your front yard, take action, make a choice, and let your voice be heard ? people should NOT be bought and sold!

If you?d like more information or would like some of the reference material that supports some of these claims ? please don?t hesitate to contact me.

Chris Jones

Bookmark and Share