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During her stop in Nova Scotia, our Colombian guest visited Just Us! Coffee in Grand Pre, N.S., where she toured the operation, showing particular interest in the roasting process. 

Just Us! Coffee was the first Canadian cooperative to sell fair trade coffee and it now sells others products such as sugar, spices and tea, etc. It recently began a fair trade chocolate factory in Hantsport, N.S. Thanks largely to Just Us!, Wolfville, N.S., became the first fair trade town in Canada this spring.

Maria Fernanda also visited Grand Pre National Park where she learned about the expulsion of the Acadian peoples in 1755. She viewed the church where men and boys were rounded up by the British before being loaded on ships and separated from their families. 

She also met the president of the Acadia University Faculty Association and other academics who research social movements in Colombia. 

On her last day in N.S., she enjoyed a delicious chowder and lobster roll meal at CUPE NS president Danny Cavanagh’s Truro restaurant where he and his family shared experiences with her. 

“Having Maria Fernanda here was a huge eye-opening experience for me and our members as we learn more and more about global issues,” said Cavanagh. “To actually meet and speak with Maria Fernanda, who gets up so early for work, doesn’t make a lot of money and doesn’t have a lot of rights in the workplace, makes one reflect on how lucky we are.

“It also makes me think that it wasn’t that long ago that we won some health and safety rights in Nova Scotia and that we are still fighting today to get rights for all workers on violence in the workplace regulations.

“In Columbia workers like Maria Fernanda face violence every day. She truly is a remarkable sister and one of courage and vigour to come here and go back more determined than ever to be willing to stand up for workers, youth and for women’s rights in her country.”  

“It was a great learning experience for all of us and I certainly believe Maria Fernanda enjoyed herself while in Nova Scotia,” added national global justice committee co-chair Barb Moore. “She is a very intelligent and strong woman and I wish her every success in building trade unionism in Cali. We hope to keep up our exchange through email and hope for future meetings.”