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In Health and Wellness

Toxic chemicals in our products?

Why is it necessary to know the ingredients that make up a product? The answer is quite disturbing:  it’s because they contain toxic chemicals. From baby toys to cosmetics and food, we are bombarded by these harmful chemicals every day sometimes without our knowledge. These toxic chemicals are not the first thing you think about when you apply your moisturizer in the morning, when you smell your boyfriend’s Cologne, or when you wash your clothes. Unfortunately, there are thousands of these toxins that have fallen through the cracks of labeling and found residence in your laundry basket and your bathroom.

According to a U.S. Researcher’s Report, 1/8 of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are either industrial chemicals, carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins or hormone disruptors. Some even include plasticizers which are chemicals that are used to keep concrete soft. Being vegan, I care very much about what is absorbed through my pores and am very concerned about the carbon footprint of the products I buy. Putting the money towards products that do not contain these chemicals is a no-brainer to me, but I admit that I was sickened at the level of toxicity of some products.  The most common toxins,  known as ‘the dirty dozen’,  can be found in around 80% of personal care items and laundry detergents.  There is a massive loophole in labeling laws. I was surprised to find out that Tide was at the top of the toxic list. Tide has the highest level of 1,4 dioxane (63 PPM), a petrochemical found in paint and varnishes, which is a carcinogen. It is even considered dangerous when inhaled (like when you smell your clean clothes) and is absorbed by your body when you sweat.

Toxic ingredients have found their way into our products and in turn pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. I thought of naming a few, but there are thousands. Here is a list of a few TOXIC INGREDIENTS you want to avoid at all costs:

  1. Phenols: found in laundry detergents.  Banned in the E.U. Known to cause damage to lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver. According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, it can cause serious health condition and even death in extra-sensitive people.
  2. Optical Brighteners: found in laundry products to alter ultra-violet wavelengths which in turn makes clothes look whiter. It is highly toxic to fishes in the sea where it ends up, causes mutation in bacteria and can trigger strong allergic reactions in humans when exposed to sunlight.
  3. Parabens: used in products for preservation purposes by blocking the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. PARABENS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED IN BIOPSY SAMPLES FROM BREAST TUMORS. It can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos, facial cleansers, food and pharmaceutical products.
  4. Triclosan: an anti-microbial chemical found in toothpaste and anti-bacterial soaps and gels. Considered an endocrine disruptor, therefore, can alter the thyroid gland and replicate hormones. Is causing us to become resistant to antibiotics and has been called for a ban from the Canadian Medical Association. It is highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Even more troubling is that it can be found in many items such as garbage bags, toys, linens, mattresses, toilet fixture, clothing, furniture fabric, paints, laundry detergent, facial tissues, and cosmetics.
  5. Phatlates: Increases the flexibility and softness of plastics. Found in nail polish, perfumes, lotions, hair spray, deodorants. Also, an endocrine disruptor which has been linked to breast cancer.
  6. Sunscreen Chemicals: Benzophenone, PABA, methoxycinnamate. They are all endocrine disruptors and have been known to cause cellular damage as well as cancer.
  7. Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Found in more than 90% of personal care products as well as cleaning products. They are skin, lung and eye irritant and when bound with other chemicals can become carcinogen and have been known to cause damage to kidneys. Found in shampoos, body washes, moisturizers, mascara, and acne treatments.

Faced with this information what is one to do?? I have compiled a list of suggestions as to avoid toxic ingredients:

. Limit the amounts of toxins you expose yourself.

. Avoid chemical-laden, processed foods.

. Drink lots of filtered water.

. Buy safer and more natural products.

Many companies do not believe in poisoning their clientèle in the name of profit. One of them is Arbonne, and I sat with one of its Consultants, Rusiana Tiju, a friend of mine who truly believes in Arbonne’s vision and who was utterly shocked when I told her she needed to stop using Tide!   I mention this company because I do use their products and like them. Arbonne is 100% Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cruelty-Free, GMO-Free, and Kosher. I was very impressed when she announced to me that their supplements which are nutrition based products were just labeled Drug- Free which means that they remain 100% accountable when it comes to their ingredients. Arbonne has cosmetics, personal care, spa and wellness, men’s and baby products as well as a whole array of nutritional items.

There are many other companies worth mentioning such as Tom’s of Maine, Green Beaver, Druide and Kiss My Face to name a few. I think it’s important to put our money where it counts. There is no need to expose ourselves and destroy our beautiful planet as well. There are many other safer alternatives to choose.

For more information on Arbonne contact:

Rusiana Tiju






In Society

The healing power of music

Music has deeply touched me. Having studied classical piano, I still play and sometimes like to compose. Those have been the best moments of my life. They are the times I have felt the closest to my Creator. As Kasey Kasem once said: ‘Music is the soundtrack of our lives.’ Who hasn’t listened to a song and wasn’t immediately transported into a world of emotions and memories?  Music has the power to touch our souls and to make us feel many different emotions such as happiness, excitement, joy, and sadness.

Music’s healing powers have been the subject of many types of research, and they have concluded that music not only improves our memory and brain function, it also can lower stress and anxiety, make us happier, lower blood pressure, slow our heartbeat and so on. But the most grandiose benefit of music is that it is divine. It can keep us alive in tough times. Being lodged away in our minds, no one has the power to take music’ s infliction from us.

The most compelling story I ever encountered concerning this ‘miracle’ was that of Alice Sommer- Herz a pianist from Prague who survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi Occupation. Her beautiful vision of life and how music has saved her from being killed is quite compelling. Although the prisoners were not fed and lived in atrocious conditions, the musicians were the ones who were the most optimistic about surviving the death camps and surmounting its horrors. The Nazis could take everything for Sommer-Herz but music remained untouchable in her mind. It was her paradise in hell.  Knowing that she would play at night, even if it were for the Nazis, was her saving grace.


Words cannot express what this woman and her family went through, but the lesson she left the world is even more potent than her survival itself. Her life is a service to anyone who is going through a difficult period in their life. The healing power of music is pure wisdom, and if you let its melodies carry yourself, it will touch your heart and change you forever. Thank you, Alice  Samson-Herts for inspiring all of us to see beauty everywhere. Your courage and strength, as well as your belief in the healing power of music, will never be forgotten.




In Health and Wellness

Dear Stress – I’m breaking up with you.


The review of ‘Dear Stress -I’m breaking up with you,’ which is a part of  ‘Dear Women Guide Book Series’ couldn’t have come in my life at a better time. I am at a turning point with my work, my relationships and with mid-life issues, so it is without saying that I am experiencing a significant amount of stress. Can we say: THE S WORD??  Stress, a norm in our everyday lives,  has become more of a subjective term than a scientific one.  Here, well-known author Ky-Lee Hanson presents an amalgam of stories for women written by a selection of 17 women co-authors who, by sharing their own life experiences dealing with stress, help and inspire other women to do so.

This book is not only an easy read, and it is cleverly divided into five sections making it easier for the reader to understand the different types of stress and how to either eliminate or deal with it. Whether read linearly or picked at a story by story,  it delivers many realizable solutions. These are creatively put forward in each story in the form of suggestions, recommendations, explanations, lists, poems and quotes from everyday women that are easy to relate. From teachers,  mothers,  business women, to physicians these women have suffered from stress, whether internal or external, and they each offer their unique perspective on how to overcome its grip.

The first section ‘The Weight Within’ deals mostly with the negative inner dialogue we women have. I found there many ways to change ‘stinking thinking’ into gratitude. Stress can make us or break us: that is our decision. We can accept to be victimized by stress by holding on to it and stay ridden by guilt and shame, or we can see stress as a great teacher and learn from it.  Knowing this is not an easy task, this part of the book offers many ways that women can identify what is real stress vs. what is imagined to be stress and in the second-hand use self-development and learn how to turn negative experiences into positive ones.

Many women who juggle family life and work will find solace in the second section ‘Family Matters’, which helps women prioritize themselves and encourages them to give up their ‘limiting’ thinking. Living for yourself is not an easy task for mothers who often feel guilty by putting their needs first. In these stories, women will find ways to prioritize and organize their lives as to lessen stress and be more joyful.

Next comes ‘Healing the Body with Knowledge’, which addresses the educational value of understanding internal and external stressors and their link to illnesses. There the reader understands the underlying causes of stress, such as fear, and that not all stress is detrimental to our health. Some types of stress are only problematic if they are at an unhealthy level. Here there are many examples of the relationship between stress and disease with solutions and even recipes which promote health and therefore reduce stress.

The book then moves on to ‘More than just a girl’, which deals with the injustices we face today,  just by being women. In this part of the book, women share how they overcame stereotypes and limitations by accepting stress and how they found ways of letting it go –  forever. Although the unfortunate reality is that we are not socially and economically equal to our counterparts these women have found ways to break free from the ideas we have internalized as women either from the culture we grew up in, from injustices we have endured or from our parent’s belief system. It is an enigma that in 2017, wanting equality for women is seen as feminism and has a negative connotation. I just loved how these women cheer others on to stay true to themselves and to just go for it!! Why not? Are we not meant to be equal after all?

The last part of the book, ‘The break up with no returns”  digs deep into the importance of communication. Talking about our issues is the first step in moving away from them, and this fact is essential in all areas of our lives. Women are encouraged to connect with themselves really: physically, emotionally and spiritually.  All in all, the author stresses how women often crippled by stress, miss the boat and realize that their lives are passing by them which leads to depression and low self-esteem. Hanson, motivating women to ignite this change in their lives,  helps women move from a dark place into a place of light and peace.

Stress will always be an inevitable part of life, but after having found so many ways to break up with it, I can say that I no longer have a reason to keep enduring it and, with a big smile on my face, I can dearly say GOODBYE STRESS!

Dear Stress: I’m breaking up with you is available at all bookstores and online



In Animal Rights

Animal welfare across cultures

A friend of mine called me and suggested I write about the Yulin lychee and dog meat festival which takes place in China every year during the summer solstice. I was reticent to do so due to the morbidity of the story but being an animal activist I cannot turn my head the other way. What I discovered was way more gruesome than I could ever have imagined.

The practice of eating dog meat in China can be traced as far back as 400 years ago although the Yulin dog meat festival began in the 1990’s. The dog meat trade is quite barbaric given the fact that household and stray dogs, which account for 80% of these animals, are hunted and killed by poisonous darts, crossbows, metal traps and nets. The dogs that make it alive to the festival are packed in wood or steel cages, paraded around the grounds, and hung alive to be displayed to potential buyers.  Tens of thousands of dogs are severely abused during this 10-day festival. They are beaten and put into bags alive.  When bought they are skinned (sometimes live) and then cooked.  I admit I was outraged and disgusted at the gruesome images and videos I watched to write this story.

The dog meat trade seems entirely appalling for us North Americans, but it is practiced in some parts of the world mainly in Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Korea and Vietnam. Disgusting?  Sure. But the real shocker is what I found out while digging for information: dog and cat meat consumption by humans are not explicitly illegal in Canada.  According to an article published in 2015 in the Toronto Star, four dog carcasses were found in the freezer of a Chinese restaurant in Alberta in 2003, and the local health inspector said there was no law against it.

“To be available to serve in a restaurant and for the public, the meat has to be inspected,” Capital Health Authority’s Nelson Fok told the CBC.

The slaughter of animals for food in Canada is a provincially licensed activity, which means meat plant operators must obtain a license.

“For a meat plant operator to obtain a license for dog meat, it must be proven that the slaughter of dogs fits within the definition of food animals,” said Susan Micallef, a spokesperson Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Animals raised for food have to be kept in captivity and raised for the sole purpose of human consumption except for hunted game animals.  Therefore for a meat processor to obtain a license to slaughter dogs for food, it would have to prove that the dogs were raised solely for food and were never meant to be petted.  There are no provincially licensed plants approved to slaughter dogs although this practice still exists being pushed underground due its unpopularity and regulations.

The role of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is to set the standards for meat inspection across the country and to regulate meat importation. Fortunately, there is no category for dog meat. But I still find it hard to believe that in 2017 Canada has no animal-rights law which would entirely forbid this practice. In my opinion, no animal needs to be killed to feed, clothe, entertain or be experimented on for personal gratification; let alone the ones we view as our companions.

I am vegan therefore I do not eat any animal or animal by-product, and this decision was partly due to the torture that farm animals endure in industrial farming.  I truly believe that animals are sentient beings and that the non-existence of laws regarding the prohibition of dog meat production as well as the lack of regulations concerning the welfare of animals in industrial farming in Canada is nothing else but disheartening.

What can you do to help? There are many organizations you can support to help end the suffering of these animals.  You can also make a difference by not consuming animals or at least reducing your intake of animal products. Also, putting your money where it matters by supporting companies that consider animal rights, putting pressure on governments by signing petitions that protect animals, as well as donating to animal welfare organizations. You can also save animals from a life of suffering by adopting one or sharing this information with others as to raise awareness. I listed a few organizations where you can help with a suggestion:

. The Humane Society International

. Animal Justice Canada

. Stop the Yulin dog meat festival

. Stop Yulin dog eating festival

Please help end the needless suffering of animals which has been going on for far too long. Together let’s give animals back their inherent rights and freedoms and by doing so making this world a gentler place to live.

In Society

Where has our humanity gone?

One of the questions that seem to rise often these days concerns the whereabouts of our humanity. But what is considered humanity? Although the words human and humankind share the same origin, there is a vast difference between being human and being humane.  A human is different from an animal or a plant because of its capacity to rationalize, compute, and communicate through a language for example whereas humanity represents the sympathies and frailties of human nature such as kindness and weakness. I have always wondered why we humans believe that we are superior animals when we are the only ones that suffer from inner conflict. This internal battle between good and evil, logic and emotion is a trait that characterizes us and leads us to make choices between these two paths.

Social media are being flooded with disastrous stories for the simple reason that those stories have a vaster audience. Loads of people are amused by stupid and disturbing acts of some particular people which in turn makes them more powerful therefore more dangerous. Focusing on the degradation of our collective conscience has become a terrible addiction. Millions of us feel amused and entertained by what is the tipping point in our history let alone our survival. The urgency of our situation as a species is well hidden behind the power and greed of corporations, governments, and individuals.

The most disturbing fact of today’s collective conscience is the attention we give to the negative aspects of our world without looking for a solution that is humane. Hasn’t history taught us that hatred and violence just breed more hatred and violence? What is inherently wrong with us that economic and social gains mean more than the survival of species? Kick me if I am wrong but doesn’t every religion prone love and kindness towards each other and towards all of God’s creations? History keeps repeating itself like it never happened in the first place. As Albert Einstein famously said: “the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  It doesn’t matter how rich or how famous you are if there is no more planet for us to live. This issue should be at the forefront of multi-nation discussions. It’s just common sense. Ronald Reagan once gave a speech at the United Nations where he implied that if Earth were to be attacked by aliens, we humans would have to unite.  Christians, Muslims, Jews, Black, White, American, Russian whatever; we would be one at last. No more wars over religion, no more borders, no more differences.

Kindness is not just a quality; it is a necessity. Kindness is the only solution that I believe we humans possess; it not only gives us hope it also gives us peace.  My only hope is that we teach and educate humans kindness and with that, make the world a more humane place for all species to live.

In Environment

The battle of good and evil in rainforests

I was inspired to look into the violence that has been happening in rainforests around the world such as in the Amazon in Brazil after I read the story of Sister Dorothy Stang, an American nun who was gunned down by a rancher in 1984 and was left to die in the mud in the middle of the Amazon. Sister Dorothy was a rainforest activist who had dedicated her life to the protection of this majestic forest from deforestation in the name of profit for mining industries, the clearing of trees by ranchers and loggers, to logging companies and for electrical businesses generating cheap electricity to a majority of Brazil’s industries subsidized by the government.  The battle between good and evil in these rainforests is a nightmare that began well over 50 years ago, and their paradise on earth has been depleted to nearly half of their original existence. Sadly little of these forests will be left by the end of the century.

The Amazon commonly referred to as “the lungs of the planet” is being destroyed one day at a time.  Every minute close to 50 acres of rainforests around the earth is being ravaged.  Why is this so important?  Because of the Amazon’s trees, as well as the ones in other rainforests, help regulate the planet’s whole atmosphere by turning the Carbon Dioxide we humans propel into the air with our planes, trains, cars, buses, etc.. and turns it into Oxygen.   Therefore it’s understandable that these rainforests have a massive impact on temperature regulation. Governments around the world are spending millions on building facilities to do what nature provides us in the first place, and these trees do it for free!

Of course, this can be argued in many ways, but when you look at the facts, they are quite bewildering. For example, the Brazilian government borrowed lots of money to build dams to sell cheaper electricity to its industries. Only it has done so in unneeded proportions to the point that these damns have flooded massive parts of the Amazon where treetops are sticking out of the water rotting away,  leaving foul smells and diseases that did not exist in those regions before. This war between big industries and the indigenous people living on these lands for generations is understandable since these people are not only fighting for what was theirs but also for their inherited way of life. Ever since rich white men have started building roads through the Amazon the situation for the forest and its inhabitants, humans and animals alike have degenerated into a critical condition. Villages are being destroyed,  waterways are being polluted, and the wildlife is losing its habitat at an alarming rate. Millions of trees are burnt, and thousands of different species are killed every year to give room for one single animal:  the cow. Unfortunately, the truth is that the meat industry is a very lucrative business the demand for beef rising every year. Whether you are worried about the animals, the birds or the future of the rainforest, you should be evenly concerned for its activists that are being gunned down because they are standing up for what is right.


Satan surely has his pitchfork planted in these forests! In 2015 there were 185 killings across 186 countries Brazil topping the list with 50 murders followed the Philippines with 33.  Out of these assassinations, only 1% make it to court, and someone brought to justice. These rainforest activists are victims that didn’t deserve to die in the name of “progress.” Not only are they non-violent, but they also protest in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King by surrounding themselves around trees to raise awareness for their dire situation. Referred to as the Angels of the Rainforests they should be protected not ignored nor slaughtered. Their entire history and customs should be respected not disintegrated into nothingness. I always thought that standing up for what you believe in a peaceful way sign of wisdom?

What can YOU do to help is the primary purpose here.  I believe that to make a difference you have to put your money where it matters.  I  do not support the cattle industry partly because of this situation but also for animal rights. Whatever your reason I find it very difficult to turn my head the other way knowing these facts concerning the violence against environmentalists in rainforests across the world. This situation is incredibly complicated and hard to fix, but there is always hope. There are organizations that you can help by making a donation such as the Rainforest Alliance which was established in 1986 and has never given up the fight. Great people die for their convictions while others prefer to ignore the truth.  The Rainforests and their inhabitants are in dire need of your love. Let’s not support the destruction of the planet’s lungs. Instead, we can help industries that emit a lower carbon footprint, and we can surely eat a lot less meat!

In Health and Wellness

A guide to vegan bodybuilding – how is this possible?

Please watch the video it is full of information on how to transition into a Vegan Bodybuilder diet and maintain it as well!

Since I have been writing this blog I get asked this question mostly by men very frequently: how can a build muscle mass on a plant-based diet? Not only is eating a plant-based diet works excellent for bodybuilding, but it is also actually better for your health, for the animals, and for the environment as well. A plant-based diet reduces the risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and so on.

There is a vegan revolution going on and yes! It has entered the world of bodybuilding. Most athletes turn to foods that are rich in protein but are animal-based such as eggs and lean meats. A plant-based diet is less acidic and contains a lot more nutrients. The amount and type of fuel your body needs varies with the intensity of your workout, therefore, is different if you want to build muscle and lose weight, only build muscle mass or just maintain it.

Eating every 2 to 3 hours maintains your metabolism and helps you train better since you are giving your body nutrients to recover. What composes this type of diet?

60% Carbohydrates: oatmeal, whole grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, whole corn, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and quinoa for example.

20% Proteins:  tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, soybeans and mushrooms and much more.

20% Fats (rich in monounsaturated fats) such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, olives, hemp oil, coconut oil, tofu, etc..

I recommend you visit the sites below to understand your nutritional needs. A vegan diet is a great way to build muscle mass, and if you are an animal activist, then you will become a great role model for the animal rights cause.


Here are some sites to visit to help you understand, get inspired and also get great tips and recipes:


In Health and Wellness

The Lov movement

Unless you had your head under a rock for the past few years, you certainly have noticed that there is a significant movement towards healthy dining. Restaurants such as Lov in Montreal are popping up everywhere around the world. It is with no surprise that Dominic Bujold, a key player in the restaurant business with many successes under his belt such as Sushi shop and M4 Burritos,  jumped on this train-wagon in March 2016 when he bought the notorious Crudessences two establishments in Montreal.  Armed with this knowledge Bujold knows how to please this new trendy and health-conscious clientèle.

The concept of Lov is just how it is named: charming. How can anyone resist its appeal? From its location in Montreal’s Old Port to the green-on-white flowery tapestry everything about Lov screams healthy.  Bujold’s vision is to offer a menu that is fresh, of quality, and within a reasonable price which  Lov sure delivers. Add to the mix 5-star vegan chef Stéphanie Audet and voilà!  Lov’s light and stylish atmosphere are very inviting and so is its lunch and dinner menus which offer many choices of succulent entrées, salads and main dishes most having the option of being vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. This botanical kitchen which employs as many local resources as possible is not only eco-conscious but by putting vegetables and other superfoods at the forefront is also purifying and energizing.

Chef  Stéphanie Audet, a rising star since her debut at Tofino in 2006,  creates real magic.  With the already favored Roast Beets Salad with cashew cheese in a pastis vinaigrette, the Croquettes de Quinoa which is gently fried and accompanied with a Curcuma mayonnaise, and the Sweet Potato buckwheat gnocchi with a hemp and basilic pesto just to name a few. Lov’s wine selection doesn’t disappoint either by offering an impressive list of organic wines well worth the try.

I so enjoyed dining at Lov I am not surprised that with its huge success I had difficulty booking another table. I suggest calling at least three days in advance if you want to dine at the peak hours. I was thrilled to find out that they will be adding a Menu du Jour and that weekend Brunch will soon be offered.  With a take-out counter in the future as well the only problem I believe Lov will have is a traffic jam at their front door!

Lov is situated at 464 Mc Gill Street, Old Montreal and is open Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 10 pm, Thursdays to Saturdays 11:30 am to 11 pm and is closed on Sundays.

For more information and to book a table online visit or call 438 387-1326.


In Society

Giving hope to humanity – The story of Vasilis Tsartsanis

I wanted to share not a story about politics but a story of courage, love, and kindness. I found it impossible to watch the video about the life of Vasilis Tsartsanis and not feel touched by it. This man is an excellent example of courage and selflessness. A real gem amongst the headlines that are flooding the media today. These are the reasons why I felt it was important to share it with you.

Tsartsanis, an ordinary man like any other, dared to stand up and follow his convictions. Although his actions placed him in great danger, nothing stopped this gentle giant. A man that demonstrates the values that we as people living on one planet need to possess if we want to live in peace and, facing all the wars that are presently ongoing,  also need to survive as a species.

While researching for this blog, there was very little information about this man. He is an actual example of what I consider a hero. Unfortunately, these are not the kind of articles that sell magazines.  Hence why I felt this man deserved to be showcased. I hope it will inspire you to be kind to others and to follow your heart because after all, we are all equal in God’s eyes. I urge you to do an act of kindness every day because kindness does last forever to those touched by it.


In Society

The solidarity of fair-trade shea butter

While the women of the industrialized world reunited and marched against the Trump Government to protect and strengthen their inherent rights within a democratic society, forgotten are the West African women who are not only fighting for their education as well as their children’s but their utter survival.  It is abominable that in 2017  these women remain in the shadows of their sisters from across the ocean.

With this in mind, I contacted a Quebec company, Karité Delapointe,  which I knew dared go down the road less traveled, the fair-trade way, and which I knew held these women close to their hearts. To be fair-trade one must be somewhat inconvenienced but to my astonishment Praxède Lévesque-Lapointe, the co-founder and owner,  clearly explained to me how it wasn’t as difficult as one might think to be a fair-trade enterprise. She also told me how the benefits outweigh the responsibilities. I listened to her talk passionately about the 5000 women Karité Delapointe help in the countryside of Burkina Faso. When I asked her what was her best memory upon meeting these women in person, Lévesque-Lapointe responded: ‘ their smile’. That being said it was easy to understand her conviction.  “But why aren’t more companies fair-trade“? I wondered. The answer she gave me is quite startling: because it entails organization on the African side. Even though The Center for International Studies and Cooperation (in Canada) is there to help put everything in place, fair-trade is still a tiny part of our economy. Why? Companies don’t care enough to be slightly inconvenienced. Not to mention that there is barely any economic impact on business for it to be fair-trade although it means the world to West African women. Without fair-trade once again Africa gets the raw end of the deal. It is without saying that Karité Delapointe pays about three times the going rate for shea butter but when you think of the ‘regular‘ rate it is so ridiculously low that it’s no wonder that some families remain miserable and hopeless.

Shea butter often called the ‘green gold’ of Western Africa where it grows is their only solution against scarcity. The harvest and transformation of the shea nut have traditionally fallen on the shoulders of the West African women solely due to the false belief that men in contact with shea bring them a lifetime of misfortune. While men harvest crops in the fields women are responsible for the most difficult and most lucrative labor, the harvest and transformation of the shea nut into shea butter. This conversion was traditionally done by hand but graced by the economic spinoffs of fair-trade, has permitted these women to purchase industrial equipment to lessen this burden. The best advantage I believe remains in their reclaimed dignity and power in the face of the adversities of living their lives in Third World conditions.

Fair trade not only gave these women the freedom to work when they wish, a job that pays them directly through the organization of a co-operative, but also the opportunity of educating themselves and their children, and the institution of nurseries to take care of their children while they work. Essential women’s rights and well, natural rights and freedoms that we modern-day women take for granted since we have earned them eons ago.

Having made my plea, I urge all the women (and men!) that read this article to please hold these women close to your hearts because you too can make a difference. Buying fair-trade is much more powerful then donating money to charities since it can be traced right back to the worker. The evidence is there and so is your choice. As Lévesque-Lapointe said: ‘If everyone had a pot of our balm in their house, imagine what kind of an impact that would have on the living conditions of these women of West Africa.’

Karité Delapointe which is the only Fairtrade Certified shea butter importer in Canada, offers three products which mostly contain pure and organic shea butter: a balm which hydrates and regenerates the skin, a conditioning lip balm and a luxurious soap, all offered in 3 fragrances: Douceur, Fruity, and Freshness or in unscented. They are also working with incorporating fair-trade cacao in a new line of Orange-Cacao products which will be available soon. You can visit their site to place an order. They also sell in bulk! So whether it’s to soothe your chapped hands this winter or to buy fair-trade shea butter for your own company don’t forget the ones who are at the forefront and are paving the way for other products to become fair-trade. Do the right thing. Buy fair-trade and think of this:  you are also putting a smile on a West African woman’s face…priceless isn’t it