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Big Village

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Big Village is a small  Fair Trade company offering unique and interactive workshops for all grade levels but tie well into World Cultures, Sustainable Development, Social Justice and the Fair Trade curriculum. Our workshops include a customizable power point presentation, group activities, discussion, and an opportunity to learn more about Fair Trade, and how it relates to social justice and the Sustainable Development Goals. Students will also learn how our recycled glass beads are made, (using broken bottles and glass that would otherwise end up in the landfill) and we use the beads as a platform to discuss various topics including the beauty and resourcefulness of the Ghanaian people. We bring in artifacts including hand woven baskets, African games, books, and more. 

Primary Grades Students have the opportunity to look at our cultural differences and similarities with West Africa including information on geography, weather, transportation, food, housing, currency and more. Students will build a bracelet as a "take home" as part of our presentation. 

Intermediate Grades Our workshop for grade 6 students provides information on the principles of Fair Trade, how they impact producers and why we need to take a more ethical approach to consumerism. This workshop also includes an opportunity to make a bracelet as a "take home". All of our workshops can be customized to any grade level including High School and desired teacher focus. We also include handouts,stickers and buttons from the Fair Trade Federation. 

High School Level Our workshops provide opportunity for learning more about social justice, fair trade, ethical consumerism and the sustainable development goals. We include a bracelet making portion in our program as well. 

Contact Liz Blaauwendraat at  / 416.523.1787 for more information or to book your workshop now!.


Check out the latest blog from the Fair Trade Show featuring Big Village! Big Village: Supporting Artisans Abroad and Inspiring Global Citizens at Home


Big Village: Supporting Artisans Abroad and Inspiring Global Citizens at Home

John and Liz Blaauwendraat are on a mission to share their message that “fair business relationships are the best way to effect change towards the challenge of income inequality.”

What was the inspiration that got you into this business? DSC_0094-200x300We had been working with a social entrepreneur on a community development project in Ghana since 2009, and I was able to travel there in 2011 and 2013.  We were involved in fundraising, and had been investing personal resources in the construction of a school in the town of Asamankese.  We were thrilled to see that project completed and classes underway during our visit in ’13, but came to the realization that in order for this to be sustainable, we would have to find a way to use local resources to fund this and other projects.  We could see that there were so many wonderful products being made in Ghana that could be brought to Western markets, and started working on a strategy to use these products to bless projects in that country.

The family business not only sells handmade products from Ghana, but they also commit to teaching the next generation about fair trade. John and Liz, along with their daughter Avery and son Anders, have developed a series of presentations that they take around to different students in grades 2, 6 and 10. These interactive presentations focus on the fair trade principles and how they tie in to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Along with fueling the next generation of changemakers, they also connect with students creative side by conducting a bracelet making workshop using their recycled glass beads.

June 23 Bolga 157 Weaving baskets in Bolgatanga, Ghana


How is Big Village impacting the world? We use the baskets and beads as practical examples when we introduce topics such as recycling, cultural identity, social justice, and sustainability to our customers and students.  Our partners in Ghana are models of resourcefulness because they use materials that are readily available to them to make the products.  The baskets are constructed from a special type of grass that grows in abundance in Northern Ghana, and is resilient to the effects of climate change.  The glass beads are made from bottles in the community that were broken and unused.   The workers will gather them from the roadside and they are bring them to the factory to be re-formed into our beads.
June 22 Bolgatanga 026 The Blaauwendraat family visiting their partners in Bolgatanga, Ghana

Visiting Ghana in June of 2015 they had an opportunity to meet with their partners. Spending time with the artisans allowed John and Liz to see how they live and work and to get to know their families.  Through a translator John had the opportunity to speak to them about how much Big Village customers love the baskets, I spoke about how our relationship with them is like a basket; each of us is like a blade of grass, and through our partnership we have, through the many connections, become woven together into something that’s strong and beautiful.”   Big Village, Big News: Big Village has teamed up with the Stephen Lewis Foundation to sell baskets which will support fundraising for the Grandmothers Campaign! The Grandmothers Campaign supports grandmothers and their communities in Africa as they struggle to care for the millions of children orphaned by AIDS. Check out Big Village at and like their Facebook Page!  

(John at The Fair Trade Show in June 2016 at Heritage Court, Enercare Centre) John at The Fair Trade Show in June 2016 at Heritage Court, Enercare Centre


(Liz and John at The Fair Trade Show in June 2016 at Heritage Court, Enercare Centre) Liz and John at The Fair Trade Show in June 2016 at Heritage Court, Enercare Centre


Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Guelph, Etobicoke, Halton Hills, Acton, Cambridge, Waterloo,Vaughan, Orangeville, Calendon, Burlington, Oakville, Milton
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I recently had Big Village visit my Grade 6 classroom to facilitate a workshop on Fair Trade and Sustainability. My students were given an informative and engaging slideshow presentation. They also made bracelets using recycled fair trade glass beads from Ghana. My students loved the hands-on experience and were so excited to take their bracelets home. The presenters, Liz and John, were excellent speakers and worked very well with my students. I would highly recommend this global citizenship presentation for any grade. It was a fabulous way to bring a little piece of Africa and an awareness of fair trade to the classroom!

Big Village came to my school and did a wonderful job presenting to my Grade Six students about fair trade. Liz Blaauwendraat did an amazing job explaining working conditions in different parts of the world and how it impacts the producer in that country and the purchaser at home. My students had a greater understanding of the large world and how various types of trade can have global impacts. Her experiences in Africa were of great interest to my students and they were excited to see the handmade glass beads and select their favourites to make a beautiful bracelet for themselves or a loved one. They cherished these bracelets even more knowing that they hard working artists received a fair wage. A great experience for your students to help them understand sustainable global trade. E. Cook Silver Creek P.S.
Grade 6 Teacher, Halton Hills, ON