'You will be responsible'

'Regardless of what you choose to do with your new degree, your new skills, you will be responsible.

If you have an iPod like mine, or a cellphone, or a Wii, you are connected to the 14-year-olds I have met who are enslaved by rebel groups in the Congo and who dig for coltan, the mineral that is the essential ingredient in our gadgets.

If you have a Gap T-shirt like I do, then you are connected to the Bangladeshi women who stitched it for five bucks a day, and who cannot develop their textile sector into better-paying jobs because of our trade restrictions.

If, like me, you are a Canadian citizen, you are connected to the children in Swaziland who cannot go to school today, who will never have the moment you are having today, because Canada, as a voting, policy-setting member of the World Bank, forces the Swazi government to charge school fees for their primary schools — even though ours are free.

And if, like me, you enjoy the occasional Starbucks latte, you are connected to the women in Ethiopia who earn 70 cents a day sorting their coffee beans. Ah-hah, you think. I always order the fair trade blend. Well, great. The women in the fair trade factory earn 96 cents a day. I know — I spent an afternoon on a Starbucks factory line in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a couple of years ago.

So I can tell you that those women are glad to have their jobs.

I'm not sure that's good enough.

You are connected to these people. And you decide how much responsibility you will take for that.'

- Stephanie Nolen, 'Address to students at the King's 220th Encaenia, at the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax.'


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