October 29th, 2015 by admin

The Marquis Project

Linking Manitobans with the Developing World

(Incorporated in Brandon Manitoba October 16, 1979)

Welcome to the Marquis Project’s website.  Please take a look around and check out the tabs to learn more about the work of Marquis, what they can do for you, and how you can become involved.  Here are some highlights:

  • About Us: Marquis Project Mission Statement, Partners, and Board of Directors
  • Community Initiatives: Check out the projects we are working on.
  • Education: This section is a must if you are a student or a teacher.  Look for curriculum connections and learning resources.
  • Library: Check out the Marquis Newsletters and Articles of Interest
  • Get Involved: Find out how you can made a difference with Marquis
  • Donations & Membership: We now offer memberships, renewals and donations online via PayPal
  • Plus: find us on Facebook

Fair Trade Fridays

October 29th, 2015 by admin

The Marquis Project’s  Brandon Fair Trade Friday campaign commences October 30, 2015. Pledge your support at work, at home or even out with friends; choose fairtrade products on Fridays beginning October 30th.

The following seven businesses are participating this year:

Blue Hills Bakery (coffee)

Coffee Culture (coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate)

Forbidden Flavours (coffee)

Hedley’s Health Hut (30 products including mints, soaps, grain products, tea, chocolate and oil)

Ten Thousand Villages (hundreds of products including coffee, tea, baking products, chocolate, soaps, grain products, oil products, and hundreds of artisan products from around the world)

Two Farm Kids (over 100 products including coffee, tea, chocolate, baking goods, soaps and creams, grain products and other food items)

Wildflower Cafe (coffee and tea)

Choose to purchase a fairtrade product from any of the above-mentioned locations and enter your name to win an exciting prize.

Draw: November 30, 2015

For more information concerning the Fair Trade Fridays campaign or the Fair Trade Town campaign, email fairtrade@marquisproject.com.

Event Celebrating The City of Brandon’s Fair Trade Town Status

October 24th, 2014 by admin

On Saturday, September 27th 2014, The Marquis Project, along with community partners, hosted a celebration recognizing the City of Brandon being designated Fair Trade Town status by the Canadian Fair Trade Network.  In correlation with Manitoba Culture Days, Celebrate Fair Trade Town Brandon took place at The Global Market, and catered to approximately 1000 people who were in attendance, with community partners, supporters, displays, and businesses who contributed in making Brandon a Fair Trade Town.  There was live entertainment, fair trade goods and products, and displays and activities for everyone to enjoy.

The Marquis Project would like to acknowledge and give thanks to community partners and organizations who made this possible such as 10,000 Villages, The Global Market, Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation, Two Farm Kids, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Headley’s Health Hut, Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, The City of Brandon & Brandon Environment Committee for their continued support of our Fair Trade initiative.

The City of Brandon received Fair Trade Town Status on Tuesday, May 20th 2014 in council chambers.  Brandon is the second Fair Trade Town in Manitoba, and the 19th Fair Trade Town in Canada.


Manitoba Support Essential to Tanzanian Development

August 25th, 2014 by admin

Article for Brandon Sun “Small World” Column, Monday, August 25th, 2014

Manitoba Support Essential to Tanzanian Development

By Zack Gross

This is my second article in a series based on my family trip to East Africa last month.  The title may seem like an exaggeration, but it truly isn’t.  Due to the support of organizations, families and individuals in our area, communities in northwestern Tanzania are much better off than they would have been otherwise.  And, due to cutbacks in funder support in recent years, many initiatives to improve Tanzanian lives have slowed.

Brandon and southwestern Manitoba first connected with people in the Mwanza and Lake Zone Districts of Tanzania when Beny Mwenda and his colleagues came to study at Assiniboine Community College about 15 years ago.  Those who have met Beny know that he is an engaging sort, so it was not long before he had gotten involved in the Marquis Project and St. Augustine’s Church, as well as “recruiting” interest at ACC, Manitoba Agriculture and other places to connect with his rural community development efforts in his home country.

As Humphrey Bogart said at the end of Casablanca, “This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship” and it has been.  Numerous projects have been funded from Manitoba and also from the Ontario-based Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) to supplement other funds found from European agencies.  Dinah Ceplis, a Minnedosa-area retired horticulturalist and adult educator who visits Tanzania regularly, says that thanks to Manitoba and Canadian efforts, life has changed for the better in this region.

The projects undertaken have included development and promotion of fuel-efficient stoves to ensure better health and safety in local homes as well as reducing the number of trees being cut down.  We had a chance to visit “Mama Shigela”, the legendary, award-winning innovator and producer of ceramic stoves.

Another effort has been HIV/AIDS education and prevention as well as caring for orphans of AIDS-affected families.  Organic vegetable production has been another initiative, leading to better nutrition and some revenue to gardening families.

Young Manitoba interns have made a huge impact on youth and development projects in the area.  Although the funding hasn’t been in place for a number of years to send more, people still talk about the Ashley Mushumanskis and the Megan Wiltons who spent months working with them more than a decade ago.  The Marquis Project’s Worldly Goods store for many years sold baskets made by women in different parts of the country, bringing in needed income and showing Manitobans one aspect of Tanzanian art and culture.

Recent funding has supported a new initiative and seemingly a new way of thinking for Beny Mwenda and his staff.  They have taken a more entrepreneurial tack and work with young people to identify “tangible goals” that they would like to attain through profits they make in setting up small business ventures.  Some people might choose as their goal the purchase of a new bicycle so that they can deliver produce more easily.  Others might want to refurbish their home or indeed build a new one.

We visited several very successful ventures of this sort in July.  The area itself, around Tanzania’s second city, Mwanza, and particularly in one community, Usagara, seems to be booming as new business comes in, related to resource extraction as well as the local fishery.  We were taken to a busy commercial spot, what we might think of here as a “strip mall” at an intersection of roads.

One young man, who seems to have the entrepreneurial knack has, with his wife and family, not only set up a thriving “convenience store” here, but also has built himself a house and developed rental units nearby for others seeking housing.  Just down from him, a local woman has set up a food store specializing in local products.  She also supplies food in a canteen at a local agricultural centre.  Finally, we stopped by a shop that specializes in carpentry and welding.  The young people working at this spot had attended our welcome a few days before and were happy to show us how they were using both their physical and entrepreneurial skills.

So, what’s the problem?  The fact is that this is only a beginning and there is still much more poverty and lack of opportunity to overcome.  In a meeting with the local District Commissioner, appointed by the Tanzanian President to oversee development in the region, we were told of the high unemployment rate that affects young men who – educated or not – have little that is productive to do.  While some communities that are near major roads are improving economically, more remote ones are suffering.

We were also told how organizations no longer supported by our Canadian government have been forced to cut their programs and therefore their support for work in the Lake Zone.  One young man said:  “We have many good ideas but no money to work with!”  My wife, as a nurse, visited a local clinic that seemed to need everything and have almost nothing to deal with malaria, accidents and other daily occurrences.  We were moved by the energy and ambition of the young people we met, but concerned about their chances to reach their goals.

As we left one meeting attended by several entrepreneurial groups, a young fellow came up to me and said “Thanks for what you’ve done!  Are you still with us?”  Of course, I said, I promise that we are.

Zack Gross was Executive Director of the Marquis Project for twenty-five years and now sits on its Board of Directors.  He and his family visited Tanzania in July of this year.

Africans have Questions, Concerns about Canada

August 25th, 2014 by admin

Article for Brandon Sun “Small World” Column, Monday, August 11/14

Africans have Questions, Concerns about Canada

by Zack Gross

July was spent by this columnist and members of his family travelling in the East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania.  The next few “Small Worlds” will relate back to our trip while, over the next several months, countless Manitobans will be forced to look at the 3000 photos taken by my wife.

In some ways, Kenya and Tanzania resemble one another the way the United States and Canada do.  That is, they are neighbours and at peace with one another, but have different personalities.  Kenyans are the more forward people, while Tanzanians are a little more laid back.  Kenya is a bit more private enterprise oriented (although local people spoke of the need for a social safety net) while Tanzanians have a tradition that has been more socialist, but are trying out a more entrepreneurial approach to development.

As we tried to better understand their society, so did they, in turn, try to picture ours.  In our three weeks of travel – visiting friends and colleagues in three large cities – Nairobi, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam – we had many opportunities to share questions and answers with local educators, development workers, people related to government, business people and students.  These conversations took place in restaurants, at house gatherings and in vehicles while driving to visit projects funded by Manitobans.

Like a coffee shop conversation in a Manitoba town, weather and politics were often the main focus of discussion.  Canada is really cold, isn’t it, we would be asked.  This gave us a chance to impress our hosts with descriptions of mountain high piles of snow and -35 degree temperatures.  You could see the African mind trying to get around a Canadian winter.  In Nairobi in July, where we spent almost a week, it is “winter”, but that means lows in the middle teens and highs in the low twenties.  Yet, people wear heavy jackets, scarves and tuques and complain about the “cold”!

In Dar es Salaam, the major port and business centre in Tanzania, located on the Indian Ocean, it is also considered to be winter, yet we faced humidity and temperatures in the high twenties and low thirties!  Their summer, in January they said, is when it really gets hot!  People get up in the middle of the night to take a cold shower!  One of the reasons why one often sees people on the streets 24 hours a day is that their houses must be sweltering.

Another frequent question was about Quebec.  It seems that more educated people are aware of separatism in Canada and it was our happy duty to assure them that the last Quebec election firmly rejected that idea and the party that represents it.  In countries where tribal differences and (in Kenya) internal security are factors in politics and daily life, people can’t understand why a wealthy country would face discontent and instability.

Opportunity is another frequent topic.  As we heard several times from hard-working, creative people, they have good ideas and lots of energy, but they have no capital and few prospects.  Half the population in many countries is unemployed and most people are “under-employed”, that is they don’t have full-time work.  They may find work through a family member or a home-grown contact but it may have no prospect of advancement.

One sees hordes of people selling small items along roads or in markets.  I made the comment at one point that in Canada this would not be allowed as people don’t have  vendor licences and are dodging unsafely through traffic.  The response I got was, if that happened here there would be a revolt as then these people would truly feel that they have no hope.

While jobs aren’t always easy to find in Canada, there is a light at the end of the tunnel here which is not apparent there.  However, when a boom happens – and there is one in East Africa now with the discovery of minerals (oil, gold, diamonds) – one does see commercial investment.  Mwanza, a backwater town when I last visited 14 years ago, now boasts new roads, hotels, even a Tim Horton’s- style bakery and is growing quickly as people rush in for jobs coming available.  In the larger cities, besides the older well-established families who have some wealth and power, you see a small, new generation of modern young Africans looking to do well in international business, in new technologies and ultimately in politics.

Finally, people are grateful for what Canadians do in supporting development projects.  But they ask, Aren’t we doing less than we used to?  Some of the organizations that have worked in African communities in the past have left for lack of funding.  Even for me, the question was raised What happened to Worldly Goods, the Marquis Project store?  This came from women wanting to sell baskets, as they had done in the past, in Brandon.  I explained that situations change and then I dutifully bought and packed as many baskets as I could into my luggage.  They are beautiful and I will be able to sell them, no doubt.

Rick Mercer has his tongue-in-cheek Talking to Americans routine that emphasizes those who are ill-informed, gullible and arrogant.  In our case, Africans are curious, respectful and a bit envious of Canadians who have a greater sense of security and well-being than they do.  Except for the weather…!

Zack Gross works for the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) and is a former Executive Director of the Marquis Project in Brandon.

The Marquis Project would like to thank the Province of Manitoba for funding the position of Education Facilitator in Brandon Manitoba

August 20th, 2014 by admin

In Picture: Drew Caldwell, MLA Brandon East (left), Naomi Leadbeater, President of The Marquis Project (center) & James Allum, Minister of Education & Advanced Learning (right)


Anonymous Donor offers to match up to $10,000 raised for Marquis!

July 11th, 2014 by admin

Marquis recently received an exciting offer from a generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, to match up to $10,000 in funds raised by December 1, 2014, to help retire debt incurred during past financially challenging times and to support Marquis programming.  Since receiving this offer Marquis has already paid $2,260 towards the loan which includes two regular monthly payments and a voluntary payment of $1,500.
Furthermore, another anonymous donor has offered $1,000 toward this match!

Marquis invites you to help maximize on this generous offer by making a donation which will be matched by the anonymous donor.  You can donate by signing up for monthly debits to your account, by mailing a cheque or by donating online via PayPal or major credit card. Visit the Marquis website and click on the Donate tab for details. All donations and memberships qualify for charitable tax receipts.

Marquis is planning several events and a fall appeal to raise funds for this match. Keep checking this site for details by late August!  With your help, we can retire the long-standing debt by December 1, 2014 and turn our focus to what Marquis does best – linking Manitobans with the developing world through school programming and community engagement.

Click Here For Our Donation Page!

Thank you!

About Marquis

The Marquis Project is a non-profit, charitable non-governmental organization dedicated to making our world better. Established in 1979 by development activists in and around Brandon, Manitoba, it is sustained by the support and participation of individuals, families, congregations, schools and community organizations. What began as a small resource centre on world issues serving southwestern Manitoba is now a nationally recognized non-governmental organization.