Ontario Public Interest Research Group Annual Report 2014â€”2015
38 Years of Action
Workshops & Training
Board of Directors
The PIRG Network
Ontario Public Interest Research Group OPIRG Peterborough Sadleir House, 751 George St. N., Peterborough, ON, K9H 3T2 (705) 741-1208 firstname.lastname@example.org www.opirgpeterborough.ca
Mission Statement OPIRG works to create and sustain student and community-based engagement through research, education and action on social justice and environmental issues; challenging oppression in all its forms; and using consensus-based decision making in a non-hierarchical and accessible setting.
About OPIRG For the past 37 years, the Peterborough chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) has been pursuing social justice and environmental activism on the Trent campus and in the Peterborough community. During this long history, OPIRG has worked on a wide range of issues and has seen its alumni go on to contribute to other social justice and environmental movements after they leave Trent. Today, OPIRG continues to be a dynamic organization where many Trent students learn the skills and knowledge they need to be active citizens. OPIRG Peterborough is committed to providing a space and resources for Peterborough and Trent community members to work on programs, awareness-raising campaigns, workshops and other activities focusing on social justice issues; encouraging a critical approach to the institutions and systems students are learning about in classes, and; facilitating skill building that will enable students to use their academic knowledge for social change. OPIRG carries out this mission through our work as a studentfunded, non-profit organization dedicated to research, education and action on a variety of issues including environmentalism, human rights, gender rights, peace, sustainability, diversity rights and social equity, among others. OPIRG volunteers and staff members organize speakers, films, conferences, publications and campaigns on a wide variety of topics that fit within our mandate.
38 Years of Action History The PIRG movement originated with consumer activist Ralph Nader during the early seventies, as he encouraged students on university campuses in the United States and Canada to create campus-based organizations that would address issues of public, rather than corporate, interest. PIRGs became a space for university students to mobilize, raise awareness, and confront pressing problems, while learning, teaching and using of activist skills. In 1973, the first Ontario PIRG was established. Today there are 21 PIRGs across the country. OPIRG-Peterborough was founded in 1976 by a campus-wide referendum and since then it receives its core funding from a refundable levy that is paid by all full-time undergraduate students at Trent. In 1976 it was called PeterPIRG and it was funded by a five dollar levy. In 1986, the levy was brought up from $5 to $7, and again in 1991, from $7 to $9. The levy did not go up for the 20 years between 1991 and 2011, and as inflation pushed up our costs, it became harder to provide the same quality programs and opportunities each year. In 2011 we campaigned to get a $3 raise on our levy, as well as to get all levies indexed to the cost of inflation. In 2014, we now receive a $12.78 refundable levy that allows us to continue the wide range of programming that we do at Trent and in the Peterborough community. OPIRG Peterborough has worked on issues of local, regional and global concern. From the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s, OPIRG Peterborough published the Birch Bark Alliance and the Nuclear Free Press, national newspapers documenting and commenting on nuclear energy and the arms race. Other issues OPIRG focused on during the 80’s included opposing drug dumping in the “Third World” and campus recycling. During the 90’s, OPIRG worked on promoting energy conservation, supporting organic gardening, examining the food industry and education women about the effects of disposable menstrual products. Towards the end of the decade, OPIRG became increasingly involved in anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements and sent 2 bus loads of protesters to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2000. During the first few years of the new millennium, OPIRG worked closely with F.I.G (OPIRG’s food issues group) to successfully lobby Aramark, Trent’s former exclusive food provider, to allow a student run organic café on campus, which became the very successful and autonomous Seasoned Spoon Café. OPIRG research, education and action was also key in pushing Trent administration to adopt both a
38 Years of Action “no-sweat” and a “fair trade” policy to ensure garments manufactured for the University are made under human working conditions and to ensure the University cafeterias stocked fairly traded goods. Between 2005 and 2010, OPIRG launched some of our more wellknown programs, such as the Free Market, and Green Dishes program, as well as a Weekly Wednesday Night Documentary series (2007-2010). During this period the community’s need for the OPIRG Food Cupboard expanded to accommodate 10 times more people. Over this same time period, OPIRG was editing the newest edition of the Super Market Tour publication and helping run the Alternative Resource Library at Sadleir House. Towards the end of the decade, OPIRG partnered with the PRCSA to submit a Trillium grant application to make Sadleir House more accessible. The grant was successful and by 2010, a wheelchair lift, automatic door openers, a ramp, and other modifications had been installed to make the entire first floor of Sadleir House accessible. Moving into 2010, OPIRG was involved in community resistance to the G8/G20. We also organized our first annual Peace Week and were involved in several campaigns including the Stop Public Transit Funding Cuts, Israeli Apartheid Week and the Stop the Enbridge Pipeline campaign. OPIRG also began running free monthly screenings of Cinema Politica films. In 2011, Trent students voted to increase our levy by $3.
38 Years of Action As well as continuing the campaigns begun in 2010, in the 2011- 2012 year, OPIRG’s primary focuses were sustainable food policies and practices. OPIRG was engaged in three major projects relating to food: OPIRG wrote the application and led the process for Trent to become recognized as a “Fair Trade University” (while a member of CASSC Fair Trade Task Force); With Trent’s monopoly food service provider, Aramark’s current contract expiring in 2013, OPIRG formed a Food Sovereignty Group to draft sustainable food policy recommendations to be included in Trent’s new food service contract, and; OPIRG Peterborough also published and launched the newest edition of The Supermarket Tour, which is an educational booklet that uses the Supermarket as a classroom, asking questions about the products that fill the shelves. Both the Free Market and Food Cupboard projects moved into new spacious rooms with organized and sturdy specially-built shelving. OPIRG also hung the Free Market quilt in its permanent location in the Bata foyer this year. In the 2012 - 2013 year, OPIRG’s events revolved around housing in Peterborough, raising awareness of environmental issues in Canada, and sharing skills and knowledge on social and environmental activism. During the first half of the school year OPIRG hosted many of its annual events: The Free Vegan BBQ in September, two Free Market Giveaways, one in the grounds of Sadleir house and one in the Trent University Campus and OPIRG’s Open Mic in November, which has proved to be a successful social gathering to celebrate and enjoy performances in a non-oppressive and inclusive environment. During these months OPIRG also participated in the Peterborough Pride Parade, hosted a theatre performance of the OTESHA cycling group and engaged in Fair Trade awareness-raising through the work of the Fair Trade working group and some of their campaigns such as Scare them Fair. The second half of the school year saw OPIRG engaging in different campaigns and community events. OPIRG participated in the 2013 ReFrame Film festival and sponsored two films: “Chasing Ice” and “People of the Feather”. OPIRG also participated in the Idle No More rallies organized in Peterborough and participated in Kawartha Food Share drives. OPIRG also increased the amount of permanent Free Market donation bins on campus with the collaboration of Trent Universities Colleges, started the POLITAFLIX documentary screening group and the “Light Your Spark” workshop series campaign. One of the most relevant successes that OPIRG had this year was the designation of Trent University as a Fair Trade Campus by Fairtrade Canada. In the 2013 - 2014 year, OPIRG continued the popular Light Your Spark activism skills workshop series. Four different workshops were held to promote the development of activist skills, including designing
38 Years of Action a campaign strategy, organizing for food justice, using popular education, and using the media. Over the year OPIRG has also helped launch the Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre, which aims to support low wage and precarious workers in Peterborough. The Food Cupboard continued to be a priority focus as well. A major review of that program began during the summer of 2013, leading board members and volunteers to develop a new vision for the Food Cupboard. During the first half of the school year OPIRG hosted the first of our annual events, with the Boycott Aramark Free Vegan BBQ happening at Sadleir House. The POLITAFLIX Documentary Film Series was also held during that semester, with four fascinating films shown. During these months OPIRG also participated in the Peterborough Pride Parade, hosted a theatre performance about antifascism and Roma migrants, co-hosted two different events critically discussing international development issues, and supported numerous events and actions challenging the causes of climate change. The second half of the school year saw OPIRG engaging in different campaigns and community events. OPIRG participated in the 2014 ReFrame Film festival and sponsored two films: “Big Men” and “Gold Fever”. OPIRG also helped organize Self Love Week 2014, which included a workshop on Fatness and Queer Desirability. In January Board members re-launched OPIRG’s old Trent Radio show, OPIRG Radio, which offers music, interviews, and discussions on a broad range of justice-centric topics while promoting strategies for resistance and social change.
2014—2015 Over the past year, OPIRG has put a renewed emphasis on supporting and expanding our working group network. We welcomed two new working groups; Anti-Poverty Activism Working Group, and the Peterborough Outreach Committee of the End Immigration Detention Network. The Canadian Mining Awareness working group found a renewed vigour this year as well, while the Animal Equity Society, Fair Trade Trent, and the Guerilla Gardeners continued their activities as usual. OPIRG Board and Staff members organized more than three dozen public events over the year, some of which are highlighted in the following pages, as are a selection of the workshops that were hosted. The Food Cupboard sustained its exponential growth, and other projects such as the Workers’ Action Centre continued to develop as well. Please continue reading through the following pages for more details. A full list of events and activities ia available at the end of the report.
Free Vegan BBQ It’s become a tradition. For at least a decade, OPIRG and Food Not Bombs have welcomed Trent students back to school by hosting a massive Free Vegan BBQ at Sadleir House. This year more than 200 student and community members enjoyed a delicious feast, which was the largest turnout in recent memory! (September 16, 2015)
Sunny Drake in Transgender
Seeking... After years of trying to bring him to Peterborough, OPIRG was pleased to team up with the Centre for Gender and Social Justice and the Trent Queer Collective to host Australian queer and trans artist & educator Sunny Drake. Drake presented “Transgender Seeking…”, a one person theatre show with strong physical theatre, absurd and hilarious moments which took the audience deeper into the joys and heartbreak of queer relationships. The show explored the space between our big political visions and our messy lives in trying to live up to them. (October 4, 2014)
Trent Slut Walk In conjunction with the Trent Feminist Society and TQC, OPIRG helped organize the first ever Trent University Slut Walk. Dozens of Trent students marched across campus demanding equality, consent, and a safe campus for all. Earlier that week the Trent Feminist Society and OPIRG held a free screening of the film Miss Representation in order to foster space for discussion about gender representation and feminism. (Miss Representation: November 11, 2014 | Slut Walk:
Art As Activism This world can be an ugly place, but sometimes it can be beautiful. Following the Trent Slut Walk, OPIRG hosted an Art as Activism Pub Night, Featuring live music and poetry, an art battle organized by the Trent Visual Arts Network, and button making, the pub night provided a space for our community to come together, learn from one another, and make art and relax. The paintings produced during the art battle were also auctioned off, and the proceeds were donated to a local charity. (November 13, 2014)
Trent Divestment Week OPIRG believes that by divesting from corporate and state entities engaged in oppression, violence, and environmental destruction, we can establish a more just and equitable world. In order to foster conversation on how divestment can be used as a peaceful means to promote social and environmental justice, OPIRG and Sustainable Trent hosted a special week of programming called Trent Divestment Week. The week featured events on topics such as the current fossil fuel divestment campaigns and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israelâ€™s illegal occupation of Palestine. In addition to this, during the week there were conversations about how divestment has been used in the past, such as against Big Tobacco, against Apartheid South Africa, and against Darfur during the genocide. (January 26 - 30, 2015)
Free Market Giveaway Every year, as students move out of residence or into new houses, thousands of household items, and plenty other articles of clothing end up on the Sadleir House lawn. Though still perfectly good, these items were likely otherwise destined for the landfill. Instead, they are collected by OPIRG volunteers and then redistributed into our community at our annual Free Market Giveaway. Over the day hundreds of people drop by and find new outfits or various things they may need for their homes. Food Not Bombs always provides a delicious community meal as well. (April 26, 2014 | April 18, 2015) OPIRG also held a Free Market â€œPop-Swapâ€? on campus this year. Pleasantly surprising all who walked by, we held an unadvertised mini giveaway in Champlain College. (December 2, 2014)
Workshops & Training
Anti-Oppression Every year OPIRG offers at least one anti-oppression training session for OPIRG staff, board, working groups and volunteers. We often collaborate with other organizations and invite members of the community to take advantage of these workshops. In May we welcomed Aruna Boodram to Peterborough for a workshop on AntiOppression for Movement Building. A second workshop in planned for March, 2015. (May 15, 2014)
Consensus OPIRG is an organization that makes its decisions using consensus based decision making methods. Each year OPIRG offers consensus decision making training to all OPIRG working groups, board members, staff and volunteers to ensure that everyone involved with the organization understands and has the skills to operate their groups using consensus decision making methods. A workshop was hosted by OPIRG staff in September. (September 23, 2014)
City Hall 101: How To Hold Politicians Accountable As part of our Light Your Spark workshop series, OPIRG hosted a workshop in the midst of the municipal election aimed at demystifying City Hall. Exploring how we can make change within our City, facilitators experienced in campaigning at the municipal level demonstrated how we can successfully influence and hold accountable the politicians we elect, regardless of who they are. (October 8, 2014)
Know Your Rights at Work Employment law in Ontario can be complicated. For most workers, itâ€™s unclear if they are required to work weekends or holidays, or whether they are entitled to breaks. For some, its not even clear what their minimum wage should be. In the midst of the holiday rush, at a time when there is an increase in part-time and contract work, OPIRG and the Peterborough Workersâ€™ Action Centre held a workshop on basic employment standards. (December 16, 2014)
Self-Love Workshop In celebration of Self Love Week (fostered by The Centre for Gender and Social Justice), Trent Fashion Show and OPIRG Peterborough collaborated to host a Self-Love Workshop. While it is often the subject of progressive beauty workshops to shed light on the misconduct of the fashion industry and the destruction it leads to, this workshop sought to expand beyond that and focus on the art of loving oneself. We spoke of what we dislike and like about our body and personality and how to change our negative thoughts into positive ones, amongst other things. By the end of the workshop everyone expressed confidence in their own beauty, a marked change from the beginning! (February 10, 2014)
Research When OPIRG was founded in 1976, it was premised on three key components: Research, Education, and Action. Today, while Action tends to get the most attention, the tenets of Research and Education remain central to all that OPIRG does. OPIRG continuously works to compile and make accessible the research developed by individuals with lived experience of oppression, as well as by academics and public intellectuals. We do so by hosting various guest lectures, workshops, and other events, allowing researchers and practitioners the opportunity to disseminate their findings, as well as by compiling research into accessible formats, such as with our Supermarket Tour. Every year, OPIRG also engages in numerous research-for-credit projects, in which Trent students team up with a Trent faculty member, OPIRG and The Trent Centre for Community-Based Education (TCCBE) to conduct research projects on a variety of topics. The Centre connects students and faculty with local organizations to create community-based research, service learning and experiential education opportunities that enhance the social, environmental, cultural and economic health of our communities. Some of our past research projects include: OPIRG Ethical Food Sourcing Projects; OPIRG’s Supermarket Tour; Public Space and Accessibility in Peterborough, Queer Issues in High School Curriculum, Anti-Homophobia Resources for teachers, Trent Community Gardens, a composting feasibility study for Trent and much more (this year’s projects are highlighted below). We always welcome new research ideas, and encourage anyone interested in doing a project to get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
Canadian Food Systems Placements In 2014-15, OPIRG hosted two sets of students from Paula Anderson’s Canadian Food Systems course. Matthew Walmsley conducted research related to the S up er m a r k et T o ur , s p e c if i ca l ly highlighting areas where the existing publication is out-of-date or missing important details. Meanwhile, Janelle Blanchard and Kathleen Vaughan created a policy brief entitled Food Security in Peterborough: A Review and Set of Recommendations. This documented collected the recent data on food insecurity in Peterborough and put forth a set of recommendations on how the city could better address this issue.. Copies are available in the OPIRG office!
Public Interest Research Cafés This year OPIRG launched the Public Interest Research Café series, a new project aimed at making research on social or environmental justice topics accessible to all. As students we are all privileged to be able to spend our time thinking and learning about complex ideas, but we can’t always find ways to connect our academic work to our work to make our world a more equitable and just place. The Research Cafés are an opportunity to do so. Scheduled to happen in mid-March, each Public Interest Research Café will feature a panel of two student speakers and two respondents, the first being an activist and the second being a Trent University professor. Each presenter will be given fifteen minutes to speak about research they conducted as students, focussing on how that knowledge is relevant to the quest for a more equitable world. The respondents will then elaborate further on the chosen topics in the spirit of creating dialogue on these important issues. The proceedings of each session will then be published in a special issue of JUST, the Journal of Undergraduate Studies at Trent.
Food Cupboard OPIRGâ€™s Food Cupboard distributes food to Trent students and members of the Peterborough community to promote equality and social justice. We believe that no one should go hungry and provide a place to access both non-perishable food items and fresh produce, free of charge. The food cupboard does not require any identification or other criteria in order to access the service. No one is turned away. People have access to the cupboard twice every other week and the amount of food distributed to each client is dependent on the number of members in the household. All in all, the food cupboard provides access to food that has otherwise been inhibited by the corporate capitalist global food system. As a part of Ontario Association of Food Banks, we receive our food from Kawartha Food Share, which is a local distribution organization in Peterborough. We are the fourth largest food bank in Peterborough as of two years ago and our numbers continue to grow because of an increase in demand city wide. We continue to strive to meet this demand through ongoing communication between volunteers, community members, staff and board members. In October of 2014, a decision was made to change the operating hours from every week to the first and third week of every month. This was necessary to align the Food Cupboard with the capacities of all the people and infrastructure involved. We also needed to create time to meet, discuss and create ideas on how to ensure ways in which we can better move towards a justice based model of food security as an organization. In the summer of 2014, connections with community gardens flourished. These community gardens included Trent Vegetable Gardens, Youth 4 Global Change Garden, Guerilla Gardeners, Peterborough Community Garden Network and the Peterborough
Food Cupboard Gleaning Program. The amazing support from all these groups helped ensure that we had fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the summer months! Our amazing volunteers have been the backbone of the Food Cupboard. They show up every week with smiles and the determination to get as much food out to people as possible while treating everyone with kindness and respect. Throughout the past three years of continuous growth, every volunteer has inspired others with their dedication and never failed to get through the day with positivity. It is the positivity that nurtures our food cupboard community in ways that are impossible to describe! You have to be
Free Market OPIRGSâ€™s The Free Market facilitates the redistribution of clothing and other household items. All items are donated by the community on a daily basis and everything is available for free. Everyone is welcome at the Free Market and there are big giveaways that generally happen bi-annually. The Free Market aims to provide a space for redistribution of goods to people who need them, while encouraging volunteerism and building a more generous and connected community. Clothes and other items are collected via bins which are located in every college residence at Trent University. There is also a drop off bin located at Sadleir House. The donations never run out and the Free Market has proven to be a community favourite since early 2000s! The OPIRG Free Market Give Away is an annual event where all donated items, ranging from household goods, clothing, office supplies, books, small electronics and other miscellaneous items are available to community members and students. This event happens throughout a full day at Sadleir House. Clothes and goods are spread about inside Sadler House as well as outside on its lawn for people to wander through and collect. The event is absolutely FREE and always guarantees a good time for people who gather for it from all over Peterborough. The local Food Not Bombs is a wonderful close partner of both the Food Cupboard and Free Market. During the Give-Aways, Food Not Bombs provides an amazing free lunch and snacks throughout the day. Pop-Up Giveaways are also a common event that the Free Market organizes. One such Pop-Up Giveaway was hosted on Trent campus in February 2015. Similar to the Annual Give Away, Pop-Up Giveaways are a chance to create access to free clothes and items through a visit to somewhere within the community. It is a great opportunity to tell people about the Free Market and the ideas behind it, start discussions about consumerism, community building and responsibilities to the environment. This program is run solely by volunteers. Without their tireless work, the Free Market would be a hurricane of clothes and items! Almost every day someone is in there sorting through donations, organizing the space and cleaning the room. Their dedication is amazing and allows the Free Market to continue its operations.
The Free Market Sadleir House basement, 751 George St. N, 705-741-1208 firstname.lastname@example.org Hours of Operation: Wednesday 3-5 & Friday 1-5
OPIRG Food Cupboard Sadleir House basement, 751 George St. N, 705-741-1208 email@example.com Hours of Operation: Open the first and third week of every month Wednesday 3-5 & Friday 1-5
Green Dishes The majority of waste produced at festivals and community events comes from disposable food and beverage containers. Green Dishes is a waste-reduction project designed to eliminate the need for disposable dishes at community events in Peterborough. Green Dishes is a non-profit dish-lending program that enables organizations to borrow large quantities of reusable dishes for community events. Organizations sign out dishes from OPIRG and return them cleaned and washed. Green Dishes is a creative and unique initiative that reduces the quantity of waste generated at Peterborough community and campus events. A small fee and deposit are required for borrowing. We appreciate the commitment of those in the community to reducing event-generated waste in Peterborough, and are happy to help out for future events! Remember: green dishes are simple, ecologically friendly and far classier than disposables. If you are interested in helping out, please contact OPIRG. The Green Dishes program now has a dedicated and enthusiastic team of volunteers focused on promoting and expanding this initiative in the Peterborough community. Some of the organizations that have borrowed Green Dishes from us this past year are:
Trent Southeast Asian Association Jamaican Self-Help Trent International Student Association Reframe Film Festival Student Association for International Development B!ke Trent Active Minds Sustainable Trent And more!
Calendar of Upcoming Events The Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre is a workerbased organization committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment. We want to make sure that all workers have a voice at work and are treated with dignity and fairness. Thousands of working families are struggling to make ends meet. We are recent immigrants, workers of colour, women, youth and workers in precarious jobs. Most of us don’t belong to unions because we work in small workplaces, work as temps, are on contract, independent contractors or unemployed. One week we may be juggling 2 or 3 jobs while next month there is no work or income. When we are able to find full-time work, there is little protection on the job if we are facing unfair conditions or not being paid what we should be paid. The Workers’ Action Centre provides a way for people to join together to fight for fair employment. We believe that people who are directly affected by poor working conditions should be providing leadership in our struggle for fairness and dignity at work. First launched in February 2013, the Peterborough Workers' Action Centre is currently in the early stages of development. The Centre is currently supported by OPIRG-Peterborough, Peterborough Careers, the Peterborough Community Legal Centre, the Peterborough and District Labour Council, the Peterborough Social Planning Council, and the United Way of Peterborough and District. —Are you having a problem at your work? If so, please get in touch with us! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 705-743-5915.
Working Groups One of the ways that OPIRG sustains research, education and action around social and environmental justice issues is through support for the creation and maintenance of Working Groups. Working Groups are central to the functioning of OPIRG. They consist of a group of volunteers who work on specific issues pertaining to anti-oppressive, anti-colonial, social justice, and environmental issues, and they are dedicated to enacting change on campus and in the broader community. Working Groups receive funding, support, and other resources from OPIRG. People can choose to form new Working Groups or to join existing ones. Working Groups can vary with time (in terms of membership and goals) in order to adequately reflect interests and relevance. The Working Group model allows OPIRG to diversify our focus on different issues, and to increase ideas, energy and hope in order to achieve greater impacts. Furthermore, it generates a more organized, concerted challenge towards unjust structures of power. Today a great deal of power is concentrated in the hands of the well-organized individuals and corporations who make decisions based on profit margins â€“ decisions that end up affecting all of our lives. The best way to challenge this imbalance of power and to foster a more democratic society is for each of us to learn how to recreate our culture based on ideals of equality and cooperation. This is exemplified within the working groups! This year OPIRG is excited to have teamed up with several new working groups and is happy to see continued collaboration with working groups from previous years. New members to working groups are always welcome, so please contact the group or OPIRG if you are interested in getting involved. If you have a proposal for a new working group, contact OPIRG at email@example.com.
End Immigration Detention End Immigration Detention Peterborough is part of a larger network of migrant detainees, their families, their communities and their allies, who work and struggle together for the rights of all migrants to live with dignity and respect, and to be accorded status. We work to oppose the policies that marginalize and criminalize migrants, as well as the international economic policies that create the conditions of poverty, war and environmental devastation that force migration. We fight for freedom for the wrongly jailed, an end to indefinite detentions, an end to maximum-security holds for immigration detainees, and an overhaul of the adjudication process to allow detainees fair access to legal aid, bail programs and pro bono representation. It is our role to educate the greater public, empower the political, financial and legal struggles of detainees and to explore, articulate and integrate these matters into a greater global movement for freedom and justice for all, and a world without borders and without prisons. EID Peterborough's outreach and education branch primarily focuses on educating the greater public, and on fundraising to ensure the sustainability of the broader campaign. Because of our proximity to the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, where a large number of migrants are detained, EID Peterborough has the unique opportunity, and the responsibility, to engage the public in this area; it is important that the injustice that is happening in our backyards remains at the forefront of the public's attention. We carry out our mandate by holding regular public information sessions, fundraisers, letter writing cafes, guest speakers, and actions which capture the attention of local media. Currently, our top priority is raising funds to put towards the EIDN TRAPP line, which allows immigrant detainees being held at the Lindsay detention center to keep in touch with their families and supporters, and actively push forward and be a part of the End Immigration Detention campaign.
Canadian Mining Awareness We are a group of Trent students and Peterborough community members. Our Mission is to advocate for the rights of sovereign nations and indigenous peoples around the world, and to act in solidarity with communities negatively impacted by Canadian mining companies. We regrouped with new members this year, updating our mission statement, planning our goals, and strengthening networks with other, larger groups working to stop mining injustice. We have hosted a few events since the New Year, but we are just gearing up for for the 2015 Spring season, which is when our events and campaigns really start moving, coordinated with mining industry annual general meetings, international speaking tours, etc.
Anti-Poverty Activism Anti-Poverty activism was formed in the fall of 2014 as a way to help connect Trent with anti-poverty initiatives in the larger Peterborough community. Additionally, we believed that it was important that our students be educated about poverty issues. Our mission statement is to educate on and create awareness of poverty and the causes of poverty, as well as stimulate action toward poverty reduction, both locally and globally. We did this and will continue to do this by organizing events around the topic of poverty, working in partnership with other poverty groups to fight poverty and encouraging Trent students and staff to participate in anti-poverty initiatives. This year so far we ran a Why Poverty Matters Panel in Gzowski College on Wednesday November 19, 2014. We had both staff and community members as panelists and had over twenty people in attendance. We also provided dinner from Food not Bombs. We will also run another event in late March. We have also held weekly meetings in either Sadleir house or the library in both terms. We met Wednesdays at 7pm in the fall semester and Thursdays at 3pm since January 29th for the winter semester.
Fair Trade Trent The Fair Trade Working Group at OPIRG has always been an instrumental actor in the Fair Trade movement at Trent University. It began in 2007 when students pushed for Fair Trade coffee and tea options to be introduced to all cafeterias in the University. In 2008, Trent passed a Purchasing Policy for Fair Trade certified products to be applied to all food service providers on campus, including independent food outlets. In 2010, fair trade chocolate bars were made available in all cafeterias, coffee carts and vending machines at the University. In 2011, the Trent Fair Trade Subcommittee decided to start drafting the first application for Trent University to become a Fair Trade Campus. In February 2013, the University’s administration approved the application, thus committing Trent University to being one of the first campuses in Canada to begin adhering to Canada’s official fair trade policies. Today, all campus members serve fair trade coffee, at least 3 fair trade teas, chocolate bars and hot chocolate. All catering events are also fair trade certified, and last year Trent became the 8th University in Canada to be designated a Fair Trade Campus! The Fair Trade Working Group at OPIRG has played a role in each of these steps. It also organized events such as Scare Them Fair on Halloween and Be My Fair Valentine, as well as hosted speakers and other awareness raising campaigns. The Fair Trade Working Group has always kept a critical lens on the workings of Fair Trade, both globally and on campus. It is always asking questions about Fair Trade in the context of international trade today. It is mindful of the commercialization of Fair Trade, while also believing in the ethics of justice and equality that underpin the idea of Fair Trade. Does Fair Trade really have the potential to lift millions out of poverty within the reality of double standards and unbalanced power in the global economy? If unfair trade is destroying people’s lives, what is the role of Fair trade in this? What is its potential, and what is our role in it all? These and many other questions underpin the work of the Fair Trade Working Group as it strives to make Trent University part of the solution to global wealth inequity and economic exploitation.
Guerilla Gardeners When you walk by an underused and neglected park space in Peterborough, look for vegetable gardens and plants that are free to the public. Guerrilla gardening, a socio-ecological initiative to combat the neglect of unused land, is in our midst. Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilize, such as an abandoned site, an area that is not being cared for, or private property. It encompasses a diverse range of people and motivations, ranging from gardeners who spill over their legal boundaries to gardeners with political influences who seek to provoke change by using guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action. This practice has implications for land rights and land reform; aiming to promote re-consideration of land ownership in order to assign a new purpose or reclaim land that is perceived to be in neglect or misused. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or perceived to be neglected by its legal owner. That land is used by guerrilla gardeners to raise plants, frequently focusing on food crops or plants intended for aesthetic purposes. Want to get involved? Email OPIRG@trentu.ca to find out more!
Animal Equity Society The Animal Equity Society is a small group in the Peterborough and surrounding area interested in ethics and the well-fare of animals. This blog is a way to let people know what is going on and for others who may be interested to find out about the group! We have bi-weekly group meetings to talk about local issues, interests, and have discussions. We are planning events and potlucks regularly so it is a great way to meet new people. Everyone is welcome to attend. If you would like to be on the email list then just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Directors What is the Board of Directors? OPIRG-Peterboroughâ€™s Board of Directors is made up of at least seven dedicated students and community members, who volunteer as directors for a two-year term. Elections are held in the spring of each year at the Annual General Meeting.. The Board oversees all financial, programming and administrative operations, helps with running OPIRG events, and participates in OPIRG provincial programming. Board members gain professional experience, as well as the satisfaction of working for social justice and the fun of working with like-minded people!
The Board also supports OPIRGâ€™s projects and supports the work of the Working Groups; facilitates the planning, visioning and setting of priorities for the organization; is responsible for the organization as defined by the Corporations Act, OPIRG bylaws and policies, and Board Contract; and also takes the role of employer as defined by the Collective Agreement with CUPE 1281. OPIRG is working towards diversifying its membership at all levels particularly the Board. We encourage people from under-represented groups, as well as people with a strong anti-oppression analysis, to put forth a nomination. These include, but are not limited to, women, people of colour, people with disabilities, queer and trans* folk, and others who face systemic barriers to full participation in society at large.
Board of Directors Responsibilities of the Board The Board of Directors requires a time commitment, which sometimes varies from week to week, but generally includes: • Minimum of 2-3 hours/week in service of the organization; • 1-2 years on the Board (or 4 month term over the summer); • Attend board retreat, board trainings & biweekly 2 hour meetings; • Participation in committees and board portfolios. Committees are part of the ongoing work of each Board Member. Some examples of committees are: budget, hiring, specific events, policy review, contract negotiations, volunteer coordination, outreach, etc. Skills Many skills can be gained or improved through your participation on the Board. These include: • Consensus decision making and facilitation skills; • Administrative and financial management skills; • Education on social & environmental justice issues; • Leadership skills & experience with a non-profit organization; • Anti-Oppression skills; • Program coordination & project development skills.
Montana Mellett I’m Montana and I’m a fourth year studying International Development Studies at Trent. I stumbled upon this program at Trent by chance and since then it has really sparked my interest in social and environmental justice issues. OPIRG seemed to be all encompassing and something I always wanted to get involved with. After returning from studying a year abroad in Ecuador last year I felt that I really needed to engage more in direct action and organizing. I believe that every space should be decolonized and anti-oppressive. Understanding to some extend the neo-liberal capitalist relations of ‘north-south’ and how that can transcend to the relations between certain spaces in communities I have lived in. I wanted to learn more about different spaces and places to share and grow via learning every step of the way. And so the OPIRG Board of Directors seems like a great place to continue learning! I am looking forward to working with all the amazing people and community members via workshops, events and meetings.
Ysabel Tuason Hi! I started working with OPIRG in December 2013 during a Canada World Youth exchange with 9 Canadian Women and 9 Ukrainian. My Canadian phase had me placed in Peterborough and after 3 months of working with the OPIRG team and living in this town I decided to continue my undergrad here. I’m now studying International Development at Trent and hoping to do a lot of social justice and solidarity work with OPIRG.
Chelsea Desrochers Iâ€™ve been very politically minded for as long as I can remember. Since I have been pursuing a Political Studies degree at Trent University (going into my fourth year), I have been able to grow this passion about social justice issues because of education. It would be easy for me to list off the issues I feel passionate about, but I think itâ€™s easier to look down to the root of these issues: the capitalist system, especially in its current phase of neo-liberalism. I have been able to train to achieve my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training which has opened my mind to a different perspective on the world. Truly, we need to take care of each other within our communities as well as outside to make our world more cooperative and meaningful. I want to bring these ideas to OPIRG Peterborough to help bridge different types of people together and to find connection in differences.
Crystal Peckford-McGrath When I was a kid my dad who passed away from cancer sat me down. He told me to do what I wanted to do. Love with such an open heart and live to make the world a better place. This is how, I got to understand who I am. I came to OPIRG through my studies at Fleming College with my placement in Social service worker (SSW). During my 525 hours at OPIRG, I found out who I was. I loved growing in my passions along the placement hours. I stayed on to help after with anything that was needed and remained true to the passions that OPIRG helped me find. I knew, I wanted to be on the board. I did not want to leave OPIRG. I have passions about sexual assault issues, feminism and asthma issues. I want to remain a board member that uses her knowledge to help OPIRG with the food cupboard and free market. I hope to use my board member time to just do what I am passionate about helping make Peterborough a safe place to live.
Erin Hartmans The pursuit of social and environmental justice has been a guiding force in my life since the beginning of high-school. This is what led me to study Indigenous Environmental Studies at Trent. During my time at Trent I've been involved with a wide variety of student groups working to tackle injustices both locally and globally. I was drawn to the OPIRG Peterborough board specifically because of OPIRG's commitment to addressing the intersection between social and environmental justice issues within an anti-oppressive framework. As an OPIRG Peterborough board member, I've greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work in collaboration with fellow students and community members on a wide variety of projects that support the rights of marginalized peoples and the integrity of the ecosystems to which we all are connected.
Carly Hayes (Ex-Officio) My name is Carly and I am a community member working with the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association. I became involved with OPIRG after moving to the Peterborough area and searching for an organization that fits with my passion for social and environmental justice. OPIRG seemed to be the perfect fit! The Board of Directors has been a great place to engage in learning and discussion about decolonization and anti-oppression, and to use these discussions to create action in the community. Through my experiences in working with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, and working with Indigenous groups in Peru, I have learned the value of solidarity and the importance of taking action against injustice. I hope to bring these values to the Board of Directors and look forward to working with the wonderful OPIRG community!
Retired Board Members
Heather Ray Thanks to an enrichment program at Trent University that gave me a taste for knowledge in my youth, I have studied Environmental Resource Management, Legal Studies and Environmental Assessment at University of Waterloo and more recently studied International Public Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University. I was born and raised in the Peterborough area and have been drawn back to Peterborough many times since graduating from academic. I am especially drawn to OPiRG Peterborough, antioppression and initiatives such as the Food Cupboard and Free market (a community cannot fight for justice if it is without means). I strongly believe in community organizing and I am passionate about â€˜glocalâ€™ issues that bridge local and global communities such as Food Security, Poverty, Global water Issues, Tar Sands and ForeignDomestic Policy. As a non-student (for now) I bring a unique perspective to OPIRG Peterborough. I have experienced life on other campuses and within many other communities, but my heart has always been home in Peterborough; it is the community in which I raise my child and I am focused on ensuring that it will provide a future for generations to come.
Brooke Funnell Social Justice has always been an issue I feel passionate about. When I was invited in my International Development class to join the board, I was thrilled to learn that Trent and the Peterborough community had a group that focused on combating social justice issues in a proactive way. After being on a social justice committee in high school and learning about the issues people in our global community face on a daily basis, I have been compelled to find a place to continue dealing with injustice in an effective way. I am passionate about providing clean drinking water and education to those in developing countries. I am also passionate about helping people in developed countries meet their needs for food and shelter in a community where they are surrounded by extreme excess. I hope to gain more knowledge surrounding environmental injustices while working with OPIRG. I am hoping this year brings lots of people together to combat social justice issues to help sustain our fragile world and make a change for the better.
Coordinator | I have been involved with OPIRG since 2006, when I started my undergraduate degree at Trent University. At that time I became involved with the Amnesty International working group, but I slowly got involved more and more with OPIRG. In 2009 I decided to join OPIRG’s Board of Directors, and I stayed in that position for three years until April, 2012. In January, 2013, I was hired to take over the Coordinator position. I have learned so much through OPIRG, and have taken part in so many amazing things. From challenging racism on the Trent campus, to marching in solidarity with locked-out postal workers, to fighting to protect our bus services, OPIRG is where the action is!
Special Events Coordinator | I am a
third year Trent University student, majoring in Gender & Women’s Studies while minoring in Business Administration with a passion for social justice. Among my passions, my future goals include changing the fashion and modeling industry through my clothing brand (No Regrets Fashion), creating an international self-sustaining NGO for garment workers in impoverished communities, and improving the condition of sex worker’s rights in Canada. My love of event planning does not only make my job at OPIRG exciting, but also assists in running the Trent Fashion Show student charity event group. In addition to working with OPIRG, I regularly volunteer at the New Canadians Centre in Peterborough, promote veganism and vegetarianism throughout my personal life, and volunteer as an event planner with Operation Catnip. Working with OPIRG has allowed me to spend more time focusing on social and environmental justice while meeting amazing people! Feel free to come in, volunteer and get to know us, or even just say hi to me onor off-campus.
Food Cupboard Coordinator | I am a third year International Development Studies student and I got involved with OPIRG in 2012 as the Free Market and Food Cupboard Coordinator. OPIRG is an amazing place where you are always surrounded by the most wonderful people! There is always something going on, keeping everyone busy and there is never a dull moment. My short time at OPIRG has introduced me to great people I would have otherwise never met and has provided me with opportunities to learn new things in ways only such a vibrant community could offer!
Outreach Coordinator | I am an
international, second year forensic science student currently at Trent University. Working with OPIRG continues to be a great experience as it has given me a great sense of issues that affect the community and a chance to be active within my community. The Free Market which shows resistance to the injustices created by capitalism, as well as supporting community is something I admire. OPIRG offers the opportunity for empowerment by becoming a leader for positive change, which I hope to be
Volunteer Coordinator | Iâ€™m a third year forensic science student at Trent and have always been interested in justice, be it social, environmental, or in its more traditional legal definition. I spent spring of 2014 volunteering with the Peterborough Parole Office which inspired me to stand in solidarity with marginalized groups and to help destroy stereotyping and misconceptions wherever possible. I participated in a variety of activist demonstrations in Hamilton this past summer, including volunteering with the Hamilton Food Not Bombs, which first introduced me to OPIRG. OPIRG is an amazing headquarters for awareness and involvement regarding specific concerns that apply to smaller groups and general issues that affect us all as a community. I could not be more excited to be this yearâ€™s Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator and to create more opportunities for community members to become involved in a variety of initiatives relating to social justice and the environment.
Nik Afonin As a Fleming Social Worker placement student, I find that OPIRG has been a remarkable platform for me to participate in various community initiatives related to social justice. I am grateful to be surrounded by people who are passionate about engaging in the world around them. OPIRGs of the world UNITE!!
The PIRG Network
PIRGs in Canada Ontario: Carleton, Guelph, Kingston, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, McMaster, York, Brock, Ottawa, Peterborough Alberta: APIRG, LPIRG Saskatchewan: RPIRG Nova Scotia: NSPIRG Quebec: McGill, Concordia, lâ€™UQUAM British Columbia: VIPIRG, SFPIRG, PGPIRG
Ontario PIRG Network The Ontario PIRG Network is comprised of 11 autonomous, nonprofit, university student-funded and student-directed organizations that conduct research, education and action on social and environmental justice issues. The Provincial Network meet several times a year and frequently exchange ideas, share resources and work together on campaigns. While each PIRG is independent and grass-roots based, with the local board responsible for decisionmaking, networking opportunities include: trainings, Public Interest Schools, board and staff meetings, and collaborative projects.
OPIRG Events 2014 OPIRG Events 2014 March 24 April 26
On The Road For Justice: Film and presentation by Oscar Morales Free Market Giveaway
May 2 May 3-4
“No One Asked For It” OPIRG Provincial Board Training School
May 4 May 7
Food Cupboard Community Meeting Board Meeting
May 15 May 8
Anti-Oppression for Movement Building Board Visioning Session
May 29 July 2
Delegation to World Pride in Toronto
Volunteer Appreciation Party June 25-27 OPIRG Provincial Staff Retreat July 8 Board Meeting’ July 14-20 Display at the Peterborough Public Library July 17 Workers’ Action Centre Meeting July 24 Board Meeting August 14 Workers’ Action Centre Meeting August 14 Board Meeting August 21-24 Delegation to the Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa September 9 Get Experience Job Fair September 10 Clubs and Groups Day September 11 Workers’ Action Centre Meeting
OPIRG Events 2014 September 12 – 14 OPIRG Board Retreat September 16 Free Vegan BBQ September 17 New Members Meeting September 22 Food Cupboard Community Meeting September 23 Consensus Based Decision Making: A Light Your Spark workshop September 26 Guerilla Gardeners meeting September 26 Animal Equity Society meeting September 26 Peterborough Coalition for Palestinian Solidarity film screening: Tears of Gaza September 27 Canadian Mining Awareness meeting October 4 Sunny Drake’s “Transgender Seeking…”, co-hosted with CGSJ, TQC & Mysterious Entity October 8 End Immigration Detention meeting October 8 City Hall 101: A Light Your Spark workshop October 9 Workers’ Action Centre meeting October 10 Food Cupboard Steering Collective meeting October 16 Board Meeting October 18 – 19 OPIRG Provincial AGM October 28 Workers’ Action Centre meeting November 4 End Immigration Detention meeting November 5 Canadian Mining Awareness meeting November 5 Anti-Poverty Activism meeting November 11 Slutwalk sign making / Miss Representation film screening
OPIRG Events 2014 with Trent Feminist Society November 13 Slutwalk at Trent November 13 Workers’ Action Centre meeting November 13 End Immigration Detention meeting November 13 Art As Activism Pub Night November 16 Board Meeting November 19 Canadian Mining Awareness meeting November 19 Why Poverty Matters panel, hosted by Anti-Poverty Activism November 20 End Immigration Detention meeting November 22-3 OPIRG’s Public Interest Research School, hosted by OPIRG Kingston November 30 Board Meeting November 30 Animal Equity Society: Vegan Cooking Workshop December 2 “Pop-Swap” Free Market Giveaway @ Trent December 2 Food Cupboard Steering Collective meeting December 3 Canadian Mining Awareness meeting December 4 End Immigration Detention meeting December 9 Banner Making with volunteers from United Way’s Day of Caring December 10 Board Meeting December 11 Food Cupboard Steering Committee meeting December 11 Workers’ Action Centre December 11 End Immigration Detention meeting
OPIRG Events 2014 – 2015 December 13 “Know Your Rights” leafleting at Lansdown Place Mall with PWAC December 14 Board Meeting December 16 “Know Your Rights” Information Session. Hosted by PWAC December 16 End Immigration Detention meeting OPIRG Events 2015 January 11 Board Meeting January 15 January Clubs and Groups Day January 16 Film: Roadmap to Apartheid January 18 Board Meeting January 23 Film at Reframe Film Festival: Miners Shot Down January 24 EID: Film at Reframe Film Festival: Secret Trial 5 January 24 EID: Post-film discussion of Secret Trial 5 January 25 Film at Reframe Film Festival: Fed Up January 26-30 Trent Divestment Week January 26 Divestment Week Banner Drop January 26 Tabling at Wenjack January 26 Film: Students Versus Goliath January 27 Workshop with Canadian Mining Awareness January 27 Trent Fossil Fuel Divestment Debate: OPIRG & Sustainable Trent vs. Trent Conservatives & Trent Energy and Natural Resources Association January 28 A Discussion on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement in a stand for Palestinian Solidarity with
OPIRG Events 2014 Nausheen Quayyum and Anne Meneley January 29 Divestment Week Keynote Address: Chevronâ€™s Dirty Hands January 29 Divestment Week Pub Night January 30 Fossil Fuel Divestment Rally February 3 EID: Solidarity Letter Writing Night February 7-8 OPIRG Provincial PBM February 10 Self Love Workshop February 14 Valentine Dirty Gold Campaign February 16 Reunite: Families for Families in Detention Rally February 26 OPIRG AGM
OPIRG Events 2015
WAYS OF GETTING INVOLVED WITH OPIRG Like what you’ve seen? There are so many ways you can help out with OPIRG’s campaigns, projects, research, and the organization itself. Here are some of the ways you can get involved: Become a board member! Volunteer at the Food Cupboard & Free Market! Join a Working Group! Apply for a Summer job! Attend a workshop! Start a Working Group! Help out with events! Facilitate a workshop! Start a research project! Volunteer with a working group! Do a co-op, internship or research project with us!
OPIRG-Peterborough 751 George St. N. Peterborough, Ontario K9H 3T2 Phone: 705-741-1208 E-mail: OPIRG@trentu.ca
Check out what we've been up to this year!