OPIRG Peterborough Annual Report 2016-17

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Ontario Public Interest Research Group of Peterborough







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.



For the past 40 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. OPIRG’s office is located in Sadleir House at 751 George Street North on stolen Anishinaabe territory that is named Nogojiwanong (The Place at the End of the Rapids) 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 student-funded, 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 speaking events, films, conferences, publications and campaigns on a wide variety of topics that fit within our mandate. OPIRG Peterborough is part of the Ontario PIRG Network. The network is comprised of 12 autonomous, non-profit, university student-funded and student-directed organizations that conduct research, education and action on social and environmental justice issues. While each PIRG is independent and grassroots based, with the local board responsible for decision-making, networking opportunities include: trainings, Public Interest Schools, board and staff meetings, and collaborative projects.



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 2016, we now receive a $13.17 refundable levy that allows us to pursue a wide range of programs that we do at Trent and in the Peterborough community.





The anti-oppression framework requires the practitioner to critically examine and recognize the power imbalance inherent in a given context in order to develop strategies for more inclusive and egalitarian environment free from oppression, racism and other forms of discrimination. The 2016 anti-oppression workshop organized at OPIRG called Light Your Spark and held in October focused on assisting the group in identifying socialized powerful identities, and how these roles create and define the “other” to better understand the concepts of inequality and the way oppression works on individual, cultural and systemic levels.




Consensus-Based decision making is a dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group the goal being to find solutions that everyone actively supports, or can live with. The year’s workshop organized at OPIRG in October covered the basics of consensus-based decision making, what consensus is, how to use it, and why using consensus makes decision making more equitable.




Every year, OPIRG also engages in research-for-credit projects, in which Trent students team up with a Trent faculty member, OPIRG and The Trent Community Research Centre (TCRC) 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 opirg@trentu.ca. This year we partnered with Aging Activisms as part of a Gender and Women's Studies course on activists and activisms this fall. It's brought together community activists across generations and movements to share and record diverse stories of activism in Nogojiwanong/ Peterborough. Click on the link to listen to these 12 amazing stories of resurgence, resistance and resilience.In partnership with the Trent Community Research Centre. http://www.agingactivisms.org/activist-archive-nogo-ptbo For OPIRG Peterborough's 40th anniversary, Mason Godden, a student in the History department at Trent, is completing a short historical timeline of the chapter's history since 1990. He will also be writing a 15,000 word document discussing OPIRG Peterborough's historical development in the 1990's.




OPIRG’s 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 Free Market is open on Wednesdays 3-5pm and Thursdays and Fridays 1-5pm. 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 the Free Market. During the Give-Aways, Food Not Bombs provides an amazing free lunch and snacks throughout the day.


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. 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. Some of the organizations that have borrowed Green Dishes from us this past year are: By the Bushel Elizabeth Fry Society Trent Centre for Aging & Society The Society for Ecological Restoration @ Trent (SER-TU) Peterborough Independent Podcasters Abraham Festival Community Race Relations Committee of Peterborough (Building A Movement retreat) Water Walkers Reframe Film Festival Student Association for International Development (Community Movements Conference) Peterborough Editors Sustainable Trent


Pop-Up Giveaways are also a common event that the Free Market organizes. We held pop-ups on campus on a monthly basis in 2016-2017, including a popular one on the Bata Podium at Trent University in October. The 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.


In Fall 2016, Dorothy Tippett, Fleming Social Service Worker placement conducted a community needs assessment survey on behalf of OPIRG asking what they wanted to see from OPIRG. There were more than 133 surveys completed. Early January 2017 OPIRG underwent a visioning session. The result of that will be a shift towards a governance board structure!

Supermarket Tours

The Supermarket Tour is designed as an educational manual discussing the issues within our current food system. It provides an extensive review of issues surrounding consumer manipulation, pesticides, labour, loss of biodiversity, biotechnologies and genetic engineering, animal welfare, environment impacts, and corporate control. Tours given in supermarkets, facilitated by those who have done a tour, give a hand-on setting in which being in a grocery store setting allows for greater comprehension of the information discussed, activities prove to deepen the understanding of complex issues, and participants leave inspired to make informed decisions and alternative choices in their dietary and consumer habits. This text was used in Haroon Akram-Lodhi and Monika Korzun’s World Food Systems course, and Michael Classen’s Canadian Food and Agricultural Policy course. This year’s Supermarket Tour was conducted on two times in November through Canadian Food Systems class placement Martine Cleary. In addition to facilitating two tours in the fall, we held a Supermarket Tour facilitation workshop in collaboration with The Seasoned Spoon.





Cinema Politica

Cinema Politica is a free documentary screening project and Montreal-based network that was initiated in past years with the goal of screening the truth to power. This year, we brought Cinema Politica back to Peterborough to showcase dimensions and aspects of social and environmental justice through films. The screening of films themed around social justice and environmental activism takes place on the last Tuesday of each month. The films are meant to educate and inform the public and also encourage people to take actions towards fighting the social injustice in the society and seeking ways to preserve the environment. Some of the documentaries featured in the Cinema Politica include The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation a story about a group of men who were imprisoned in a Louisiana prison, and became advocates for human rights of other prisoners. Queen of the Sun was screened in conjunction with The Seasoned Spoon’s first Community Meal of the year. The film aimed to raise awareness about how the bees are vanishing around the world offering prospective of the beekeepers, scientists and philosophers and their take on the crisis. Trent Apiary also invited to share the local version of beekeeping.



We reach almost 2,000 subscribers in our email newsletter that we strive to send out once every two weeks. It informs the community of upcoming OPIRG, campus and community events, ways to get involved with OPIRG tidbits to keep in touch. HELPING VOLUNTEERS FIND US - VoLUNTEER ACTION GROUP

The Volunteer Action Group is an action-oriented group that meets weekly to discuss and learn about current issues as well as plan and prepare for upcoming OPIRG Peterborough events together, put up posters and empty the Free Market bins. The group was established to bring together motivated individuals that are dedicated to social justice and environmental issues. Volunteers are at the very core of the organization and without them, OPIRG would be completely unrecognizable. Volunteers work with staff as important decision-makers and leaders of campaigns and events. To help get new members informed and interested in volunteering opportunities, OPIRG holds regular outreach events and orientation meetings. At these events we are often lucky enough to meet students who become board members, staff and volunteers. Volunteers and Staff at OPIRG try to get out into the community as much as possible to recruit volunteers and raise awareness about the organization, it’s campaigns and it’s working groups. Whenever we have an opportunity, OPIRG volunteers and staff like to set up information tables and speak with people at campus and community events. Such opportunities allowed us to reach hundreds of students and community members a year who may not have otherwise heard about the services and opportunities available at OPIRG.


Make Trent Safe is a grassroots campaign initiated in late 2016 by Trent students in reaction to incidents of overt racism and discrimination on the campus. The campaign seeks to introduce tools and measures to ensure the students to feel safe on campus and in the community through addressing the structural and non-structural factors and conditions that provide grounds for discrimination and manifestation of racism. The campaign aims to initiate an education awareness process within Trent and in the community in speaking more assertively about racism on and off campus, ways to address more efficiently the instances of discrimination and racism on the campus, introduction of mandatory classes on anti-racism and anti-oppression for all Trent students, introduce a Resource Centre for students experiencing potential discrimination or racism in and out of campus, having more representatives from marginalized groups lead workshops on intersectionality and anti-racism and increase spaces for marginalized groups and communities to feel safe within the campus and in the community.




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.If you have a proposal for a new working group, contact OPIRG at opirg@trentu.ca.






End Immigration Detention Network Peterborough (EIDN) is a campaign aimed to put to an end the detention of migrants in Canada. This year EIDN, in solidarity with migrant detainees and their families, has kept busy. It kicked off 2016 with an exhibit showcasing art and poems by detainees, held rallies and demos, dropped banners across the country, called on our MP Maryam Monsef, to use her position to rally for the end of indefinite detention, and petitioned Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, to end the practice of holding migrant detainees in Canadian prisons without charge.




Migrant detainees went on three hunger strikes in 2016 in protest at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) demanding a 90 day holding limit on migrant detainees, and a meeting with Minister Ralph Goodale, who refused. EIDN organized around multiple hunger strikes that took place at CECC in April, July and October 2016 followed with a campaign calling for an end to deaths in custody, and a rally in Peterborough in front of MP Maryam Monsef’s Office in solidarity with striking detainees. During the summer strike 65 health professionals released a letter supporting the demands of hunger striking detainees. EIDN would like to remember Melkioro Gahungu and Francisco Javier Romero Astorga who died in custody in 2016. Vigils were held for both men across the country. Meanwhile, another unidentified 24 year old, died in a detention facility in Alberta in 2016. A noise demo was held in early August to thank and honour detainees, and a press conference was held regarding the case of Alvin Brown, a man detained since 2011 and EIDN is following closely his case. In September EIDN again placed pressure on Maryam Monsef to take a stand on the detentions. In October EIDN organized a day of action and banners were dropped in six cities across the country declaring “Indefinite Resistance to Indefinite Detention”.

Free Crafting: Upcycle Collective is a working group that is open to the Trent/Flemming/Peterborough community. We are Free Market-focused and work to educate students and community members about self-sufficiency, eco-consciousness and ethical consumerism by reducing the stigma of used goods and hosting DIY events. If you want to learn a new skill or have something to teach, come hang out! You are always welcome! This year we hosted Mean Girls Movie Night, where we taught people how to sew and had some fun hanging out with popcorn! We also teamed up with Truly B Me for Self Love Week in our patch-making and journey to self love sharing circle. Each week we also do DIY/sit and stitches hosted in the OPIRG office Fridays @ 4PM. Want to get involved? Join our Facebook group or the newsletter and keep an eye out for our radical posters! Don't know where to start? Here's a challenge: Find something at the Free Market and bring it to our next meeting to see how we can help you turn it into something fantastic! Want to get involved? Join our Facebook group or the newsletter! Don't know where to start? Here's a challenge: Find something at the Free Market and bring it to our next meeting to see how we can help you turn it into something fantastic!


f/RE/e Crafting; Upcycle Collective


With the understanding that we are all treaty people, the Nogojiwanong Aspiring Allies Action Group (NAAAG) aims to raise awareness amongst settler communities about the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Nogojiwanong region and how settlers can help ensure those rights are upheld; and to ally with Indigenous groups to raise awareness of Indigenous rights and the importance of traditional activities and teachings. During fall 2016, we organized three meetings: September 19, October 4 and November 16. In September, Dr. Lynne Davis spoke to us about some different perspectives on “allyship” and suggested how to begin to meaningfully engage with Indigenous movements (such as continually educating yourself, reading about decolonization, attending events led by Indigenous groups in order to continue learning and building relationships…). In October, we were happy to welcome new members, following Ryan McMahon’s “Reconciliation 101 for Settlers” workshop on October 14th during the “Beats and Braids” festival. On November 27th, we hosted a film screening and discussion; the film was “Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change.” A total of 17 people attended, including NAAAG members, and $100 dollars were raised to donate to the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation and their Supreme Court appeal of the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 9. We continue to try to reach out to local Indigenous people and groups, as well as recruit new members (anyone is welcome to attend a meeting or help out with events!). As a fairly new group, and one that is committed to learning, NAAAG continues to have conversations about what the group’s key intentions and visions are (and your reflections as a new member are welcome).


Nogojiwanong Aspiring Allies Action Group



2016-17ACTIVITIES: 20

PARTNERSHIPS Standing Rock Syllabus Group

The idea behind the group is to come together to learn about and discuss issues related to decolonization and to get to know each other. The Standing Rock Syllabus discussion group has had four meetings in fall of 2016 and four meetings in winter of 2017, where each week we have taken up a different reading from the Standing Rock Syllabus. The first group meeting was organized and facilitated as a collaboration between a few members of the Trent University Native Association (TUNA) and Climate Justice Trent (CJT). After that, the group became a weekly informal discussion space open to all students and community members and with the discussion being co-lead by the people attending. There has been a different group of people who have attended each week, with some members who come consistently. This group is inspired by the NYC Stands for Standing Rock group, who developed the Standing Rock Syllabus. This syllabus brings together the work of Indigenous and allied activists and scholars: anthropologists, historians, environmental scientists, and legal scholars, all of whom contribute important insights into the conflicts between Indigenous sovereignty and resource extraction. OPIRG Peterborough supports this group and administratively and through promotions.


2016-17ACTIVITIES: 21

Jumbo Wild Film Screening

This film screening and discussion was led by community member Caitlin Currie, who coordinated a film screening around Jumbo Wild in February. The film follows the Ktuanxa Nation’s resistance to the development of Jumbo Glacier Resorts, which if the project proceeds will see a large resort facility built on Qat’muk, where the great grizzly bear spirit resides, a spiritual site for the Ktunaxa Nation. Kathryn Tenesse, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair explains that “Qat’muk has existed long before any ski resort proposal and long before Canada was a country...As a Nation, we have spent too much money fighting in the court system to prove what we have always known. Qat’muk is vital to Ktunaxa as well as local wildlife populations and biodiversity and must be protected.” The Ktunaxa Nation’s case, which is being heard at the Supreme Court of Canada holds the potential to be precedent setting as the community is fighting on the basis of religious freedom as well as indigenous rights. The invited guest speakers were Angela Semple, Trent University PhD student and member of the Ktuanxa Nation, and Nick Shrubsole. OPIRG Peterborough helped with promotions and financial logistics.


Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre

Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre is an worker-based advocacy organization committed to improving the lives and working conditions of the people in low-wage and unstable employment categories. It strives to ensure that all workers have a voice at work and are treated with dignity and fairness. OPIRG is a partner and a co-founding partner of the organization. Other partners of the Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre are Peterborough Careers, Peterborough Community Legal Centre, Peterborough County-City Health Unit, Peterborough and District Labour Council, Peterborough Social Planning Council and the United Way of Peterborough & District. One of the most notable campaigns of the organization Ontario-wide is the $15 & Fairness campaign that promotes the $15 per hour base minimum salary for every employee in any sector in Ontario. Youth 4 Global Change Letter Writing Night

Community member Alecia Golding held a day of letter writing in Solidarity with Attawapiskat and the Cross Lake First Nation! Manitoba's Cross Lake First Nations declared a state emergency on March 9th after 6 suicides in 2 months. On April 9th Attawapiskat called a state of emergency due to an epidemic of suicide attempts. It is known that indigenous folks have faced colonial oppression for decades, as those affected and their allies conduct sit ins and protests, Alecia wanted toto send positivity and support to the youth in these locations. OPIRG Peterborough hosted space and provided advice for the letter writing.


On June 12, board member Annette Pedlar organized a candlelight vigil for LGBTQ2S+/Allies Victims of Orlando Shooting to pay tribute to the 50 victims of the shooting, and to pray for 53 injured who were still in the hospital. People of all faiths and identities were welcomed to attend the Vigil. OPIRG Peterborough provided logistical support and promotions.

Save PDI Coalition

Throughout 2016, OPIRG Peterborough was involved with the Save PDI Coalition, a coalition of Peterborough environmental groups taking collective action to maintain local control of our local electrical distribution utility. Even though PDI was ultimately sold to Hydro One in December, against the wishes of 90% of citizens polled, it resulted in environmental groups and concerned citizens coming together over an issue of local control and the democratic process.


Candlelight Vigil for LGBTQ2S+/Allies Victims of Orlando Shooting



2016-17 ACTIVITIES: 24

SPONSORSHIPS Through sponsoring local initiatives, events and projects, OPIRG knows that its funds can do a lot more work than it can alone. OPIRG is careful to pick the best projects that fits our mandate. This year, we have sponsored projects and organizations such as:

• Line 9 Legal Defence Committee - Funding T-shirt fundraising • Racialized Indigenous Student Experience (R.I.S.E.)

Summit - Delegate costs

• Trent Green Team - Sustainability Conference & Competition • Sara Ostrowska - Gendered Voices in a Changing World • Nogojiwanong Youth Solidarity Initiative - Moving Forward

Together : Indigenous & Refugee Feast

• Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group - Solidarity

march with Algonquin Elders

• For Our Grandchildren - Evening with Avi Lewis • O'kaadenigan Wiingashk - an Aboriginal Women's

multi-disciplinary Arts Collective - Beats & Braids Festival

• Lynn Gehl’s court case to appeal Section 15 of the Canadian

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

• Shannon Culkeen - Chili Cornbread Social fundraiser for

Standing Rock

• Water is Life Benefit for Standing Rock at ReFrame Film Festival • ReFrame Film Festival - Films Colonization Rd. and

Oshkigmong: A Place Where I Belong

• Isioma Mafiana - My Beautiful Black Complexity photo



2016-17 ACTIVITIES: 25


DIRECTORS What is the Board of Directors?

OPIRG-Peterborough’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!

Hi! I first started working with OPIRG PTBO 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 with my time in OPIRG I have worked on a number of campaigns and groups. Most recently I supported the Make Trent Safe Rally and I organize with the End Immigration Detention Network!

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 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.




I’m a fourth year student at Trent, pursuing a double major in political science and Indigenous studies. I’d first like to acknowledgewhat an honour it is to be able to work and live on the land of the Mississaugas. I’m very excited to become part of the OPIRG Board, and I’m looking forward to working on issues surrounding race, Indigenous solidarity and LGBTQ2. I try and look at all cases of injustice through a lens of intersectionality, and question systems of power to ensure abuse of that power isn’t occurring. Understanding how seemingly different cases of oppression are interlinked I believe is key in learning how to dismantle the systematic causes of power imbalance. I hold the Provincial Liaison and Staff Liaison portfolios at OPIRG Peterborough.


Annette Pedlar

Sabrina Calogeracos

Hi there! I'm a fourth year Biology/Chemistry major also in Concurrent Education at Trent University! I have always been a socially and environmentally conscious person. From trying to raise funds for shelters as a kid to running my high school's Awareness group where we planned tons of engaging events for good causes, to odd jobs around the activist community. I was in the Environmental Living Learning Learning Community at Trent in first year, and became more interested in OPIRG as I discovered more about it. It is a great place to meet cool people and provides so many opportunities for involvement. I also believe it essential to promote a healthy minimalist life, to be able to think critically about everything, and to be self-aware. Through awareness campaigns and cool events I hope we can educate the people out there who are oblivious of the impact their actions have on all aspects of the community. I hold the Financial Liaison portfolio at OPIRG Peterborough.




Nanae Nakajima


I am Nanae and I am in my second year at Trent studying International Development Studies. I am very interested in how we can live in harmony with the environment and maintain the quality of life in this busy world. In my lifetime, I want to work to promote more sustainable lifestyles and make a lively and warm community. Working with OPIRG has been a great learning and inspiration for me. I am very passionate to take an action for social and environmental justice through the work of OPIRG and learn from this experience. As a board member I will do my best to contribute my capacities and ideas.

Tree Chomko

Pippa O’Brien


Naser Miftari Incoming Coordinator

Naser Miftari recently joined OPIRG – Peterborough chapter as the incoming coordinator of the organization. He has years of experience as a researcher, writer and editor in various parts of the world. His feature articles have been published in numerous publications including Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression (CJFE) and the New York based The Media Project as well as local Peterborough press. Miftari holds a PhD in Political Science from University of Lincoln-Nebraska and a Master’s in Journalism from Temple University-Philadelphia. Apart from teaching and research, in recent years he was involved, in various capacities with the Peterborough public and nonprofit sector in areas of culture, human rights, social inclusion and social justice activism. He has served as a board director with Jamaican Self-Help and is current member of the Peterborough’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee.






It’s been wonderful and a privilege to have been working with such amazing people and ideas and actions. As austerity in the non-profit sector tightens financial belts, I’m glad that OPIRG is around, unique in that it is member-funded and grassroots. Events like DisOrientation Week and working groups and speaking in the office with board members, staff and placement students about how to do research, education and action for change should be at the very core of everyone’s job if they’re lucky enough to do what I’ve been doing. I can’t believe that 40 years has come and gone for OPIRG.

Hello! Ni hao! Apa Khabar? My name is Joshua Low and I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I now reside in Peterborough and I am in my second year at Trent University studying International Development and International Political Economy. I joined OPIRG as the Special Events and Outreach Coordinator for the 2016/17 academic year. I love learning and working with different people for the empowerment of our communities. I believe that we have to be listeners first and foremost before collective action for meaningful change can take place. With that said, I hope that OPIRG will be a bridge for you to work on the issues close to the heartbeat of the Peterborough community and beyond! Come drop by the office and say hello!

Larissa Ngwe Outreach Coordinator

Bonjour! My name is Larissa Ngwe. I am a third year student studying Forensic Science at Trent University. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work for OPIRG as the outreach coordinator for the 2016-2017 school year. There’s so many amazing friendly staff here and it’s a great way to be involved in the Peterborough community and learn more about issues surrounding social justice, environmental as well as human rights. Not only that, this position tremendously improves my social skills and enables me to meet many people living in the community. I hope everyone is able to get involved and join this wonderful organization. #ComeToTheFreeMarket #It'sAtSadleirHouse


Joshua Low Special Events Coordinator


Hello, Aaniin, Tawnshi, My name is Shanese Steele and I am a Queer Afro-Caribbean Indigenous student in my 4th year of a Bachelor honours in Indigenous studies at Trent University. I was elected into the position of Anti-Racism commissioner for the TCSA and I am also the MÊtis Nation of Ontario Infinite Reach facilitator for Trent and a circle member of the Niijkiwendidaa anishnaabekwewag services circle. I am excited to be a member of the OPIRG team as the Programming Coordinator for the 2016/2017 year and look forward to further strengthening and building relationships with both the Trent and Peterborough community. As a Racialized and Queer woman I know how important organizations like OPIRG are and how much of an impact their work can have on a community. Living and learning on the traditional lands of the Mississauga’s of Curve Lake, means that protecting and nurturing Nogojiwanong and its community is an important part of what social justice in Peterborough looks like. I look forward to working with you. Chi-Miigwetch, Marci.


Shanese Steele Programming Coordinator

Ramsha Sehar Volunteer Coordinator

My name is Ramsha and I am in my fourth year at Trent University completing an Honours in Biology degree. I am super excited to be working as the OPIRG Volunteer Coordinator for the 2016-2017 year. I have always been interested in social justice issues, whether they be local issues within my community or on a more a global scale. Throughout elementary and high school, I was involved in various initiatives that were aimed at raising awareness of poverty and human rights. In high school, we created a group called Team IMPACT, through which we organized fundraisers and participated in campaigns, such as the Free the Children Vow of Silence. Through working with OPIRG, I hope to gain a better understanding of social justice issues and how I can be involved in making a change in my community.




Brendan Campbell Summer Special Events Coordinator


tānisi ! Hello ! Brendan Campbell nitisiyhkāson ēkwa nēhiyaw-askīhk nitohcin. My name is Brendan Campbell and I come from Plains Cree territory. oskana kā-asastēki niki-nitahwikin ēkwa niki-pē-ohpikin māka Nogojiwanonging niwīkin mēkwac. okiskinwahamakan niya ōta. I was born and raised in Regina, but I live in Peterborough now. I am a student here and am in my third year of Indigenous Environmental Science. I joined OPIRG as the Special Events Coordinator for Fall 2016 Dis-Orientation Week. I am looking forward to participating in OPIRG through Dis-O Week and beyond because I recognize, as a queer and biracial indigenous student, how organizations like OPIRG can be effective in challenging systems of oppression on both local and larger scales. Community-building is also incredibly important to me, and I feel that working with OPIRG on inclusive and anti-oppressive initiatives and events is the best way for positive, sustainable, community-building. I look forward to this summer and year ahead as a student, OPIRG staff member and Nogojiwanong community member. Hiy hiy. Thank you.

Nancy Kemp Free Market Assistant


WMST 4122H with Dr. May Chazan People’s History of Peterborough Class of Activists and Activisms Mason Godden OPIRG Peterborough from 1990’s - present




Placement Students


Canadian Food Systems: Community Perspectives and Experiences Martine Cleary Fleming Social Service Worker Placement: Dorothy Tippett Kyle Morden Hung Nguyen Queen’s University Teacher Candidate Alternative Practicum: Victoria Chow


Gytha Chapman Laura M Rubab Fatima Shoshawna Hill Maimoona Altaf Abdulrahman Jad Sierra Lianga Carl Baxter Sara Muskratt Samm Medeiros Chelsea Mills




March 2016 During March OPIRG organized the Social Justice Potluck to network and celebrate social and environmental justice activity in Peterborough. April 2016 OPIRG held its annual Free Market Giveaway at Sadleir House on April 9. #FreeMarketFinds. During the event free soup and bread was provided by Food Not Bombs and it served as a daylong chance for everyone to browse through many free clothes and other items donated to OPIRG Peterborough. June 2016 OPIRG offered transportation to the Grassy Narrows River Run in Toronto June 2016 On June 11 OIPIRG held an Arts & Activism Walking Tour of Peterborough where community members introduced the participants to the alternative history of Peterborough, stopping along sites filled with history and stories of community activism. On June 20 to commemorate the World Refugee Day OPIRG Peterborough and the New Canadians Centre of Peterborough have teamed up to host an event to recognize this day. During the event the documentary “Last Chance” was screened. This feature documentary tells the stories of 5 asylum seekers who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence. They face hurdles integrating into Canada, fear deportation and anxiously await a decision that will change their lives forever.


OPIRG Events 2016 – 2017

July 2016 OPIRG Office underwent a process of makeover with board members and volunteers putting together many hours of service towards painting and decluttering of the office space to give it a fresh look.



September 2016 OPIRG Peterborough organized the DisOrientation Week 2016 during the week of September 12-17, 2016. It featured an alternative tour of Trent University, Free Market Giveaway, A Free Vegan BBQ for the community to enjoy hosted by OPIRG and Food Not Bombs as well as a range of presentations, workshops and seminars including a briefing session with Ivana Sekularec, the International Students Commissioner of Trent Central Student Association, Community Panel discussion about safety and security in Peterborough, presentations on guaranteed basic income, workplace rights and organizing by Workers Action Centre, a talk about wellness, fatphobia and body positivity and loving ourselves first Dis-O Workshop hosted by KSAC, PARN and Traill. The week-long events featured a series of Nature Connection and Guided Meditation session hosted by Truly B Me. There were also Trent Field-to-Table Tours by Seasoned Spoon and Trent Vegetable Gardens, arts & activism downtown tour, Queer Writing as Resistance by Sadleir House and Queer Coll(i/u)sions, and the screening of the documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance Documentary Screening by TUNA - Trent University Native Association and Revolutionary Student Movement Peterborough.


During the same month, on September 21 OPIRG also held a session at the Gathering Space, First Peoples House of Learning, Gzowski College on volunteering and showcasing the work of its volunteer community to the public and announcing new volunteer opportunities with OPIRG in 2016. On September 27 OPIRG re-launched Cinema Politica-Peterborough at Lady Eaton College (LEC) with the screening of the first documentary of the year and celebrating bringing Cinema Politica back to Peterborough. The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation a story about a group of men who were imprisoned in a Louisiana prison, and became advocates for human rights of other prisoners through the Black Panthers Party was featured for the event which was co-sponsored by OPIRG Peterborough and the End Immigration Detention Network Peterborough. October 2016 During the month of October OPIRG held a series of volunteer meetings and teach in’s. It also organized two workshops on Anti-Oppression and Consensus Decision-Making. The anti-oppression workshop focus was on assisting the group in identifying socialized powerful identities, and how these roles create and define the “other”. The consensus workshop served as a guideline to consensus based decision-making as the most democratic method of decision-making. On October 19 OPIRG organized a community meal and the screening of the film Queen of the Sun a film aimed to raise awareness about how the bees are vanishing around the world offering prospective of the beekeepers, scientists and philosophers and their take on the crisis.

During November OPIRGs staged its anti-consumerism week. It featured a range of volunteer meetings and teach ins held on November 14 and 21. Over the course of the anti-consumerism week organized by OPIRG Peterborough and sponsored by the Quakers of Peterborough a serve the people event was organized together with Food not Bombs at the Confederation Park. There was a book presentation by Yves Engler’s “A Propaganda System” organized by OPIRG Peterborough, The Council of Canadians – Peterborough chapter, the Student Association for International Development (SAID), and the Global Politics Section at Trent University. Other important activities featured in the week-long series of events included the Launch of Insurrection Game in Peterborough a new kind of board game where you can rebel against the government and recreate a city over an 8 night period. A discussion on 'Serve the People' (STP) initiatives from around the world, offering a critique of 'anti-consumerism' from a revolutionary, anti-capitalist perspective. The Minimalist workshop and screening of No Impact Man with Sustainable Trent; the Free Market Giveaway and Buy Nothing Day with Clothing Modification Workshop. During the anti-consumerism week a panel discussion on Religions vs.Capitalism was held at Bagnani Hall, Traill College featuring Gianne Broughton of the Quakers of Peterborough, Shegufa Shetranjiwalla-Merchant - Muslim community and Kenton Peterson - Bahá'í religious community. In conclusion to the week-long events “Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change" in cooperation with Nogojiwanong Aspiring Allies Action Group was screened.


November 2016 OPIRG Peterborough sponsored a US Election Self-Care Pub Night. During the evening in which a live coverage of the US Elections 2016 was attended there were drinks, trivia and a speech by the US Green Party. The event was held in the Dining Hall at Sadleir House, Peterborough. The event was an opportunity to destress and relax after all of the information being presented during the US Federal Election. The green party's speech was a chance for another political perspective to be heard that may not have been expressed in the mainstream media during the campaigning process.


On November 23rd OPIRG organized its Supermarket Tour, an event aimed to describe a range of food issues including labour practices: labeling; marketing; genetic manipulation; pesticides; and corporate profits, among others while working your way through a grocery store. On November 27 OPIRG and the Community Race Relations Committee of Peterborough held a Community Meeting Against Discrimination event which followed the Peaceful Protest Against Discrimination. The meeting served as a platform to discuss how we want to move forward and what we want to ask from the Trent and Peterborough communities to be accountable to creating a safer places to live, study, work and play in. A second Community Meeting Against Discrimination meeting was organized as a follow up to the successful November 27th meeting to discuss how we want to respond to discrimination in the community and a number of ideas and initiatives were discussed. These meetings formed the basis of the Make Trent Safe campaign.


On November 18, Board member Nanae Nakajima, a second year Trent student enrolled in International Development Studies did a presentation about Okkinawa, Japan at Hobbs Memorial Library on Sadleir House. The session sought to raise public awareness about the history of Okinawa, Japan and the growing U.S. military base presence in the region. Nanae shared the personal journey she took last summer in solidarity with the Takae protests against the construction of a U.S. helipad in the area.



January 2017 OPIRG kicked into the New Year with organizing on January 14 during the first week back to school the ‘Defrost’ event at the Sadlier House’s Lecture Hall. The activity aimed to bring together environmentalists and an opportunity to network with members in Peterborough. It featured a walk on the trails while playing some environmental trivia, competing in a climate change themed snow sculpture contest and warm up to a featured movie, chili and cups of cocoa. On January 25th it organized a pop-up in the Great Hall at Champlain, to offer donated clothing, books and shoes. February 2017 On February 1st OPIRG Peterborough started its Supermarket Tour Facilitator Training at the Seasoned Spoon Café at Trent. The training will enable the participants to learn how to facilitate supermarket tours with OPIRG and the Seasoned Spoon Café. The supermarket tour leads groups of people in deconstructing the food system through the hidden underbelly of the supermarket. Between February 9 and 16 it organized two sessions of Volunteer Action Groups.


February 2017 – February 11 thru 17, 2017 OPIRG Peterborough organized the Self Love Week. Self Love Week 2017 aimed to bring attention to your own well-being and happiness! While Valentine’s Day originates from legends of romance and celebration of love, much of it is forgotten today, in a world where everything is commercialized. Many of us have forgotten the true meaning of loving one another, as we forget the fundament prior to that – love for oneself. Throughout the week, various talking circles, workshops and interactive events took place, each bringing a perspective on self-love from a different angle. The self-love week kicked off with the screening of the “In The Turn” movie at Lady Eaton College at Trent University, it continued with screening of the other movie called: Closed Space for folks self-identifying as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour which was screened at the Community and Race Relations Committee (CRRC) at Sadleir House. The self-love week then proceeded with Survival Circle Discussion organized by Trent University Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC); Medicine Wheel Workshop at Trent University offered by Niijkiwendidaa Anishnabekwewag Services Circle (NASC); a series of other workshops one on Self-Love Workshop organized by Trent Fashion Society and another one on Consent provided by the KSAC. Other presentations made during the week included Nourishing Life: Seasonal Nutrition through Traditional Chinese Medicine offered by the Seasoned Spoon, Trent University; a patch making workshop and sharing circle hosted by Upcycle Collective & Truly B Me. A Loving Your Queer Identity presentation by the Trent Queer Collective as well as Medicine Wheel Workshop organized by Niijkiwendidaa Anishnabekwewag, Services Circle (NASC). The week-long series of events were concluded with a Queer friendly Valentine's Day Social Mixer organized at Sadleir House.


February also saw OPIRG taking part in Trent Radio’s Social Justice Day on February 22. Placement students discussed migration and refugee issues in Canada for an hour on air.

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 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! Come out to our board meeting! Volunteer with a working group! Do a co-op, internship or research project with us! You can also join our mailing list, Facebook page and keep up to date on our radio shows to stay in the loop about everything we’re up to.




Free Market Giveaway - April 8th, 2017 (morning) 40th Anniversary - April 8th, 2017 (evening) Free Market Moving Day - April 9th, 2017 Supermarket Tours for new students DisOrientation 2017-2018 If you’re interested in helping us out, contact us at opirg@trentu.ca, call us at 705-741-1208, look us up on Facebook or Twitter, or stop by our office in Sadleir House at 751 George St. N.