Ontario Public Interest Research Group
ANNUAL REPORT 2015-2016
Mission 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 nonhierarchical and accessible setting.
About OPIRG For the past 39 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 actiacti vities 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.
“Today, OPIRG continues to be a dynamic organization where many Trent students learn the skills and knowledge they need to be active citizens” 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 speakers, ﬁlms, conferences, publications and campaigns on a wide variety of topics that ﬁt within our mandate.
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 referen“OPIRG Peterborough has dum and since then it receives its worked on issues of local, core funding from a refundable levy regional and global concern” 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 “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 well-known 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. 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. 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.
HISTORY The Canadian Mining Awareness working group found a renewed vigour as well, while the Animal Equity Society, Fair Trade Trent, and the Guerilla Gardeners continued their activities. OPIRG Board and Staff members organized more than three dozen public events over the year. The Food Cupboard sustained its exponential growth, and other projects such as the Workers’ Action Centre continued to develop as well. A highlight of the summer was the We Need Better Than Food Banks rally organized by the Food Cupboard Steering Collective and the Free Market’s pop-ups at various events in the city. This 2015-2016, we renewed “OPIRG has worked towards our commitment to welcoming educating the public on issues alternative communities to Trent such as resource extraction, by being large part of the organization of DisOrientation food security and identity Week. During the week, we empowerment” co-hosted the largest Vegan BBQ yet. Trent Radio and the Supermarket Tours were renewed once more. This past year, OPIRG has worked towards educating the public on issues such as resource extraction, food security and identity empowerment. Most notably, OPIRG provided a safe space for education, discussion and action during January’s Anti-Poverty Week. Over ﬁfteen events addressed localized social justice initiatives and community development in addition to offering letter writing, housing security, Basic Income Guarantee and poor-bashing workshops across the city and on Trent campus. Please continue reading through the following pages for more details, as well as for a comprehensive list of activities.
DIS-ORIENTATION Dis-Orientation Week is an alternative to O-Week hosted this year by OPIRG, Community and Race Relations Committee, Centre for Gender and Social Justice, Trent Queer Collective and this year’s Vice President of the TCSA that introduces both incoming and returning students to activism and their possible role in the Peterborough activist community. Dis-O is a week of events and programming centered on the theme: “Challenge the way you think about your university”. That is, working through anti-oppression, anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, feminist, and other frameworks of discourse to introduce students to Trent University. How does the academy as an institution reinforce dominant paradigms of neoliberalism, colonialism, and capitalism? Where do students ﬁt in anti-oppressive, radical politics? What is Trent’s history in this struggle? How can students get involved in on- and off-campus activities concerning student activism? This year, we had a variety of fun and exciting events, workshops, discussions, and orientations for any and all folks looking to get involved in activism this year or get to know a vibrant community of organizers in Peterborough.
“Challenge the way you think about your university”
FREE VEGAN BBQ September 17, 2015
Itâ€™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 400 student and community members enjoyed a delicious feast, which was the largest turnout in recent memory!
FOOD SECUTIRY & FOOD JUSTICE We at OPIRG are committed to the struggle for the right to eat enough, safe, nutritious, healthy, sustainable and culturally relevant food. In closing the Food Cupboard in October, we have been working towards a food justice model in lieu of food charity model. Our Food Security Coordinator is researching food security on campuses and networking with other food actors at Trent and in Peterborough. Our creation and publishing of The Seedling, a zine dedicated to food issues, emphasis on Supermarket Tours, Anti-Poverty Week’s linking of food insecurity directly to poverty and AGM keynote speaker Paula Anderson’s work continues to develop our community’s local food systems. The Food Cupboard Steering Collective was established in 2014 as an entity made up of volunteers, community members, staff and board members in order to facilitate conversations and maintain open communication. The Collective discusses necessary and upcoming changes and ensures that all voices are being heard in regard to the direction of the Food Cupboard. The main focus of the Collective right now is whether emergency needs are being met as well as a wider advocacy around the systemic issues of hunger and poverty.
This past 6 months the Food Security Coordinator Ken Mills has taken up the position from Jesse and Reba more recently who were both dedicated to the work and extremely proﬁcient. The Coordinator’s time in the position has been a period of signiﬁcant change with the closing of the Food Cupboard. In Ken’s ﬁrst several weeks I helped with the ﬁnal tasks of dismantling and moving the infrastructure along with the last four biweekly days. Since that time he has been working to support, where possible, the former volunteers in their search for a new space as well as preparing a report on campus food insecurity across Canada titled “What is to be Done?”. This has taken the majority of his time along with the week to week tasks of helping to coordinate the Free Market and Green Dishes Programs. On the whole this year has been tumultuous and the role of OPIRG in Food Security work is somewhat uncertain However, many exciting opportunities may well show a new and shining path for OPIRG on this ﬁle.
“We are committed to the struggle for the right to eat enough, safe, nutritious, healthy, sustainable and culturally relevant food”
ART AS ACTIVISM
There are many ways to have your voice heard. This world can be an ugly place, but sometimes it can be beautiful. OPIRG hosted an Art as Activism Pub Night, Featuring live poetry featuring the PeterboPeterbo rough Poetry Slam Collective, 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.
BOOK READINGS +BOOK LAUNCHES
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
October 20, 2015
In October, OPIRG hosted Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, writer, poet and activist on queer, trans people of colour and disability justice. In her “The Art and Practice of Disability Justice” workshop, presented clips of artwork and performance from Sins Invalid and other disabled perfomers of color, talked about art and performance as a means of advancing disability justice, and shared concerete tips for building accessible, liberatory events, movements and communities. In the evening, at Curated, Leah read from her books Bodymap and Dirty River.
“Author visits and book readings are popular way to educate and raise awareness on particular issues.”
The event was sponsored by the Community and Race Relations Committee, Centre for Gender and Social Justice, Trent Queer Collective and the TCSA through its Students with Disabilities Commissioner.
Yves Engler & Paula Butler Canada in Africa: Double Book Launch January 21, 2016
In January, we welcomed authors Yves Engler (Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation) and Paula Butler (former Trent professor, Colonial Extractions: Race and Canadian Mining in Contemporary Africa) to critique the colonial nature of Canada's interest in Africa through enforced economic prescriptions and imperialism. The Council of Canadians and Students’ Association for International Development also helped collaborate to put on the event. Learning the impacts of ongoing Canadian resource extraction and the enforcement of colonial policies in Africa brought forward a new understanding of the body of politics we have today. The night ended in a great discussion about the ways we can get involved and how to better support the local people who are impacted by these corporations and government bodies.
January 23 – 29, 2016
Complex and daunting issues bring community members together through sharing and problem-solving. Anti-Poverty Week included over ﬁfteen events that addressed localized social justice initiatives and community development with community cooking, letter writing, housing security, basic income guarantee and poor-bashing workshops across the city and on Trent campus. Through sharing stories, teaching each other, and developing skills, APWers are questioning class norms and challenging oppression! Organized along with the Peterborough Student Housing Co-op, the week featured conversations about how poverty has affected individual’s lives and how community can be built up around tackling poverty while celebrating the resilience and resourcefulness of being poor.
FREE MARKET GIVEAWAY December 2, 2015
OPIRG’s summer Food Security Coordinator held multiple Free Market pop-ups at Food Not Bombs on Monday evenings and during On the Lawn events at Sadleir House on Thursday afternoons. In December, Sustainable Trent and OPIRG held a Free Market Giveaway in the Great Hall, along with a T-shirt modiﬁcation workshop to remove the stigma associated with used clothing and show its beneﬁts to environmental conservation and community building.
“Reposition yourself on the chain of consumption” – Free Market Manifesto
WORKSHOPS Anti-Oppression Workshop March 15, July 11, Nov 26, 2015
Light Your Spark
Activism Skills Workshop Series
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 March and again in July we welcomed Cáitlín Currie of the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough for a workshop on Anti-Oppression. In November, our Education and Resource Facilitator, along with a board member, faci litated an anti-oppression 101 workshop at Lady Eaton College attended by students
Consensus-Based Decision Making Workshop
October 6 & November 23, 2015 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 October and November.
Self-Love Workshop February 10, 2015
In celebration of Self Love Week (fostered by The Centre for Gender and Social Justice) OPIRG Peterborough hosted 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.
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.
“Today, while Action tends to get the most attention, the tenets of Research and Education remain central to all that OPIRG does”
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, AntiHomophobia 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROJECTS Free Market
OPIRG’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 biannually. 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 facili-
The OPIRG Free Market Give Away is an tates the redistribution annual event where all donated items, of clothing and other ranging from household goods, clothing, household items” 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.
<< Thank you Free Market volunteers!
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 Program
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 nonproﬁt 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. 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.
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.
Some of the organizations that have borrowed Green Dishes from us this past year are: • Kawartha World Issues Centre • Peterborough Folk Festival • Reframe Film Festival • Student Association for International Development • For Our Grandchildren • Sustainable Trent
Through our connections to the provincial Ontario PIRG network and other resources and donations, we receive informative, entertaining and radical zines and other magazine resources from time to time. These include Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action, and the peak: environmental justice. Come into our ofﬁce to ﬁnd these to peruse!
Space and Equipment OPIRG’s ofﬁce is located in Sadleir House at 751 George Street North on stolen Anishinaabe territory. Housed in a former kitchen, the ofﬁce is full of resources, chairs, tables, computers, printers, and many art supplies you can use for OPIRG purposes! The room has inspiring posters and a history of resistance. It’s also where you’ll ﬁnd our staff and most of our board meetings!
Supermarket Tours were conducted during Fall 2015 through facilitators from class placements. Students also did research on identifying updates to be done on the 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.
OPIRG Radio This 2015-16 season, OPIRG radio took ﬂight on the airwaves of Trent Radio, 92.7 CFFFfm. Broadcasting a live half-hour show every week at 7pm on Tuesdays, hosts and co-conspirators Annette Pedlar and Tree Chomko did their best to bring OPIRG’s mandate of education and outreach on social justice and environmental issues. Each show begins with a Land Acknowledgement and check-ins, grounding the show in where we are and where we’re at. Often, the show would start with us urging listeners to turn off the radio! Stop sitting back and go out there and get involved! Here are the details of an activist happening tonight… OPIRG’s programming this year provided fodder for many shows, including DisOrientation Week, Anti-Poverty Week and so on. OPIRG radio broke down an explanation of consensus-based decision making at the same time that a consensus workshop ran through OPIRG at Sadleir House. As well as talking about it on air, Annette co-facilitated an anti oppression workshop. Through OPIRG radio, we strive to connect themes of social justice with local movements and to bring together Trent student with the broader Peterborough community. We’re seriously joking about extending it to a whole hour next year!
“Stop sitting back and go out there and get involved!”
Our media channels: OPIRG Peterborough
We reached 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. Sign up to our newsleter on out website: www. opirgptbo.ca
Helping Volunteers Find Us
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, itâ€™s campaigns and itâ€™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.
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, anticolonial, 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 “The Working Group model membership and goals) in order generates a more organized, to adequately reﬂect interests concerted challenge towards and relevance.
unjust structures of power.”
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 wellorganized individuals and corporations who make decisions based on proﬁt margins – 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 detendeten tions, 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.
“It is our role to educate the greater public, empower the political, ﬁnancial and legal struggles of detainees...”
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.
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.
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 we held a bakesale for the YWCA women's shelter. We raised over $140 for the shelter. We also played a large role in developing antipoverty week and also held our own event- How to get involved in AntiPoverty Activism with speaker Diane Therrien. We also met weekly in the library at various times according to the schedule of our group members. Group members: Laura Crump, Sabrina Colageracos, Reuben Noteboom, Amy Mason
“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”
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! This year we ran a workshop on how to eat as a vegan on campus as part of DisOrientation Week. We followed it up with several meetings and a ﬁlm screening of ‘Vegucated’. 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
The OPIRG Subversion Zine consists of several students who are committed to making a zine about social justice issues both in our community and around the world. Our group's ﬁrst Zine, which was released before OPIRG's Annual General Meeting in 2015, contained many articles as well as pieces of art and we hope to continue to produce similar work. Our third edition of the revitalized Subversion Zine came out in September.
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 such as:
OPIRG McMaster’s Brown Black Red Lives Matter Events Revolutionary Student Movement VOTEs Beehive Collective’s Art of Resistance tour ReFrame Film Festival Community Movements Conference Green Team Sustainability Conference
We have given endorsements to the growing climate activism community in the city. Speciﬁcally, we have endorsed events such as the Action for Climate Justice in July 2015 and the Citizen’s Climate Action Forum – localizing the Leap Manifesto held in February 2016. We have also endorsed the All Federal Candidates’ Debate on Social Issues in September 2015. We have also endorsed the $15 and Fairness Campaign via work through the Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre.
BOARD OF 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! The Board also supports OPIRG’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.
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. environment.
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.
BOARD MEMBERS 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.
Hello! My name is Theresa, but I also go by Tree. I'm pursuing a degree in biology and psychology at Trent. I have a particular interest in how social inequality impacts health, mental health, and also in environmental injustices. I believe in education and creating your own media, and co-hosted OPIRG radio for 2015-2016. I ﬁrst got involved in OPIRG through the guerilla gardening, and the Free Market. Final fun fact about me: I take the comment "not everything is about feminism" as a challenge.
Hi! I 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 hoping to do a lot of social justice and solidarity work with OPIRG.
I’m a third year student at Trent, pursuing a double major in political science and Indigenous studies. I’d ﬁrst like to acknowledge what 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. While in high school I was the President of the Student’s and Athletic council. This opportunity made it clear to me how strong a voice we have when we stand united. I also had the privilege to represent Trent as a varsity athlete in 2014-2015 on the women’s volleyball team. I’m looking forward to collaborating with many other groups, not just on campus, but also within the community.
Hi there! I'm a third 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 speciﬁcally hope to help pump up the Anti-Poverty & Animal Equity working groups as well as the many Environmental campaigns at Trent & OPIRG have to offer. 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.
My ﬁrst experience with OPIRG was in my degree at McMaster UniverUniver sity when I joined a working group Community Volunteer Action. This sparked my interest in social justice action in the Hamilton area and my continued involvement with OPIRG allowed me to be involved in many projects throughout my four years. I believe OPIRG is a place of education and action, where students and community members can learn more about social justice and environmental issues, consensus-based decision making, activism and more, as well as take action regarding issues they are most passionate about. I’ve loved my time with OPIRG so far and hope I can continue to make OPIRG a safe and inviting space for members throughout my term on the Board.
Calla Durose-Moya (Ex-Ofﬁcio)
I’m a third year Cultural Studies and Philosophy major at Trent. I’m very interested in critical theory, as both an academic duty and a hobby. I work in anti-oppressive framework in my everyday life and in my academic work. I feel like my board membership to OPIRG is a really great way to put my theory into political action by helping out within the community and helping to foster spaces that allow others to do the same. Being on the board is also a really great way to help me to learn and grow in my understanding of the community, both at Trent and in Peterborough, and meet really great members of the community.
STAFF Kay Ma // Coordinator This year, I got an introduction to the PeterPeter borough community through DisOrientation and organized around issues pertinent to the OPIRG board and the community. Whether it’s entering ﬁnancial transactions in accounting software, scheduling Doodle polls or attending meetings to support working groups, thank you to I was part of an intersecintersec tional, analytical, critical and fun organization that couldn’t otherwise run without the effort of all the students, community members and volunteers that are involved with OPIRG in both a day-to-day and tangential way.
Kenneth Mills //
Food Security Coordinator
I am a second year Biology Student at Trent University. Food Security and food politics has been a keen interest of mine for a long while dating back to my family’s 15+ year involvement with the National Farmers Union. I grew up on a small 100 acre farm in Southwestern Ontario where we raised pigs and cattle along with several acres of gardens and a mixed grain rotation. For me the solution to food insecurity has always been in systematic social change along with short term hunger alleviation. Therefore the work of OPIRG and anti-capitalist action broadly has more and more become a passion and a calling. This work allows me room to dig into the roots of food insecurity without sacriﬁcing short term action.
Education & Resource Facilitator
Jaemy worked with a board member to develop an anti-oppression workshop which was attended by students at the LEC Pit
Eugenia Ochoa //
My name is Eugenia, I’m an international student from El Salvador doing International Development and Gender Studies at Trent. I am interested in social change through community development and the ways in which we all play a role in advocating for a better and more just system. I have come to admire the Peterborough community for its active engagement in social justice issues and activism and I’m happy I get to be a tiny part of it through this role, and by collaborating with the many actors in this community.
Samantha Medeiros //
Special Events Coordinator
Social and environmental justice are very closely connected. After studying Fine Arts in Dawson City, Yukon, I became aware that the overproduction of throw away items requires a lot of space, resources and energy. Since then, I have been writing a blog called ARISETOTRASH that is meant to be a community space for anti-consumerism and anti-capitalist discussions as well as encouraging free thinking and creativity. I transferred to Trent University and am majoring in Indigenous Environmental Studies, speciﬁcally focusing on the way people interact with the environment and one another through classism, identity and waste culture. Born and raised a Kensington Kid’ in downtown Toronto, I love new and fun things to do. When it comes to creating events, I’m a DIY kind of gal. If something hasn’t been done yet, or it seems like (too?) big of a job, Dr. Frank N. Furter’s voice chimes in to motivate and remind me: “Don’t dream it, be it.”
Canadian Food Systems: Community Perspectives and Experiences course placements Savanna Talbot, Colleen Stratford-Kurus, Andrea Monos
PIRGs in CANADA Ontario PIRG Network The Ontario PIRG Network is comprised of 11 autonomous and 1 afﬁafﬁ liate, non-proﬁt, 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 grassroots based, with the local board responsible for decision-making, net working opportunities include: trainings, Public Interest Schools, board and staff meetings, and collaborative projects.
PIRGs in Canada Ontario: Carleton, Guelph, Kingston, Toronto, Waterloo, Laurier, Windsor, McMaster, York, Brock, Ottawa, Peterborough Alberta: APIRG, LPIRG Saskatchewan: RPIRG Nova Scotia: NSPIRG Quebec: McGill, Concordia, l’UQUAM British Columbia: VIPIRG, SFPIRG, PGPIRG
OPIRG EVENTS 2015 – 2016 Fall 2015
November 22 – Non-Violent Communication Training Part 2 November 22 – Board Meeting November 23 – Consensus-Based Decisions Making Workshop November 24 – Supermarket Tour November 26 – Anti-Oppression Workshop November 26 – EIDN: Peterborough Poetry Slam Presents: November Slam ft. Prufrock Shadowrunner – Fundraiser December 1 – EIDN: Letter-Writing Drop-In Day December 2 – Anti-Poverty Activism Bakesale December 2 – Free Market Giveaway on Campus December 3 – Anti-Poverty Week Meeting December 11 – Board Meeting December 16 – Anti-Poverty Week Meeting
January 13 – Clubs and Groups Day January 17 – Board Meeting January 21 – Double Book Launch: Criticism of Canada’s Mining Interest and Aid in Africa with Yves Engler and Paula Butler January 22 – AES: Vegucated Film Screening January 23-29 – Anti-Poverty Week January 25 – Mental Health and Poverty Panel January 25 – Why Food Banks Aren’t the Solution January 26 – Cooking On A Dime – Sharing Stories January 27 – Campus Food Security Report Launch January 27 – How to Do AntiPoverty Activism with Diane Therrien January 28 – Fighting Poverty in Free Market Fashion January 29 – Letter Writing to Politicians – Using Your Voice to Inﬂuence Change January 31 – Board Meeting January 29 – ReFrame Film Festival Presentation of Sponsored Film “A Dangerous Game” January 30 – ReFrame Film Festival Presentation of Sponsored Film “After the Last River” February 6-7 – OPIRG Provincial Board Meeting
Flip through to see what we've been up to during 2015-2016!