OPIRG: Ontario Public Interest Research Group

Passionate about food sovereignty? Want to challenge the global system of structural inequality? Angered by the Harper government’s dismantling of the Environmental Assessment Act? Do you enjoy organizing events, hosting discussions, conducting research, popular education and networking in both the Trent and Peterborough communities? Then OPIRG-Peterborough has a place for you! Ontario Public Interest Research Group – Peterborough, more commonly referred to as OPIRG (Oh-purg), has been actively committed to research, education and action on social and environmental justice since its founding in 1976. OPIRG is always looking for dedicated and passionate volunteers, and there are many different ways you can get involved.

Are you passionate about a specific topic? Join one of our working groups or create your own. Current working groups include: Fair Trade Trent – focusing on promoting fair trade products and education on fair trade, and working on making Trent University a recognized Fair Trade Campus; Canadians for Mining Awareness Peterborough – committed to research, public education, and action on injustices committed by the Canadian mining industry in Canada and around the world (see separate article); and the Food Issues Group – working towards a more sustainable food policy at Trent by reviewing Trent community surveys and studying exemplary food policies at progressive universities across Canada and the United States. Much work is still to be done as Trent University moves forward with choosing the next food provider at Trent during the course of this school year.

To join any of these existing working groups contact opirglistings@gmail.com. If you want to create your own working group you can download the “Working Group Application Form” from our website. All you need is a minimum of three OPIRG members (e.g., all full-time undergrads) to form a group on a topic or issue of your choice that fits OPIRG’s mandate. Services available to working groups include access to office supplies, art supplies, promotional materials, photocopies, space on the OPIRG Peterborough website, and more.  OPIRG Peterborough also runs three programs accessible to both Trent students and the general Peterborough community: the “Free Market”, the Food Cupboard, and Green Dishes. The “Free Market” is similar to a thrift store in that we redistribute donated goods that are no longer wanted or needed and have them available in our “store” for others to “shop” and take away. The big difference is that there is absolutely no money involved. The goal is to keep useful items out of landfills and put them back in the hands of those who need them.

If you have items to donate (clothes, books, small household items, etc, but no furniture or big electronics please), you may drop them off in the bins located on campus in each college and outside Bata library near Tim Horton’s. You can also drop off your donations to the “Free Market” which is located in the basement of Sadleir House, 751 George Street North (the bus stop at George St. North and Parkhill). Come shop at the “Free Market” every Wed. 3pm-5pm, Thur. 1pm-5pm, and Fri. 1pm-5pm. For the most up-to-date hours of operation please visit our website: www.opirgpeterborough.ca.

The Food Cupboard is an emergency food service that strives to offer a barrier-free, anti-oppressive service for all visitors. We do not require identification, or proof of income or address. We provide a warm, friendly atmosphere, where visitors feel welcome and relaxed. Clients are free to utilize our services once per week and no one will be denied food. The Food Cupboard is likewise located in the basement of Sadleir House. The majority of our food donations come from Kawartha Food Shares. Due to fluctuations in their current food delivery levels, please visit our website for the most up-to-date information regarding hours of operation for the Food Cupboard: www.opirgpeterborough.ca

Green Dishes is a non-profit service that allows individuals and groups to rent out reusable ceramic dishes at affordable prices for events in the Peterborough Community. The goal of this program is to reduce the amount of waste generated during Peterborough’s events.  We’ve been helping event organizers make their events greener for three years now. Get all the details on our website and be sure to contact us for any upcoming events. If you are interested in volunteering with the “Free Market” or Food Cupboard please email: opirgfreemarket@gmail.com or call 705-741-1208 for more information.  These are just some of the ways you can get involved in our organization. For a full list of our Fall Semester events, look for us at Clubs and Groups Day or visit our website.