OPIRG: A Chance to get involved in Social Justice

Social justice. Environmental justice. Anti-Oppression. Idle No More. Line 9. The Free Market. The Food Cupboard. These are the causes we believe in, as well as some of the issues we are currently involved with and some of the ongoing services we provide at OPIRG (Ontario Public Interest Research Group) Peterborough.

As a campus-based and community-oriented organization we strive to provide spaces where both students and Peterborough community members can work on issues related to anti-oppression and social and environmental justice. One of the avenues that we offer to people who are passionate about some particular issue is our Working Groups.

Working Groups are groups of self-motivated volunteers that come together to work on a specific issue, and are able to use the various resources available through OPIRG Peterborough to achieve their objectives or to promote their activities.

A Working Group can be started by anybody. You need to have three people who are interested in starting a group and have a clear outline of what you want to do. As an OPIRG Working Group, you receive some financial support, a meeting space and meeting resources, event promotion support, as well as training in a variety of areas that may be requested.

We currently have a number of Working Groups operating, including Canadians for Mining Awareness, Fair Trade Trent, the Animal Equity Society, and Trent Amnesty International. These groups cover a wide range of issues and people are welcome to join up with them or to start their own Working Group on any issue consistent with OPIRG’s mandate.

Speaking with Natalie Guttormsson, one of the founding members of Canadians for Mining Awareness (CMA), about why she decided to start the Working Group along with a couple of other students, she had this to say:

“My motivation for being a part of a group that focuses on mining issues and educating others about them is really rooted in one clear event. During the Winter break between 2009 and 2010, four people were murdered in the province of Cabaas in El Salvador. All four people were connected to a community group that was in opposition to the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim’s mine proposal in that area.”

OPIRG has been useful to her group. She says, “Working with OPIRG is very helpful mostly for getting our name known in the Trent and Peterborough communities. It also makes the organizing of events easier. We are able to have access to the OPIRG photocopier for making flyers, as well as draw from the small but useful financial contribution that OPIRG gives to all Working Groups to print posters, or help cover costs for speakers that come from out of town.”

Reflecting on her experience with CMA, Guttormssn said, “It’s been wonderful. There is nothing more comforting than working with a group of people who are just as passionate about the same topic as you are.”

Working Groups at OPIRG Peterborough are a great way for students and community members to get involved in the issues that they are passionate about by working through an organization that is already established and has the resources to help out in multiple ways. Whether you’re getting involved with an already existing Working Group or starting a new one, it’s an excellent way to get involved on campus and in the Peterborough community.

If you have any questions about OPIRG Peterborough or Working Groups check out our website http://www.opirgpeterborough.ca/, email us at opirglistings@gmail.com, or feel free to come by our office at Sadleir House