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OPIRG-Guelph Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Written by Scott Gilbert

Over the weekend the Guelph-based chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) celebrated its 30th anniversary with a series of events. I was able to attend the Saturday workshops, but the festivities carried on through the night and into the next day. The title of the weekend events was “Student power for social change...30 years and counting!”

On Saturday, the group held a series of workshops during the day at the Dublin Street United Church Downtown. Workshops included “Resistance to the Corporate University”, “The Legal Rights of Protesters” and “Creative Resistance”. Each workshop ran twice, and for a full two hours each. The event garnished a reasonable attendance, with each workshop having about ten participants. Many current and former CSA executives were there, as well as community members, and interested students. After the workshops, conference attendees joined together to enjoy an all-vegetarian dinner in the main room of the church where they chatted and watched a slide show about the history of OPIRG-Guelph.

In the evening there was a keynote speech by Winona LaDuke held in War Memorial Hall titled “Resistance is Survival: Creating a Sustainable and Hopeful Future”. LaDuke is a world-renowned Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) writer and activist from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. She was a two time US vice-presidential candidate for the Green party with Ralph Nader, and she recently received the prestigious international Slow Food Award for their work with protecting wild rice and local biodiversity.

After LaDuke’s talk participants were invited to dance, drink and enjoy the “musical mastery” of local band Mambo Nation. This portion of the event was organized by the Aboriginal Resource Centre.

On Sunday morning there was an informal chat and networking meeting with “PIRGies” at the OPIRG office at 1 Trent Lane on the campus where snacks were served and those who attended got a chance to look around the OPIRG-Guelph office.

OPIRG-Guelph is funded by University of Guelph students and operates as a resource for educational materials, networking, and offers “working groups” for students to get involved with. Any student can start their won working group as well and receive funding and support from OPIRG. Examples of current working groups are Students Against Sweatshops and Students Taking Action in Chiapas.

To learn more about OPIRG-Guelph, visit them online here.

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