Friday, January 30, 2015

OPIRG Board Meetings: Open to all members!

The OPIRG Board of Directors meets every two weeks, alternating meetings focused on OPIRG McMaster business and Applications for Support from campus and community groups.

From OPIRG's Constitution, note that members may speak at meetings with consent of the board, and members may participate in consensus-based decisions (although don't get to vote, which remains the elected board's responsibility)

Members are full-time undergraduates at McMaster, and paid community members.

The next OPIRG Board meeting is Monday, February 2, 2015 at 2:30pm in McMaster University Student Centre room 301.

Contact our board via e-mail at or the staff via

Job Opportunity with McMaster Intramural Sports

Job Opportunity with McMaster Intramural Sports

Inclusion & Gender Equity Advocate
Applications due Friday, February 6 @ 12:00pm

Overview: A member of our Intramural Sports Leadership Team, the Inclusion &
Gender Equity Advocate is a role model in and ambassador of our Intramural Sports
program as a whole. They work to facilitate increased participation amongst historically
marginalized individuals and groups representing a wide range of diverse social
identities within McMaster's Intramural Sports community. The role works closely with
the Program Coordinator and in partnership with all other members of the Leadership
Team (Sport Supervisors, Office Manager) to achieve its goals. 

Full job description and application details available at

Thursday, January 29, 2015

OPIRG Thursday, Productive Day

Morning: Resource staff Amandha celebrates her role producing print edition of
Afternoon: Alyssa Lai giving workshop to working groups and OPIRG members on
Publicity and Outreach today in BSB

Evening: Khadijah, Sunia and Zafrin working on the archive after hours

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MSU Diversity Services VLOG

Check out this interesting VLOG, created by MSU diversity services multiculturalism pillar!

Black, Brown, and Red Lives Matter would like to invite you to a conversation on human rights, anti-racist policing

See our Facebook event page here, and invite friends:

Racial bias in Hamilton policing was highlighted in a 2003 civil lawsuit against the Hamilton Police Services and Board. The case was of Michael Dixon, a black male who was arrested at gun point by two Hamilton Police Officers and wrongfully jailed for 3 1/2 days despite that the 911 tip that got the officers in motion described the thief at Edwin Pass Jewelry store on James Street South as a “short white male”.  Mr. Dixon, tall and black, was on a GO bus at the time of the robbery and had alibis at the scene of his gunpoint false arrest to corroborate his whereabouts.

Part of the Dixon settlement terms called for systematic racial diversity and equity based changes. How much has the Hamilton Police Service done to implement the Dixon human rights settlement?

Join us on Wednesday 28th for a conversation with Vilko Zbogar, Michael Dixon's lawyer, to hear about tried and tested, best anti-racist police practices implemented in Toronto and elsewhere.

Where: 24 Main St. W., Hamilton. Enter through side doors of Centenary United Church, directly across MacNab bus terminal
When: January 28 2014 (Wednesday)
Time: 4pm to 5pm
Audience: Free and open to the public

IMPORTANT: Before taking and posting pictures, please get the permission of the person in the picture.

Event organized by Black, Brown, and Red Lives Matter (a McMaster University OPIRG Working Group).

To contact


For more information on the Michael Dixon case see:

Judge rakes cops over the coals for wrongful arrest:

A learning opportunity: Michael Dixon’s wrongful arrest has provoked significant change in Hamilton policing:

Dixon case leads to racism debate:

Friday, January 23, 2015

New Newsletter PIRGSPECTIVES Fall-WInter 2014-15 available online now!

Mapping Global Dimensions: Graduate Conference

The Department of Political Science at McMaster University, in conjunction with the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy and Globalization, Institute for Globalization and the Human Condition, Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, Global Health Program, and the Centre for Climate Change present Mapping the Global Dimensions of Policy 4, the fourth annual graduate conference on the internationalization of public policy. The conference will be held February 2-3, 2015 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

This conference is for graduate students, faculty, or other parties who may be interested.

The conference will feature plenary talks from Prof. Ellen Gutterman (York) on transnational crime; Angela Carter (Waterloo) on Canadian energy policy; and Patrick Marier (Concordia) on aging and the welfare state. A detailed programme is available here:  

There is no cost to attend; all are welcome. Refreshments will be provided. Please register here:

Black History Month Events

1. Black History Month: Eyes On the Prize Documentary screenings
Black History Month: Eyes On the Prize Documentary screenings Feb 5th 12:30-1:30pm OPIRG McMaster Resource Centre, Room 229 McMaster University Student Centre  

Thursday February 5 Awakenings (1954-1956)
 Individual acts of courage inspire black Southerners to fight for their rights: Mose Wright testifies against the white men who murdered young Emmett Till, and Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.  

Thursday, February 26 Fighting Back (1957-1962) 
States' rights loyalists and federal authorities collide in the 1957 battle to integrate Little Rock's Central High School, and again in James Meredith's 1962 challenge to segregation at the University of Mississippi. Both times, a Southern governor squares off with a U.S. president, violence erupts -- and integration is carried out.  

Thursday March 5 Ain't Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961)
Black college students take a leadership role in the civil rights movement as lunch counter sit-ins spread across the South. "Freedom Riders" also try to desegregate interstate buses, but they are brutally attacked as they travel.   Films are all approximately 1 hour - space limited - free
Feb 05 2015, 12:30pm - 1:30pm EST

ON, Hamilton, OPIRG McMaster Resource Centre

2. Concert January 25th
On January 25th at St Pauls United in Dundas [corner of Cross and Park] the Dundas Valley Orchestra is holding a concert entitled ‘Songs of the people. A celebration of Black History Month’.  As well as the orchestra there will be a choir and I’m sure the music will be wonderful. No admission fee but a free will offering is suggested.  Start time is 3 pm.

3. Family Day Feb 16th
Griffin House Families can explore black history together as they stroll the paths of the Dundas Valley and visit Griffin House National Historical Site. Warm up with some apple cider and conversation. Griffin House is a 19th century home that stands as a testament to the strength and bravery of black Canadians who journeyed to Southern Ontario. Parking and access by the Hermitage Parking Lot, 1.5 miles west of Ancaster on Sulphur Springs Road (near the intersection of Sulphur Springs and Mineral Springs Road). Monday, February 16, 2015 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Ages: All Cost: Free tour of Griffin House. Donations gladly accepted. Parking fees will apply at Hermitage Parking Lot.

4. February 7, 2015 John Holland Awards 
At Michelangelo Banquet Centre $80.00 per person Table of 10 $750.00 For more information, please contact Greer at 905 527 5651 The Rev. John C. Holland Awards is recognized as the region’s most prestigious event, celebrating outstanding achievement within the African-Canadian Community. If you or someone you know has exhibited outstanding achievements in one or more of the categories listed below, we encourage you to apply for a Rev. John C. Holland Awards.  The Award categories include: Arts and Entertainment Business Professional Achievement Community Service Youth Leadership (5) The Ally Award & Award of Merit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Missing Window: Tracking Pollution from the Oil Sands with Dr. John Smol

Report by Ben Westerterp , OPIRG McMaster

The environment has been influenced by humans more so in the past few centuries than ever before. In an era where more soil is being moved through human processes rather than natural processes, environmental concerns must be prioritized to prevent catastrophe.

Ben Westerterp (L) and Dr. Smol (R) 
Dr. John Smol of Queen’s University visited Hamilton to discuss some of his fascinating contributions to the environmental community regarding the status of our fresh water lakes surrounding the oil sands development in Alberta. Dr. Smol explained how measuring pollution from the oil sands has been a controversial issue for scientists and the petroleum industry, partly because of the natural occurrence of bitumen rich deposits in much of the subsurface sediment. This makes assessing a change in the level of industry associated compounds difficult over time.

“The industry lacks baseline data” said Dr. Smol, “without baseline data we cannot determine the pre-disturbance conditions”. In the case of the oil sands, monitoring programs in the past had not been accurately recording data, resulting in a “missing window” for environmental scientists to work off of.

Dr. Smol presented his research on the concentrations of PAHs – an isolated hydrocarbon that can be “fingerprinted” directly to the oil sands development - in the subsurface sediments of lakes within 50km proximity from the epicentre of the largest section of oil sands development. His study reconstructed the past few hundreds of years of a lakes strata and found an exponential increase in the PAH levels since 1969 – the year after the first development began. PAH levels in some of what were once isolated lakes, have reached similar levels to those of Lake Ontario. Similar trends were occurring, to a lesser extent, at proximity of 90km.

After discussing his findings, Dr. Smol gave us a glimpse of how the political environment surrounding his analysis also presented challenges to his work. Utilizing the Access Act, a journalist was able to recover a government portrayal of Dr. Smol as having a “lack of neutrality”.

What Dr. Smol teaches us is that current environmental assessments and reports from the oil sands can be arbitrary, due to the lack of baseline data to go off of and what are sometimes relatively short windows of environmental monitoring. Sometimes, the media can be used to inaccurately represent environmental consequences and may miss out on particular studies, as well as scientists that may end up going unheard. We are left to question our commitments to the economy over well-intentioned and innovative scientists such as Dr. Smol.

OPIRG McMaster co-sponsored this event with Friends of Red Hill Valley and others

Monday, January 19, 2015

Small Screen, Big Ideas!

We created a small screening space in the Resource Centre that we can use to project presentations during meetings, or show videos from our resource library. Space is limited, but we have yet to test the capacity.

Bring your lunch along this Thursday at 12:30 to 1:30pm and find inspiration in a video about The Winking Circle.

These folks presented at the Global Citizenship Conference in 2007. Everyone left inspired, the film has an infectious joy about it. You should come see it.

Check out an audio interview with them in the centre back in '07. That's what our history archive is for! (link below)

TIME: Thursday, January 22, 12:30pm
LOCATION: OPIRG Resource Centre, Room 229 McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC)