Tuesday, December 01, 2015

McMaster OPIRG Open House: December 7

New Sexual Violence Protocol

Introducing the NEW Sexual Violence Response Protocol and accompanying website (

McMaster University has implemented a Sexual Violence Response Protocol (Response Protocol) which sets out guidelines for how staff, faculty and students can provide a consistent and supportive first response to individuals who disclose sexual and gender-based violence.

Accompanying the Response Protocol is an easily accessible website that outlines the steps in the Response Protocol, and that will direct survivors to available supports and resources both on and off campus.

Meaghan Ross, Sexual Violence Response Coordinator, will be introducing the Response Protocol and website at three general information sessions happening on campus in the McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC).

MONDAY DECEMBER 7th 12:30-2:00PM in MUSC 224

All staff, students and faculty are welcome to attend one of the above sessions in order to learn more about available resources for survivors, and their supports.

Please contact Meaghan @ rossm4@mcmaster to register for the session you’d like to attend and to discuss any accessibility concerns.  When registering, please provide your name and contact information.

Meaghan is also available to provide more in-depth information about the Response Protocol and website via a training workshop for your department, organization or team.

Friday, Dec. 4th: McMaster Events to Commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

On Friday, December 4th, 2015, please join us for the following events commemorating the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women:

10:00 AM - Men’s Walk - Meet in front of Hamilton Hall

In the spirit of solidarity and with a call for men to act against all forms of gender based violence, a Memorial Walk for Men has been organized by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster to take place on campus from 10 am until 11 am on Friday, December 4, 2015. Directly following, participants are invited to attend the panel and commemorative service taking place at 11 am in Gilmour Hall Room 111. All male-identified folks are welcome to participate in the walk.  

11:00 AM - Panel Discussion - Remembering Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women - Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall 111

Join us for a panel discussion about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, featuring Beverly Jacobs, Norma General, and Aileen Joseph.

Beverly Jacobs is a member of the Mohawk Nation, Bear Clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a lawyer, holding a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of Saskatchewan, and completing an Interdisciplinary PhD at the University of Calgary.  She has taught at several Canadian Universities. As lead researcher and consultant for Amnesty International, she was instrumental to the 2004 production and release of their groundbreaking report, Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women. From 2004-2009, she was President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, championing the crucial Sisters in Spirit research, education and policy initiative.

Norma General is an elder of the Cayuga Nation, Wolf Clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She has taught courses for the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University and for the First Nations Technical Institute, among other places. In honour of her granddaughter, and in order to raise awareness, Norma speaks often about the important issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Aileen Joseph is from Six Nations of the Grand River and is a member of the Tuscarora Nation, Wolf Clan.  She is a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Aileen has been involved with Sisters in Spirit since 2006, two years after her daughter, Shelley Joseph, was murdered. Aileen continues to attend and speak at events to bring attention to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.

12:15 PM - Commemorative Service - Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall 111

Join us to remember the 14 women murdered on December 6th, 1989 in the event that has become known as the “Montreal Massacre”; to remember the 5 women from the McMaster community who have been murdered; and to remember the 1,200 or more Indigenous women who have been murdered or remain unaccounted for. 

Everyone Welcome.

Hamilton Welcomes Newcomers Sign

OPIRG will have copies available this week at MUSC 229 - or you can print your own off.
Thanks to Matt and Dan Jelly (of Jelly Brothers)for the image and Matt Thomson for the promotion.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

PhotOPIRG on Flickr

2015-16 OPIRG McMaster

Check out our flickr album! Random photos from the year so far. (More to come)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Digital Privacy and Assert Your Rights Online

By Wesley Kerfoot

Privacy has become a major issue in society recently, with the rise of government surveillance and bad actors looking to invade privacy for monetary gain, or just because they can. Government surveillance is especially troubling because it suppresses our freedom of speech and causes us to avoid certain things because of a fear of being watched. With this in mind, here are 5 practical easy things you can do to avoid surveillance and communicate privately.

1. End-to-end encryption

A very easy way to avoid having information about your online habits and communications collected is to make sure you are using something called end-to-end encryption. This simply means that the only people who can read a message are the sender and the recipient. On the web, this means using websites that support “SSL”, or in other words the “https” protocol instead of the insecure “http”.

Normally if you want to go to a site using https you would get there either by clicking a link that goes directly there, or by typing it in yourself and having to remember to use that instead of http. A great way to make sure you are always using https when available is through the browser extension HTTPS-Everywhere, which is developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

It's available here for every major browser (except Microsoft)

The way it works is by detecting if a site you request supports SSL, and even if you initially requested the insecure version, it makes sure you always get the secure one instead. This is important because some surveillance techniques work by rewriting your requests to be insecure, but HTTPS-Everywhere ensures it is always secure.

2. Avoid online trackers

Another way your privacy can be compromised online is by advertising companies looking to watch what sites you visit and what you're doing on them. Browsers like Firefox and Chrome will send something called a “Do Not Track” header (like a line of information) to websites when you go to them, but not all services respect this header. Furthermore, some services such as disqus are not intending to track websites you visit, but they end up inadvertently tracking you because of how they work.

The solution is another extension by our friends at the EFF called Privacy Badger.

The way Privacy Badger works is by analyzing the web services that your browser requests when you go to different sites, and it can figure out if you are being tracked and blocks that service so you are no longer tracked. It allows you to whitelist different sites if you have a reason to use them despite the tracking. For example the “like” buttons that Facebook allows other sites to use are a form of tracking, which Privacy Badger disables, but you may enable it and still get the other benefits of using Privacy Badger.

3. Uninstall risky software

A good way of improving your privacy and security is by uninstalling software that has been known to present security and privacy threats, but is not necessarily intended as malicious. This decreases the chance that you will be compromised. A good first step at removing so-called “riskware” is by uninstalling Adobe Flash. This software has been known to be extremely buggy in the past, and has lead to many compromised computers. In addition, it is a privacy risk because it allows people doing surveillance to bypass many anonymity tools (such as the Tor network and web proxies in general). It is also a good idea to remove Java from your browser for the same reasons. Removing both of these will greatly improve your security and anonymity.

4. Encrypt your phone calls and text messages

Law enforcement and “security” agencies have been known to target phone calls and text messages extensively. GSM, the protocol that most cellphones use to make calls and send text messages, is highly insecure and open to surveillance. Police use something called a “sting-ray” to decrypt and intercept phones (see: ). Since it is not possible to rely on the protocol itself for protection, it is good to use third-party text messaging and phone call apps that do end-to-end encryption for you. The absolute best app for this is called Signal, and it provides complete end-to-end encryption so not even your cellphone provider can read your messages or listen to your calls.

You can find it here, just click “install” and you can get it for iOS or Android.

5. Protect your cellphone

Finally, a fantastic way to protect the security of your data from both surveillance and police searches is by enabling encryption for the entire device. The latest versions of Android offer this ability, as well as iPhones.

This protects your phone from any searches, and stops unreasonable, suspicion-less searches. It is especially important if you plan on attending any protests or demonstrations where police might be looking for a way to grab data from you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

OPIRG Volunteer WORKING GROUPS. Join one or start your own!

OPIRG Currently has eight active volunteer groups working on various social justice or environmental projects. They are:

  1. Community Volunteer Action
  2. Food Not Bombs Hamilton
  3. Fossil Free McMaster
  4. Global Citizenship
  5. Guatemalan Solidarity 
  6. McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance
  7. Threadwork
  8. United in Colour
You can find detailed information, including contact info for each group on our web site

We are also taking applications so students can start a new working group with OPIRG McMaster, deadline is November 19: background on what having a working group means in terms of creating a supportive environment to explore ways to take effective action can be found on this page (including a link to the online application).

If you have any questions you can contact or 905-525-9140 ext. 26026

In The News: Fossil Free McMaster

This article features OPIRG Working Group Fossil Free McMaster's Conner Hurd and appeared in the Hamilton Spectator Nov. 17, 2015.

Conner’s story: Working to keep fossil fuels in the ground

Hamilton Spectator
Conner at PIRGTOPIA, Sept. 2015
November 30th sees heads of state from around the world arrive in Paris for climate negotiations that affect us all. Environment Hamilton asked some local residents why they are motivated to take action on climate change. This story comes from Conner Herd, a fourth-year student at McMaster University. He is studying biology and psychology and plans to go into medical research. He is leading a group called Fossil Free McMaster.

Q. When did you first become aware of the real impact of climate change?
A. In my grade school we learned about climate change and the impact it was having on our planet. It was just one of many global issues in our lessons and I assumed that someone was taking care of it. Last year my biology professor at Mac talked about it at length and showed us a movie called "Do the Math." It explained in really simple terms the basic numbers and the urgency — that if we were to avoid warming of more than the "safe" level 2 C. we had to leave most fossil fuels in the ground. And we only had around 15 years before we cross the 2 C threshold.
Q. How did you feel when you understood the impacts of climate change?
A. I felt a sense of urgency and a need to take action. Particularly after seeing that movie and learning that Canada had backed out of its Kyoto commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I felt awful to start with, but am now more optimistic by being involved and active in pushing for change.
Q. What made you take action?
A. At McMaster there is a group called Fossil Free McMaster which is trying to get the university to divest from any investments in the fossil fuel (oil, coal, gas and pipeline) industry. This comes from a realization that the best way to stop burning fossil fuels is to leave them in the ground. So stop investing in exploration and extraction.
The students running Fossil Free McMaster were graduating and someone needed to pick up their campaign. I realized that my university years were the best time to get involved before I got caught up in a career, so I decided to take over the lead of their campaign.
Story submitted by Dave Carson on behalf of Environment Hamilton. He is a board member of Environment Hamilton and lives in Dundas.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When the Political Gets Personal

Political Gets Personal: Personal Gets Political

By Sadiyah Jamal

McMaster Indigenous Community Alliance (MISCA)

I was volunteering at an event to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. There was a display set up in the student centre atrium telling the stories of Indigenous women from all over Canada who had been stolen.

I was handing out info cards at the event, and when I wasn’t doing that I was reading the stories myself. The more I read the harder it became for me to keep talking to people about it, yet I could hear my voice became more and more genuine. 

One story that really struck me was of a woman who had been stolen on October 7, 1995. As I read the date that this woman had been stolen, fear wrapped itself around me. I was one month and one day old when this woman was stolen, and she had yet to be found. More than twenty years later, and she is still missing. 

I was told recently that I’d become very vocal in the past few months about various social issues, and I was thinking and trying to figure out why that had happened. When I was handing out info cards at this event and reading the stories and trying not to let the dread take over me, that’s when I got my answer.

 “…when I got angry about the state of the world, that’s when I began thinking.”

When I opened myself up to learning and listening, when these tragedies became realities and when I got angry about the state of the world, that’s when I began thinking. When I realized that silence was no longer an option (and never had been) that’s when I began speaking up. When I realized that when so many people have the same “personal issues” it is no longer personal. That’s when the personal becomes political, and that’s when I began trying to take action.

Find MISCA and other OPIRG Working Groups on our website at 

The event described was co-sponsored with WGEN and ISP McMaster, Nov. 6/15

Friday, November 06, 2015

Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War Speaker

Coalition to Stop the War invites you to hear their gust speaker:

Speaker: Graeme MacQueen, Democracy Probe International
Wednesday. November 18th, 7:30 to 9:30 PM 
Room: 1A4, Health Sciences Centre, McMaster University
Co-sponsored by Hamilton Chapter, Council of Canadians 

Graeme's thesis is that alleged terrorist incidents that have happened in North America (including the one on Parliament Hill last year) are pretexts for fomenting Islamophobia and starting foreign wars.

An examination of four events in the period Sept. 11, 2001-Oct. 22, 2014 shows that agents of the state, in both the U.S. and Canada, are credible suspects in the physical intimidation of elected bodies of law-makers. The War on Terror is a direct threat to representative democracy.

For more information, go to: 

Perspectives on Peace Movie Night

Perspectives on Peace is hosting a free movie night at the Westdale Theatre on Monday, November 9th @ 6:30 pm.

Join us as we watch a portrayal of Vera Brittain’s coming of age during the first world war, where she served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse in London and abroad. The trailer can be found here, and all are welcome to join – so please bring a friend!

EWB Junior Fellow Opportunity

EWB Junior Fellowship applications are now open to students at McMaster, and they are looking to fill the Junior Fellow spot at this chapter. They will be holding two info sessions next week on Monday, November 9 at 5:30 or Tuesday, November 10 at 5:00 in JHE 328! The steps to apply are outlined on!

 The Junior Fellowship program is not your average internship. It is an 18 month(6 month training during school year, 4 month commitment in the summer, and then an 8 month commitment with the McMaster Chapter representing and reflection on your experience) leadership experience in which you will be challenged to learn, act and create change. As a Junior Fellow, you’ll become a short-term team member with one of EWB’s Ventures in Canada or in Africa, or with one of EWB’s Incubator teams in Toronto.

They urge any person from any faculty to attend the information session as the summer fellowship is open to all! The requirements are that the applicant must be a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age, and return to McMaster for at least one more year of study.

If you want to learn more, you can go to! If you have any other questions, feel free to email them to! Their Facebook page also currently displays the info sessions as facebook events!