OPIRG is the Ontario Public Interest Research Group! A loose network of PIRGs currently exists across much of Canada and the U.S. The PIRGs were launched by “public interest” activist Ralph Nader in the early seventies as a means to harness the energy and talents of students to help solve pressing social and environmental problems. The OPIRG Guelph chapter was founded at the University of Guelph in 1976 following a visit that Nader made to Waterloo in 1974.
OPIRG Guelph works on a variety of environmental and social justice issues of public interest by conducting research, developing popular education materials, and engaging in activism. We help individuals to become active in their community by providing information through our Resource Library and opportunities for hands on training and activism. Funding and support opportunities are also available to individuals and groups wishing to undertake new initiatives.
OPIRG Guelph works to strengthen the link between the University of Guelph campus and our surrounding community. While OPIRG is campus-based, our goal is to inspire and involve students, faculty, and other staff in addressing issues of environmental and social justice in the community. As such, much of our local work involves collaborating and networking with individuals and groups in the Guelph area, and building partnerships with like-minded organizations.
OPIRG is volunteer-powered and volunteer-driven! If you’re inspired by OPIRG’s vision there are many types of activism that you can get involved in: from writing articles, becoming a Board member, joining an Action Group or even proposing new projects and initiatives.
Since 1976, OPIRG Guelph has played an instrumental role in many successful local and global environmental and social justice campaigns such as:
- University of Guelph divestment campaign to end support of investors in South African apartheid
- Implementing the first municipal recycling and organics program in Ontario
- CSA Bike Centre (started as an Action Group)
- Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (started with OPIRG’s support)
- Growing a forest along the Speed River to prevent erosion and improve biodiversity
- Opposing expansion of nuclear energy
- Cosmetic pesticide ban in Guelph Pesticide Review Committee Consultation Report – City of Guelph
- Fossil Free Guelph’s Divestment Campaign which led to the University of Guelph divesting from fossil fuels in 2020