VIPIRG March Newsletter

What is Happening at VIPIRG?

There’s a lot happening at your local PIRG. Below is a summary of things we’re working on and why, with contact information for how to get involved:

a) Anti-Pipelines Working Group (Contact: Seb Bonet – research@vipirg.ca)
b) Radical Health Alliance (Contact: Alex Holtom – aholtom@uvic.ca)
c) Safe Consumption Site (Contact: Seb Bonet – research@vipirg.ca)
d) CAP on Discrimination (Contact Mark Willson – mkawillson@gmail.com)
e) Affidavit Project (Contact Seb Bonet – research@vipirg.ca)
f) Coordinating Collective (Contact Meghan Jezewski – info@vipirg.ca)
g) Disorientation Week (Contact Seb Bonet – research@vipirg.ca)
h) Goldcorp Donation to UVic (Contact Automated Project – automateduvic@gmail.com)

a) Anti-Pipelines Working Group

The anti-pipelines working group formed in November. It is organizing a teach-in for April 26-28th called Block the Gateway: Sharing Responsibilities to Stop the Pacific Trails Pipeline. The teach-in will bring indigenous organizers from Wet’suwet’en territory to discuss their struggle and will be oriented to working through what it means to be an effective settler ally, and to providing a space for local indigenous people to build networks with our guests coming from Wet’suwet’en.

We really need help cooking food for the event, with billeting, fundraising, providing transportation and more. If you would like to help leading up to the event, or on the weekend of, please contact Seb – research@vipirg.ca.

b) Radical Health Alliance (RHA) – http://radicalhealthalliance.wordpress.com/

The RHA also formed in November. One of its goals is to provide a political space for workers in social services to speak out about the issues that are affecting them and the people they work with. To this end the group is organizing monthly meetings aimed at workers. The first one will take place in the evening of April 10th.

RHA is also trying to produce new knowledge in accessible form about the ways in which people who are living in poverty are actively marginalized further by the very institutions that are meant to help them. So far, we have drawn attention to the inadequacy of the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s services for people who use drugs, and to Good Neighbour Agreements. Currently, we are jamming the Greater Victoria Coalition to end Homelessness’ Unacceptable social media campaign.

Please contact Alex for further information on how to get involved: aholtom@uvic.ca.

c) Safe Consumption Site

VIPIRG has been supporting organizing around opening a safe consumption site in Victoria for years. The literature has also been unequivocal for years: safe consumption site services are vital to saving lives and improving the health of people who use drugs. Currently a steering committee of local activists, workers, researchers and community members has formed to keep pushing towards opening a site in Victoria.

Please contact Seb for further information on how to get involved: research@vipirg.ca

d) CAP on Discrimination

VIPIRG, along with the Victoria Youth Council, Together Against Poverty Society, the Society of Living Illicit Drug Users and the Committee to End Homelessness, among others, has formed a coalition to urge City Council to adopt language and policies to stop social and racial profiling in Victoria.

Language like this, we hope, will provide a basis for VIPIRG and other social justice groups to hold the city accountable for profiling going on downtown. For instance, last year’s VIPIRG report “Out of Sight: Policing Poverty in Victoria” provided stark evidence that social profiling of people living in poverty is a major issue downtown, but a six-month campaign to freeze the police budget and repeal discriminatory bylaws was rebuffed by council. We hope that if council adopts language that signals its commitment to ending profiling downtown, that it will be harder to look away from its responsibilities to follow through.

This campaign is coming to a head in the next month. Stay tuned for media and, we hope, an announcement from City Council. For more information contact mkawillson@gmail.com.

e) Affidavit Project

The compliment to the CAP on Discrimination coalition is the affidavit project. Along with students from the UVic Faculty of Law, and the support of the Society of Living Illicit Drug Users and the Together Against Poverty Society, VIPIRG has been involved in a project collecting affidavits from people who are street-involved. The affidavits focus on instances of police harassment.

We hope to compile these affidavits into a report that will once again raise the problem of social profiling in Victoria, and force the City, among other institutions, to modify many of the ways it approaches the social issue of poverty.

Please contact Seb for further information on how to get involved: research@vipirg.ca

f) Coordinating Collective

VIPIRG cannot function without its coordinating collective, which is the body that acts as the employer and decision-maker for the organization. VIPIRG has an 11-member coord. Two student positions are currently empty. If you think you would like to gain experience in how to reproduce a social justice organization from one day to the next please contact Meghan – info@vipirg.ca.

Also, there are numerous other ways to volunteer with VIPIRG, like helping to run the resource library, keeping the office open, updating all manner of materials and more. This is a great way to get participate in social justice work. Also get in touch with Meghan if you are interested in helping out in this way at VIPIRG.

g) Disorientation Week

For years many PIRGs across Canada have coordinated Disorientation Weeks to begin the academic year on campus. This year VIPIRG is going to inaugurate its own. If you’re looking for a project for Summer and want to help envision, plan, coordinate and promote events that get students thinking about unsettling and transforming dominant culture please get in touch with Seb – research@vipirg.ca

h) Goldcorp Donation To UVIc – Action Group

As you may know, Goldcorp, a Canadian mining company which has been accused of serious human rights violations and environmental damage in their operations around the world, has made a $500,000 donation to the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at UVic to “support the school’s Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation (CSSI).” (Read the medial release at
http://communications.uvic.ca/releases/release.php?display=release&id=1360).
More background on Goldcorp at automateduvic.wordpress.com

If you’re interested in working on this issue over the next two months, contact automateduvic@gmail.com.

NewsVIPIRG ADMIN