For over 40 years, the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG) has not only been representing our students, but engaging them and members of our community in dynamic activities on our campus and throughout the region. Influencing progress by educating and empowering citizens and volunteers, WPIRG helps make positive social change happen.
In operation since 1973, WPIRG exists to provide unique and inclusive opportunities for our student and regional communities to research, educate, and take action on environmental and social justice issues. WPIRG functions as a nonprofit funded on fees paid by full-time undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Waterloo. This student contribution provides important resources like meeting space, a library, a button-maker and sewing machine, as well as workshops, film screenings and ongoing events, which are planned, created, and attended by both volunteer students and community members.
Established to foster community engagement on campus, WPIRG aims to educate and inform individuals on relevant, contemporary issues and topics, driving campus and community participation in activism. The group fuels its mission through a highly democratic process, inviting all members to 2 or 3 meetings per year where individuals can vote on various key decisions, such as instigating new projects, or determining funding for themed discussion and action groups.
“I wasn’t that engaged before I joined WPIRG, but I was always doing my own research on politics and other topics, and as it was getting more intensive, I couldn’t stop thinking that I needed to do something to help and contribute back to the community and our campus,” explains Brandon Love, fourth year University of Waterloo student and WPIRG board member.
WPIRG holds themselves accountable to their members, giving students and citizens of our community alike chances to explore the things they care about, turning that passion into experiences that connect students to our community and the community to our students.
“I started hearing about all the amazing things WPIRG was doing, and thought it would be a great jumping off point for me to try and improve the campus and the community," says Brandon.
Initiatives such as Food Not Bombs - an entirely volunteer run group that serves free vegetarian and vegan food in front of Kitchener City Hall every week - offer opportunities for individuals in our community to share a meal and start a conversation. Other WPIRG ventures include projects like Waterloo 350 that put public pressure on the fossil fuel industry, highlighting issues around climate change. They also coordinate the region’s Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Festival - they’re longest running project to date going into its 16th year this March 2016.
“WPIRG has also really helped me advance my politics and understanding of the world," claims Love.
Looking for ways to get involved with WPIRG and volunteer in the community? Sign up to receive their e-newsletter.