Three Decades at Carleton 

33 years ago, Carleton students made a choice to create OPIRG-Carleton. In a student-wide referendum, students voted overwhelmingly in favour of funding OPIRG-Carleton united in a vision of making positive change on campus.

For 33 years, OPIRG-Carleton has achieved many victories: it was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and created Carleton’s first recycling program. Today, OPIRG-Carleton continues to support initiatives to fight discrimination and works closely with vulnerable communities to work towards meaningful change on our campus and in our community.

In 1988, Carleton signed a contract with OPIRG to implement a paper recycling program on campus.

Fun Fact: OPIRG-Carleton started recycling on campus. 

Continuing Carleton University's relationship to Burmese human rights, on February 22, 2011, Carleton awarded an honorary doctorate in absentia to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

Photo: Carleton Newsroom

In 1993, OPIRG's South-East Asia Working Group supported a national boycott of Petro-Canada, calling for an end to its economic partnership with the military dictatorship in Burma. The boycott forces them to withdraw from exploration in the region. In 1997, after four years of the Burma Working Group's boycott, Pepsi Corporation pulls out of Burma!

OXBOW PARK located at Carleton University is one of the only green spaces left on campus providing valuable space where wildlife and humans can interact. Today, OPIRG-Carleton is helping to create more green space on campus through the community garden.

In 1994, OPIRG-Carleton successfully convinces the Carleton administration to find an alternative to the dangerous herbicide chemical 2,4-D, which was being sprayed in what is now Oxbow Park.

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In 1997, the Forestry Working group was successful in its own boycott and managed to push the Weston Corporation out of their old growth deforestation operations in Temagami and the Algoma Highlands.

Learn about Working Groups.

Working groups are collectives—groups of people working together towards a common goal while sharing responsibilities and decisions equally. Together with our volunteers, working groups are the heart of OPIRG-Carleton. 

The many successes of OPIRG-Carleton's working groups over the last 33 years are a testament to OPIRG-Carleton's legacy!

1980 - 1990

OPIRG-Carleton worked with the Carleton Anti-Apartheid Action Group

Crosscurrents Radio Show

Environment Working Group

Food Working Group

Housing Working group

Peace and Disarmament Working Group

Re-usable Mug Campaign

Recycling at Carleton Campaign

Social Justice Working Group

OPIRG-Carleton worked in close affiliation with its Carleton Anti-Apartheid Action Group to successfully convince the Carleton University Student’s Association to divest from South Africa.

1990 - 2000

Anti-Homophobia Campaign

Campaign for Accessiblity for Students with Disabilities

Campaign for East Timor

Campaign to stop the Spraying of 2,4-D on Campus

Carribean and Latin America Solidarity Work

Crisis in Education

Crosscurrents Radio Show

Dam-Reservoir Working Group

Ecofeminism Working Group

Economic Justice Working group

Environmental Working Group

Fair Trade Working Group

Forestry Working Group

International Boycott of PepsiCo. for involvement in the Burmese Military Dictatorship

Naturalization site project

Recycling Coordination at Carleton

Social Justice Working Group

South East Asia Working Group

Students Against Sweatshops

Social Justice Working Group

Talisman divestment

The Anti-Racism Working Group

The Disability Action Working Group (D.A.W.G)

The Hemp and Herb Working Group

The Hudson Bay Working Group

The James Bay Working Group

The MAI-Note Working Group (Mobilizing against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment)

Three Gorges Campaign

2000 - 2013

Access to Information

Alternative Canadian Heritage Moments 

Animal Rights

Anxiety Performance Working Group

Books 2 Prisoners

Campus Sustainability Working Group

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Carleton Coalition Against Poverty

Carleton Community Garden Project

Carleton Sustainable Campus Network

Carleton University Free School Society

Cinema Politica

Critical Social Research Collaborative

Direct Action Bike Collective

Direct Action Orchestra

Eco-Justice Carleton

Fair Trade Carleton

Families of Sisters in Spirit

Food Issues Working Group

Free Culture

Free Store Working Group


Human Rights Society

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa

Informed Choice ( Killer Coke Campaigning)

Insol Womyn of Colour Collective

Killer Coke Carleton

Manufacturing Dissent

Mathare Radio Project

Men for Equality and Non-Violence

Monday Morning Rise-Up

Organic Gardens Working Group

Ottawa Students Mobilize

Permaculture Ottawa

Prison Solidarity and Support Ottawa

Radical Frosh


Stop the War Against Children

Student Coalition Against War

Students Against Israeli Apartheid 

Students for Electoral Reform

Students for Fair Trade

The Garden Spot

The Leveller

Over 33 years, OPIRG-Carleton has organized hundreds of events



Programming Highlights:

David Suzuki was brought to Carleton by OPIRG along with Juno award winning poet/musician, Lilian Allen.


Ottawa-Carleton Tenants Guide (3rd edition),

The Unemployment Survival Handbook and

The Women’s Employment Guide (written but unpublished)


Programming Highlights:

George Erasmus from the Assembly of First Nations is hosted by OPIRG at Carleton U and speaks about the situation in Lubicon Lake


Introduction of re-usable OPIRG Drinking Mug.


French editions of the Tenants Guide and the Unemployment Survival Guide.


Programming Highlights:

Herb George, from the Gitksan and Wet’suwet'en Tribal Council is hosted by OPIRG at Carleton U.


Carleton signs a contract with OPIRG to begin paper recycling on campus.


Programming Highlights:

Maisoun el-Husseini, a student from Berzeit University in the occupied West Bank, speaks at Carleton on the right to education.

Publications: The Supermarket Tour is published!



Programming Highlights:

Helen Caldicott on “Caring for the Earth: Approaches to the Environment in the 1990’s”


A referendum campaign is won to raise the OPIRG Carleton levy

Publications: Safe Sex Publication


Programming Highlights:

Author Naomi Wolf spoke on “ The Beauty Myth” with 900 people in attendance!

Dr. Harlan Lane gave a talk entitled the “The Myth of Benevolence” on the distinctiveness of the deaf community.


OPIRG successfully convinces the Carleton Administration to find an alternative to the dangerous herbicide chemical 2,4-D.

There is a widespread implementation of recycling on campus thanks to the pioneering work of OPIRG-Carleton.


Programming highlights:

Murray Bookchin speaks at Carleton on “Green Politics”

Public Interest School is organized in part by OPIRG –Carleton on Public Education and Organizing Against the North American Free Trade Agreement

Margaret Washington speaks on the subject of black feminist anti-slave activist Sojourner Truth.


National boycott of Petro-Canada for their economic partnership with the military dictatorship in Burma forces them to withdraw from exploration in the region.


Programming highlights:

bell hooks addresses a crowd of 1500 people on “Renewed Resistance: Ending Domination.”

Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow are brought in by OPIRG to address the Alternative Economics Conference.


The list of international partners in the boycott against PepsiCo for its collusion with the military dictatorship of Burma is at this time growing monthly and proving more popular than anyone had thought!

OPIRG Carleton brought in Bell Hooks! Need we say more?!


Programming highlights:

Noam Chomsky and Jose Ramos Horta discuss the plights of the East Timorese at Carleton University and are hosted by OPIRG.


OPIRG has helped give Carleton a reputation for a politically engaged student body!

Three student bursaries are offered to Carleton Students by OPIRG-Carleton.


Programming highlights:

Alan Berube was hosted by OPIRG-Carleton. He spoke to a gathered crowd about the Marine cooks and Steward Union in the early part of the 20th Century and “re-affirmed the possibilities for progressive change.”

Successes: This year OPIRG was particularly active! Unfortunately this was partly due to increased organizing efforts around a 20% tuition fee hike!

The Recycle Cycles Working Group opened its first space in the Gloucester Mall!

Two OPIRG Carleton Working groups also won awards this year: the Naturalization Working Group received an award for their efforts with Oxbow park from the city of Ottawa, and the Composting/Waste Reduction Working Group received the OPIRG provincial Peggy McKay Award for environmental initiatives in convincing the Carleton Cafeteria to keep re-usable dishes on campus.


Programming highlights:

A special presentation is given at Carleton University by Burma’s Presidential Advisor on Human Rights.

Successes: In spite of a tough year for OPIRG with funds decreasing alongside student enrollment (thanks to the Harris tuition hike), OPIRG managed to pull off some great successes!

After four years of the Burma Working Groups boycott, Pepsi Corporation pulls out of Burma!

The Forestry Working group was also successful in its own boycott and managed to push the Weston Corporation out of their old growth deforestation operations in Temagami and the Algoma Highlands.


OPIRG-Carleton sets up its website!

A new booklet, A Campus Activism Kit, is created and distributed to volunteers.


Programming highlights:

Aleida Guevara March spoke about her father (Che Guevara), his ideals, and how they were influencing Cuba in 1998.


Expanded volunteer base of OPIRG along with four new working groups

The organizing of the Challenge Corporate Rule Conference and a two-day Fair Trade Networking Conference (all in one year!)


Programming highlights:

Xavier Grijalba, a representative of OPIP (Organization of Indigenous People of Pastaza) spoke of the struggle to defend traditional lands from being exploited by multinational corporations.


The Dam-Reservoir Working Group had morphed into a highly respected website database that was apparently referenced by the Smithsonian Institute’s ocean Planet Exhibit and on NASA webspace.


Programming highlights:

Jim Stanford, economist for the Canadian Auto Workers Union, gave a talk entitled “ Robin Hood in Reverse: The dubious Lure of Tax Cuts.”

A panel discussion, “Master Plans, Master Planners: Economic globalization and Market Liberalization and the G20,” included Michel Chossudovsky, Sara Torres and Bob Baldwin and helped lead up to the convergence in Quebec City.


The Economic Justice Working group organized 3 full buses (along with a total of 10 buses from Ottawa) of Carleton students out to Quebec City in protest of the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit. 

Recycle Cycles becomes Re-cycles - an independent community bike co-op located on Bronson Avenue, though it still maintained a connection with OPIRG.



Programming highlights:

Ward Churchill was brought to Carleton by OPIRG and filled the Bell theater in the Minto Centre with a talk on “Globalization, Genocide and Resistance”

Ann Hansen spoke about her experiences as a member of ‘Direct Action’.


Carleton students start up a people’s kitchen to serve pay-what-you-can-vegan fare, the G-Spot is born!


Programming highlights:

Carleton Hosts Public Interest School “Slogans Aren’t Enough” focused on Direct Action which involved the presentation of Walmart with the Sweatshop of the year award, and a Beats and Piecez musical art event at Babylon.


“A Social/Environmental report card for consumers: an assessment of proctor & Gamble and Unilever”

The “ Ottawa Tenants Guide” is re-published


Programming highlights:

OPIRG Carleton Hosts the Un-Censoring Mediamorphosis Conference on pulic, democratic and independent media. It featured 35 speakers and was attended by 200 participants


2003 was the first year OPIRG-Carleton Organized Radical Frosh, which involved a weekend of globalization, anti-oppression and radical sex workshops, tours of Ottawa, goody bags, Oxbow Park BBQs and other fun activities! 55 students participated!


Programming highlights:

OPIRG-Carleton launches the evict Admin campaign in response to attempts by the University Administration to evict OPIRG from campus along with other students groups. OPIRG works to build a campus coalition for student space which re-occupies the seized Oliver’s Patio. This leads eventually to a legal battle between CUSA and the CU Administration. 


Levied groups are threatened by an overwhelming loss of revenue from online opt-outs. OPIRG-Carleton, along with CKCU, the charlatan and other levied groups lead a successful referendum campaign making levy fees non-refundable.


Programming highlights:

Anarchist Black Panther Ashanti Alston spoke at Carleton about Struggle Resistance and his time spent with the Zapatistas

OPIRG-Carleton hosts the Eastern Public Interest School “Beyond the Blue Box: Exploring Sustainability”, and conference jam packed with several days of programming!


Re-emergence of OPIRG on CKCU air waves! Monday Morning Rise-UP begins to invigorate sleepy souls with the news reports you don’t hear in the mainstream.


Programming highlights:

OPIRG Carleton Hosts Paul McKay and Keith Stewart to Speak at Carleton “Against a Nuclear Ontario”

Rising Tide North America is hosted at Carleton University by OPIRG-Carleton. They offer interactive workshops on forest defense and the global threat of climate change.


What began as the OPIRG-Carleton Evict Admin campaign concludes in an arrangement between CUSA and the CU administration that a new building will be made specifically for students. Unfortunately this initiative gets lost in the political shuffle.

OPIRG volunteers offer support to the ongoing (even now in 2013!) Six Nations Land Reclamation struggle.


Programming highlights:

Environmentalist and renowned author Derrick Jensen is hosted at Carleton University by OPIRG-Carleton. He mused on “What will it take to stop killing the planet?”

Ward Churchill is once against hosted as an OPIRG-Carleton colloquium speaker. His talk is entitled “Holocaust Denial As Academic Orthodoxy”.


OPIRG Carleton helps, through co-sponsorships to get Exile–Infoshop, a community bookstore and radical space run by a volunteer collective, off the ground.


Programming highlights:

Sherene Razack is hosted by OPIRG-Carleton and speaks about her work, “Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law & Politics”.


Student’s Against Israeli Apartheid hosted the first ever Israeli apartheid Week at Carleton University. This week of educational events about the apartheid regime in Israel/Palestine caused enough of a stir to get the poster banned! Consequently, SAIA received international media attention from this act of censorship on the part of Carleton University, and every event was packed!


Programming highlights:

OPIRG Carleton organizes a panel discussion entitled “Two Spirit and Queer Liberation Movements” featuring Garry Kinsman, Jessica Danforth and Ottawa activists.

Carleton hosted the eastern Public Interest School on “Global Apartheid”. OPIRG activists came from across the province to participate in workshops delivered by people such as Jaggi Singh, Shawn Brandt and many more.


Students Against Israeli Apartheid is the 2nd student group in the world to launch a divestment campaign against their university as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid. They are the also the first to do so in Canada.


Programming highlights:

OPIRG-Carleton organizes Climate Justice Week.

Tools for Change Workshop Series includes anti-oppression and consensus decision-making.


OPIRG-Carleton and the Human Rights department team up to offer practicum placements to students and welcome first two students to the office.

Resource Centre catalogue is reorganized online.

OPIRG-Carleton expands periodical subscriptions for Resource Centre.


Programming highlights:

OPIRG’s Rad Frosh team organizes DisOrientation Week for new and returning students.

OPIRG-Carleton organizes winter cycling workshop.

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs, is hosted as the Fall Colloquium speaker

Co-sponsorship welcomes include David Suzuki, Bonita Lawrence, Thomas King, and Mohammad Mahjoub.

OPIRG-Carleton hosts Idle No More teach-in.

Permaculture Project Ottawa organizes Eastern Ontario Permaculture Convergence.

OPIRG brought in renowned Métis author, artist and community leader Maria Campbell to speak at Carleton University on the subject of Storytelling.


OPIRG-Carleton facilitates anti-oppression training for Carleton teaching assistants.

OPIRG-Carleton helps coordinate safer cycling initiatives on campus.

OPIRG-Carleton helps coordinate launch of community garden outside Leeds Residence.

OPIRG re-emerges on the CKCU air waves as Roots Radio!