top of page
Anti-Racism Sponsorship fund - applications closed! Applications will re-open September 20

Anti-Racism Sponsorship Fund

The fund is empty for the 2023-2024 year! Applications will re-open September 2024!

Apply for up to $250 to support your projects, events, initiatives, research or campaigns that are focused on anti-racism work in the Niagara region. Open from September to August of each year, or until funding is completely used.
Read more about the fund and apply below!

  • 3. How much is given to OPIRG Brock by members each year? (full breakdown)
    Full breakdown: Amounts are based on current 4207 CAs and account for each type of contract. Members amounts will vary depending on their number of contracts and duration of contracts. Members currently paying $0 into OPIRG Brock, but still get to access a membership: Members without active contracts - as long as you are a member-in-good standing, you are able to register as an OPIRG Brock member under the Special Assessment Bylaw Members currently on book-offs Unit 4 members - will start paying into OPIRG Brock upon the ratification and implementation of their first Collective Agreement ** Amounts have a 2023 version and 2024 version due to raises achieved in Collective Bargaining that will come into effect in 2024 and slightly increase the amount OPIRG Brock receives alongside the raises members will be receiving. Unit 1 - Teaching Assistants, Course Coordinators, Lab Demonstrators, & Marker-Graders Teaching Assistants, Course Coordinators, and Lab Demonstrators Undergrad (Part time) - $18.75 in 2023 | $19.31 in 2024 Undergrad (Full time) - $153.43 in 2023 | $158.02 in 2024 Grad (Part time - Students) - $29.51 in 2023 | $30.39 in 2024 Grad (Full time - Career TAs) - $153.43 in 2023 | $158.02 in 2024 Marker-Graders Masters complete - 28.97 in 2023 | 29.84 in 2024 Undergrad complete - 24.97 in 2023 | 25.73 in 2024 Third year complete - 18.44 in 2023 | 18.99 in 2024 Second year complete - 16.21 in 2023 | 16.70 in 2024 First year complete - 15.30 in 2023 | 15.75 in 2024 Unit 1 Instructors Half course (2023) - $18.13 Full course (2023) - $36.27 Half course (2024) - $18.68 Full course (2024) - $36.36 Unit 2 - ESL Coordinators U3 - Full-time (Job Class K) 2023 Step 1 - $122.76 Step 2 - $142.33 Step 3 - $183.96 2024 Step 1 - $152.50 Step 2 - $157.50 Step 3 - $162.50 U3 - Part-time (based on contract payment schedule) 2023 IELP/AELP/ACT - $11.0 PMPB - $14.73 SELP – AHS - $7.96 SELP – BEST - $14.73 SELP – EXP - $3.93 SELP – HOK - $2.32 SELP-ESAC - $5.35 V-ESL - $6.11 V-ESL-N - $6.27 2024 Step 1 - $0.08 /hour Step 2 - $0.09 /hour Step 3 - $0.09 /hour Unit 4 - Nursing Instructors As this unit is still in bargaining for it’s first CA, no funds have been collected for OPIRG Brock
  • 1. How much money in total has gone to OPIRG Brock?
    Two types of funding have gone to OPIRG Brock over the last few years. 1. Special Assessment Funds Funds received through the Special Assessment Bylaw come from individual members and have no impact on the CUPE 4207 budget. The amounts paid to OPIRG through the Special Assessment Bylaw since it began include: 2019-2020 (3 months) - $2,816.67 2020-2021 (12 months) - $33,793 2021-2022 (12 months) - $38,650.43 2022-2023 (12 months) - $36,317.43 2023-2024 (5 months so far) - $20,709.87 2. Donations/ Sponsorships Donations and sponsorships are not guaranteed amounts and have only been discussed and approved when brought as a motion to a GMM or the AGM. Funds that have been approved as donations or sponsorships for projects or initiatives led by OPIRG Brock or in coalition with OPIRG Brock are completely separate from the Assessment Funds and come from CUPE 4207's annual budgets specifically dedicated to political action and proposed and approved by a member at a GMM or the AGM. $10,000 donation at the 2019 AGM - 4207 members approved a donation with the suggestion/ condition that if OPIRG Brock returned to present at AGM in 2020 to outline how the funds had been used, a discussion of a Special Assessment could be raised. As such a motion was approved for a one-time $10,000 donation, which was approved by the membership. $10,000 donation at the 2020 AGM - A member raised the point that ahead of the Special Assessment being implemented because it had to approved by CUPE National, OPIRG would need funds. As such a motion was approved for a one-time $10,000 donation, which was approved by the membership. No donations or sponsorship amounts were brought as motions by members in 2021 $10,000 sponsorship at the 2022 GMM - Following the CUPE Ontario Convention approving the OPIRG Membership Engagement Book-off position, but not the sponsorship needed for the development of the Niagara Skills Network, a member brought a motion to cover a large portion of the budget for this project for the year ahead. As such a motion was approved for a one-time $10,000 sponsorship, which was approved by the membership. $6,000 sponsorship at the April 2023 GMM - In order to support the expansion of the Niagara Free Store and the continuation of events like the Titillating Talks Speakers Series (via the Niagara Skills Network), in 2023, OPIRG Brock ran a few different sponsorship drives. As such a motion was approved for a one-time $10,000 sponsorship, which was approved by the membership with $4000 not going to OPIRG Brock, but Justice for Workers Niagara for May Day and other labour related initiatives. Other projects 4207 has sponsored that OPIRG Brock has been on the organizing team for: $250 sponsorship in summer 2022 - There was a public callout for supplies for making signs and banners for International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). As such a motion was approved for a one-time $250 sponsorship, which was approved by the membership. $6,000 sponsorship at the April 2023 GMM - Justice for Workers Niagara for May Day and other labour related initiatives. J4W-N funds are managed by OPIRG Brock because of their organizational status, so funds were included within the request listed above.
  • 2. How much is given to OPIRG Brock by members each year? (summary version)
    Summary Version: Based on the current Collective Agreements and the general membership make up of 4207 at this time, the following amounts are paid by these types of 4207 members working an average set of contracts each year: Unit 1, 2, & 3 members without an active contract or on book-off - $0 per year Unit 4 members - $0 per year until Collective Agreement is ratified Unit 1 Part-time Undergrad TAs, Course Coordinators, & Lab Demonstrators - $18.75 (2023) | $19.31 (2024) Unit 1 Full-time Undergrad TAs, Course Coordinators, & Lab Demonstrators - $153.43 (2023) | $158.02 (2024) Unit 1 Part-time Graduate Student TAs, Course Coordinators, & Lab Demonstrators - $29.51 (2023) | $30.39 (2024) Unit 1 Career/ Full-time Graduate Student TAs, Course Coordinators, & Lab Demonstrators - $153.43 (2023) | $158.02 (2024) Unit 1 Marker-Graders with Masters degree complete - $28.97 (2023) | $29.84 (2024) Unit 1 Marker-Graders with Undergraduate degree complete - $24.97 (2023) | $25.73 (2024) Unit 1 Marker-Graders with third year complete - $18.44 (2023) | $18.99 (2024) Unit 1 Marker-Graders with second year complete - $16.21 (2023) | $16.70 (2024) Unit 1 Marker-Graders with first year complete - $15.30 (2023) | $15.75 (2024) Unit 1 Instructors (Half course) - $18.13 (2023) | $18.68 (2024) Unit 1 Instructors (Full course) - $36.27 (2023) | $36.36 (2024) Unit 2 - ESL Coordinators (Job Group L) - $139.16-$211.36 (2023) | $143.34-$217.70 (2024) Unit 3 Full-time ESL Instructors (Job Class K) - $122.76-$183.96 (2023) | $152.50-$162.50 (2024) Unit 3 Part-time ESL Instructors - $2.32-$14.73 (2023) | $0.08-$0.09 per hour (2024)
  • 5. What efforts are being made to get funds from other unions and sources?
    OPIRG Provincial Network Led by OPIRG Brock, starting this year, the OPIRG Provincial Network has implemented the Chapter Support Fund, which is an additional support fund paid into by all PIRG chapters, and is focused on PIRGs with lower budgets or who have been defunded being able to access additional funds in order to expand, or support in crisis situations. This has resulted in OPIRG Brock gaining access to an additional funds to help cover costs of operations, the Niagara Free Store, and their Anti-Racism Sponsorship Fund. As the OPIRG chapter with the lowest annual revenue (as all of chapters have undergraduate levies, and some have graduate levies), OPIRG Brock qualifies for an annual Equalization payment, dependent on the various OPIRG Provincial financial policies and processes In 2022-2023 - OPIRG Provincial added a health plan supplement upon the recommendation of OPIRG Brock to support all PIRGs with lower budgets who wanted to ensure an increase in health coverage across the entire network. OPIRG Brock receives this top-up fund. Non-4207 OPIRG BRock memberships All of the non-4207 members of OPIRG Brock (student, community, and organizational members) have the option of a $0-$20 recommended annual membership fee This year we have seen a significant increase in registered members, which has increased our overall revenue from memberships. Non-4207 members have the following options for paying their membership fee: E-transfer, Paypal, Cash, Cheque, or by signing up for the OPIRG Brock Patreon Patreon, Crowdsourcing, & Sustainerships Updated in 2023, OPIRG Brock has been active in expanding it's Patreon account, which has led to a substantial increase in Patrons and increased funds for specific initiates, as well as operational funding. Also because of the Patreon overhaul, the team was able to remove the Action Group fee structures for the smaller community activists collectives they support (J4W-N, NRJ, NTU, + Willow Arts Community) and create a monthly platform for those groups to also receive monthly donations. The OPIRG Brock team has also pursued using FlipGive and Give Me a Ko-fi as crowdsourcing platforms in the past Contracts, Consulting, & Grants Contracts and grants completed in 2022-2023: Willow Arts Community Zine Positive Living Niagara - staff training Suitcase In Point - Niagara Free Store at In the Soil OUTniagara - WAGE funding for the Titillating Talks Speakers Series Harm Reduction Forum - Workshop/ presentation fee Niagara Falls Community Health Centre - Workshop/ presentation fee Sponsorships, donations + fundraising items Through fundraising campaigns for specific projects, in 2022-2023, the following sponsorships and donations were received: May Day 2023 - NRLC, NDCC, ATU 846, CUPE 1263, CUPE 4207 ($4000), UNIFOR 199, Brock Labour Studies Department, Ontario Federation of Labour. Also, after 2 successful May Days, the NDCC has approved an annual May Day fund associated with funds brought in through their educationals Niagara Free Store - Brock Departments - SJES, Brock Women & Gender Studies, CUPE 4207 ($3000) Funding for activism events and initiatives - LSPIRG, Positive Living Niagara, Various private donations from individuals and community groups, CUPE 4207 ($3000) IOAD 2023 (this project was in partnership with a coalition, and fundraising was worked on by Positive Living Niagara) We have hosted a range of events and fundraiser markets, as well as developed fundraising items, like the Annual Activist Pet Calendar and the Activist Grab Bags as a means of fundraising over the last couple years. These initiatives are on pause while our team pursue larger and more sustained funding options. Outstanding/ ongoing fundraising initiatives We also have an outstanding proposal to CUPE ON and CUPE 1281 to support the PIRG network forward in establishing an OPIRG Membership Engagement Book-off, which includes creating a toolkit on building the relationship between PIRGs and labour local. This long term, not only helps OPIRG Brock with increasing our sustained funding from other unions, but all of the other PIRGs as well. We added a union outreach placement student project in partnership with Soc/Crim in order to foster relationships between other locals, OPIRG Brock, and Justice for Workers Niagara which in the long run aims to create a system similar to the 4207-OPIRG Special Assessment Bylaw with other unions. Through our Experiential Education partnerships, we are pursuing larger and sustained amounts from with the following departments: Public Health and Sociology/ Criminology. We will continue to run sponsorship drives in the 2023-2024 fiscal year.
  • 6. What are other PIRGs annual budgets vs. OPIRG Brock's annual budget?
    There are currently 11 PIRGs in Ontario, and more across Canada and the US. For the sake of this questions, we will focus on the Ontario PIRGs which are the most connected to and comparable to OPIRG Brock. The other PIRGs budgets work like this, as compared to the OPIRG Brock budget: PIRG budgets in Ontario range from approximately $40,000 per year to over $200,000 per year Most PIRGs receive an undergraduate levy (annual payment from each student) through the undergraduate student union, and many of them receive a a graduate student levy as well. OPIRG Brock has the lowest annual budget as our budget is made up of savings from fundraising in the year before, two financial support funds we receive through the OPIRG Provincial network, and the Special Assessment Bylaw funds Before OPIRG Brock was defunded by a multi-year conservative attack in 2018, the average budget was $120,000 per year. This funding had been in place and based on the numbers of students at Brock since 1988. Agreements between the university and student unions have stopped and/or limited the ability to run student union related referendums to regain funding that way. OPIRG Brock's $120,000 annual budget allowed for 2 full time unionized staff. a part time bookkeeper, extensive programming all year, support budgets for 5-8 different grassroots activist Action Groups, an activist infoshop and/or an on-campus office & hub (on and off in different stretches of time), and full operations costs related to running a non-profit. On the $40,000 budget (and many non-paid volunteer hours and in-kind donations/ supports), the OPIRG Brock team has 1 unionized staff at 12.5 hours per week, a part time bookkeeper, a small office for meetings at Brock, 50+ campus and community partnerships to of offer programming all year, storage for the Niagara Free Store, the Anti-Racism Sponsorship Fund (with the ability to sponsor 5-6 $250 mini grants per year), and most of the operations costs related to running a non-profit. Not being funded through a student union managed levy has allowed OPIRG Brock and CUPE 4207 to become leaders amongst community and labour activists across the country. This has shown that even with ongoing attacks on community activism and unions, we can work together to ensure longterm solidarity and abundance.
  • 4. Why do some CUPE 4207 members pay $0 per year, some pay around $30 per year, and some can pay over $200 per year?
    Financial Equity. The Special Assessment Bylaws is set up with a percentage (0.25% of your paycheque) to accounts for the fact that across all of the units, 4207 members are making very different incomes and have very different jobs. We know that a grad student can't necessarily take on as many contracts in order to also complete their studies, so the amount they pay into OPIRG accounts for that. We know that CUPE 4207 members without an active contract, but still consider a member-in-good standing, are receiving no income from Brock still have access to the benefits of the union. This works under the same processes as 4207 union dues and seniority rights.
  • Where and when can I find the Niagara Free Store?
    Niagara Free Store - this community mutual aid project takes items folks are not using and gives them back out for free! Can members volunteer with the Niagara Free Store? Yes! Email with the subject line “Inquiry: Volunteering with the Niagara Free Store” How do members drop off donations? Current: Fine Grind Cafe, Free Store events, and through direct communications with the Niagara Free Store team Working on reinstituting the GSA and MIWSFPA drop offs; and with the bin the 4207 lounge How can folks access items from the free store? Niagara Free Store events - Aug 23 at ____, Oct 15 at Queenston Neighbours Harvest Festival Contact for direct inquiries to the Niagara Free Store team What is upcoming for the Niagara Free Store? Working on doing a “Men’s jeans drives” with two local libraries (Niagara Falls & NOTL) We have been working with NACCO out of Chrispy African Market in Niagara Falls on continued support with refugees in NIagara! Currently working on a more permanent partnership with Value Village to access Long term goal - permanent Free Store space in downtown St. Catharines!
  • What are the ongoing projects members can engage in!
    Additional projects + partnerships you can participate in today! Niagara Free Store Anti-Racism Sponsorship Fund Niagara Reproductive Justice Justice for Workers-Niagara Community Fridge Niagara Niagara District CUPE Council Committees Upcoming events we would love to see you at International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) Labour Day Workers Gathering + May Day Planning Event - Monday September 4th in Montebello Park Graduate Student Association (GSA) Orientation Climate Rally Migrant Workers Rally OFL Rally in Toronto OPIRG Brock Publications The DisOrientation Guide to Niagara V. 2. The DisOrientation Guide to Niagara V.1. The Coming Out Monologues V. 2 Coming Soon - even more updates and opportunities for 4207 members to connect with OPIRG! 4207 + OPIRG member showcase! OPIRG-4207 2023 recipe exchange OPIRG-4207 2023 Playlist OPIRG Brock Activism Field Trip List! Weekly community activism spaces & postering
  • What has OPIRG Brock done to further the labour movement in Niagara?
    Participating in building up the May Day Coalition Building up Justice for Workers Niagara We also have an outstanding proposal to CUPE ON and CUPE 1281 to support the PIRG network forward in establishing an OPIRG Membership Engagement Book-off, which includes creating a toolkit on building the relationship between PIRGs and all We added a union outreach placement student project in partnership with Soc/Crim in order to foster relationships between other locals, OPIRG Brock, and Justice for Workers Niagara Participation on the NDCC for over a year as the CUPE 1281, specially the Communications Committee Specifically ensured a labour-specific event was included within the TItillating Talks series, which was connected to May Day Week 2023, and connected: Brock Labour Studies, CUPE 2977, CUPE 911, OPSEU retiree, MWAC (along with all of the Titillating Talks partners) Working with MWAC on various ways to show up for migrant workers in Niagara
  • Who are OPIRG Brock’s current partners?
    Niagara Free Store: Queenston Neighbours, Suitcase In Point, NACCO, St. Catharines Downtown Association, MWAC, Migrant Workers Hub Titillating Talks (NSN Community Toolbox): NOTL Public Library, Positive Living Niagara, Brock GSA, OUTniagara, Kerry Sutra, NRJ NTAC: Transgender Niagara, Positive Living Niagara, OUTniagara, PFLAG Niagara, Quest, NFCHC, NRJ, Brock SJC Migrant Workers Support: MWAC, Positive Living Niagara May Day: Justice for Workers Niagara, CUPE 4207, NDCC, NRLC, MWAC, ATU 846 Placement Students at Brock: Public Health, Geography & Tourism, Sociology/Criminology, Communications, Film Studies, & Popular Culture Harm Reduction at Brock: Brock Public Health Curriculum Committee & Department, HLSC 4P40, Positive Living Niagara, IOAD: Positive Living Niagara, Silver Spire, CASON, Willow Arts Community Brock First Generation Program Action Groups: Justice for Workers Niagara, Niagara Reproductive Justice, Niagara Tenants Union, Willow Arts Community Community Groups we promote: Community Fridge Niagara, Rad Snax, OUTniagara, PFLAG Niagara, BIPOC Caucus, Brock GSA Marshaling supports: Corners’ Crew Running Group, Glowriders (coming soon),
  • Requirements of Successful Applicants
    Reply to “you have been successful” confirmation email within two (2) weeks of receipt. If you do not reply within two (2) weeks, the allocated funding will return to the fund for another application Provide legal name and address for the funding cheque. The legal name must match the bank account name that the cheque will be deposited into. Cash the funding cheque within six months of receipt. Cheques cannot be cashed after the six month marker. If a cheque is not cashed, the applicant will have to contact the OPIRG Brock team to have the cheque re-issued and re-mailed. If a cheque has to be re-issued more than once, the payment will be void. Follow up with OPIRG Brock on the request for a testimonial if so indicated on the form. If you indicated that you will be using the OPIRG Brock or logo in your promotional materials, please indicate so on the form and provide digital copies of those materials to OPIRG Brock.
  • Our processes upon receiving applications
    Upon receiving applications and a budget outline, applications will be reviewed by the OPIRG Brock Board of Directors and Staff to determine whether or not funding requirements are met as outlined above. Applications will be followed up with by the Board of Directors within 2 weeks, with an approval, denial, or a request for more information/clarification. If an application needs further consideration from the Board that will exceed this time frame, applicants will be contacted with a request for more time to come to a decision. Follow up emails to successful applicants will outline their next steps, as stated below under "Requirements of successful applicants".
  • What does/doesn't qualify for funding?
    Activities that qualify for funding: The primary goal/objective for which you are requesting funds must take place within the fiscal period of that year (September-August) Speaker, facilitator, and artist honorariums Accessibility measures for events or meetings including but not limited to: dependent care, transit tickets, food for events Anti-racism policy and action plan development funding Printing costs related to your project Supplies for migrant workers Supplies for supporting communities of Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour, racialized people, melanated people, and people of the global majority Additional activities listed on applications will be subject to the discretion of the OPIRG Brock Board of Directors. Activities that do not qualify for funding: Projects that do not outline a connection to anti-racism work and/or communities of Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour, racialized people, melanated people, and people of the global majority Voluntourism - Voluntourism is when someone travels to a community far away to volunteer and they benefit from the experience more than those they seek to help. Projects taking place outside of the Niagara region (some exceptions can be made for this for folks local to Niagara traveling to an event) Funding an employee or contractor already being paid by your organization Reimbursement for an expense that has already passed (some exceptions can be made for this subject to discretion of the Board) If you have any questions, please email with “Anti-Racism Sponsorship Fund Question" in the subject line.
  • Eligibility Requirements
    All students and community members primarily residing, working, or going to school in the Niagara Region are welcome to apply. Individuals and organizations can apply for funding, but cannot submit multiple applications for the same project or event. Projects must fall within the fiscal year in which you are applying (fiscal year runs from September 1 - August 31).
  • Applicants that will be prioritized for funding
    Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour, racialized people, melanated people, and people of the global majority (as individuals) Campus clubs and community groups led by Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour, racialized people, melanated people, and people of the global majority Small community groups and organizations with annual budgets under $10,000 Campus clubs and community groups that outline their commitments and action plan for anti-racism Application from individuals or groups who have not applied before All applications that do not fall within the groups listed above will be discussed and considered by the OPIRG Brock Board of Directors.
  • How do I submit my application budget?
    Once you submit the Anti-Racism Sponsorship Fund Application, please email your budget to You can use this budget template (click the doc below to download a .doc version of the template). Alternatively, you can submit your own budget template, as long as it outlines the same information. The reason we ask for the budget and your other sources of funding is to ensure that the projects we are supporting meeting the guidelines and priorities of this fund, as well as the OPIRG Brock Safer Space Policy. This process also allows our team a more complete understanding of your application, as well as the community partners and sponsors for this event. Please complete as many sections as possible.
  • How does the NSN address oppression?
    With the NSN, organizations work together to address the effects of colonialism, racism and capitalism. In addition, the NSN advocates for skill-sharing and infrastructure that allows for a transfer of power from status-quo organizations to radically progressive organizations that are typically excluded.
  • What are the values of the NSN?
    The NSN is based on social, economic and environmental justice and aims to identify challenge, and address oppressive structures that limits our ability to build relationships, solidarity, and capacity across the Niagara region. It is a multi-faceted approach that also involves web development and networking opportunities. The NSN is rooted in the OPIRG’s statement “good people will know good people doing good things”.
  • This sounds like other organizations, what makes it different?"
    Other directories such as 211 Niagara are available to connect the community to resources and services. The NSN is the only resource that allows cross-sector capacity building across all four sectors: activists, artists, social/cultural workers and labour folks. The NSN also emphasizes interpersonal relationships where individuals are familiar with the people they are connecting with. Finally, the NSN allows for youth involvement in web development, graphic design and grant writing.
  • What is NSN hoping to achieve?
    The NSN is hoping to become a space that advocates for community change and prioritizes resource creation for those who are continually excluded in the community. The NSN aims to continue the community toolbox series, recruit new organizations, create and maintain innovative databases, develop web infrastructure, and develop a new innovative employment program.
  • Has something like the NSN existed before?
    There are many partnerships across the sectors. However, the NSN is an innovative resource that integrates these partnerships into a single network.
  • How does NSN benefit students?
    The NSN aims to empower students and raise awareness about issues and services in the community. This allows students to get connected in their region and explore many of the different clubs and campus groups available. There are volunteer opportunities available for students to utilize their skills by maintaining research, participating in events, and participating in the communications and grants committees for the NSN. In addition, students have the opportunity to network and increase training on social justice issues.
  • Why was the NSN created & who built it?
    The NSN was created to address and break down the barriers between the four different sectors to limit gaps in the Niagara community where This allows the sectors canto work together to engage in discussions, skill-sharing, promotion, and support, to have the greatest impact on community capacity.
  • What is the Niagara Skills Network (NSN)?
    The NSN is a region-wide network connecting individuals and groups in the community to collaborative resources, skill-sharing, promotion and support across all four social sectors. It is the only resource in the region that connects activist groups and grassroots organizations, labour unions, social and cultural services, and a community of independent artists and arts organizations.
  • Can anyone join the NSN?
    The NSN encourages anyone who is passionate about social justice issues and community change to join. Organizations and individuals that support oppression are not allowed to join the NSN. Activist groups/individuals, grassroot organizations, labour units, frontline social and cultural services and community independent artists and arts organizations are encouraged to join. As the NSN expands, other sectors are also encouraged to join.
  • How is the Niagara Free Store different from Community Care or other similar organizations?
    The Niagara Free Store is a mutual aid project, which means that it operates within a framework of community members helping each other, not the top-down approach that is common with charities. Ideally, everybody would be involved in a continuous exchange of clothes, household items, food, so that everybody would have what they need and nobody would go without. The Niagara Free Store doesn’t require anybody to prove that they are “in need” or “deserve” any of the items we are giving away, and everybody is encouraged to donate the things that they no longer need.
  • What are the values behind the Niagara Free Store?
    The values and beliefs of the Free Store are to: - Challenge the view that for something to be worthy it needs to have a price attached to it; - Create a no barrier option for folks being able to acquire things they want and need; - Host a non-charity option for mutual aid that showcase the importance of financial accessibility in our events and cities; - Present an alternative that challenges our patterns and beliefs about “need to buy more” and wasteful consumerism.
  • Okay, sure, but someone must be paying for this, right?
    The Niagara Free Store is financially supported by OPIRG Brock as well as donations from community members, sponsors and partners. There is currently no permanent space for the Free Store, but it is one of our main financial goals, as well as being able to support the organization, planning, and staffing of the Free Store! If you or your organization can support us in any of these goals, including obtaining a permanent space for the Free Store or storage in Downtown St. Catharines, we would love to talk about a partnership! You can reach out to us by emailing
  • What is the Niagara Free Store?
    The Free Store was created in spring 2018 for local open-street festival In The Soil, in order to provide a free, useful, sustainable, and accessible option. Its popularity encouraged us to continue hosting the Free Store in conjunction with other events downtown! In 2022, we hosted 18 Free Stores throughout the summer in collaboration with the James St. Market Series. The Free Store takes things that people no longer want (such furniture, housewares, clothing and accessories, sports gear, books, and school supplies) and passes them along -- at no cost and with no questions asked -- to people who have a use for them. The Free Store is dedicated to providing for the needs of the community (both the student population and Niagara residents) in a manner that promotes sustainability, connection, skill- and resource-sharing, and alternatives to capitalism.
  • Is the Niagara Free Store really free?
    Yes - everything is free, no questions asked! We operate on the basis of generous donations from the community. No identification or proof of need is required to take from the Free Store!
  • What services are available in Niagara for folks who use substances?
    See the column to the right for services and organizations in Niagara working on these issues!
  • What is Harm Reduction?
    Harm Reduction is a framework that focuses on developing programs and policies to reduce the risks associated with substance use.These associated harms include infection, disease or death. By implementing these programs and services it promotes healthy populations. ​ "Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs." (Source: PRINCIPLES OF HARM REDUCTION, Harm Reduction Coalition) ​ Most commonly, harm reduction is associated with folks who use substances, and while this is common, all people practice harm reduction in multiple ways every day. Seat belts are a good example - we know driving comes with a level of risk, and so we use seat belts to help minimize the danger associated with driving.
  • What is available at Brock University for students who care about harm reduction?
    For Public Health Students These two courses provide education regarding Harm reduction and stigma around it: HLSC 3P25: Mental Health and Addictions by Dr. Pauli Gardner HLSC 4P40: Public Health Capstones by Dr. Anthony Chum HLSC 4P40 offers practicum placements with the community partners like OPIRG Brock and Positive Living Niagara, where individuals could get more information and hand-on experience towards harm reduction. For general Brock population For all the Brock students, staff and faculty members; The Hub located in Marketplace provides Narcan/Naloxone Training from Positive Living Niagara. The training is offered once every month and interested individuals can register through Experience BU. All Brock students have access to resources, events, and workshops offered available through OPIRG Brock.
  • How does harm reduction relate to mutual aid?
    Dean Spade, a trans activist, writer and academic, defines mutual aid as “a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on representatives, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.” ​ Keeping this definition in mind, harm reduction is also a part of mutual aid. Community partners like OPIRG Brock, Positive Living Niagara and many more organizations that are available in the community, all aim to support the people. These community organizations always aim for caring for those people who are in need. And therefore, harm reduction is linked to mutual aid.
  • What about all the needles in parks - aren't those an issue for the general population's safety?
    Needle stick injuries from sharps left in public are rare, and transmission of disease from such injuries are even more rare. In such extreme cases, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a readily available healthcare measure that can neutralize long term harm to an individual. In contrast, HIV and Hep C from lack of new harm reduction supplies can cause widespread suffering, death, and undue burden on the healthcare system. While needles found in public are unsightly and should be minimized. ​ This perspective on ham reduction supplies, specifically needles left in public, are a lightning rod for fearmongering, NIMBYism, and dehumanizing, stigmatizing attacks on people who are homeless, people who use drugs, and the vital services they rely on. While we would love to live in a city without litter, we care more about the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in the community. Sadly, the stigma surrounding sharps (needles)* in public often boils down to people being afraid of others who use drugs, and not wanting a visual reminder that we live in a society with such devastating poverty and alienation.
  • In addition to getting trained in Naloxone/ narcan, what else can I do to help?
    Get trained in harm reduction and Naloxone Carry a naloxone kit (pro-tip: wear a button that says "I carry Naloxone") Ask if your workplace has harm reduction built into their health and safety policies & if not, advocate that they be added Set up a harm reduction and Naloxone training at your workplace, volunteering locations, and community groups Ask businesses you frequent if they have Naloxone onsite and if staff are trained in harm reduction and Naloxone Challenge friends, family, and classmates when they use stereotyping language and/or perpetuate stigma Collect sharps with friends around community and put them in a sharps container Volunteer with Positive Living Niagara
  • Don't harm reduction services enable drug use in our communities?
    The availability of Harm reduction programs does not cause people to begin using substances. Also, a lack of services does not mean there is a lack of demand. People who always use substances, and harm reduction based programs allow for access to new supplies and locations where the chance of death caused by overdosing is significantly reduced or other health risks are significantly reduced.
  • I hear that Niagara is part of the "opioid epidemic/ crisis" - what does that mean?
    "Illegal drugs and problematic drug or substance use are not new in Canada. However, the opioid crisis has brought to light the devastating effects opioids are having on individuals, families and communities across Canada. Since 2016, there have been more than 9,000 apparent opioid related deaths. In 2017, approximately 11 lives were lost each day because of opioid overdoses. Many others have been hospitalized because of an opioid overdose." (Source: ​ Resource Sheet: Canada’s Opioid Crisis ​ "From January to November 2021, there were 926 suspected opioid overdoses that have been responded to by EMS​. This is approximately 84 responses per month." (Source: Opioid Usage - Statistics in Niagara (Niagara Region) ) ​ "Niagara continues to rank near the top of a list it doesn’t want to be on, at all. “In terms of number of opioid overdose deaths from June 2020 to May 2021, we appear to be the second in the province based on hard numbers,” said Talia Storm, director of Positive Living Niagara’s StreetWorks Harm Reduction Services." (Source: ‘Terrifying’ statistics continue for Niagara opioid crisis, St. Catharines Standard, Oct 2021)
  • Why should I care about harm reduction?
    All Brock students, staff, faculty and community members practice in Harm Reduction everyday (e.g., seatbelts, coffee shops, substances, etc.,). In 2019, it was reported that 57% of Brock students used substance daily. Increased access to harm reduction info will help reduce stigma for these students. (Source: Reported marijuana use 'higher' at Canadian universities in 2019: Survey, Maclean's). ​ Across the Niagara region, there is an increasing rate of opioid overdoses every year, which means our community needs harm reduction approaches to support them every day.
  • What is available for students at Brock University who use substances?
    Sharps containers are located in almost all washrooms around the campus (main and downtown) for students who ned to dispose of these items. Personal counselling services are available for all Brock students through Student health and Wellness.
  • How do I dispose of a needle I find in public?
    There are a variety of reasons you might find a needle in public, & there is a very easy & safe way for you to dispose of it! Find a container that is safe for sharps. This would be ideally be a sharps container, but if you don't have one, any container that is resealable, puncture-proof, and is made of thick plastic/ metal (e.g. coffee can, water bottle, etc.). Safely pick up the needle. You can do this using tongs or gloves, or only grabbing the barrel of the needle. Never grab it by the tip or try to recap the needle. Put the needle TIP DOWN into the container. Make sure you cannot prick yourself in this process. Label the container with marker if not already labelled. Bring the container to a safe disposal site & their staff can permanently dispose of it. Positive Living Niagara (120 Queenston St., St Catharines) is one of our key disposal sites. There are also many public disposal containers in locations like public washrooms. Advocating for more disposal bins in the region will help with the ease of disposing of needles when you find them. ​ Pro-tip - You can also support those impacted by the stigma around needing to use needles by sharing these steps with your communities and by getting trained in harm reduction & Naloxone. To get trained and get a Naloxone kit, please email
  • Practice Consent
    Respect the boundaries and autonomy of others. E.g., Ask for consent before touching anyone. Accept ‘no’ for an answer. Do not pressure others to engage in behaviours that they are not comfortable with.
  • Gender Liberation
    We believe in a world where all people have control over their own bodies. This includes the ability to self-prescribe abortion, estrogen, testosterone, and birth control and access these resources for free. We do not believe in gender policing, including any form of transmedicalism, trans-exclusionary radical feminism, or transphobia, and are committed to these forms of discrimination and judgement within our activism, events, team education, and community partnerships.
  • Safer Space Standards
    All individuals attending OPIRG Brock events must help to maintain a safer space by managing their own behaviour including but not limited to complying with the following guidelines. There is a collective understanding that all people are in ongoing self-education processes on many of these issues and have the ability to be challenged and learn from mistakes and causing harm. However, working under a model of multi-step transformative justice that allows for recovery and repair means that the emotional and physical safety needs of those harmed will be prioritized as a means of preventing and/ or minimizing harm.
  • No Sexism
    Show respect for individuals or all gender identities and all gender expressions. E.g., Don’t use words such as ‘slut’ or ‘bitch’ (unless you are using it as a reclaimed word to describe yourself). Remember that people of all genders can perform all tasks. Remember that there is nothing wrong with a person of any sex being ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine.’
  • Understanding of Allyship
    Understanding of the fluid nature of allyship, not a self-determined noun but a verb that can be assigned by a community and is not constant.
  • Collective Care & Boundaries
    We aspire to create organizing environments where people can talk about, address, and incorporate our organizing team's needs, boundaries, scheduling commitments, and concerns. Some people’s needs and schedules may come in conflict with others, and it is through discussion that we can best find a solution that works for everyone.
  • Harm Reduction
    We believe in a harm reduction approach to substance use, which means that an abstinence only approach is not . We therefore strive to make our organization, events, and campaigns accessible and safe for people who use substances
  • No Homophobia
    Show respect for individuals of all sexual orientations. E.g., don’t use the word ‘gay’ as an insult or use gay, queerphobic, biphobic, or panphobic slurs
  • Transformative Justice Approach
    There is a collective understanding that all people are in ongoing self-education processes on many of these issues and have the ability to be challenged and learn from mistakes and causing harm. However, working under a model of multi-step transformative justice that allows for recovery and repair means that the emotional and physical safety needs of those harmed will be prioritized as a means of preventing and/ or minimizing harm. Depending on the needs of those impacted and through our policy applications, we are committed to using the call-ins, call-ons, and call-outs, as a means of team education and collective liberation, when applicable and safe to do so
  • Sex Work Solidarity
    In all of our activism, events, team education, and community partnerships, we must be respecting and supporting the fact that wex work is real work. OPIRG Brock calls for the full decriminalization of sex work as well as rights, safety, and respect for all sex workers. All types of labour under capitalism, including sex work, is the selling of one’s skills, knowledge, and body.
  • Understanding of Anti-Oppression
    Have background in anti-oppression and anti-racism training or must plan to attend such trainings as they are offered by community groups in conjunction with OPIRG Brock.
  • No Ableism
    Show respect for individuals of all abilities and disabilities. E.g., do not assume what abilities a person has or does not have. Remember that not all disabilities are visible.
  • Challenging Racism
    In all of our activism, events, team education, and community partnerships, we must be prioritizing the fact that anti-Black racism has deep colonial roots that continue to permeate our interactions, community spaces, and activism. We must be cognizant and combat how Anti-Black racism results in increased cultural appropriation, exclusion, erasure, stereotyping, targeting, gaslighting, violence, murder, and genocide for Black people and communities. We must also be vigilant on how centuries of anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism inform and perpetuate discrimination against other people of colour, and be vigilant about addressing these systemic issues at a personal, interpersonal, and structural level.
  • No Racism
    Show respect for individuals of all races. Do not fetishize, dismiss or isolate people of colour. E.g., do not use racial slurs or stereotypes.
  • Reproductive Justice Framework
    In all of our activism, events, team education, and community partnerships, we must be pushing pro-choice politics and narratives that work for reproductive justice. Our work must align with the values that ensure that, as well as having access to abortion, everyone has the right to have children under the conditions they want to have them and raise them in a safe and healthy environment. This means that reproductive justice is deeply connected to other forms of justice, including decolonization, racial justice, prison and police abolition, immigrant justice, environmental justice, economic justice, disability justice, among many others.
  • Intersectional Approach
    One means of committing to challenging racism in our practices is shifts which voices and experiences we feature and prioritize for positions of leadership, governance, and programming. We must be moving in a direction where our work prioritizes the voices, experiences, and initiatives from Indigenous peoples, Black peoples, Peoples of Colour (BIPOC). Taking an intersectional approach and thinking about how compounding experiences of oppression can increase exclusion, we must also look at prioritizing peoples with various gender expressions, presentations and identities, peoples with various sexual orientations, disabled peoples/peoples with disabilities (visible and invisible), peoples navigating mental health concerns (diagnosed and undiagnosed), addiction(s), and/or navigating recovery processes, peoples with no and/or precarious immigration status, survivors of/peoples with experiences of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, emotional abuse, ritual abuse, or physical abuse, poor people/low-income peoples, peoples with no and/or precarious housing, sex workers, peoples who use drugs, incarcerated peoples and peoples with criminal records, pregnant peoples, parents, and caregivers, fat peoples, peoples across age cohorts, and peoples from a wide range of cultural and faith backgrounds.
  • Indigenous Solidarity
    In all of our activism, events, team education, and community partnerships, we must be prioritizing voices and priorities of Indigenous people, as the historical and still ongoing colonization of the region is foundational to the oppressive settler state of Canada from which all injustices unfold. In practice, this means listening and responding to Indigenous led calls to action locally, provincially, nationally, and globally.
  • Understanding of Power Privilege
    Acknowledge the deeply pervasive nature of white supremacist, cis, ableist, patriarchal and capitalist society – through exposure to both theory and community organizing, as well as lived experiences.
  • Acknowledge Colonialism
    Recognize that the land we currently organize on has been colonized (forcibly taken) from the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. Recognize that the violence of colonization is not confined to solitary events, but is an ongoing process that continues to impact Indigenous peoples. For example, Indigenous people and cultures face a continued push for erasure and assimilation and we challenge the Canadian nationalism that reinforces the celebration of colonization.
  • Supporting Survivors of Violence
    Through our policies and practices, we believe in and support the safety needs and voices of survivors of violence, including, but not limited to, intimate partner violence, gender based violence, and state violence. If a safety need or consideration is brought forward, it will be handled in accordance with the processes outlined in this process, and kept confidential to those whom it concerns. If the person with the concern chooses to file an OPIRG Brock Incident Report to the OPIRG Brock Accountability Committee, they can choose to do this.
  • Disability and Accessiblity
    We strive to make our organization, events, and campaigns as accessible as possible to all types of disabilities, mental health diagnoses, mental illnesses, and experiences of trauma. Increasing accessibility for disabled and non-disabled folks requires that we meaningfully examine the following elements in our organizing: ● Physical spaces (e.g. entry/exit, navigation, washrooms, access to water) ● Signage ● Languages/ translations options ● Providing food and water ● Sensory environment (e.g. flashing lights, loud noises) ● Ensuring access to a sharps container and narcan/ Naloxone ● Presence of security ● Options for a quiet environment, if needed ● Option of mental health supports, if needed ● Proximity to public transit ● Providing childcare/caretaking ● Timing (start time & end time) and dates of events In doing social, economic, and environmental justice work, we cover a wide range of topics that can be triggering. Within meeting spaces, we encourage people for both their mental and physical needs to take breaks, stand up, and move around as needed. However, in doing this, we ask that you keep in mind this can be distracting and come in conflict with other people’s needs, and to be as respectful of this as possible.
  • No Transphobia
    Show respect for individuals of all gender identities, gender expressions, and gender performances. E.g. don’t use words such as ‘tranny’ and ‘trans’ or use transphobic or gender-based slurs (unless using it as a reclaimed word to describe yourself).
  • No Classism
    Show respect for individuals of all classes. E.g., be mindful of your class privilege and do not assume resources that are accessible to you are accessible to everyone.

Last updated: February 2024

bottom of page