With such a vast number of working groups that cover topics ranging from anti-oppression to food security, OPIRG McMaster offers students a great variety of opportunities to volunteer for causes they believe in. Through their work with these groups, such as Fossil Free McMaster and McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance (MISCA), many individuals here at McMaster have been able to put in valuable time for the betterment of the Hamilton society.
This will be a Volunteer Profile series, with interviews conducted with many of our valued volunteers. The purpose of this series is to allow the readers to not only learn about the various working groups associated with OPIRG McMaster and about OPIRG McMaster itself, but to also use the volunteers’ experiences and advice as a way of gauging their own interests, and perhaps even joining OPIRG in the process.
The first interview is about MISCA, a working group that focuses on raising awareness of Indigenous Peoples within Canada and the community here at McMaster University. Their focus on the struggles of Indigenous nations at a global level attempts to educate students on the devastating effects of colonialism and imperialism worldwide. In this first interview, I had the opportunity to interview Sadiyah Jamal, a volunteer who has dedicated much of her time to working with OPIRG and the MISCA working group.
1) What is your role with MISCA?
As the OPIRG Liaison for MISCA, I am in charge of some administrative tasks (like contacting the staff for booking rooms and tables at MUSC, and keeping the website calendar updated with MISCA events) and also making sure information is communicated between the two. MISCA’s aim on campus is to create a dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Most recently, we have started a series of speaking events where we are inviting students to come and speak about the various issues Indigenous peoples face in Canada. The first of these talks was about media representation of Indigenous peoples and other minority groups, and the second one will be about treaties.
2) What has been your favourite part of your work with MISCA? What has been the most meaningful?
My favourite part of working with MISCA is being able to meet people who are passionate about the same things as me. The most meaningful has been the relationships I’ve built with my fellow members, many of whom are now great friends!
3) Why do you volunteer, and what does it mean to you?
In my search for ways to get involved [at McMaster], I found OPIRG (which then led me to MISCA) and I’ve been heavily involved with both groups since. For me, volunteering is giving my time to support organizations or causes that I believe in, and I volunteer so I can use my time to do something worthwhile and make a difference.
4) Why OPIRG?
I’ve always had an interest in social justice and finding a medium through which I could turn my concerns into action was what attracted me to OPIRG. I found out about OPIRG through Fossil Free McMaster, and upon reading about the organization and what they work towards I decided I would really like to be a part of it!
5) What is the best part of volunteering?
The best part of volunteering for me is the people. Finding people who share the same passions as me and being able to work for a common purpose together has really helped me make some wonderful friends.
6) Why should others volunteer?
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and it’s a very productive use of your time! I think people should volunteer because there are so many places in need of volunteers, so not only do you get to fulfill any personal goals you may have but you also help fulfill the goals of the group for which you’re volunteering.
7) What would your advice be for someone who is thinking about volunteering?
If you’re thinking about volunteering, use it as an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I didn’t know anybody in either MISCA or OPIRG when I joined, and the way I found out about Fossil Free McMaster was by approaching their table at the student centre and simply asking “What’s this about?” So be open to new things, change is good!