KWIC is con­nect­ing for change in Peter­bor­ough, around the world

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - Rose­mary Gan­ley Reach writer, ac­tivist and teacher Rose­mary Gan­ley at rgan­[email protected]

The Kawartha World Is­sues Cen­tre is the amaz­ing lit­tle group that has fos­tered many pro­gres­sive projects over 30 years in our city: GreenUP, Teach­ing Out­side the Box, Kawartha Food Share, Re­Frame Film Fes­ti­val and TRACKS for Indige­nous youth. Th­ese are or­ga­ni­za­tions that shape our val­ues.

I have lived in Peter­bor­ough for 50 years, and for 30 of those years I have had a small hand in, and watched with ad­mi­ra­tion of, the devel­op­ment of a group started by the community and then en­larged to in­clude the univer­sity.

It is today a highly in­flu­en­tial, dy­namic, youth-led re­source which shapes what we stand for as a city and whom we elect to of­fice. And with one and a half staff. The Kawartha World Is­sues Cen­tre grew, as healthy move­ments do, or­gan­i­cally. In the early 1980s, a few peo­ple in­ter­ested in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs and in Canada’s role around the world, who were op­er­at­ing as vol­un­teers in such groups as Ox­fam and the In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram at Flem­ing, merged their small bud­gets and their per­son-power.

Some names are still ac­tive 30 years on: Alan and Linda Slavin, Don Quar­rie and Stephanie Benn, for ex­am­ple. “It was a car­ing, con­nected, joy­ful so­cialjus­tice community,” says De­bra Mo­rales, who wrote a 44-page history of KWIC in 2004.

The group moved from Flem­ing Col­lege to 106 Mur­ray St. in 1998, mak­ing it more ac­ces­si­ble to down­town. The late Jim Anderson and teacher Don Quar­rie guar­an­teed the mort­gage for the space.

In that pe­riod, the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment was sup­port­ing global ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres across the coun­try. In spite of their achieve­ments help­ing Cana­di­ans learn ac­cu­rately about the world and take ac­tion to bet­ter it, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment with­drew sup­port. Peter­bor­ough’s is the last On­tario one op­er­at­ing.

From its cur­rent home on the Trent cam­pus in the Science Com­plex build­ing, KWIC op­er­ates as a non­profit, run by an ac­tive board of di­rec­tors. It ben­e­fits from the pas­sion and knowl­edge of its long­time ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Julie Cos­grove, and com­mit­ment from many sec­tors.

Of­fer­ing re­sources of all kinds, hosted by en­thu­si­as­tic stu­dents, KWIC is a hub for stu­dents and community mem­bers. It net­works with high schools, community groups, ser­vice clubs and grad­u­ate stu­dents.

Its bud­get is cur­rently around $200,000. Three-quar­ters of this amount comes from grants and do­na­tions. The other quar­ter comes, to their eter­nal credit, from the 8,000 Trent stu­dents who give at the time of tu­ition pay­ment about $3 per se­mes­ter.

To ev­ery­one’s con­ster­na­tion, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s “Stu­dent Choice” ini­tia­tive (a Doug Ford plan) en­abled stu­dents to opt out of th­ese fees. In a time of cuts to stu­dent loans and grants, there is in­creased pres­sure on stu­dents to find sav­ings any­where they can.

(Stop the press: this pol­icy was just de­nied by an On­tario court.)

KWIC’s creative en­ergy was demon­strated again in Oc­to­ber with a ses­sion led by pop­u­lar ed­u­ca­tor and un­con­ven­tional aca­demic Bayo Akolo­mafe, a Nige­rian living in In­dia who is glob­ally renowned for his fresh take on the global cri­sis, civic ac­tion and change.

His work­shop at the Mount drew 90 stu­dents, teach­ers, mem­bers of Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and NGO lead­ers in a re­mark­able en­counter across gen­er­a­tions, lo­ca­tions and ways of life.

It was an­other KWIC suc­cess: courage and in­ge­nu­ity in ser­vice of community and change.

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