Lazy Chat with Laura Kruse
Written by: Rachita Chugh
Photograph by: Austin Yee
As seen in the December 2018 issue of Lazy Faire magazine
Laura Kruse is the Outreach Coordinator for the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (or APIRG for short). If you have walked through HUB Mall from end to end, then you have walked past the APIRG office. The office is situated across from Galatea Galleries, and is adjacent to the Athabasca University office. Despite having walked past APIRG everyday, most students have little knowledge of all the great work they do. This month, Lazy Faire had the opportunity to sit down with Laura to learn more about the organization and her role as the Outreach Coordinator.
Can you tell me a bit about APIRG and your role?
APIRG is a student-run, student-funded nonprofit located at the University of Alberta. Our mandate is to support community-based research, education, and advocacy in the public interest. We define public interest as dealing with systems of oppression like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, etc. that exist in our society. We support this kind of work through our granting program; students and community groups can apply for grants of up to $2,000 for their own projects that delve deeply into one of those issues.
We also host a wide variety of events, awareness-raising campaigns, and workshops. We do free training in anti-oppression and consensus-based decision making in a variety of things.
Lastly, we host a wide variety of working groups who are specialists in the community and deal with specific topics concerning anti-oppression.
I am the Outreach Coordinator, and one of my biggest roles is overseeing the event projects granting line. I also connect the community with our services, liaise with the media, and inform others about what we do.
What are some of the current ongoing projects and working groups under APIRG?
A big, recent project that we just completed was A Week of Liberation (or AWOL). In our first year of doing it, we did about 18 smaller events. This year, we wanted to do less events, but bigger. One of the events was a dance party at The Aviary that featured black and Indigenous performers. We also hosted a comedy show that featured underrepresented voices.
Currently, APIRG has 14 active working groups. One of them is focused on the unique barriers faced by LGBTQ2S+ refugees, as they are especially vulnerable to isolation in our community.
Another working group (that I always like to highlight) is a group called Migrante Alberta. Migrante is an international organization; they serve the needs of Filipino migrant workers, especially those working in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Migrante helps these workers advocate for their legal rights with their employer, and helps them to feel more secure.
How can students get involved with APIRG?
We have tons of volunteer opportunities for students! You can be on our ‘street team’ and poster for us, and we always need event volunteers.
If you want to be involved in running APIRG, we have open elections for our Board for undergraduate students who have not opted out of our fee. Our Board makes funding decisions, capital purchase decisions, and they direct the staff.
Also, students can apply for working group status if they have a project idea that fits within our mandate.
How did you get involved with APIRG?
While I was doing my Masters degree, I only had a vague idea of what anti-oppression and social justice was. I eventually got involved with a group where I met people who were active in the community, and were involved in social activism. I was given the opportunity to serve on the Board of APIRG. I served on the Board for a year, and then the Outreach Coordinator position opened up. I applied for it, and I’m on my third year on staff now!
What do you think students can gain from accessing APIRG’s services?
APIRG provides a sense of connection on this campus. There are many people working together in very different ways that can complement each other to make the world a better place. APIRG’s a place where you can build hope and community. Through APIRG, you can meet others that share your optimism to come up with solutions to societal issues.