The Guelph International Resource Centre (GIRC) is a small Ontario registered non-profit,
community based organization that educates Guelph and area residents on global issues and
there local links. The goal of GIRC is to assist the community in developing an awareness and
analysis of global issues as well as provide concrete actions for individuals to directly bring
about a more just and sustainable future. Since 1980 GIRC’s programs have focused on three
key themes: human rights, global sustainability and understanding global issues.
GIRC has upwards of 200 members who support the centre with donations and volunteer
assistance. The members of the Board of Directors come from a broad spectrum of personal
experience and are elected from the general membership each year.
Since its founding, GIRC has received its core funding from the federal government’s Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). In the spring of 1995 the fund- ing for all such
programs across the country was eliminated. Since that time GIRC has been restructuring in the
absence of support from CIDA. Despite the funding shortfall, GIRC’s doors remain open and the
organization is operating. Initiatives like the Guelph Social History Project are part of our
strategy for community building and organizational development.
For the past ten years GIRC’s major user base has been youth. Our educational pro- grams
reached over 50,000 youth in the two years preceding GIRC’s funding cut. GIRC has also hosted
youth-initiated organizations throughout our history including the Southern African Interest
Group, the Guelph Rainforest Action Group, and the Youth Ecological Empowerment Plan. GIRC
continues to be a host for the co-operative education program of the boards of education. The
organization has also hosted many summer youth employment placements. The GIRC Board of
Directors has several youth representatives and we have an large number of youth members.
Finally our resource centre users are primarily high school and university students. It is safe to
say that when visiting GIRC chances are very high that one will encounter young people.
Introduction to the Guelph Social History Project
Social history is a history of people rather that politicians, of the folk from diverse lands who
came to settle and form communities. Social history explores how they came together, how
they live together, how as individuals and communities they have affected each other.
“People form societies to satisfy collectively, needs that they would not be able to satisfy
individually. They develop languages and other systems of communica- tion; they evolve
shared beliefs; they contrive means of avoiding conflict and complementary patterns of mutual
aid. But a social organization does not necessarily imply a political one or dictate its form… as
Leo Tolstoy recognized long ago and showed in his great novel, War and Peace, it is in society
that true history begins, and the great men, with their armies and their polices, are the product
of society rather that its makers and shapers.”
From George Woodcock’s, A Social History of Canada.