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May 23rd is Komagata Maru Remembrance Day

May 23rd is Komagata Maru Remembrance Day

by Hisako Masaki

On May 23rd, 1914, Komagata Maru, a ship from Hong Kong carrying 376 passengers arrived in Vancouver. However, these migrants, originally from Punjab, mostly Sikh British military veterans, were denied landing. After two months of discussions between the governments, immigration officers, activists and lawyers, all passengers, except twenty-two who had previously lived in Canada, were denied entry. At the time, Canada was inviting immigrants from Europe to build a ‘White Canada’. Asians had been invited to provide cheap labour in building the country, but policies had been established to exclude Asian immigrants. Komagata Maru used to be a German ship which brought many immigrants from Europe to Canada, But after it was purchased by a Japanese company and chartered by an Indian businessman to bring South Asians, it became the first ship of migrants to be turned away from Canada.

In British Columbia, Chinese labourers were recruited to build the railroad in the late 19c. Then, Japanese labourers were recruited to work in mines. As many industries continued to recruit Asian labourers, Asian migrants increased. However, their presence angered white workers who feared them taking jobs and white residents who wanted to keep their city white. After the railroad’s completion in 1885, the Chinese head tax was introduced to limit the migrants from China. Migrants from India started arriving in 1903, filling the drop of Chinese labourers caused by the head tax. However, as the unemployment rate rose, British Columbia pushed harsher Asian exclusion policies. The amount of Chinese head tax was increased, and after the 1907 Vancouver Race Riot, Canada made the Japanese government limit the number of immigrants by the 1908 Gentlemen’s agreement. To limit South Asian immigrants, the entry requisite was increased to $200 and the Continuous Journey regulation was added to the Immigration Act.

The Continuous Journey regulation required the migrants to come straight from their country of origin to enter Canada. Purchase of tickets from India to Canada was forbidden to Indians, and the ship from India to Canada was cancelled. The regulation was so successful, that few South Asians migrated to Canada after. This regulation also denied entries to the Japanese migrating through Hawaii, while European immigrants were allowed to come through other countries.

People of British India believed they were entitled to equal rights and free travel within the British Empire as British subjects. However, in reality, they experienced harsh racism.

After British Empire abolished slavery in 1838, Indians took over slave-like indentured labour across the British Empire. They had been told that the British Empire was their mother/father who looked after them. Indians, especially Punjabi Sikhs, served in the British military and police, and many were proud British subjects. However, the unfair treatment in the British Empire pushed them to start the movement demanding equality. India’s independence movement was also building up as a way to end oppression. Racism in North America, especially the Continuous Journey regulation in British Columbia, provoked resistance.

In Hong Kong, inspired and supported by the local and international South Asian community, Gurdit Singh, a Punjabi businessman, chartered Komagata Maru to challenge Canada’s Continuous Journey policy. The British subjects from Punjab boarded the ship to immigrate to Canada. Challenging Canada’s unfair immigration policy in court was discussed in Indian communities in Asia, Canada and the United States. When the ship reached the port of Vancouver, the passengers could not land. Being denied entry to Canada, they had to stay on the water. However, on the shore, the Indian Shore Committee was formed at the Sikh temple to fight against the government demanding British subjects’ right of entry. The Indian community in Vancouver provided all the support for the passengers, including payment for provisions and other necessary funds.

A lawyer was hired to fight in the court, insisting on their rights as British citizens. However, the judges decided that the Canadian government was allowed to limit the civil rights of citizens, as it had already done to Aboriginal people. The ship was ordered to leave. Passengers fought back against armed police, but the ship was escorted out of the harbour by the military ship. By the time they arrived in India, they were considered dangerous revolutionaries in the wake of the First World War, therefore attacked by British soldiers. 18 passengers were killed and more than 200 were imprisoned.

After the incident, Canada closed its doors to Asian immigrants. Britain oppressed India’s independence. Yet the activism grew in BC and across the British Empire. India eventually won its independence in 1947, and Canada’s immigration removed racial discrimination in 1967.

However, racial oppression continues today in Canada in international relations and its treatment of migrants. The Komagata Maru incident questions our continuing history of racism and reminds us of the continuing resistance against racism.


The story of Komagata Maru is well described in many resources:

I was amazed to learn: how Britain depended on the people of British India to manage the Empire, how Indians worked across the Empire and beyond which built transnational communities, and how they came together under discrimination to help each other and fight against oppression for social justice.

The way Canada sent armed police and military to remove the people of Komagata Maru, who stood for their basic rights, reminded me of Oka (1990), Gustafsen Lake (1995), and Wet’suwet’en (2021).


Komagata Maru (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

The Journey of the Komagata Maru (Descendants of Komagata Maru Society)

British Columbia: An Untold History – Episode 3 Immigration (Knowledge Network)


Continuous Journey

Producer, writer, director, Ali Kazimi; produced in association with TVOntario. (2004)

The Komagata Maru incident is well-told in this documentary, with the creative use of limited visual records of that time. The story starts with the director’s personal experience at the immigration office when he entered Canada, arriving from India as an exchange student. His desire to understand why he was treated like a criminal, unpacks the history of the Komagata Maru incident: how Indians were seen and treated as ‘undesirables’ by Canada. The film ends by portraying how ‘Continuous Journey’ regulation continues today in the refugee claimant system, as some people are still regarded as ‘undesirables’.


Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru: An Illustrated History

Kazimi, Ali (2011)

The documentary director re-tells the story of Komagata Maru in this book with more historical detail. Beginning with the author’s personal experience of entry to Canada in the 80s when he was met with racism and exclusion by an immigration officer, the book leads us to the study of racism and identity in early Indo-Canadian history. Canada’s relationship with South Asian immigrants is examined, centred around the Komagata Maru incident. South Asian immigrants’ encounter with Canada is well explained from both perspectives with many visual images of that time, such as photographs, posters, newspaper articles, official documents, etc. Beautiful photographs remind us of the strong presence of Indians in Canada, hidden in mainstream history.


The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada’s Colour Bar

Johnston, Hugh J. M. (2014 expanded and revised)

This book tells the history of Indians, especially Sikhs, as subjects of the British Empire, and how they struggled between the Empire’s ideals of equality and the reality of racism. Transnational resistance against the unjust treatment of its subjects in the British Empire and its relation to India’s independence movement is well explained. The history before Komagata Maru Incident, during and after reveals a complicated relationship between the Empire and the Sikhs. They were landowners and warriors that supported and protected the Empire, many served in the British military and police force travelling to the colonies working for the Empire with the British. However, as protectors of their community with broad knowledge, many also engaged in resistance and/or independence movement of India, and ended up being punished and killed. Both Britain and Canada needed/used Asians as labourers and soldiers but did not want Asians as citizens. Therefore, ‘immigration’ became a crush point. The story of exploitation, control and resistance is well told in this solid academic work.


The Komagata Maru and Canada’s anti-Indian Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century

Hickman, Pamela (2014)

Clearly written, easy-to-read book for young readers and beyond, which covers core information with many visual images. Starting from India’s history, the book tells the story of Komagata Maru as a crucial part of Canadian history as well as Indo-Canadian history. The book also covers Canada’s story after the incident, such as today’s flourishing South Asian Canadian community, its human rights activism, immigration and refugee issues, and ends with Komagata Maru Incident apology and memorials.




President’s Message

It’s an honour to serve the congregation as president of the Board of Trustees. As per our Bylaws, the Board appointed myself as president and Leslie Hill as vice-president at the Board’s April 19th meeting following the resignation of Mary Bennett as president. Thank you to Leslie for volunteering to fill the vice-president position. Also, a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Mary Bennett for all the contributions she has made and continues to make to our congregation.

This an exciting time of renewal and recommitment for UCV. An impressive group of dedicated members has generously put their names forward for our Ministerial Search Committee. The election closes on May 10th. I encourage all members to read each candidate’s bio and cast your ballot. The entire congregation is proud to have such an inspiring list of dedicated members to choose from.

On behalf of the congregation, I’d also like to express our gratitude to the members who volunteered to serve as part of UCV’s delegation to this year’s Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual General Meeting.  We know your time is valuable and appreciate your willingness to share your time and skills for the betterment of Unitarian Universalists across Canada.

It’s our annual pledge season. Members support the work of our congregation in a myriad of ways, including giving money and, just as importantly, giving of their time, talents, expertise and energy. On behalf of the Board and the entire congregation, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you. For those who make an annual financial contribution and have not increased your pledge for several years, I encourage you to give more this year if possible. Our congregation is doing important, life-changing work and we have a collective ambition to do even more to the benefit our members, our community and our planet. Please do what you can to support the congregation in its important work.

Finally, past-president Diane Brown is leading-up our Nominating Committee for the new Board of Trustees that will be elected at our AGM in November. I encourage both long-time and new members to consider putting their names forward to be part of the new Board and to contact Diane at for more information. Serving on the Board is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the good work of our congregation and to help develop and execute UCV’s strategic goals. It can also be a lot of fun. The Board is a safe, supportive place for members to make significant contributions with a lasting effect–consider joining us in this important work.

Yours with respect and gratitude,

Bruce McIvor


Wild Salmon Action Team – April updates

WSAT announcements Apr 2022

Fish Farm Removal Strategy Needed! *New*

Sponsored by the Wild Salmon Action Team

Our federal government has taken some actions to remove wild salmon-killing fish farms from the B.C. coast, but there is still no overall strategy for removing them all by 2025 as promised.  The deadline of June 2022 for relicensing the farms, or not, offers a golden opportunity to announce that overall removal strategy.

Send a letter to Minister Joyce Murray demanding they announce a strategy for fulfilling the promise to remove all floating, open-net fish farms from the B.C. coast by 2025.

Check out the WSAT website for more information! 

April updates from the Wild Salmon Action Team

Fish Farm Removal Strategy Needed! *New*

Sponsored by the Wild Salmon Action Team

Our federal government has taken some actions to remove wild salmon-killing fish farms from the B.C. coast, but there is still no overall strategy for removing them all by 2025 as promised.  The deadline of June 2022 for relicensing the farms, or not, offers a golden opportunity to announce that overall removal strategy.

Send a letter to Minister Joyce Murray demanding they announce a strategy for fulfilling the promise to remove all floating, open-net fish farms from the B.C. coast by 2025.

Your letter will make a difference!


Mass email letter to signers of CPPIB letter

Re: Help save B.C. wild salmon – remove all fish farms!

Dear ______,

Thank you for writing to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board asking them to sell all their shares in Mowi, the Norwegian multi-national salmon-farming corporation with extensive operations in B.C. and Atlantic Canada!  Yours was one of the almost 1100 letters received by the CPPIB, so far.  The Wild Salmon Action Team has briefly paused that campaign as we launch another.

Our federal government has taken some actions to remove wild salmon-killing fish farms from the B.C. coast, but there is still no overall strategy for removing them all by 2025 as promised.  The deadline of June 2022 for relicensing the farms, or not, offers a golden opportunity to announce that overall removal strategy.

Send a letter to Minister Joyce Murray demanding they announce a strategy for fulfilling the promise to remove all floating, open-net fish farms from the B.C. coast by 2025.

Your letter will make a difference!

Best regards,

Wild Salmon Action Team

Visit the Wild Salmon Action Team website for more information about their work. 

Introducing UCV Common Reads for Spring and Summer

Introducing Common Reads! 

We are launching a Common Reads initiative to engage new and existing small groups in a unifying exploration. Your current small group or book group may choose to read these titles, or you can sign-up to form a new group at We will connect people to groups based on your time of day availability. 

To start we have picked two books to explore between April and September: 

  • Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It” by author and UCV Board Member Bruce McIvor
  • The Skin We’re In” by Desmond Cole.

The titles are timely, urgent, and compelling reads consistent with our congregation’s commitment to intellectual engagement and work to dismantle racism. 

Lifespan director Kiersten Moore has several copies of both books available to be checked out, and we also encourage members who grow their own library to purchase the books from local independent booksellers.

Fill out this form to be connected to a new Common Reads circle, or to receive Common Reads updates for your existing small group.


About the Books 

 “Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It

Faced with a constant stream of news reports of standoffs and confrontations, Canada’s “reconciliation project” has obviously gone off the rails. In this series of concise and thoughtful essays, lawyer and historian Bruce McIvor explains why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is failing and what needs to be done to fix it.

Widely known as a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, McIvor reports from the front lines of legal and political disputes that have gripped the nation. From Wet’suwet’en opposition to a pipeline in northern British Columbia, to Mi’kmaw exercising their fishing rights in Nova Scotia, McIvor has been actively involved in advising First Nation clients, fielding industry and non-Indigenous opposition to true reconciliation, and explaining to government officials why their policies are failing.

The Skin We’re In

A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada’s most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We’re In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists.

In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly came to national prominence, shaking the country to its core and catapulting its author into the public sphere. Cole used his newfound profile to draw insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis.


About the Authors 

Dr. Bruce McIvor is recognized nationally and internationally as one of Canada’s leading lawyers in Aboriginal law. Bruce represents First Nations across Canada and teaches at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law. His great-grandparents took Métis scrip at Red River in Manitoba. He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

Desmond Cole is an award-winning journalist, radio host, and activist in Toronto. His writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, The Walrus, NOW Magazine, Ethnic Aisle, Torontoist, BuzzFeed, and the Ottawa Citizen. His first book, The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power, was published in 2020. (from Penguin Random House publisher and Canadian Museum of History)

Mobilizing Faith and Spirit for the Climate Crisis

Our next Climate Dialogue event will feature Dr. Fred Bass: “Some wisdom on the climate crisis: Jewish, Agnostic, Quaker, Buddhist”

Wed., May 11 at 7 p.m. 

Click here to load the stream in YouTube to join the chat.

Book your seat in the Sanctuary here:

All events will be available to join in person or online at

About the Speaker

About a century ago, Fred Bass’s Orthodox Jewish grandparents left Lithuania, Belarus, and Hungary for New York.  They spawned his parents who both were school teachers in New York City.  And they spawned Jon and Fred who headed for careers in chemistry.  Jon stayed on course and Fred strayed into medicine, enchanted with its statistical aspects.  Eventually, he focused on epidemiology and preventive medicine, as they applied to the pandemic of tobacco addiction.

In 1975, he recovered from addiction to academia (His name has 12 letters and his degrees have 11 letters). Then Fred migrated from the US with wife Judith and two kids Jenn and Ben to the Vancouver Health Department.  For 17 years, he worked with the BC Medical Association on tobacco addiction in BC and across Canada, promoting both clinical and policy interventions.

Concerns about global warming and social justice led Fred to serve two terms on Vancouver City Council.  Over decades, he joined many demonstrations – pipeline protests at Burnaby Mountain, arrested in 2014 and arrested for blocking a coal train in White Rock.  Fred now gives workshops to help people face ecological collapse.  He believes science requires spirituality and vice versa.

Fred, with his partner Roma, enjoys his semi-blended families of children and grandchildren, his political and non-political friends, the food of Vancouver, walking and bicycle-commuting, traversing BC’s beautiful terrain, Sunday spiritual ventures with Quakers and Wednesday spiritual ventures with the Soto Zen community of Mountain Rain Zen. He loves the music of Mozart, classical guitar, and Brazilian choro.


About the Series: Mobilizing Faith and Spirit for the Climate Crisis 

Every day we are reminded that we are in a climate emergency. Unprecedented heat waves, droughts, fires, extreme weather events, floods, refugees – the list goes on. Taken together with the current pandemic, it’s understandable that many of us feel frightened, overwhelmed, powerless.  Where can we find the individual and collective strength to clearly face the truth of the emergency, mourn the damage being done to our blue planet, and inspire ourselves and others to action?

The Vancouver Unitarians are hosting a series of talks by prominent Canadians from faith, spiritual and secular backgrounds to support us in answering that question.  They will educate, nourish, and inspire us, drawing on diverse faith and spiritual traditions including those of Indigenous peoples. They will delve into how these traditions and practices, and the values they represent, help them contend with the climate emergency and the actions they are taking.  And, in this way, they will help us engage more effectively with the crisis and create our way forward to a sustainable future – for ourselves and our families, our communities, our nation, and for the health of our loved ones and our planet.

Future events in the series

  • May 11: Dr. Fred Bass
  • June 8: Sameer Merchant


About the Format and Venue

The speaker series is being live-streamed from the campus of the Vancouver Unitarians to audiences online and in-person in the Sanctuary. Two Vancouver Unitarians are moderating the series – introducing the speakers, leading discussions after each talk, and providing continuity over the course of the full program.  The series will include occasional panel discussions of key themes and learnings from what we heard. 

All events in this series are being held in the Sanctuary at UCV. It is recognized as a remarkable mid-twentieth century architectural legacy – a well-received spiritual gathering place and a civic gathering place for events in the arts, public affairs, and discourse on the issues of the day.


Past Events in this Series 

Oct. 28, 2021: Seth Klein

Jan. 26, 2022: Dr. Carmen Lansdowne

Feb. 9, 2022: Rabbi Hannah Dresner

Mar. 9, 2022: Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning

April 13, 2002: Corina Bye, Catherine Hembling, Karl Perrin, and Tamiko Suzuki

Canvass season is underway: Make your 2022-2023 Pledge to keep UCV growing

Spring is here, the daffodils and forsythia are in bloom and once again we’re asking you to renew your financial contribution to UCV.

Through the last two challenging years, many congregations have dwindled. Thanks to your generosity and hard work, we’ve survived and become stronger.

As we resume in-person services, expand our offering of programs and all-ages activities and begin the search for a settled minister, UCV is poised to grow more in the years ahead. But your help is needed.

Make your pledge here

As our 2022-23 Canvass season gets underway, we’re asking you to be as generous as you can, and to consider increasing your pledge. We welcome your contribution whatever way you choose, but please consider an automatic monthly donation, many members and friends find that the most convenient method.

We are a proudly self-governing, self-financing, and democratic charitable organization. That means we are all responsible for providing the financial means to continue our shared work. As we emerge from the pandemic, your contribution will help us renew our supportive and active community, dedicated to spiritual and religious exploration as well as justice for all.

Your financial support has brought us this far and set the stage for years of growth ahead. UCV’s future is now. Together we can keep this community thriving and growing.

With appreciation and in faith,

Gordon Gram on behalf of UCV Canvass 2022-2023

Update from the What Do We Call Ourselves task force

March 2022 Update from the What Do We Call Ourselves Task Force (WDWCO TF)

For decades there have been discussions about the name of our faith community, mainly revolving around the inclusion of the word ’Church‘ in our name – The Unitarian Church of Vancouver. It has been a challenging issue and there are strong feelings both for and against a change.

In 2004 the Board unanimously decided, after consultation with the congregation, to identify us as Vancouver Unitarians on our webpage, logo and banner, reducing the prominence of our legal title containing ’Church’.   In 2019, the Board created a task force, now called the What Do We Call Ourselves Task Force, to review our name with the congregation and make recommendations.  We were active for about a year when a number of other issues came to the fore – COVID shutdowns, Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson’s retirement, welcoming our interim minister Rev. Lara Cowtan, the culmination of the redevelopment process, the reorganization of the Board and Administrative structure, and the adoption of the 8th principle.  Hence it was decided in March 2020 to suspend WDWCO’s study to make way for these other urgent and time-consuming issues

Our current Board has now asked the WDWCO TF to continue its study of whether our legal name should remain or be changed to something else, and to be ready for a vote at the Fall AGM.

The WDWCO TF Mission is to create and guide an unbiased process within the UCV community about the issues regarding the use of the word ‘church’ in our official name. This will culminate in either keeping our current name Unitarian Church of Vancouver or choosing a new one. Our deepest wish is for convergence on what name is best for our community.

We are Eva Allan (Chair), Louise Bunn (Board rep), Carrie Mac, Sheila Resels, John Smith.

Our Advisors are Nancy Barker, Jeannie Corsi, Rob Dainow, Keith Wilkinson.

Our email address is

Submit Your Nominations for the Ministerial Search Committee Selection Process

Information on Ministerial Search Committee Selection Process

Searching for a pastor is sacred work. In most traditions, the opportunity comes to only a few, and then only once in a lifetime of faithful membership” –

UCV is now in the second of three years of transition time that has led us to examine, explore and renew our understanding of who we are and who we want to become as a community.

Over the next year, a Ministerial Search Committee will lead the congregation through a series of workshops and forums to discern what UCV is looking for in its next settled Minister, and then embark on an extensive search for the best candidate, who would begin in the summer of 2023.

Input is requested from every member, considering carefully who you want to serve on this Search Committee to best represent the interests and aspirations of UCV.  Names will be collected and nominations made for a congregational vote. (See the bottom of this page to submit your nominations!)


Mar 7–28         Phone/email campaign to all members to speak about the process of selecting a Ministerial Search Committee and how to nominate members; information also provided in the Monthly and weekly e-bulletins throughout March

Mar 13             Forum on the process of selecting a Ministerial Search Committee and how to nominate members

Mar 28             Nominations close

Mar 29–Apr 6  Board selects a slate from the nominees

April 8              Ballots are sent and voting starts

April 22            Voting ends

May 1              At Sunday service introduce the Ministerial Search Committee!

The Ministerial Search Committee will be announced at the Sunday May 1st service, and then begin their work in earnest!  More information regarding the Search Process will be presented in a Board Forum on March 13, and members will begin to receive phone calls and emails to gather your input very soon.

The Ministerial Search Committee is charged with:

  • Finding a ministerial candidate to present to the congregation for calling as UCV’s next Settled Minister.
  • Working with the Interim Minister to lead the congregation through a deep self-examination, and to inform the Search Committee of the qualities and experience required of the ministerial candidate.
  • Utilizing all available resources in the search process, including UCV Interim Minister and staff, UUA Ministerial Transitions Office, CUC, and the Canadian Transitions Coach (Rev. Stephen Atkinson).

The Search Committee shall note:

  • Search Committee members should represent the entire congregation, and not speak only for or represent identity groups.
  • The Search Committee should garner the trust of the congregation, by respecting the confidentiality of the process while being transparent and communicative of where in the process they are.
  • The Search Committee should be in touch with the changing nature of the congregation.
  • The Search Committee should be responsible to a good process for itself, the congregation, and Unitarian Universalism.
  • There is no such thing as a failed search. If no qualified candidate is identified in the first year’s cycle, the search can extend to the subsequent cycle.
  • This strategic work isn’t just about identifying a skilled leader but about finding one with the right mix of skills and character. You must balance multiple points of view about what kind of pastor is needed — and sometimes the advice you get is conflicting. You have to evaluate the candidate’s preaching, teaching, management and pastoral skills. It can be helpful to focus a search around these two questions: Can this candidate love us? Is this candidate competent?
  • It will be important to start your work by creating a personal connection to your fellow committee members. It will also be important to develop an early understanding of how decisions will be made within the committee.

Search Committee Member Qualifications:

  • Commitment: 

The candidate must be willing to commit to fulfilling the Charge to the Ministerial Search Committee, as stated above.

  • Availability:

The Candidate must be available for the majority of the ministerial search process, including the kick-off retreat, congregational survey, listening sessions, development of congregational record, ministerial search cycle, and all pre-candidating weekends. It is expected the process will run from June to May of the 2022-2023 church-year, though if no ministerial candidate is called in the first year the committee will be asked to participate in a second ministerial search cycle the following year.

  • Personal Qualities/Characteristics; Ideally, all members of the committee will exhibit the following qualities and characteristics.
  • Committed; has demonstrated and continues to feel a deep commitment to the current and future health & prosperity of the church.
  • Big-picture view; willing to reflect on and step back from personal biases of identity, interests, and roles to represent and consider the wants and needs of the whole church, not just those of individuals or groups of interest.
  • Discerning; able to see and understand people, to ask tough questions, and to show good judgement.
  • Confidential; can respect and keep the work of the committee in confidence when required, even with a spouse or significant others.
  • Curious; can stay engaged and open to learning a new process.
  • Humble; understands the importance of a diverse committee, and that others may have a different but no less valid experience or opinion.
  • Respectful; can hear and consider all voices on the committee with equal regard.
  • Supportive; can provide physical and emotional support of other team members as they all proceed through this sometimes-arduous process.
  • Trusting & trustworthy; can be trusted to complete assigned tasks and to trust others to complete theirs.
  • Sense of humor; can keep the weight and responsibility of the committee in perspective and use humor to stay in relationship with other committee members throughout the process.
  • Self-confident; Ability to handle conflict, receive feed-back, and hard decision-making.
  • Keeps boundaries; Ability to keep good personal boundaries, not burdening the team or task with personal issues.

The first important step in the process is for you as a member of UCV to submit your Search Committee Nomination Form.  

 This can be done in three ways:

  1. Use this Link to submit your nominations:
  2. drop off or mail a paper copy to the church or
  3. provide your nomination information to the UCV phone caller who will be contacting you.

Defending the interconnected web of all existence: Catherine Hembling’s statement to the Court

Statement made before Judge Fitzpatrick, Feb. 14, 2022. 

First I want to acknowledge that we are meeting on the unceded historical territories of many indigenous groups: the Musqueam, the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. Over in the area of the tree sits, where I was arrested, the Kwet Kwitlem and the Qway Qwayt.

I want to acknowledge their leadership in this struggle against the construction of Trans Mountain Pipeline, in terms of legal cases, past and ongoing ceremonies, arrests, and inspiration to stand up for this planet. I am very grateful for their courage and persistence. So many defendants before me have made eloquent sentencing statements outlining the rational reasons why they opposed the building of this monstrous pipeline. They have covered the biological, engineering, economic, ethical and environmental reasons. I do not intend to repeat them here in court.

The economics have changed since 2014, but the scientific facts and ethics of the matter have not changed. What has changed in that 7-year timespan is the mounting urgency of the calls of the International Science Community to stop putting more carbon into Earth’s atmosphere.

However, I want to address the Court personally, not argumentatively. What I do want to communicate to the Court is my personal motivation. Why would I, for the first time in my 80 years, deliberately break the law, as it is represented by this Injunction, and in this public manner, as a member of a Prayer Circle? I am not crazy, I am not malicious, I am not a saboteur, I am not disrespectful. I am an old lady at the end of an active and blessedly privileged life.

This is who I am: I was trained as a scientist, B.Sc. 1964. I taught Science as a CUSO volunteer in a secondary school in Nigeria. I appreciate cause and effect, I love clear observations. I hate double standards. I have a great aversion to hypocrisy. I examine my life – I have been doing that consciously for many years as a Buddhist practitioner. I try to live out my values.

And what are my values? They are the values of the community of my church. I am a 45-year member of the Unitarian Church. We are a small progressive church with roots going back 500 years.

We do not have a creed. Instead we covenant with each other to affirm and promote 8 Principles. We add principles periodically. In 1985, after two to three years of discussion and exploration, we added the 7th Principle: “We covenant to affirm and promote the interconnected web of all existence of which we are a part.”

That principle motivates me to civil disobedience.

So, let’s look at it: the interconnected web of all existence of which we are a part … That means interconnections of the plants and animals of the planet. Inter being of plants and animals, and us, the climate, the heat, the cold. Inter-dependence when we think about the distribution of water, the balance of gases in the atmosphere, the pull of gravity of the moon and the planets, the distribution of metals in the stars…the interconnected web of all existence of which we are a part.

And it goes both ways – this is an interconnected web. The collective health of all the plants and animals on earth is affected by humanity, their activities, their appearance and disappearance. Will the stars miss us – not so much! But if we change our activities, the air and the waters will slowly change. We already have plenty of evidence that species will repopulate protected natural preserves. There is real hope in that.

Other motivating values: I treasure a life out-of-doors. All my life, from earliest childhood, I have been active out of doors, hiking, climbing, back packing, skiing, berry picking, sailing, paddling, and all close to home on the North Shore, all part of what my family did. I was so blessed. I have kept up most of these activities into my old age.

When I became too old to take arduous week long kayak trips, I continued to paddle in Indian Arm, day trips, along the shores, slowly, pausing to just sit, with my paddle resting across my boat, to listen, to feel the rise and fall of the water under and around me, lifting me quietly, gently. It was the familiar feeling of being rocked in the arms of a beloved, and it is the peace I sometimes, rarely, achieve in meditation. When I recognized that, I knew I had to protect those waters. I had to line up with those already active protecting the inlet, from the destruction of inevitable oil spills.

That was when I started to become active, attending National Energy Board hearings, writing letters, attending rallies, meeting with my MP. There was a growing rage in me, which did not improve my life. I discovered the Prayer Circle, in 2019 and it offered a much needed respite from anger, and a way to be active, peacefully.

Other Motivations: I am blessed with good health. My good health may be part of my privilege, that I always had clean water, good food, good
education, parents who taught me to live large parts of my life out of doors in the mountains and on the water.

Perhaps my good health is privileged, and privilege going back several generations…Perhaps it is a genetic gift. Other tendencies may be genetic too, the tendency to work for the good of my larger community runs in the family.

Let me explain.

My grandfather, a Montreal surgeon, decided at age 53, in 1914, to move his family to England, so he could join the British Medical Corps. He served out World War I in France, Belgium and England doing army surgery and then returned to Montreal.

My father, in 1939, joined the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve, at age 39. He served on corvettes across the Atlantic for the duration of World War II.

Neither my grandfather nor my father knew, when they decided to stand up for the good of their communities, what would be the outcome of those conflicts. They didn’t know which side would win.

I have known for years the short-term consequence of standing up against this pipeline. I will serve my time, without complaint. However, I don’t know what will be the long-term outcome of my standing up for the safety of my community, for the benefit of my children and my grandchildren. I will not live to see the results. I am doing it anyway. I believe I am on the right side of history.

I am healthy, I have no job to lose, no fear of being blacklisted, I have no ambitions to travel internationally. I am a mother and a grandmother. I am painfully aware of the inevitable climate changes that lie ahead.

Considering all that, and my values, I would be ashamed, on my death bed, if I had spent the last years of my life sitting on the sidelines, closing my eyes, merely amusing myself, and doing nothing to stop this monstrous pipeline expansion pouring carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere.

I do this peacefully, non-violently, and full heartedly.