Author: admin

Introducing our new Forums Coordinator

Eva Allan is our new Forums Coordinator! 

If your group would like to sponsor a Forum, please contact Eva with your preferred date(s)/time(s), the space needed (Sanctuary/Hewett/Fireside/other), and whether any tech support is needed. Eva will manage the bookings and liaise with staff and will get back to you to confirm plans. This will reduce the number of calls from congregants to individual staff members about availabilities. The groups sponsoring Forums will have some way of covering any extra staff costs involved (eg. caretaker or tech support).

Email: Phone: 604-738-4062

Big thanks to Eva!!

Introducing UCV’s Ministerial Nomination Search Committee

On May 22, UCV Board President Bruce McIvor introduced our new Ministerial Search Committee to the congregation as part of Sunday service. The members of the Search Committee are, in alphabetical order: John Boyle, Diane Brown, Carrie Mac, Esme Mac-Demers (alternate), Jenny Malcolm, Michael O’Neil, Nancy Woodham, and Meena Wong.

Here is an abridged transcript of Bruce McIvor’s remarks introducing the Search Committee:

I’m very honoured to be part of such a wonderful group of hardworking volunteers working on behalf of the congregation. It’s an important day, and it’s an important year for this congregation, because we will be choosing a new settled minister and how important that is for all of us and for the future.

We had 14 wonderful nominees who put their names forward, and I just want to say they really reflected the strength of this congregation. Any one one of them would’ve been a fantastic member of our Search Committee. I want to thank everyone for putting their names forward as nominees. Then we had a vote. After the vote, the Board met. The four nominees with the most votes were the first four who were going to be on the Search Committee.

Then, based on the policy we relied on from the UUA, the Board made a decision to add three more of the nominees to the Search Committee based on the criteria and to ensure diversity and inclusivity to reflect this congregation. And then we did something additional, because we all know how important it is for youth to be represented and reflected in our processes. The Board made a decision to add an eighth member to the committee – a youth member who will serve as an alternate. It’s important to note that she’ll be an alternate, but she will be a full member of the committee with equal responsibilities and standing. The only difference is she will only vote, when and if there’s a requirement to vote, if someone else on the Search Committee has to withdraw. I’m really, really proud that we have youth on the Search Committee.

Importantly, there were Board members who were nominated for the Search Committee; they took no part in the process of selecting the committee. Now that the Search Committee has been commissioned, it will operate independently of the Board. The Search Committee is the entire congregation’s Search Committee.

Congratulations to you all.


(Photo: Screenshot from the May 22 Sunday service, with Board members and Search Committee members joining Rev. Lara Cowtan on stage in front of the congregation.)

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 Sameer Merchant

Monday, June 13 at 7 p.m. 

Book your seats in the Sanctuary now:

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


About the Speaker

Sameer Merchant spent two decades as a software engineer in Seattle and Vancouver working for Microsoft, Hulu, and Tableau. He is currently taking an extended sabbatical to get a better understanding of the climate crisis, what we can do to reduce our individual and collective contributions to the problem, and to understand the psychology behind climate denial and climate inaction. His faith tradition is Ismaili Muslim, which is central to his views on humanity’s role as stewards of the Earth.


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.


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, 2022: Corina Bye, Catherine Hembling, Karl Perrin, and Tamiko Suzuki

May 11, 2022: Dr. Fred Bass

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