Author: Tamiko Suzuki

Courthouse solidarity and Women’s Memorial March: Vancouver Unitarians take action

​U​CV ​members were out in numbers to support two downtown events on Monday.

Catherine Hembling at the Courthouse

At 9am we gathered under our banner with a crowd over 300 strong, on the steps of the courthouse to support the brave Brunette Six who were to appear before a judge for sentencing. The Six planned to plead guilty to breaking the TMX injunction and take whatever jail sentence would be meted out. 

​Led by Earle Peach, we​ sang uplifting songs, chanted our anger and resolve to keep up the fight against the oil and gas industry. On the steps, the Brunette Six read out parts of their court statements which expressed their love and concern for the environment and the future of future generations. One of the Six, Zane Haq gave an impassioned speech calling for more people to stand up because it was only when a mass of people get arrested that the government will change.

An overflow room was set up so people could listen in on the courtroom proceedings. Elizabeth posted at 3pm that Judge Fitzpatrick sentenced Jeannette, Ruth and Catherine to 14 days in prison. The other 3 would be sentenced on Tuesday.

UCVers at the courthouse: Cheryl Amundsen, Cynthia Lam, Elizabeth Dunn, Evelyn Pinkerton (W​​SAT), Hanno Pinder, Jane Kinegal, John Boyle, Karl Perrin, Katherine R, Leslie Kemp, Mairy Beam, Mary Lage, Melody Mason, Nan Gregory, Rob Dainow, Ron Gibson , Rory O’Brien, Rosey Cornell, Skye Richards, Tamiko Suzuki, Ursula Litzke, Yvonne Marcus, and Catherine Hembling.


Women’s Memorial March

A short time later, some ​UCV​ers joined a crowd of ​thousands at the ​Women’s Memorial March at Main and Hastings to bear witness to the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The stories that were told were unbearably sad and filled with so much pain. Some families have been looking for their mother, aunt, daughter or sister for  decades, fighting police and societal indifference, sexism and racism. ​Others have lost loved ones in the last few years showing that things have not changed​. One speaker’s words resonated with me when she said that the extractive industry and its assaults on the Earth were connected to the attacks on Indigenous women. The word ‘ecocide’ was used along with genocide. This reminded me of the Brunette Six who had spoken about how TMX was destroying the environment and contributing to the ultimate assault on our future, Climate Change. 

The march slowly walked their route through the DTES stopping at spots to drum and honour women who had died. Then we reached the intersection of Water St and Powell St and stopped in front of a group of young Indigenous activists who had thrown ropes around the statue of Gassy Jack Deighton. To the crowd’s frenzied cheering and drumming, they proceeded to pull the statue down, throw red paint on it and erect red dresses in its place. The statue had memorialized a  40 year old man who married a 12 year old Squamish child,  who made his money plying people with alcohol and whose name has been celebrated while hers has disappeared into obscurity. An Ode to Madeline Deighton. The anger was palpable as was the joy at the toppling of the statue which was one tiny act against a long history of racism and destruction. 

While some expressed discomfort with the destructive turn of events, there was no denying the impatience of the young to DO SOMETHING. It was just like Zane of the Brunette Six, who earlier had demanded we get out of our comfort zone and stand up. 

​UCVers at the Memorial March: Cynthia Lam, Hans Elfert, Hisako Masaki, Kiersten Moore, Leslie Kemp, Lynn Armstrong, Margo Elfert, Melody Mason, Nan Gregory, Nancy Barker, Skye Richards, Tamiko Suzuki, Yvonne Marcus.


Update from the IBPOC caucus

The Jan. 30 Sunday service included photos and storytelling from IBPOC caucus member Cynthia Lam, who explained her family’s traditions for celebrating Lunar New Year. Thank you to the IBPOC caucus and Cynthia for sharing with the congregation and educating us all about the importance of this new year’s celebration. 

On Jan. 22, we held the first meeting of the IBPOC Plus Allies Team, also known as  the IPA Team. Eight UCV allies showed up and joined in discussion with four IBPOC. Along with an honest sharing of our background, we talked about the history of the IBPOC at UCV and what we wanted to happen going forward. The IBPOC caucus is still a small group with limited capacity and the allies were invited to share their expertise and to collaborate in the planning of multi-cultural programming, help facilitate communication, and promote understanding within the congregation and the larger communities. Within UCV, the IPA plans to interact with other teams to offer IBPOC perspectives, experiences, and ideas. 

We all agreed that this team should always remember to have fun, and although our activities will be limited while the pandemic rages, we’ll settle for gathering ideas and start with small events. 

Some of the activities this month:

Feb 14 Women’s March  Meet at noon at the NW corner of Hastings and Main so that we can take part in the march as a group.  Details  posted in the weekly  e-bulletin. (Yvonne Marcus)

IPA logo contest. Dust off your inner artist and create a logo or picture for the IPA!   Details of contest and prizes to come. (Caede Pungente)

If you are interested in joining the IPA, please contact [email protected]

IBPOC and allies plan for 2022 at UCV

Happy New Year! 

新年明けましておめでとうございます。 (Japanese)*

新年快樂!(Chinese in traditional characters)

新年快乐!(Chinese in simplified characters)

Here is wishing all our dear friends at UCV a happy holiday, and a healthy new year of peace, joy, and inspirations!

We wanted to thank all of you for your tremendous hard work, sincere encouragement, and honest sharings, in reaching the adoption of the 8th principle in November!

We looked at the year’s end with gratitude, and to the new year ahead with continued hope and best wishes for spiritual, personal, and congregational growth. 


IBPOC Plus Allies Team

Do you want to connect with our fabulous IBPOC members? Do you have connections to IBPOC communities that you’d like to share? Do you dream about cooking (and eating) pad thai or empanadas at the Sunday lunches? Do you want to be part of the 8th Principle in action?

Then you should join the IBPOC Plus Allies (IPA) team, and take part in the inaugural gathering  this month! The IPA will be taking over  the role of organizing UCV multicultural events in order to allow the IBPOC caucus to return to its original role as an affinity group. Everyone is invited to join!  More helping hands, special skills and creative brains means more fun events for everyone!

At the inaugural meeting, we’ll go over the mission and vision statements (rough drafts),  review  important dates and deadlines coming up in the calendar,  and then everyone will be invited to brainstorm ideas and contribute their skills.


IBPOC + Allies Team meeting

When:  Saturday January 22, 2022, 10am-11:30am

Where: On Zoom

Due to Omicron, the planned full day workshop/lunch/team building event has been canceled.

Who:  Everyone is welcome.

Please rsvp to [email protected]  and put “IPA” in the subject line.


IBPOC Caucus

We are changing the days and times of our meetings and going back to all-Zoom (no in-person)  gatherings. If you self identify as Black, Indigenous or Person of Colour) and are interested in checking out this group, please  contact [email protected] and find out when the next meetings will be.


*Note from Hisako: In Japan, people used to celebrate the New Year according to the lunar calendar, just like the Chinese, but because of the westernization, the official date of the New Year was changed (calling it 新正月new new year’s day). However, when I was growing up, people in the countryside were still celebrating their New Year according to their tradition following the lunar calendar (calling it 旧正月old new year’s day). I am not sure how much of that lunar New Year tradition continues today.

Update from the Ministerial Transition Team

What is the MTT (Ministerial Transition Team) up to these days?

We haven’t gone dormant, much as it may appear that way to outsiders, but in fact we have been very busy wrapping up projects and making plans for new ones in the new year.

The History Wall team had been working to freshen and update the display in Hewett Hall in preparation for when people would be allowed to gather again. We’d planned for a celebratory welcome back in January but Omicron threw a wrench in the plans so now we are looking at February.

The Congregational Identity Task Force, who want to answer the question “Who Are We?” are analyzing the interviews they’ve collected over the last year and will be presenting their report in the new year to the MTT, the Board, and to you, the congregation.

The Terms of Reference (TOR) group is finishing its first job of reviewing and updating the TORs of the 30+ teams and committees at UCV, not an easy task as most have not thought about their TOR in 10 years. The next part of their work  will have the teams take a look at themselves and put onto paper how they align with UCV’s vision statement (and yes later in the spring, we will be organizing a workshop to review our Vision statement).

There are many moving parts in this Transition process, and to quote Mary Bennett, at times it feels like we’re working on a puzzle where I’m not sure what the picture is or if we have all of the pieces. Thankfully, we are blessed to have the calm, experienced guidance of Rev. Lara and the amazing team of energetic, talented MTT members who are getting the work done!

Tamiko Suzuki

Ministerial Transition Team chair


Our Vision

Because we envision a more compassionate world, we seek to deepen our spiritual and religious lives, grow and enrich our congregation, and advocate for love and justice.

Living Our Vision (our mission)

Living Our Vision As Unitarians, we are dedicated to spiritual growth, social justice, and reverence for nature and all life. We embody these values through worship, ethical action, artistic expression, and religious education for all ages that aim to connect hearts, heads, and hands.

And if you are wondering what the mission of the Transition Team is, basically it follows the Covenant of the Interim Minister: Defining and  redefining sense  of  purpose  and  direction;  clarifying  the  faith  community’s identity and core values; working to develop, update, and revitalize mission and  vision  statements. 

Update from our IBPOC caucus

From the UCV IBPOC caucus

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Hanukkah sameach! Happy Solstice! 冬至節愉快 ! (Dongzhi Jie Yu Kuai, a Joyous Winter Solstice!),   メリークリスマス(merii kurisumasu ) よいお年を (yoi otoshi o , to wish for a new year while still in the old year in Japanese)!

During the cold winter months of short daylight and long nights, we crave gathering together and sharing warmth, light and joy. Our first in-person (7 members) and Zoom (3 members) hybrid meeting happened on Nov. 9th at the Fireside Room. All members attending in person were fully vaccinated and we followed  UCV COVID protocols. This meeting was significant as it was the first time we met face to face since the founding of the UCV IBPOC 8 months ago. 

The passing of the 8th Principle at the CUC Special Meeting on Nov. 27th, 2021 was a very significant event, a milestone that sent the message to all that a new flame has been kindled;  that at last IBPOC are being seen and recognized, and that a light is being shone on a new path forward. As Meena Wong said, “The adoption process at times has been taxing but I feel finally, you SEE me!” 

Passing the 8th Principle is only the first step in addressing systemic racism but the IBPOC caucus wishes to thank the CUC, Dismantling Racism Study Group, UCV delegates, the board and minister, and IBPOC allies for getting us to this point.  We look forward to this new action-oriented Principle being a launch pad to new exciting programs and activities at UCV.

In case you don’t know what the IBPOC caucus is all about, here is a brief summary:

The IBPOC Caucus is one of the newest groups at UCV and was formed in March 2021, right in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic. What started as a question by Tamiko Suzuki, who asked how many IBPOC members were at UCV, resulted in an affinity group of about 20 members and includes people from the North Shore and Calgary churches.  The gatherings are joyously supportive and bubbling with the creative energy of a group of congregants who up to now have been silent.

While the main focus of the gatherings is to be a safe space for non-White UUs to gather, there is also a strong interest in educating ourselves and others. IBPOC members have learned about anti-racism issues across the continent by attending CUC IBPOC  and UUA BIPOC forums and workshops. Shared experiences with the UCV congregation has included Asian Heritage and Latin American Heritage months, Indigenous Peoples Day, Friday Film nights, speaking at anti-racism forums, and taking part in different Sunday services and coffee time breakout rooms.  

The IBPOC+Allies group, which is open to all UCV members, was started by Mary Bennett for anyone who wants to work together to put on IBPOC events. They were invaluable, providing tech support and being enthusiastic guests in the Asian film nights, and organizing the Latin American Heritage month on very short notice. 

The Butterfly Language project uses the imagery of the Monarch butterfly which is multi-coloured and travels from far away. Its premise is that roots in other cultures should be viewed as a BENEFIT and not a handicap to the UCV congregation. So far, several UU passages have been translated and filmed in Mandarin, Cantonese,  French, Spanish, Japanese and German. We plan to initiate simple language learning among interested congregants. People with technical skills such as filming and editing would be welcome to help speed up the video-making process.

Next year our plans include working with other UCV groups such as the Youth group,  and teams such as the Environment, and Social Justice etc., supporting anti-racism initiatives, and celebrating our multicultural heritage with a vision to have it become part of programs across UCV.  All the while, we want to continue to provide a safe, friendly and supportive place for IBPOC members to gather.

Remember the Children – June 5 Event

Thirty people helped to create an orange installation on our corner and magically (with hard work) transform a labyrinth full of buttercup weeds into a bright orange spectacle.

Throughout June, Indigenous Peoples Month, we expect to host more gatherings to make sure both sites remain beautiful and invite our neighbours and our own community to come and participate.

49th and Oak Corner

With the terrible news about the  abused and murdered children buried in a mass grave at the Kamloops residential school, I wanted to do something at UCV to  acknowledge the pain and reflect our growing awareness and demands for change. The UCV community  had already agreed to donate money to the IRSSS (Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society), but I wanted to also put on a public face to  remind others not in our community that we ALL need to care and remember.

What started  out as an idea to put a few children’s toys by the trees, grew into an act of community solidarity and art.
On Saturday June 5, while volunteers planted 215 marigolds into the labyrinth, about a dozen adults and children braved the traffic noise at the corner of Oak and 49th to cover the UCV sign and nearby trees with  orange ribbons, flowers, tshirt cutouts and signs. A project to attach 215 strands of wool to a clothes line was started as a visceral example of how large a number 215 is!
The rains came at night and the ribbons and signs are soggy.  We will need to refresh the signs, add more wool strands (because 215 is only the start) and straighten the ribbons next week.
Perhaps this is the first time we’ve decorated our corner?! Let it not be the last.
-Tamiko Suzuki


215 orange flowers on the labyrinth

This vision just popped into my head as I, like many, started thinking: but what can *I* do? There’s so much that can be done and I’m very proud to be part of UCV as we’ve made a statement and donated money.
I so appreciate the number of people who brought flowers, worked long and hard to prep the labyrinth (it was badly in need of weeding) and then planted the orange blooms. Plus there are 48 nasturtiums not yet in bloom. It will “orange-up” over the next while.
What moved me most was the number of side conversations I witnessed as we worked – and connected with each other over the time.
Thank you to our minister, Rev. Lara Cowtan, for beautiful and moving words and an ongoing pastoral presence.
(There are still a few buttercups and lots of grass where it shouldn’t be, so if you’re ever inclined to spend a couple of hours there, do please contact me and we can set something up.)
– Mary Bennett

UCV Actions

UCV President has made a statement and our Outreach Opportunities Fund have donated $3000 with more to come to Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS).

Message from the Outreach Opportunities Fund Committee.

A $3000 donation from the balance of the OOF account has been made by UCV, effective immediately, to support the work of the Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS).

In order to support the increased demand for their services, the IRSSS will also be the recipient of the OOF effective July 1.
As we all know, the impact of residential schools on the Indigenous population has been profound. The IRSSS was established with the mission to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.
– OOF Committee, June 2021



A Victory in the Discovery Islands for Wild Salmon

Contact the Enviro Team | Join the Enviro Email Group

Above: Drummers lead by Eddie Gardner from the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance joined with the UCV Wild Salmon Action Team to engage in street theatre outside the offices of the DFO in downtown Vancouver. They were part of a broader province-wide coalition, this September, calling for the end to fish farms in the Discovery Islands.

A victory for wild salmon. Trudeau government to phase out fish farms in the Discovery Islands by June 2022

On December 17, 2020, the UCV Wild Salmon Action Team (WSAT) celebrated the federal government’s announcement of their decision to remove fish farms from the Discovery Islands.

The Discovery Islands channels is an area known to be a bottleneck area for migrating wild salmon and one of the worst places to put open-net pen salmon farms with their increasingly poor control over lice infestations and virus infections. The Cohen commission had been set up in 2012 when the Fraser River sockeye return fell to 3 million. In 2020 that number plummeted to less than 300,000 which resulted in unprecedented solidarity from over 100 First Nations, sport and commercial fishermen, tourism operators, and several environmental organizations calling for the total removal of the Discovery Island fish farms. On December 17, the government agreed.

The WSAT can claim a small part of that decision, perhaps by being an annoying sliver in the feet of the decision makers, (WSAT had been meeting and petitioning MPs and MLAs for months,) or by adding our bodies and loonies to support other wild salmon protection groups. The day before the December announcement, WSAT met with MP Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and even though they knew the decision had already been made, added their voice to the chorus of demands for change. As well, they submitted information for the 2021 consultation meetings listing their demands that the remaining 100+ fish farms be taken out of all West Coast waters and be put on land, that scientists with research that disagreed with Industry publications be heard, and that Indigenous groups from the top of Vancouver Island to the headwaters of the Fraser River lead the planning and management of the wild salmon stocks.

WSAT is mulling over future actions which include public education, divestment campaigns, and working with Indigenous and local groups.

When fish farms are removed we find healthy juvenile salmon and a chance for wild salmon to rebound.

In April 2020, biologist Alexandra Morton found juvenile salmon free of sea lice leaving the Broughton Archipelago less than a year after just two fish farms in the area were removed by First Nations.









Dismantling Racism Survey

A future where Unitarian Universalist congregations actively work on dismantling racism: that’s what we’re focusing on. The CUC’s Dismantling Racism Study Group needs your help. We’ve put together this short survey to find out where we’re at, and where we could go. Give us 15 minutes of your time today to honestly tell us about what you’ve observed in your own congregation – we’d really appreciate it.

Click the link to go directly to the survey!
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UCV’s Tamiko Suzuki and Doug Ennenberg are both part of the CUC Dismantling Racism Task Force.

Birthday Party Fundraiser for Climate Action

A Night of Good Cheer and a Rousing Success! $3000 Raised for Raven Trust’s Anti-TMX Campaign!


On a cold, rainy night in January, over 50 friends and family gathered in Hewett Hall to celebrate Tamiko Suzuki ‘s 60th birthday. After a moving welcome by Sto:lo elder and activist, Kwitsel, the evening turned raucous with parlour games. Guests were given coloured dots on their name tags to show how they were connected to Tamiko  (family, work, UCV, book club, etc) and asked to sit at a table with as many colours as possible! The tables then competed in games of rock/paper/scissors  (in Japanese!), Name that Tune (music from TV and film from the 60’s,70’s  to today), Trivial Pursuit, and Charades, all with some connection to Tamiko’s life. Try to imagine contestants acting out the charades challenges;  “Being charged by a rhino” (which was a true story) and “skinny dipping on New Year’s Day (also true). The winners got to dress Tamiko with items from a box so that at one point she was wearing a diving mask, blond wig, life jacket, and belly dancer belt.

The games were followed by delivery of a cake decorated with a dinosaur and speeches both funny and warm. The evening finished with International folk dancing and many brave friends trying out  Bolivian, Finnish, and Greek/Roma dances.

Instead of presents, Tamiko asked guests to make a donation to  RAVEN Trust’s anti-TMX campaign and over $3000 was raised. An additional $400 was donated to support the Wet’suet’en opposition to the Coastal Gas pipeline.

A big thanks and much love to the Environment Team who sponsored the event, provided the food, set up, cleaned up, matched a portion of the donations, and took part in the games and dances with grace and humour.


Winter News from the Environment Team

The UCV Environment Team continues to be extremely active. Here’s what we have planned for the next few months..

December 1 Forum: Zero Waste Holidays! Forum; Zero Waste Team

One of the  Zero Waste ideas is to donate to a charity for someone. Here is a list of charities that the Environment Team came up with. It is far from complete, of course, but it will give you an idea of the range of international, national and local groups looking for your financial support.

charities list 

Save Our Salmon sub-committee

Last month we held a petition signing event to remind MPs of their election campaign promise to move open net fish farms out of the ocean and onto land.

The SOS group is now meeting with those MPs to discuss plans of action of how we can make their promise a reality .

If you would like to get involved, contact John Boyle  [email protected]


January Pull-Together Fundraiser 

Saturday January 18, 2020 @ 7pm

Tamiko Suzuki, our Environment Team Outreach Coordinator,  is turning 60 and she’s holding a fundraiser to celebrate!

UCV Friends and family are invited to enjoy some appies and cake, a bit of music, games and perhaps some folk dancing!

She requests no presents please but instead make a donation to RAVEN Trust’s Pull Together Campaign supporting Indigenous groups’ legal challenge against TMX.

More information to come later.

If you would like to help put on the event, please contact [email protected]