Archives: Testimonials

Tamiko Suzuki – living with less stuff

Tamiko is Outreach Coordinator for our very active Environment team. Recently her laneway home was featured on the show Living Big in a Tiny Home with the title “Wabi-Sabi Modern Japanese Inspired Small Home.”

Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdEsVoqbD5s

Read more about Tamiko and her involvement with the Unitarians below.

As the daughter of two non-religious scientists, I was never interested in church. As a university student in Montreal I checked out the Unitarians but decided the Sunday services got in the way of skiing, hiking or just sleeping in.  Similarly, once I had a family, Sundays were for the kids’ hockey and soccer games.It wasn’t until five years ago, my kids grown up and gone, when my husband passed away suddenly, that I found a need to find a spiritual community.

I showed up at the North Shore Unitarian church and would sit in the back then slink home after the sermon. I felt I had nothing in common with all those white-haired West Van congregants until one day I joined some church elders at lunch after the service. We were sitting quietly enjoying the soup, when one grey haired lady suddenly slammed her fist on the table and said, “Can you believe what Stephen Harper just did?”  That started a rousing discussion about what was wrong with the latest bill in Ottawa. I sat up and knew right then that I had found my church!

A year later, I moved from North Van to Vancouver and purely because I didn’t want to spend  time commuting, joined UCV. I enjoyed the sermons and the music and this time I was more proactive. I started looking for a group to meet people and be able to help out. I found the Environment Team!

More about Tamiko Suzuki

 

Marie Witt — Zero Waste Enthusiast and Communications Committee Chair

As well as being a casual caretaker and zero waste enthusiast (founder and coordinator of the 4th Saturday Mending Meetup), Marie has now been voted in by the Communications Committee as their new chair.

Here’s what Marie says about her journey at UCV.

I am a UBC Student studying cognitive psychology and moral philosophy. Very soon, I will be doing a combined Masters/PhD in social attention and ethical decision-making using virtual reality technology.

I stumbled on UCV a couple of years ago when I went searching for a farm market near my home on Oak. At the time, UCV had a little farm market and advertised on the website.
I had never heard the word “Unitarian” and had no idea what the church stood for but I was intrigued by messages of inclusivity: from the rainbow scarf worn by the minister to the Unitarian principles about the inherent worth and dignity of all people, democratic respect for our community and protection of the planet.

I was feeling very isolated at the time, and struggling to make social media (the church of my generation) create the type of community and social sharing I needed it to be. I had a hunch that what was missing from my online social world was a feeling of responsibility and service. Facebook wasn’t asking me to do hard work. The hard conversations I was having were with those who looked and sounded like me. And most importantly, there was no showing up in real life. I wasn’t getting any feedback that I was valuable to my community. The “likes” to my perfect politically correct take-downs of injustice felt so hollow and ineffective. Most of my social interactions were missing this crucial component of “living in community” which is a messy, uncomfortable, diverse, collaborative, real process.

I have always been a deeply curious person, and also extremely distrustful of doctrine or claims of ontological certainty. I walked into Sunday service extremely “on guard” for anything remotely prescriptive-religious.

The first sermon I attended was about Helen Keller riding a bicycle. Rev. Steven Epperson incorporated some feminist history of bicycle riding and a general, hopeful message about knowing courage. I walked away feeling spiritually nourished. My academic brain was buzzing. I wanted to tell all my friends that I had found a spiritual place where values lived at the center and everything else – specific beliefs were adjacent within the value of free and open exploration – an invitation to be spiritually curious on your own terms.
It took me a while to join the church officially but I finally reached out to the environment team. I am now a member of the caretaking staff and I am a newly active member of the Zero Waste team!

I am organizing monthly Stitch n’ Bitch gatherings (think: unapologetically drinking, talking and knitting in public) and monthly slow fashion mending workshops where anyone can come to repair or alter their thrifted or worn clothing using hobby machines and sergers, etc.

I am feeling around for my activism through our church but I have boundless gratitude to the people gathered here, who accept me in this space and offer me guidance and belonging. I am here to reciprocate.

Contact Marie email

Bruce McIvor

Bruce McIvor attends UCV with his family.

Dr. Bruce McIvor, Lawyer and Historian, Principal, First Peoples Law Corporation. Dr. Bruce McIvor is principal of First Peoples Law Corporation, a law firm dedicated to defending and advancing Aboriginal title, Aboriginal rights and Treaty rights. His work includes both litigation and negotiation on behalf of Indigenous Peoples across Canada. Bruce is dedicated to public education. He recently published the third edition of his collection of essays entitled First Peoples Law: Essays in Canadian Law and Decolonization. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law where he teaches the constitutional law of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Bruce is a proud Métis from the Red River in Manitoba. He holds a law degree, a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history and is a Fulbright Scholar. Bruce, a member of the bar in British Columbia and Ontario, is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada.

First Peoples Law: Essays on Canadian Law and Decolonization, Bruce’s collection of essays, can be
downloaded for free from our website. Bruce also regularly holds free workshops for Indigenous people
throughout Canada on current issues in Aboriginal law.
Bruce is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada. He is a proud Métis from the Red River in Manitoba. Bruce holds a law degree, a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history, and is a Fulbright Scholar.

Scroll down to download his book of essays on First Peoples Law.

Here’s what his website says:

For me, advocacy is bred in the bone.

My ancestors experienced the disloyalty of the French and British, the Acadian Explusion, the conquest of New France, the dispossession at Red River and government’s refusal to honour the numbered Treaties.

I was focused on working for social justice through an academic career in history until I began working in the law with Louise Mandell, Q.C. (Mandell Pinder) and Stuart Rush, Q.C. (Rush Crane Guenther) on what I expected to be a temporary basis. That was over 15 years ago. Louise and Stuart introduced me to a world of principled, high quality legal advocacy that led me back to university for a law degree.

First Peoples Law combines my passions for law, history and social justice. Most importantly, it allows me to work with other committed professionals in supporting Indigenous Peoples’ ongoing struggle for respect and justice.

Email Bruce

Bruce’s Linkedin profile

Download Bruce’s Bio & CV

Click here to download your free pdf copy, order a paperback copy or do both: https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/public-edu…/publications.php

We have a limited number of free paperback copies available for non-profit Indigenous organizations in Canada available for the cost of shipping–email us for details enquire@firstpeopleslaw.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABORIGINAL TITLE

The Age of Recognition: The Significance of the Tsilhqot’in Decision

The Downside of the Tsilhqot’in Decision

TREATIES

Is Canada No Longer Responsible for Historical Treaties?

Provinces Burdened with Responsibility for Fulfilling Treaty Promises

What Tsilhqot’in and Grassy Narrows Mean for Treaty First Nations

The Piecemeal Infringement of Treaty Rights

THE METIS

A New Legal Remedy for Indigenous People

The Duty to Consult—A Second-Best Alternative

What Does the Daniels Decision Mean?

THE DUTY TO CONSULT

Provinces’ Have Every Right to Set Conditions on Pipelines

A Pipeline Too Far: How to Stop Kinder Morgan

The Inadequacy of Environmental Assessments

Environmental Assessments and the Duty to Consult

Is the Duty to Consult Clear as Mud?

The Duty to Consult—Ignore the Elephant

The Duty to Consult as an Ongoing Obligation

Breathing Life Back into the Duty to Consult

The Duty to Consult—the Groundhog Day Conundrum

Columbus’ Ghost: Past Infringements and the Duty to Consult

The Duty to Consult—A Roadblock to Direct Action

Good News for the Duty to Consult

Negotiate or Litigate?

The Duty to Consult—A Narrow Vision

How to Fulfill the Duty to Consult

TOWARDS DECOLONIZATION

Why Quebec but not Indigenous Appointments to the Supreme Court?

Canada’s Misguided Land Claims Policy

The Case for Denying Indigenous Rights

Colonialism’s Disciples: How Government Undermines Indigenous People

How the Canadian Legal System Fails Indigenous People

Indigenous Identity and Aboriginal Law: A Personal Journey

Download a free copy here: https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/public-edu…/publications.php

Laurie Anderson

“What are you curious about?” my coach asked at the beginning of 2019 and then suggested I follow that query to see where it would lead.  And so, I began noticing what sparked my curiosity.

Growing up on a farm, I felt an early, deep sense of connection with the natural world and her cycles and rhythyms.  Living non-urbanly for most of my life kept my connection to nature strong and vibrant but living in the city had dulled this awareness.

So, getting curious again, I searched the web for nature-based spirituality in Vancouver and was delighted to find the monthly Earth Spirit Circle gatherings and Paganism 101 course at UCV.  

Within these groups, I discovered people who use earth based and pagan practices in their lives to explore the magic and mystery of the cosmos as well as use ritual to tap into unseen realities and contribute to positive personal and societal change.  It is comforting to feel that I have found people who ‘speak my language’ even if our dialects and idioms may vary.

I invite you to come to an Earth Spirit Circle gathering.  We’re a welcoming, fun bunch and you might just find yourself curious about new ways to honour the divine in yourself, in nature, and throughout the cosmos.

Blessings to you and yours,

Laurie Anderson

 

Laura Imayoshi

Reverend Laura Imayoshi

laura-friedman

Rev. Imayoshi was raised attending the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. She did her undergraduate work in Religious Studies at UBC and her post graduate work at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. Laura trained extensively with the Faithful Fools, an interfaith street ministry in San Francisco. She brought their humour, wisdom and inspiration to Vancouver to start serving in the streets as a Unitarian community minister.

What is Laura’s Ministry?

Rev. Laura Imayoshi has worked with this congregation since 2004, and was ordained here in 2007. Her ministry is about creating meaningful connections between people.  She serves in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, working to build bridges of sharing and understanding between the Downtown Eastside and the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

Rev. Imayoshi’s ministry has been formally endorsed by the Unitarian Church of Vancouver but she is not paid or employed by the church.

What Is Community Ministry?

In the Thick of Things

A community minister is one who has chosen to build community by working in the community rather than in a parish church. There are four community ministries in Canada, of which two are in the greater Vancouver area.

Community ministry is about taking the values, principles, experience, questioning, and thoughtfulness of Unitarian Universalism and moving  outside of the walls of the church. Community ministers work wherever they are passionate – in hospitals as chaplains, building community gardens, working for legislative change, building a peace movement, running a homeless shelter… the possibilities are as diverse as the people in our congregations.

Unitarians have a rich history of community ministry. One of Vancouver’s community ministers is Reverend Laura Imayoshi.

Elizabeth Dunn

On Jan 19, I  attended ‘Raven People Rising’ at UCV. I feel honoured and truly fortunate to be able to learn more about the Heiltsuk Nation’s powerful journey to protect their territory and surrounding ocean waters. Read the full testimonial.

Karen and Ralph Theroux

In February 2016, my husband Ralph and I retired and moved from New York to Vancouver. We left our friends, family, church, and colleagues and sold the house we had lived in for 40 years to follow our children (and first grandchild) west. Our daughter and daughter-in-law had attended UCV, and Kathryn Roback performed their wedding ceremony at the Radha yoga centre and vegan restaurant in 2009. As newcomers, we needed a community and UCV seemed like a good place to start.

Following where our children lead has always been a good policy, and joining this church is no exception. We love attending Sunday morning services, where we invariably learn something new about the natural world, history, social issues, famous Unitarians, and much more. And there’s always beautiful music – especially when the choir is singing.

As a member of the Worship Services Committee, I’ve discovered how much thought and planning goes into every service. Ralph signed up for the Welcome Committee and will be greeting folks and handing out bulletins on Sundays. If you don’t see us in our usual pew, it’s probably because we’ve gone to Southern California to visit our younger daughter’s family. (They attend a small UU church in Aliso Viejo.)
As the announcements promise, a lot goes on at UCV – and not only on Sunday mornings. I’ve missed my garden since trading our suburban house for an East Van condo; working on the grounds committee and labyrinth has let me keep on digging, planting, and weeding. I also attend the monthly potluck book and lunch where we discuss and swap books old and new.

Ralph and I enjoy getting to know other members while attending dinners, concerts, forums, and other special programs, as well as participating in civic events as church members. We recently joined the climate action march where we met up with several UCVers, although, thanks to the enormous crowd, we never did find the Environment Committee folks with the church banner.

Since moving here we’ve been blessed with two more grandchildren, one here and one in California–where another is on the way in January. We became permanent residents of Canada this March, and we’re determined to explore as much of this beautiful province as our grandparenting schedule allows. Coming to Vancouver has changed our lives in ways we never could have foreseen—all good—and this church, and the friendly people who are part of it, have helped make us feel this is where we belong.

John Voth still enhancing the beauty of UCV after all these years!

John Voth’s latest project is creating garden markers for the labyrinth. Mary Bennett had found a photo of something like this and John envisioned something bigger and better! He is using cedar from his Kitsilano trees and burning the letters with a burning tool.
In succeeding years in the fall he will dry them out again sand the face and refresh the letters! At 92 and going strong we expect he’ll be doing that yearly for a long time.

John first joined UCV on November 18, 1962, 57 years ago.

John Voth’s art has had numerous exhibitions at UCV. He invites members to come by his private loft gallery by appointment only. Phone: 604-738-8983

John Voth’s calling card.
Opposing finger and thumb. Artist: John Voth. photo: Keith Wilkinson

Martha Saunders

Martha will be leading the worship service on Sunday, August 4th.

Martha joined UCV in the fall of 2018.

Martha Saunders Ph.D., taught religious studies and women’s studies for many years at Concordia University, Montreal, and at the University of Toronto, specializing in religious and environmental ethics.
Since 1995 she has been one of the long-time leaders of an independent eco-spiritual community in Toronto, called Ruah. This community lives and celebrates a spirituality inspired by the works of Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, and others, based in love of the earth and exploring what it means to “reinvent the human” (Thomas Berry) in the evolving cosmos. We believe that an Earth-based spirituality must include a spirituality of liberation that challenges us into right relationship with all other creatures.