Category: IBPOC

Indigenous, Black and People of Colour

Celebrating Latin American Heritage Month – recommended books and films to get started

Latin American Heritage Month runs from Oct. 14th to November 2nd.

Latincouver is hosting a number of events in Vancouver to mark the occasion. To learn more about the organization, or for the official website of all the events, visit

Thanks to Gabriella, a new friend and attendee of UCV, for putting together the following list of recommended books and films.




Open veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay)

Since it was published, in 1971, this brilliant text, written by the Uruguayan journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano, has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. “Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation. Thus, he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin. These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe”. This an essential reading to understand the major consequences of colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism on Latin America and its people. (Image:


The posthumous memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis (Brazil)

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, known as Machado de Assis or Bruxo do Cosme Velho (Cosme Velho’s Wizard), was a Brazilian novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer and is regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature. Among his masterpieces, there is the 1881 novel The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas. The novel is considered the first romance of the realist movement in Brazil and is narrated by a ghost of a decadent aristocrat that decides to write his story from the end, noting his political ambitions and failed romances. The fact of being already deceased allows Brás Cubas to sharply criticize the Brazilian society and reflect on his own disillusionment, with no sign of remorse or fear of retaliation. The novel has been compared to the work of everyone from Cervantes to Joyce to Nabokov to Borges to Calvino and has influenced generations of writers around the world. (Image:


One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)

Gabriel García Márquez, fondly known as Gabo, is considered one of the most relevant authors of the 20th century and a Latin American gem. The Colombian journalist, novelist, screenwriter and short-story writer is responsible for popularizing a literary style known as “magic realism”, in which realistic situations are combined with magical elements. And it is this combination that makes some of his novels so special, being One Hundred Years of Solitude one of them. The novel presents to the readers the story of Macondo, a fictional village that is the hometown of the Buendía family, with a realistic setting and fantastic episodes. Through rich and shrewd prose, Gabo makes the readers confront conflicts such as the desire for solitude through the lens of Greek myths. (Image:



City of God (Brazil)

Released in 2002, City of God is one of the most famous and celebrated Brazilian movies. The film portrays the story of two young men, Rocket and Lil Ze, who live in the favela called City of God, in Rio de Janeiro, over three decades and shows the different directions that both take in their lives. Rocket becomes a budding photographer who documents the increasing drug-related violence in his neighborhood whereas Lil Ze turns into an ambitious drug dealer who uses Rocket and his photos to increase his fame as a turf war erupts with his rival. Something that called peoples’ attention is that most of the actors in the movie were, in fact, residents of favelas. The film received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2004: Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Writing. (Image:


The secret in their eyes (Argentina)

The 2009 Argentinian crime drama was based on the novel La pregunta de sus ojos (The question in the eyes) by Eduardo Sacheri. The film depicts the retired Argentinian federal justice agent Benjamín Espósito, who decides to write a novel using an old closed case as the source material. The case is the brutal rape and murder of Lilian Coloto. With the help of a former colleague, judge Irene Menéndez Hastings, Benjamín attempts to make sense of the past. The journey through his memories sets Benjamín on a thrilling emotional path that leads to a shocking realization. The film received important awards, notably the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82th Academy Awards, making Argentina, with 1985’s The Official Story, the first country in Latin America to win it twice. In 2015, the American film industry made a remake of the movie, but it is important to highlight that the Argentinian version is the original one. (Image:


Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)

One of the most acclaimed movies of the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is the 2006 Pan’s Labyrinth. The movie takes into focus Ofelia, a child who believes in fairy tales. Following the Spanish Civil war, during the Francoist period, the little girl enters a world of cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather. One night, a fairy leads her to a mysterious faun creature who informs her that she is a princess and needs to complete three tasks to establish her royal heritage. The Spanish-Mexican movie is considered one of the best fantasy films ever made and received widespread critical acclaim, with many praising the visual effects, direction, cinematography and performances. Pan’s Labyrinth also won numerous international awards, including three Academy Awards and three BAFTA Awards, including Best Film Not in the English Language. (Image:

UCV Small Groups: Fall Start-up and Refresh

Join, Create, or Register a Small Group

collection of books on a table, titles related to spirituality, justice, and Unitarian Universalism.

Do you want to connect with 6-12 people around a theme, interest, creative endeavor, or spiritual question?

Do you already organize, facilitate or participate in a Small Group, Book Discussion, Circle, or regular small gathering in-person at UCV or through UCV Zoom? Tell us about it!

Vancouver Unitarians vision is for a more compassionate world. At UCV we deepen our spiritual and religious lives, grow and enrich our congregation, and advocate for love and justice.

To connect folks, new and old members alike, to deep meaningful community, Kiersten and Derrick need to know what is already going on, what you are looking for, what possibilities you imagine, and what you want to create.

To re-vitalize our directory of small groups, join an existing group, or create a new one, please use this form:

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.




Butterfly Language Project: Our shared principles

The Butterfly Language Project is an initiative of the IBPOC Caucus of the Vancouver Unitarians. This video highlights our shared principles, including the 8th principle recently adopted by the Canadian Unitarian Council. The IBPOC Caucus is one of the newest groups at UCV. 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.

Please watch and share this video. If you’re interested in getting involved in the Butterfly Language Project, contact

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  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 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 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.

Taking Action: UCV contributes funding to supporting marginalized communities

Outreach Opportunities Fund donates $5000 to residential school survivors society 

From June to October of this year a portion of our Sunday collection was put aside for the important work of the IRSSS. It was the single biggest donation of the Outreach Opportunities Fund in the last 10 years. This is a modest contribution, and just one part of our commitment as an organization to dismantling racism and colonialism.

R&A Koerner Foundation Community Fund Award supports marginalized students at Langara College 

RAKFCF is funding a bursary programme for Langara College, comprising annual grants of $10,000 for three years for further education of marginalized youth in financial need, starting January 2022. One bursary of $2,000 each will be awarded to an Indigenous youth, an IBCOP youth, a youth with a disability and two bursaries of $2,000 each will be awarded to youths who are single parents.

Langara College will select students in accordance with its policies and procedures and the Langara College Foundation will administer the programme. Additional contributions to the RAKFCF’s bursary programme can be made by any person, society, or foundation: if any congregant would like to give additional funds to this programme, please contact Melody Mason.

Celebrating Latin American Heritage Month at UCV

In Canada, October is Latin American Heritage month and UCV’s IBPOC (Indigenous, Black and People of Colour) caucus (plus Allies) are arranging for each Sunday to include something to celebrate this. You’re invited to join a movie discussion night on Oct. 15 about “being ñ,” a short film about Latino identity. There are also limited spaces still available for a dine-out evening Oct. 20 at Alimentaria Mexicana on Granville Island. In addition to food and film, we’ll be honouring Latin American Heritage Month by featuring the work of female poets of Latin American heritage.

New program available: Anti-Racist Foundations

Leonie Smith and Catherine Strickland will co-host an 8-week series, Anti-Racist Foundations. This program is for UCV members and friends interested in building their capacity and skills as antiracists. The series will focus on the skills of racial self-awareness, identifying and attending to impact, communicating about difficult topics, and empathy and self-empathy practices.

The series will run from the week of Oct. 21 through December. *Update: the first four sessions starting Oct. 21 will be available on Zoom only.

Four of the eight sessions will be led by Leonie Smith, an antiracism trainer certified in Nonviolent Communication. These sessions will focus on learning. The remaining four sessions will be hosted by Catherine Strickland and will focus on practice and integrating the learning. The sessions will start at 7p.m. and last for 90 minutes. The sessions will be accessible both in person at UCV and online using the OWL camera and other AV equipment. We wish to acknowledge the generous support of the R&A Koerner Foundation Fund in making this program possible.

Registration is limited, so sign up today:


About the Facilitator

P. Leonie Smith has worked in frontline and senior management positions in non-profit organizations. She has almost 20 years experience training, coaching, and in mediation. In particular, she focuses on surfacing the practical implementation of principles of nonviolence, including care, connection, and shared understanding in service to collective work.

Some Options for Action

Reversing the climate crisis

Study these resources and then choose some to act on:

Project DrawdownClimate Solutions by Sector

“Project Drawdown’s mission is to help the world reach “drawdown”—the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible.”

82 Partial Solutions

All We Can Save Project  – a feminist initiative

   “Our mission: To nurture a welcoming, connected, and leaderful climate community, rooted in the work and wisdom of women, to grow a life-giving future.”

Discussion circles

Emotional and mental health support


Photo: Sky smoky from forest fires near Osoyoos, BC, summer 2018.




Dismantling racism

In British Columbia:

Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society

In Canada:

  1. Ask the CUC Board and Staff to describe the work that is being planned  to advance the strategic priorities approved by delegates at the 8 May 2021 AGM in these four areas of social justice:
    – Truth, Healing and Reconciliation
    Dismantling racism

    – Climate justice
    – Refugee support
  1. Encourage the CUC to continue to implement its 2020 strategic priorities, notably
    – Advance social justice initiatives, including truth, healing, and reconciliation amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples
  1. Ask the CUC to invest more resources in support of anti-racist work.

Photo: Sculpture by Virgil Smoker Marchand at the Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos, BC. 2018