Category: Indigenous people

Outreach Opportunity Fund is collecting for Wild Bird Trust of BC

Starting March 6 and running until June 2022, our next Outreach Opportunity Fund recipient will be the Wild Bird Trust of BC. WBT manages the Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver. ​The Trust’s mission is to provide wild birds with sanctuary through ecological protection and restoration, and support communities with education, culture, and reconciliation programs. With 80,000 annual visitors, it features 5km of trails, a spectacular Nature House with year-round public artistic exhibitions, a social enterprise nursery, and wildlife education.

The Trust’s land is situated within the traditional and unceded territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN). Since 2017, WBT has embarked on a redress program to decolonize operations, giving up site governance to TWN and repairing the harm done by increasing cooperation and developing programs for the benefit of the TWN community.

Statement Condemning Violent RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en Territory

The Vancouver Unitarians condemn the violent RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory, including the arrest of over 30 unarmed land defenders and two journalists. The RCMP action is a direct violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which states that “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories” (Article 10). In allowing this action, the BC and Canadian governments are abrogating their commitments to implement UNDRIP. The RCMP raid is also a violation of Canadian Supreme Court decisions, specifically Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, which affirms the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership’s jurisdiction over traditional territory.

 

We stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and land defenders. We call on the government to drop all charges against the arrestees and respect Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ jurisdiction over their territories.

 

This statement aligns with UCV’s vision and our UU Principles:

Our Unitarian Principles and UCV’s vision call us to take action when we see injustice.

Issuance of a statement in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs aligns with four of the Unitarian principles. Specifically:

  • Principle 2: “Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations”
    • The militarized RCMP response against unarmed people is inhumane and unjustified.
  • Principle 6: “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all”
    • The government of British Columbia has approved legislation to implement The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP is a critical document that ensures Indigenous Peoples’ rights are respected including the right to live without persecution on their land. The RCMP raid, including arrests and burning of cabins, violates this commitment.
  • Principle 7: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”
    • The actions taken by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters were to protect the land from devastation caused by the construction of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline. Specifically, they are trying to preserve the water quality of the Wedzin Kwa which provides their drinking water and is their essential salmon habitat, and as such, is clearly connected to our interdependent web of existence.
  • Principle 8: “Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions”
    • Indigenous People routinely face disproportionate police violence and violations of their basic human rights. As a congregation that has committed to dismantling racism and systemic barriers, we must stand in solidarity with those  who are currently being oppressed.

 

Statement of UCV 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”.

 

 

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.

IBPOC Caucus: What’s in a Name?

The BIPOC Caucus is changing its name to IBPOC

What is the difference between BIPOC and IBPOC?

Nothing other than pronunciation and symbolism.

IBPOC pronounced “ib (rhymes with rib) pok” or “eye bee pok”;  stands for Indigenous (people), Black (people), and People of Colour.

BIPOC pronounced “bye pok” stands for Black (people), Indigenous (people), and People of Colour.

Why change the name now?

Until now our UCV group had not bothered to investigate alternative names to BIPOC (which some of our members disliked) simply because there were so many other projects and issues to address. Now that an Indigenous community leader, Doreen Manuel, has asked that we change our name to IBPOC, and seeing that many large organizations (UBC, CBC, BCTF, BCNDP, Knowledge Network, Brock University) have already started to use this Canadian version, we have decided to follow suit. 

Why change at all?

  • Even though we disagree with listing groups based on Who Has Experienced the Most Racism (“trauma Olympics”), in light of the 215 Indigenous children found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School site, the acts of genocide inflicted on Indigenous people by church and state needs to be be recognized.
  • In BC, Indigenous people have never ceded or treatied away their land; we are living on THEIR land. Just like a land acknowledgement, which is given before starting a meeting, putting Indigenous people first in the IBPOC name is a similar acknowledgement of their importance.
  • We acknowledge the generational trauma caused by residential schools, the sixties scoop, laws against leaving reserves or hiring lawyers to fight back, villages and lands destroyed, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, lack of drinking water, and poor treatment within the medical and criminal justice systems as the most glaring examples.
  • Changing our name is a small symbolic gesture but it is a start.
  • The BIPOC acronym was created in the US. While we understand there is racism that is and has been experienced by Black Canadians, especially those connected with chattel slavery that was an order of magnitude larger in the U.S. (due primarily to the economics of cotton), we feel that we need to acknowledge the enormous damage that has been inflicted on Indigenous people in Canada. 
  • Changing the name is an indication that we are thoughtfully adapting ideas from other countries and provinces to our local context. 
  • And finally, we had to go to the effort to teach people what BIPOC meant. We can now teach them what IBPOC means. Education is key.

 

by Tamiko Suzuki

Would you like to join a working group to support IBPOC events and initiatives? The UCV IBPOC Caucus is a small group and welcomes white folx to join to support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Film Night in June- Indigenous Peoples Day

In honour of National Indigenous History Month, the UCV BIPOC Caucus is proud to present:

 

Unceded Chiefs (2019) 1hr 3 min

 

 

 

The film is not released to the public yet and will only be available to us until June 18.

 

Friday Film Night Discussion on Zoom : June 18, 7-8pm

Special guest, producer, Doreen Manuel

Everyone from the congregation and the greater community welcome!

 

This new film covers the historic early activism of BC First Nations Leaders who in the late 1960’s unified to reject Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s proposed 1969 White Paper Policy. Director Doreen Manuel skillfully weaves a story of resilience and determination through interviews and archival audio with the people who lived the battle and the children of the Chiefs who had dedicated their lives to the survival of their Aboriginal title and rights.

Naomi Klein: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLafbWVDugU 

Lorne Cardinal:  https://vimeo.com/394718492 

Facebook: 

 

 

 

 

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

Labyrinth

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

 

 

President’s Statement on Kamloops Residential School

The UCV Board of Trustees would like to express our deep sorrow for the 215 children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. We grieve for these children and their families. But we must not look away from this horror. Let us examine our troubled history, and ourselves, and bear witness to the history and lived experience of residential school survivors and their families. Let us look the facts in the face and transform through intentional action, on a personal and societal level, this white colonial empire that is still doing great harm. And let us Unitarians acknowledge that we have an opportunity within our midst to intentionally and accountably commit to dismantling racism within our congregations and within the UU movement by adopting the proposed 8th Principle.

These children were removed from their families by the federal government and forced to attend the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These children died while under the ‘care’ of the federal government and school staff. We know, as the Truth and Reconciliation Report released in 2015 has confirmed, that residential schools were “a systemic government-sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples.” We know that thousands of residential school survivors have confirmed experiencing emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of school staff. We know the sad truth that these 215 children are just a small portion of the thousands who were murdered by the residential school system.

If you are looking for next steps in this moment, here are some of the resources that Indigenous groups and individuals have generously shared over the last few days. A vigil will be held, Remember the Children, Wednesday June 2 at 6 pm at Grandview Park (1657 Charles Street, Vancouver).

Resources and services for Indigenous folks:

If you’re a settler, here are some places where you can make a donation to support residential school survivors and their families:

If you’re a settler, here are some educational resources on residential schools:

Image by Mike Labrum via Unsplash.com

O Canada 2021 – Twelve days of honouring celebrations?

by Keith Wilkinson

For 2021, let’s celebrate a whole collection of summer holidays (holy days) for one grand summer festival honouring all people and other beings while bearing witness to the challenges that call Unitarians to keep on working for justice…

My covenant group met on Canada Day in 2020 and we shared some thoughts about what we liked and disliked about Canada Day. There were many things we appreciated about Canadian culture and political systems, and also many areas where we felt we still fell short and needed to keep on working. Following are some celebrations we could perhaps honour next year leading up to a more complete and satisfying celebration of Canada Day. (Ah…but who amongst us might take the lead!)

2021   Jun 20 Sunday World Refugee Day

This event honors the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

Jun 20 Sunday Fathers Day

Father’s Day is an unofficial holiday to celebrate fathers around the world—although the date for celebration varies.

Jun 21 Monday Summer Solstice from a scientific viewpoint

It’s the scientific start to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, when this half of the world tilts toward the sun.

Litha – Summer solstice from a Wiccan viewpoint

The Solstice Teaches Us   A poem from the UUA Worship Web

Jun 21 Monday National Indigenous Peoples Day

A day to celebrate and learn more about the cultural diversity of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada.

Jun 21 Monday International Day of Yoga

Yoga is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow as a sport and a lifestyle. Traditional yoga has a meditative and spiritual core in addition to the physical exercises. The result is a wide variety of schools, practices, and goals within the yoga community. It is because of yoga’s holistic approach to body and mind that the UN decided in 2014 to dedicate June 21 to this ancient tradition.

“Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.” said Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General.

Jun 23 Wednesday Public Service Day

The United Nations’ Public Service Day is held on June 23 each year. It recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service. The day aims to celebrate the value and virtue of service to the community.

Jun 23 Wednesday International Widows’ Day

International Widows’ Day was introduced to address poverty and injustice faced by widows and their children in many countries. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2010 and is observed annually on June 23.

Jun 24 Thursday Fête nationale du Québec (FR)

Fête nationale du Québec (EN)     AKA Ste-Jean-Baptiste Day  (EN)

The people of Québec celebrate their national holiday with more than 750 celebrations held across the province on 23 and 24 June. Organized by nearly 20,000 volunteers, the festivities of the Fête nationale include more than 1,050 events and 360 bonfires, in addition to some of the largest public gatherings in Québec.

Jun 25 Friday Day of the Seafarer

In 2010, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), decided to designate June 25th as the International Day of the Seafarer as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.  The purpose of the day is to give thanks to seafarers for their contribution to the world economy and the civil society; and for the risks and personal costs they bear while on their jobs.

Jun 26 Saturday  International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society. This day is supported by individuals, communities and various organizations all over the world. 

Jun 26 Saturday  International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Rehabilitation centres and human rights organizations around the world celebrate the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26 each year. The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime. This event gives everyone a chance to unite and voice their opinions against human torture.

Organizations, including the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and Amnesty International, have played an active role in organizing events around the world to promote the day. Activities may include photo exhibitions, the distribution of posters and other material to boost people’s awareness of issues related to human torture, and television advertisements.

Jun 27 Sunday Canadian Multiculturalism Day

Discover the significance of multiculturalism in Canada — ensuring that all citizens keep their identities, take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging.

Jun 30 Wednesday International Asteroid Day

June 30 is the anniversary of the Tunguska impact, also known as the Tunguska event. On that day a large explosion occurred in the sky over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia.

It destroyed about 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of the forest in the area, flattening about 80 million trees. The area is sparsely populated, and there were no official reports of human casualties.

It is thought that an asteroid or a comet was responsible for the blast. The Tunguska event is considered to be the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recorded history.

2021 Jul 1 Thursday Canada DayUCV’s Patrick Dubois’ 2020 Musical Tribute

What do we need to do as Canadian Unitarians to help make Canada Day a time of celebration for all people and not just a settler’s celebration?

 

On-going

The Butterfly Way ProjectThe David Suzuki Foundation

Environmental Rights

Climate Solutions

Further information on 2021 holidays worldwide:

United Nations Holidays

timeanddate.com

UUA Worship Web – a poem on summer

Also:

  • Animal Rights Awareness Week – (Mid June) 13-19 June 2021?
  • Fish are Friends, Not Food Week! – (Last Week of June) 20-26 June 2021?
  • National Pollinator Week – 20-26 June 2021?

Playlist: Rethinking Reconciliation


A fundamental rethink is needed to save Canada’s reconciliation project from being an on-going massive failure. — Bruce McIvor

UCV Podcasts

Rethinking Reconciliation

*The Podcasts in this Playlist were sponsored by the Reconciliation Working Group (a sub-committee of the Social Justice Committee.)

1 Reconciliation is a Massive Failure (16:34 mins)
Bruce McIvor, Lawyer and Historian
2 Reflections on Reconciliation (23:15 mins)
Bruce McIvor and Metis Elder Aline Laflamme
3 Arrested! One Settlers Journey To and From Vancouver Unitarians (22:21 mins)
Nan Gregory, Storyteller and Artist
4 Settler Colonialism, Indigenous People and Unitarianism (31:21 mins)
Cole Harris, UBC Professor Emeritus
5 Indigenous People and the Law, Stories of Resistance and Hope (23:44 mins)
Bruce McIvor, Lawyer and Historian

Guest Speakers

Bruce McIvor
is a proud Métis from the Red River in Manitoba. He holds a law degree, a doctorate in Aboriginal and environmental history, is a Fulbright Scholar and adjunct professor at the UBC Allard School of Law

Aline LaFlamme
Her name means the light (Aline) and the flame (LaFlamme.) She also carries the name Many Buffalo Running. Aline is a grandmother and Metis from Alberta. Among her many gifts she leads a drumming circle called Daughters of the Drum

Nan Gregory
is a professional storyteller, artist and award-winning author. Born in Boston Massachusetts, she grew up in Victoria British Columbia, and now makes her home in Vancouver. Nan pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for protesting TMX

Cole Harris
is a Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia and an internationally renowned historical geographer. His academic field is colonialism and the native land question in British Columbia, and patterns of early Canadian settlement

photo

Bruce McIvor
photo

Aline LaFlamme

photo

Nan Gregory
photo

Cole Harris

Note from the Board Chair – Jan 1, 2021

Dear Unitarian friends,

I hope you had a rejuvenating winter break. It is a new year, a fresh start, and a lot of exciting work lies ahead. I have two invitations for you to consider in the coming weeks which both further the mission and the vision of our church.

Because we as Unitarians are committed to creating a more inclusive, compassionate and equitable world, I am organizing a Decolonizing Practices Workshop for staff, board, and members that will be run by professional Indigenous consultants.

I would like us all to have the opportunity to get better informed on decolonizing our practices and how to diversify our organization’s membership and board to include more Indigenous people and persons of colour. We need to identify the barriers to our organization and to develop the solutions. This one-day workshop will also include a half-day on the history and ongoing colonization in Canada.

The Decolonizing Practices Workshop will be in early spring and hopefully live and in person. If Covid prevails, we will pursue an online format. If you are interested in this, please let me know so I have an idea of interest and numbers. If the numbers are high, I may have to organize two workshops. president@vancouverunitarians.ca.

Secondly, I would like to invite you all to an Ideas Forum for the Upgraded Sanctuary to generate ideas together for how the new space could be used and be more productive.

This Ideas Forum will be on Sunday Jan. 17th at 12:30 on zoom. Galen Elfert and Dianne Crosbie will be on hand to answer any questions about the lighting/sound upgrades and the new chairs.

The seed behind the Sanctuary Upgrades was planted by Steven, and furthered by a generous donor. Then we asked ourselves, could our beautiful Sanctuary become a cultural and spiritual destination, a hub for various performance and spiritual groups to meet, worship, rehearse, perform, share ideas?  In this way, could we attract a younger and more diverse demographic to our Church, boosting accessibility by allowing for more varied and inclusive styles of music/art/worship?

We as a congregation are welcoming and wish to diversify our membership. So let us be pro-active and create a space that is inviting to various creative interests, ages and spiritual practices. Let us not only create that space, let us intentionally seek out and invite communities into our space. Our new Membership and Outreach staff person will definitely help with the marketing and outreach end of things, but what else can we envision for this space and how can we fill it?

Come with your ideas and let’s imagine together! I look forward to seeing many of you there and sharing our thoughts.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Diane Brown, UCV Board President.