Category: Recent News

The monthly e-newsletter selects about 5 news posts with this category. Priorities are news relevant to a wide number of people and especially of interest to visitors or new folk.

Doctrine of Discovery & Terra Nullius Forum Recording

Thank you to everyone who came on Nov 20th to attend our first forum on the topic of the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius.

Members of the IPA, Environment, Social Justice and Truth and Reconciliation teams joined together to organize and facilitate this forum. They were inspired by Bruce McIvor’s talk, and his book, Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It,  to educate themselves about The Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius.

They discovered that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on all religious denominations and faith groups to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius, and that the UUA and many Canadian churches had repudiated this doctrine – including the Anglican Church of Canada and the Catholic Bishops.  They planned this forum to start the the important conversation as to whether UCV might want to  join in denouncing this doctrine.


Q&A transcript – Nov 20 Forum

Please contact any of these UCV members if you would like to be involved in future discussions:,,

Holiday Advice from Zero Waste Team

Zero Waste Forum November 27, 2022

Create Memories Not Garbage from Metro Vancouver

Gift suggestions:


Forum will be linked here.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the true spirit of Christmas, I commit myself to…
* Remember those people who truly need my gifts
* Express my love in more direct ways than gifts
* Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values
* Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
* Rededicate myself to my spiritual growth


Free Study Guide
A study guide to use with the book (Copyright ©1991 by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli) is available for free online.


Contact for more information







UnPlug the Christmas Machine



Please donate socks, hats, mittens for Carnegie Sock Drive

Please consider donating new socks, hats, mittens and scarves to Carnegie Community Centre Sock Drive to support Downtown Eastside community members. The Social Justice Team has placed a SOCKS DONATION BOX in the entrance to Hewett Hall. Store bought or handmade items are most welcome.

  • New socks are the most requested item by people whose lives include homelessness and/or being under housed.
  • They walk often, keep their shoes on almost 24 hours a day, and do not have regular access to laundry facilities.
  • New socks prevent infections, diseases, and provide comfort and relief.  
  • Wool socks can keep feet warm even when wet, so please consider donating wool socks.
Lily Ha has knitted some beautiful toques!
The box is emptied each week and the items are taken to the Carnegie Centre. 
We are taking photos of the donated items and posting them here.

Tips for Reducing Food Waste this Festive Season

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  Reducing Food Waste

Laura Trotta: “Every time we throw food in the bin we’re not just wasting our money. We’re discarding the vast amounts of resources, energy and water that it took to produce, process, store, refrigerate, transport and cook the food.

Reducing food waste: photo of a vegan dish

Humous with veggies, orange segments and nigella seeds / Credit: Unsplash

Reducing food waste is one of the top five solutions to climate change listed in the New York Times bestseller “Drawdown…” While animal agriculture creates an estimated 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.

As we move through December and into the New Year, let’s remember to reduce food waste and to include vegan and vegetarian dishes in our Winter season feasting.

Suggested Links

Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes

Food and Climate Action

Foraging for Wild Mushrooms in Maple Ridge



reducing food waste: photo of mushroom hunters in a Maple Ridge forest

reducing food waste: photo of mushroom hunters in a Maple Ridge forest

Credit: Slow Food Vancouver

In the photos above, we find a group of friends engaging in an ancient (even timeless) human activity …foraging for mushrooms in a forest. They’re members of the Vancouver chapter of the Slow Food movement.

You might ask: What is Slow Food?

Slow Food is a global movement that pushes back against fast food and industrialized food systems. Its mission includes defending local food traditions, promoting artisanal foods and preserving food biodiversity.

The movement calls for tackling the climate crisis through the adoption of environmentally-friendly practices along all stages of the food supply chain, following a seed-to-landfill trajectory.

A brief foray into the shameful state of food waste in Canada today

At the intersection of food, conviviality, agriculture, social justice and everyday climate action … we conclude with a brief foray into the shameful state of food waste in Canada today.

According to Second Harvest: Each year, nearly 60% of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted. That’s 35.5 tonnes of food, or nearly $50 billion, lost annually. Furthermore, organic material in landfills produces methane gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions.

Nova Scotia farmer Richard Melvin reluctantly throws away enough cauliflower to feed a province. Despite being “perfectly good to eat,” up to 40 per cent of his 36 hectares of cauliflower gets plowed back into the ground each year. He’s looking for financial help to give surplus crops to food-insecure Canadians.

photo of a farmer in field holding heads of cauliflower in each hand

Credit: Jacqueline Melvin

photo of worker tossing produce into a huge pile of wasted fruits and vegetables

Credit: Ben Nelms/Reuters

In Langley BC, a worker dumps “pre-consumer food waste” which is fed to black soldier fly larvae to produce animal feed, at Enterra Feed Corporation.

(Edible insects are promoted as a solution to future global food shortages. But critics argue that black soldier fly farming is not an ideal solution for global food waste because it entrenches industrial animal agriculture and diverts attention from deeper food systems transformation.)

Simon Fraser University food researcher Tammara Soma says blame the system for food waste on BC farms and not the farmer. The main problems include shoppers who won’t buy imperfect fruits and veggies, a global food system that creates rock-bottom prices for produce, a decline in local food processors, and a lack of incentives to give away surplus food.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau would not answer the question when asked if Ottawa would consider funding to help farmers salvage crops that would otherwise go wasted.

Food Waste in Canada

The Facts

December food eco-challenge: graphic on food waste in Canada width=
December food eco-challenge: graphic on food waste in Canada


An 8th principle one year later – UCV survey updated response

UCV responses to a survey distributed by CUC to member congregations.
*REVISED 18 Nov 2022

After the UCV Denominational Affairs Committee (DAC) made its October submission for this CUC survey, the CUC extended the deadline for another three weeks – so we created a revised submission! The revised version includes more contributions from the UCV IBPOC/IPA, Environment, Ministry, and Social Justice Teams and the Denominational Affairs Committee. The revision separates inclusive actions taken in the past year from those taken in previous years. For the question on “Challenges” we decided to focus on our shared interests more than on our differences. The changes increased our overall word count from the requested 700 words to approximately 1000 words.

CUC’s Request:

CUC staff would like you to share your congregation’s or community’s experience during this past year of implementing the 8th Principle. The information you share here may be distributed to Unitarian Universalists as part of our Special Roundtable 8th Principle: 1 Year Later.

Only one submission per group/congregation, so please agree on one person to input your group’s responses. Please mind the word counts for each question. From these submissions we will ask some groups in advance to speak briefly (5 minutes) at the November 26, 2022 Roundtable on this topic.

Thank you for taking the time to share what your group/congregation has been experiencing. We appreciate it!

UCV’s revised response included input from representatives of the IBPOC and Allies, Social Justice, Environment, and Ministry Teams, (including Rev Lara Cowtan, Cindy Cashin, Elizabeth Dunn, Mei Jia Lam, Yvonne Marcus, Hisako Masaki, and Tamiko Suzuki) and from Denominational Affairs Committee members Lynn Armstrong, Mary Bennett, Leslie Kemp (Vice-Chair), Ingrid Luters, Kiersten Moore (DLFD), and Keith Wilkinson (Chair).

CUC Survey Questions:

  1. Has your congregation made a commitment to enacting/living out the 8th Principle? If not, what are some of the challenges?

UCV Response:

Yes, we have made a commitment and have 3 programming goals this year relating to the 8th Principle:

  • embodying our Covenant –
    • Terms of reference for all 22 Committees and Teams state the expectation to honour the UCV Covenant of Healthy Relations (2005)
  • enacting the 8th Principle – as noted below
  • exploring Landscapes of Aging – as noted below
  1. If your congregation has not made a commitment to the 8th Principle, can you discern if there is desire to do so? (*Unclear. We assume this was meant to read “if your congregation has not”.)
  2. Has your congregation / community begun to take action related to inclusivity? Please share.

UCV Response:

Examples from Nov 2021 – Nov 2022:

  • Bystander Intervention Training (led by the UCV IPA Team, CUC Widening the Circle Team, and UCV Truth and Reconciliation Group)
  • Repudiation of Doctrine of Discovery Forum (led by IPA Team)
  • Webpages for Truth and Reconciliation Action, IBPOC-IPA Action, and LGBTQ+ Equality
  • Social Justice Team worship services:
    • Reconciliation (Bruce McIvor and Aline Laflamme)
    • History of Sinixt peoples (Cole Harris)
  • Social Justice Team – hosted a panel on police violence due to systemic racism and bias towards those experiencing a mental health emergency; convened a discussion group on the book, Five Little Indians, which explores the experiences of residents of Indian Residential Schools; and reached out to UCV members to participate in Orange Shirt Day events in both 2021 and 2022.
  • IPA (IBPOC Plus Allies) Team formed to help IBPOC build bridges within the congregation and promote healthy race relations.
  • IPA members were delegates to the CUC AGM and did extensive outreach to UCV Teams & Committees including: Ministerial Transition Team, Ministerial Search Committee, Environment Team, Social Justice Team, UCV Women’s Group, Worship Services Team, Care & Concern Team, Mystery Pals, Youth Group, Liturgy Group, Healthy Relations Team, Elders-Intergenerational Circle, & Gardening Group.
  • IPA organized: Programs and activities to promote multicultural understanding (see #6)
  • Environment Team was committed to centering IBPOC voices in the Earth Day service: IPA produced videos about the intersectionality of environmental and racial issues.

Earlier examples:

  • Truth, Healing & Reconciliation Reflection Guides piloting
  • Joint sponsorship with Vancouver Quakers and others of solidarity events with indigenous people including: Orange Shirt days 2021 & 2022; gathering regarding revelation of unmarked graves 2021; fundraiser for Raven 2020; Building Bridges by Understanding the Village; Kairos Blanket (Offered for both UCV and wider community.)
  1. If yes, what specific type(s) of inclusivity are you focused on?

All types. We focus especially on rights of indigenous peoples through outreach and inclusion in events. We welcome members regardless of economic capacity and institute program sliding scales to reflect that. The above activities organized by the IPA Team were to help increase interaction and connection among UCV members across different cultures and racial identities.

  1. Who is involved in providing leadership? Learning? Action?.

UCV Response:

  • Children & Youth Program Coordinator
  • Director of Lifespan Faith Development
  • Environment Team
  • Genders and Sexualities Alliance
  • IBPOC Plus Allies (IPA) Team
  • Interim Minister
  • Music Director
  • Social Justice Team
  • Truth & Reconciliation Action Team
  • Worship Services Team
  1. What actions has your congregation been taking to inform and engage members?

UCV Response:

  • Lifespan Faith Development Director created a new children’s language Rainbow Principles poster including the 8th; the Tween group has been asked to put the 8th principle into their own words for kids.
  • Staff and members attended CUC Inclusivity Forums and advertised these in our eWeekly news
  • Staff and members participated in CUC sponsored Widening the Circle workshops and formed a working group
  • Lifting up of anti-racism/anti-oppression in worship services and welcoming of all types of identities
  • Website posting regarding the 8th principle one year later survey
  • Activities sponsored by the IPA:
    • Participated in: annual MMIWG march, Powell Street Festival celebrating Japanese Canadian art & culture, 360 Riot Walk (re 1907 anti-Asian riots in Vancouver), presentation for the Asian Heritage Festival, June 21 and Sept 30 Orange Shirt Day rallies
    • Organized: guided tour in Vancouver’s Chinatown, Japanese Cherry Blossom celebration, film screening of ‘Moon Over Tohoku’ & fundraiser for UCV’s Refugee Team
    • Created a video for the CUC’s Shining Lights Award & received honourable mention
    • Butterfly Project video – multilingual presentation of the UU Principles
    • Sunday service homily on theme of East meets West
  1. What specific actions has your congregation taken to address barriers to inclusion? Which barriers have you addressed? Which barriers are you planning to address?

UCV Response:

We have addressed:

Recent examples

  • Honour national and international days and months (eg Asian Heritage month)
  • Organized Bystander Intervention training program
  • Participated in CUC/UCV programs ‘Widening Circle’ and the ‘Healing Circle’
  • 8th principle translated into Chinese for pamphlets and website
  • Provided grants to indigenous students for post secondary education
  • Gender inclusive washroom signage
  • Replaced pews with chairs for varied seating arrangements
  • Created “pray area” in our sanctuary for young children and parents

Earlier examples

  • Celebrate many ethnic and religious holidays
  • Chinese language webpages, pamphlets, and signage
  • Funded external groups for inclusivity and reconciliation
  • Genders and sexualities inclusive banners at events
  • Headsets for hearing assistance
  • Hybrid worship services and meetings increase inclusivity
  • Indigenous land use recognition on website, stationery, and orally at events
  • Ramps for wheelchair access in most areas
  • Wheelchair accessible washroom improvements.
  1. How has your congregation’s / community’s actions resulted in greater inclusivity? How do you know?

UCV Response:

  • Shared social justice action includes people from different cultural, income, and age cohorts
  • Events we sponsor intentionally involve diverse participants
  • Increased number of young adults engaging in various areas of congregational life.
  • Increased inclusion and centering of voices, stories, music, and heritage of marginalized people in worship services. Visibility and acknowledgement of gender diversity within worship services have received warm acknowledgement by trans members.
  • All IPA sponsored activities and service contributions aid inclusivity.
  • Greater inclusivity is associated with increased confidence & trust: as a result, an IBPOC member has reclaimed her Chinese birth name.
  1. Describe the challenges your congregation / community has faced

UCV Response:

UCV members share a common interest in wanting to remove all barriers to inclusivity in our community. Some significant disagreements remain about the appropriateness of the approval process and the wording of the 8th principle.

  • COVID restricted fulsome face to face discussion of differing viewpoints.
  • Some of our print materials (bookmarks, pamphlets, etc.) don’t state the 8th principle.
  1. Share the successes your congregation / community has experienced

UCV response:

  • Our IPA Team has worked vigorously according to its mandate: to engage and connect with the congregation to enact the 8P – e.g., IPA retreat was well attended by congregation. (See above for other successful events)  
  • With increased staff support we offer more programs meant to include “youngerish” members and friends.
  • Young members have increasingly played major roles in designing/curating Sunday services and in providing tech support.
  • Our Genders and Sexualities Alliance ensured there was representation at every Sunday service during June and led a worship service on gender in July (Vancouver’s Pride).
  • Increased postings on UCV’s Facebook and email groups about Metro Vancouver cultural and arts events increase knowledge and awareness of other cultures.
  • We are piloting the formation of an Elder’s Circle to address meaning and spirit in aging as well as to form cross-generational connections with other peer age groups


End of survey.

CUC Virtual Fall Gathering 18-20 Nov 2022

CUC Virtual Fall Gathering
18-20 Nov 2022 (Fri 7 pm, Sat 930 am)

Theme: Join the national Unitarian Universalist community (the CUC) as we share a weekend online exploring the topic “Living Into Covenant.”
Click for details


8th Principle 1 Year Later: CUC Leaders’ Roundtable,
26 Nov 2022 (Sat 9 am)

Join CUC as Canadian Unitarian Universalist (UU) groups share their challenges and successes removing barriers to full inclusion for all peoples. We will look ahead to the coming year and consider how we move forward.
Click for details.

UUA Article 2 Study Commission: Background Reading

Background on UUA’s proposals to change the principles and sources. Why is this being considered? What would a new set of guiding documents look like? How would this affect Canadian UU congregations? Start with this link and follow the other links imbedded there — or visit the UUA website and study the resources there.
Click for Details.

Early in 2023, UCV and CUC will likely host some face to face and online discussions of these proposals, the reasons for them, and alternatives being considered. There’s lots to read!

Ministry Milestone!

It is with deep joy and gratitude I share that I have reached a professional milestone: I have been granted Full Fellowship as a minister in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  This is a bit akin to getting tenure, and the last major milestone our faith recognizes in a Minister’s formation and service before retirement or death. I will be recognized at the UUA General Assembly in Pittsburg during the Service of Living Tradition.

This has been a journey worth looking back on. At the 2013 UUA General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, I apprehensively attended a Prospective Student luncheon with Meadville Lombard School for Ministry which marks the starting point for these past 9 life-changing years. Our religion has a rigorous and defined path to ministry which includes a Masters of Divinity, psychological evaluations, chaplaincy training, community and congregational internships as well as other learnings and processes.

My path has not been easy or straightforward. There was the back and forth travel between my home in Switzerland and seminary in Chicago for several years, and many, many other travels. I’ve been evaluated constantly by multiple parties, including professors, as individuals and as teams, my teaching pastors, multiple UU church and fellowship boards and internship committees at my teaching congregations in Geneva, Amsterdam, Basel and then the Unitarian Universalist Church of Westport, Connecticut where I interned for a year and was also Ordained, and then by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee who granted my Preliminary Fellowship, and before that by peers and supervisors in my chaplaincy training, and later by an international panel as I served communities across Europe before returning to Canada and being evaluated again in a hospital chaplaincy setting, and finally, these last couple of years with the Vancouver Unitarians Board of Trustees and Committee on Ministry, along with my own self-evaluations and learning plans all the way through.  I think that is it.  For now.  If nothing else, there should be significantly less paper-work in my future!

It’s called “Full Fellowship” now, but it used to be “Final Fellowship.” The change is a good one – it signifies that we are never done learning, growing, and developing. By any name, it is an affirming milestone to reach, to be recognized as having served well, sometimes in very difficult situations, and as being committed to my on-going learning and growth. This incredible journey has changed me in ways I hadn’t imagined, opening my heart and horizons in ways I hadn’t known possible.

It is always good to recognise our achievements and to celebrate together.  I share this celebration with you, the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, with deep gratitude for being a meaningful and supportive part of this journey.

Grateful for the journey, grateful for the call, and grateful to all who have accompanied me on this journey. So… now I am beginning to look around with curiosity and an open heart to see what’s next, and what I can do with that extra time in the coming year(s)…

In faith and service,

Rev. Lara Cowtan


Thanks to Thomas Park @thomascpark for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

Vancouver Unitarians Cherish Our Community

How do we see ourselves as we transition to our next settled minister?

We cherish our community – our people, the quality of our relationships, the respectful way we interact with each other, and how we strengthen our connections through activities both within and beyond our congregation.

Over 130 congregants answered 8 Thought-Provoking Questions about their experiences in the UCV congregation. The Congregational Identity Team (CIT – Rob Dainow, Leslie Hill, Marg Fletcher, Naomi Taylor, John Boyle) analyzed these responses into the six major, interdependent themes shown in the figure. COMMUNITY is one important theme.

Many people spoke of “finding a home” at UCV, of our openness to all new members, and a desire to increase the ethnic and economic diversity of our congregation and the number of younger persons and family members, and our general openness to all new members.

“We create this congregation together: it is not given from above.”

The full CIT report is available online here. You can read more about how the CIT collected and analyzed the 130 responses on page 3, or about how COMMUNITY is so important to our congregational identity on page 6.

Overdose Prevention Society: Our Outreach Opportunities Fund recipient

Our OOF recipient for the months November 2022-February 2023 is the Overdose Prevention Society.

The mandate of the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) is to be leaders in the harm reduction movement with a continual push for change and justice, offer employment and advancement opportunities for members of the Downtown Eastside community, and continually work to break the stigma of addiction through  empowering drug users and fighting against preconceptions of substance use.

OPS continues to challenge the normalization of the opioid crisis every day. We are a community driven, grassroots initiative that bring people in from the alley and provide a safe and welcoming place to use drugs.

Please watch this informative interview with Sarah Blyth, Executive Director and other OPS staff. 

Services offered by OPS:

  • Safe clean environment for people to use drugs
  • Drug testing
  • Harm reduction supplies
  • Jobs for DTES community members
  • Housing support
  • Food distribution
  • Clean and safe washroom for homeless

We are also home to MYSAFE

Contact for those interested in volunteering:

History of the Overdose Prevention Society:

OPS was founded in September 2016 by three women who were concerned about how little was being done about the growing fentanyl crisis in Vancouver. In potential violation of the law, they set up a drug injection site in an alley in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside to combat the many overdose deaths and have saved hundreds of lives. Their peer-based services are beneficial to the health authority, to the community, and to the participants themselves and ensure access to health and welfare services to excluded, vulnerable and marginalized people.

What Do We Call Ourselves Task Force – announcement and report on latest forum

At the October 16 Forum we updated attendees about matters concerning our legal name.  31-34 were in the Fireside room and 3 attended remotely.


The October 16 Forum focused on VOTING PROCEDURES AND LEGAL REQUIREMENTS to maintain our charitable status.

Because of the diversity of opinions about whether our legal name should continue to contain Church or not, and uncertainty about whether we all can find common ground about our name, we presented a democratic method for decision making.  A PowerPoint presentation about ranked ballots was shown.  This is a way of eliminating the less popular alternatives one at a time to arrive at the most popular ones. A second vote will be held between the most popular alternative and Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

The threshold percentage for the second vote required to change our current name will be decided by the Board.

We do not want to rush through this process. It’s emotional for many who need time to consider the implications.  The final vote may not happen until the new year.

If you were unable to attend, you are welcome to contact us with your questions and concerns.