Category: Social Justice

News from the Social Justice Committee or related to social justice and posted by another group

Youth Taking Action with Rallies for CBC Leaders’ Debate on Climate

Vancouver Unitarians rallied once again in support of climate justice. This time it was on July 17 at CBC Vancouver. The rally was organized by Our Time, a national campaign of young people, in order to push the CBC to broadcast a federal leaders’ debate focused on climate change and a Green New Deal for Canada (see The Pact for a Green New Deal and What would a Green New Deal for Canada look like?).

A cohort of over 30 young persons lead the rally with speeches, songs, and cheers. We were several hundred in Vancouver and we were joined by many hundreds more in over 20 cities across Canada.

We were proud to stand with these committed and inspiring young people.

Vancouver Unitarians standing with the youth leading the July 17 rally to get a CBC federal leaders’ debate on climate and the Green New Deal

A Green New Deal for All – Cross Canada Tour in Vancouver

At least ten Vancouver Unitarians were among the 350 person sell-out crowd on June 21 at the Canadian Memorial Church to participate in the Vancouver stop of the Green New Deal for All cross-Canada tour.

All the presenters were passionate, well informed, and inspiring. It was a great event, part of the grass roots movement that started with over 150 town hall meetings across Canada – including a full house event with about 100 people at UCV on May 24.

Support for the Green New Deal (GND) is rising up across this country with the intention to become a powerful voice in the coming federal election.

The entire Green New Deal for All event was videotaped and is available online here. The table below shows the time for each presentation to help you navigate through this nearly 3 hour long video.

Intro slides 00 – 7:15
MC Anjali Appadurai 07:15 – 9:00
Chief Reuben George, Manager of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative 9:00 – 18:40
Green New Deal video 18:40 – 21:00
Anjali remarks 21:00 – 26:40
Youth-led chant 26:40 – 41:20
David Suzuki 41:20 – 1:04:30
Kanahus Manuel, Indigenous activist and spokesperson for the Tiny House Warriors 1:04:30 – 1:24:00
Harsha Walia, outspoken South Asian activist and writer, graduate of UBC Law 1:24:50 – 1:45:10
Youth-led chant 1:45:10 – 1:47:30
Kim Mortel, poet, spoken word artist, singer 1:47:30 – 2:10:10
Avi Lewis, Co-Founder (with spouse Naomi Klein) and Strategic Director, The LEAP 2:10:10 – 2:42:35
Presenters’ tribute 2:42:35 – 2:44:00


Bill C-262 rally supported by UCV members

The Canadian Unitarian Council was a co-sponsor of the pass Bill C-262 rally on Saturday, April 6th. Representatives of all 4 Greater Vancouver Unitarian congregations spoke including Leslie Kemp from UCV.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called Canada to adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bill C-262 will ensure that Canada’s laws are in harmony with the Declaration.

Please sign this online petition to urge the Senate to pass this bill without delay.

From Colonization to Reconciliation (?) – Resources and Future Plans

Ryan McMahon, the Anishinaabe activist, challenged us to read and engage with our foundational laws, treaties, Acts, and official Commission reports and recommendations. “Let’s use pre-existing documents, studies, inquests, etc. that have done ALL the heavy lifting for us,” he said. “It’s not too late to look back at where we’ve been, determine what went and is wrong, and fix things on a go forward basis.”

Our reading and discussion group met on Wednesday evenings in February and March. About 20 people participated in our lively discussions.

Steven will announce plans for further discussions in the coming months.

Truth and Reconciliation Resources

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Executive Summary

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

Beyond 94 – Truth and Reconciliation in Canada

The Indian Act

The White Paper

Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

Citizens Plus/Red Paper 1970 response to the White Paper

Kelowna Accord

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Talking About Trans and the UU World Article

You may have come across through email or facebook the responses to an article included in the most recent issue of UU World called “After L, G and B”.

Posted here are various statements in pdf form that you can download and read. We’ve also made some hard copies that will be available on Sunday morning on the bulletin board.

The UCV Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) will be discussing further educational and awareness gatherings we might sponsor, such as the Transforming Hearts Collective six-session program called Transgender Inclusion in Congregations.

In the meantime, do consider how we as a congregation might mark March 31, the Transgender Day of Visibility, and save the date of May 3 for the film screening of “She’s A Boy I Knew” at UCV. 


UU World Article: After L, G and B

Tips for Talking About the Article

UU World Apology from Editor

CUC Statement on behalf of CUC, UU Ministers of Canada and Religious Educators: In Solidarity with Trans and Nonbinary UUs

Trans Day of Visibility Guide from City of Vancouver

Trans Style Guide by Zr. Alex Kapitan

Vancouver Unitarians protest NEB approval of TMX

At least 10 Vancouver Unitarians rallied around our Vancouver Unitarians banner and joined hundreds of others on Friday, Feb. 22, to raise our voices in protest to the National Energy Board report that recommended going ahead with the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.

We marched down Burrard Street and then along Georgia Street to the final rally on Georgia Street between the CBC and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
We were proud to be among the voices speaking out.

NEB rally, Feb 22, 2019

Building Bridges Registration Deadline is March 8th

This event takes place at UCV on March 30 and  is co-sponsored by the UCV Social Justice Committee and the Vancouver Quakers. The facilitator is Kathi Camilleri.

During this experiential workshop we will explore our personal role in supporting the revival of the values that worked so beautifully in Indigenous villages for thousands of years. We will also explore in-depth the affects of Residential Schools and Canada’s Policy of Assimilation.

This workshop is geared to solutions rather than recrimination and is a great forum in which to ask questions. The workshop is done from a non-blame and non-shame perspective and invites all participants to become a part of the healing that IS already happening.

Kathi’s work has been inspired by Jann Derrick’s teachings of Jann Derrick’s “The Circle and The Box” and by many Elders’ teachings.

Please register by March 8th: Click here for EventBrite registration page

Cost:   Suggested donation $20 per person

Lunch  (soup and bannock) and other light refreshments will be provided.

Time: Saturday, March 30 9:30 am to 4:00 pm

Additional info:


UCV Members March in Support of the Unist’ot’en

Many UCV members came to listen to and march with Indigenous supporters of the Wet’suwet’en people who are defending their land by opposing construction of a gas pipeline by TransCanada Coastal GasLink.

The Solidarity Action with Wet’suwet’en took place on Tuesday Jan 8, 11:30 in Vancouver. Similar rallies and marches took place locally, nationally and internationally.

Supporters followed the Indigenous led march from the Provincial Courts Building to Victory Square.

Iraqi Refugee Family Arriving Next Week

from Huguette Sansonnet, Refugee Committee

An Iraqi family of a couple with a two-and-a-half year old child will be arriving from Jordan by way of Frankfurt on January 22nd. The refugee committee has been busy assembling furniture and household items to move into the new apartment for them. If you have or know someone who has 4 chairs and a bed appropriate for a young child, please contact Huguette right away or phone the congregation’s office at 604-261-7204.

The family is originally from Iraq.

Donations to support the Refugee Committee’s sponsorship efforts can be made to the church, marked “refugees” and are tax deductible.

How Refugee Sponsorship Works at UCV

By Kaitlin Duck Sherwood, Leader of a Refugee Sponsorship group

The Refugee Committee helps refugees in two different categories:

Private Sponsorship, where the refugees are named and known (what I call the “let’s bring in grandma” category) and

the Blended Visa Office Referral (BVOR) program, where you want to help somebody but you don’t care so much who.

With the Private Sponsorship, the sponsors are legally responsible for 100% of the financial support for the first year; with BVOR, the sponsors are legally responsible for a portion (around 60%) of the financial support. With both Private and BVOR, the sponsorship group is responsible for 100% of the logistical and emotional support.

While the Vancouver Unitarians Refugee Committee does all of the support for some of the refugee families, a very important role is to facilitate sponsorship for other sponsorship groups, such as my own group of private individuals. To sponsor a BVOR family, a sponsorship group must partner with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) such as CUC. By facilitating the work of other sponsorship groups, the Vancouver Unitarians Refugee Committee acts as a “force multiplier”, allowing sponsorship of many more refugees than the Refugee Committee members could handle by themselves

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver, as a constituent of Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC), makes sure the sponsorship groups raise enough money to support the family, vets the sponsorship groups, holds the money, advises the sponsorship group, helps pick a family off an anonymized list (that only the SAH has access to), coordinates communication between the sponsorship group, CUC, and IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), meets the family and signs the legal documents to formally take responsibility of the family at YVR airport, and passes along in-kind physical donations (like clothing/furniture/kitchen supplies) from UCV members, and provides more advice. And more advice.

Ultimately the Unitarian Church of Vancouver is responsible if for any reason the sponsorship group is not able to meet the government requirements. And the Canadian Unitarian Council is responsible if UCV is not able to meet the requirements. So we all work closely together to make sure everything is done well. And this works.

Once the sponsorship group (which might be the Refugee Committee itself) finds out when the family’s plane will arrive, it kicks into high gear.

For example, we got the news seven days in advance that the Eritream family of three would arrive on March 6, 2018. After we got the news, we arranged temporary housing, got them a phone and cell plan, stocked their temporary housing with some food, found a permanent apartment, helped them fill out a massive number of forms, helped them get Social Insurance (SIN) cards and a bank account, got them winter coats, took the father to a medical appointment, showed them how to use their debit cards to buy transit Compass Cards, took them shopping for essentials (like underwear!), helped them phone their friends back in the camps, took them to the Ethiopian Church, and did a lot of talking, orienting, and many other details too minor to call out explicitly.

Shortly after those urgent matters, we will co-sign the lease on their apartment, move donated furniture into the apartment, buy a small amount of furniture, help them buy groceries and cleaning supplies, help them register the boy for school, register for English classes, take a bus/Skytrain ride, get library cards, and get to eye and dental exams.

Longer-term, we will check in periodically to make sure they are adjusting well and give help as needed (e.g. to help mediate disputes or help them find trauma counselling), and help them find jobs.

As the leader of a sponsorship group, I am deeply grateful to the work the Refugee Committee does. Not only would it not be possible for us to sponsor a BVOR family without the Refugee Committee’s legal umbrella, it would have been much more difficult to muddle through without easy access to their institutional knowledge and large stockpile of donated objects.

People ask: How can I help?

For the family who just arrived, things are pretty much in hand. There are always expenses before, during and after the settlement, so donations to the UCV Refugee Fund is the most obvious way of helping. (Yes, tax receipts are issued). If you attend on Sundays, bring stuff for the thrift sale table and buy stuff. Julia absolutely refuses to give a “price”– it’s all by donation. All items that are donated find a good home. If they’re not needed by our refugee families, they’re sold at UCV. If they’re not sold after a while, they’re donated to the Mennonite Central Committee who ensure they’re used.

Now, speaking of that table, Julia and George do a huge job storing, setting up, distributing items. If you have storage space or a way to transport items around, I’m sure they could use help.

Help out at a fundraising lunch or event.

The big ask is: When we have families arrive, they need temporary housing for about two weeks. On short notice.

An even bigger ask: Form a group of five and take on the responsibility (and joy) of sponsoring a family. We can put you in touch with other leaders who can show you the ropes. It’s a big job–and a very rewarding one.

The committee meets monthly: show up and learn more and you’ll see where the needs are.

Do you have other questions or offers? Send an email and we’ll forward to the right people.