Category: Social Justice

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

IBPOC is back – Fall plans are underway

The IBPOC Caucus is back! (IBPOC = Indigenous, Black, People of Colour)

After taking a break for the summer months, the IBPOC (aka BIPOC) caucus is meeting again, feeling rejuvenated and ready for the Fall.

We are continuing to share our lived experiences of being IBPOC in a White society, which is the main focus of our group. We are also discussing what else we would like to do. Ideas include inviting in refugees, IBPOC artists, or social justice organizations as guest speakers, and working with our “IBPOC+Allies” group to put on congregation-wide events such as Heritage celebrations, film nights, and FUNdraisers.  (All in-person plans subject to the latest pandemic regulations of course).

October is Latin American Heritage Month. If you have ideas or could be involved to help plan and coordinate some events, please contact Mary ucvconnect@gmail.com.

Currently we have IBPOC members from UCV, Beacon, and North Shore congregations. We also have inquiries from Unitarians as far away as Victoria and Calgary. Some of our members have connected with the BIPOC caucus in Ontario and DRUUMM, the UUA People of Color Ministry and anti-racist collective in the US.  Zoom has been one of the bright spots in the Pandemic as it gave us the ability to bring individuals and small groups together despite the distance!

Get involved!

If you are a UU IBPOC and would like to join us, please contact Tamiko at bipoc@vancouverunitarians.ca

If you are not IBPOC but would like to support IBPOC events and initiatives, contact Mary at ucvconnect@gmail.com  She will put your name on the IBPOC+Allies email group to be alerted when help is needed.

 

 

 

Prepare for Pride 2021

As Vancouver Pride approaches, you may be thinking of how to celebrate this year. 

The Vancouver Pride Parade is taking a decentralized approach this year, and we are going to be part of it! We’ll be gathering safely outdoors and doing our own mini Pride Parade around the UCV campus on Sunday, August 1, starting at 12:30 p.m. All members and friends are welcome to attend. Wear something colourful and/or creative – show your Pride however you feel like it!

We’d love to put rainbow colours all around our corner sign at 49th & Oak. We’d love to hear your ideas–and then get your help.  https://vancouverpride.ca/festival-parade/parade-entries/

Welcoming Congregation Recertification update

We’re almost there! 

To renew, a congregation has to already been certified (for us that was way back in 1995–one of the first) and do one worship service related to LGBTQ+ issues. Check!

A third requirement is to support an organization who works in this area. We’ve worked with Rainbow Refugee to support refugees, donated money from the Outreach Opportunities Fund and their founder Chris Morrissey will be speaking on Sunday, July 25. Check!

With a lot of support from Rev. Lara and the worship services committee, we’ve lifted up more than the required six “welcome days of observance.”  Check!

The next one is Non-Binary Day which is July 14th and that brings us to a request for assistance with our final requirement which is to offer an educational event that at least 10% of the members of the congregation attend.  So far 14 members (maybe more) have watched Mairy Beam’s play “What Difference Does It Make?” about coming out as non-binary and another 10 or so were at the panel discussion with cast and crew on June 12th. Could you please watch the play and the discussion and then complete a feedback form?  We need at least 30 members to watch and complete the form. 

Here are the links:

Play from Haven Theatre: YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQU6WT6Igs8 

Discussion: https://youtu.be/-t9IuuMu-mk

Then send an email to Debra at debrasutherland8@gmail.com and Debra will send you a link to the survey we need to ask for in order to complete the requirements. 

Forum: Sunday, July 11

What Does Non-Binary Mean? On July 11, Mairy Beam and other members of the GSA will host a forum after the worship service on what non-binary gender means. This is an “ask us anything” forum and we’ll share some anonymous polls to see what your questions are and respond to those. Sign in as soon as you have had your bio break after the service. This shortlink will take you there: ucv.im/gsa

 

Pride Art Installation – Interfaith support letter from Rev. Lara

You may have heard or seen of the desecration of the art installation at our neighbour’s site, Shaughnessy United proclaiming the message “God’s doors are open to all.”

Rev. Lara has sent a message of support on behalf of our congregation.

In case you missed it, here are two links for you:

SHUC Blog

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/church-vandalized-pride-1.6066146

Photo from the CBC story

Dear Rev. Dave Moors, Shaughnessy United

Many of our members at Vancouver Unitarian heard with dismay and sadness (but lack of surprise, unfortunately) about the desecration of your Pride installation.
As a “welcoming congregation” (our denomination’s  equivalent of “affirming congregation”) I and our Genders and Sexualities Alliance wanted to send you and your congregation a message of support.
We are filled with admiration of the creativity, message and beauty of the installation and so glad to hear you remain undeterred and enthusiastic about restoring the doors to their original splendour.
Indeed, currently we have an installation related to residential schools on our corner of 49th & Oak, and you’ve inspired us to think about making a Pride installation for Vancouver pride weekend.
Always some good comes out of these incidents, but don’t we wish it was not necessary.
Please know also that we are practically neighbours and if there were any events or initiatives where you would feel it good to collaborate, we would welcome suggestions.
I look forward to meeting with you, as I will be serving the Vancouver Unitarians for another year or two during their transition to the next settled ministry, and hope we can work together on some of these critical social justice initiatives.
Blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister
Vancouver Unitarians
https://vancouverunitarians.ca

Community Impact

Earlier this year, Vancouver Unitarians extended a grant to the Broadway Youth Services Centre (BYRC) through our stewardship with the Robert and Anna Koerner Community Fund. BYRC has been able to grow their food program and provide food security to participants and their families. Their program employs youth as peer navigators and has been a source of community support and pride during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are enriched by our capacity to reach out to the larger community in this way and have an impact beyond our walls. You can read the impactful thank you letter from the BYRC below.

Help your GSA show how Welcoming we can be

Link to Saturday June 12 interactive panel discussion details

Log in for the discussion here.

Our Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) is leading an effort to have UCV recertified as a Welcoming Congregation.

Since we first became a Welcoming Congregation in 1995 the world has changed.  For one thing, there was no mention back then of gender identity or trans issues.  To address this, the UUA decided to be bolder with our Welcome in 2018.

The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal are five benchmarks that every congregation will need to integrate into congregational life in order to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, genderqueer, non-binary, and the like feel fully welcomed, centered, and embraced in our congregation.

Welcoming Congregations are required to meet the benchmarks annually in order to remain “current” as a Welcoming Congregation. This year so far UCV has completed three of the Benchmarks, and a fourth has been planned.

The 5th benchmark is an educational event.  For this the GSA has organized the panel on June 12 to discuss Mairy Beam’s play, What Difference Does it Make, which deals with issues of gender identity.  We need 10% of the members to attend to show that we are, indeed, interested to be bolder and to renew our Welcoming congregation certification.

Can you help us show how welcoming we are by attending this educational event?

Details of event are here.

 

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

Want to be involved?

If you want to receive information on how to help with these two projects, contact Mary through ucvconnect@gmail.com

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

Remembering Pulse Nightclub – 5 years later

UCV GSA (Genders and Sexualities Alliance) takes this opportunity to mark the 5th Anniversary of the murder of 49, and wounding of 53
attendees at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando Florida on June 12, 2016. This was the most horrific loss of lives to a domestic terrorist prior to the Las Vegas massacre in 2017.

The Pulse Nightclub was a LGBT club hosting a weekly Latin Night. As a consequence, many of the dead and injured were Latino. In keeping with journalistic ethics, the name of the shooter will not be named here, that his deeds be remembered, but not to give his name a place in history. The shooter entered the nightclub wit a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol. He shot over 200 rounds in 5 minutes. The shooter was killed in a firefight with the SWAT team.

The shooter, an American whose family immigrated from Afghanistan, claimed to be taking revenge in retaliation to US bombing of Iraq and Syria. Other witnesses claimed that he was conflicted about his own sexuality. What is clear is that his victims were innocent, simply enjoying a night out in a what should have been a safe space.

The site of the Pulse Nightclub will be reopened as a memorial and museum sometime in 2022. At the time of the event, Federal and State buildings lowered their flags to half mast to honour the dead, and then-President Obama travelled to Orlando to pay tribute to bereaved family, friends, and citizens.

 

UUA Link: https://www.uua.org/lgbtq/blog/remember-pulse-nightclub-heroes-among-the-fallen (June, 2019)

Image from this link.

 

UCV is a Welcoming Congregation.

 

 

Statement on the 8th Principle by UCV Board President Diane Brown

Dear Unitarians,

Leadership does not mean “objectivity” or not taking a stance; leadership means defining yourself within the values of the organization and sharing that perspective and why you believe it. It also means listening. I am, as President, committed to doing both.

Full disclosure; I believe in the proposed 8th Principle and I am not going to pretend otherwise.

I know there is concern out there about recent events at the CUC. I would just like to add that my work on the UCV Board is to move us forward in a way that is truly inclusive and progressive, that furthers and deepens our stated collective vision.

That means we will be encouraging dialogue within our congregation, hosting an 8th Principle Forum, requesting everyone read the Dismantling Racism Study Group report and it’s recommendations which are attached below and on the website, and dedicating a service to the 8th Principle. In this way, more people can fully participate in discussion and understanding of the 8th Principle as a crucial next step.

The lack of inclusion of more voices, and the technicality that brought about the demise of this recent attempt to adopt the 8th Principle, will not exist, and we will all be able to walk forward together.

Moreover, we at UCV do not have to wait for the CUC to adopt the 8th Principle. After substantive discussion, we ourselves can put it to a vote, hopefully providing vision and leadership to our sister congregations.

Finally, Rev Lara shared some history with me that I would like to share with you all now.

There is some very interesting history around how the existing 7 principles were affirmed.  There were only going to be 6 of them, as people felt that interdependence was implicit in them, but others felt it necessary to explicitly name our responsibility and connection to the planet and its inhabitants. Now the 7th principle is a covenant to action for the environment and all non-humans on our Blue Boat Home.

The proposed 8th principle may seem to be implicit in the wording of the other 7, but recent studies https://cuc.ca/dismantling-racism-study-group/ and decades of experience have proven otherwise, so the people who are most impacted are asking to have it spelled out.

We Unitarians dream of a future where all of the principles we affirm to promote no longer need to be written, because they are simply lived. But we are not there yet.

In active faith and hope,

Diane Brown

UCV Board President

Statement on the 8th Principle from Rev. Lara Cowtan

While many of us were excited and celebratory after the vote last week at the CUC AGM to affirm an 8th principle declaring our commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression, some were also disappointed to have not been able to lend their voices to this momentous decision, and some were concerned about the process with which the vote was taken.

The motion came from delegates on the floor on the spur of the moment and those present appropriately used Robert’s Rules of Order to suspend the meeting rules and take a vote which passed with a majority, upholding both the democratic process and Robert’s Rules. However, upon review of the CUC Bylaws, the CUC Board of Trustees have determined that it isn’t within the guidelines to accept a substantive motion from the floor, so has withdrawn the motion and decision. It will  be put forward again to allow more time for congregations and delegates to be informed.

This will feel disappointing and frustrating to many, especially UU members of colour who have waited a long time to be recognized in our congregations.  We also recognize that the structures that dictate our decision-making processes, including Robert’s Rules and the Bylaws, are deeply imbeded in the system of white supremacy culture that we are committed to dismantling, and so this is a learning and growing opportunity.

It seems that, in a wave of enthusiasm and spiritual democracy, the gathered delegates put the cart before the horse. This doesn’t mean that we are not going to uphold the 8th principle, but that we will be able to do it hand in hand with one another.  There is nothing preventing UCV from holding its own conversations with the membership about what this 8th principle means to our community and whether we chose to affirm it as a congregation.

— Interim Minister Rev. Lara Cowtan