Category: Social Justice

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

Anti-Racism Resources

In recent days, we have witnessed a surge of public response in support of Black Lives Matter as well as a call to uplift and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of lives that are continually devalued in racist systems. As Unitarians, we are committed to justice, equity, and compassion in all human relations. With this in mind, it is important for us to take accountability seriously and look deeply into the ways racism shows up in our local communities, in our congregation, and indeed within ourselves.

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver knows that antiracism is in alignment with our Seven Principles, we are committed to racial justice and equity and strive to be antiracist. On June 3rd, our Board released a statement which can be read here. As well, the UUA held a #wecantbreathe prayer vigil which can be viewed here. However, we also know that words are simply not enough and it is only through consistent effort and action as a community, that we can ensure we are diligent in our efforts to contribute to lasting change and justice.

Below is a beginning list of resources from various angles for us to use in our anti-racism efforts to learn about dismantling systems of oppression wherever they appear. If you would like to add resources to a permanent “Antiracism Learning” page please email communications@vancouverunitarians.ca

Anti-Racism Statements and Resources

Unitarian Universalist Statements

  1. Statement on Anti-Racism from the UCV Board
  2. Canadian Unitarian Council Statement on Mourning the Deaths of More People of Colour
  3. Black Lives Matter Statement by Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
  4. A pastoral letter to Black UUs by Rev. Lauren Smith in UU World, 6/4/2020
  5. Stop Calling the Police and Start Eradicating Anti-Blackness UUA statement and call to action, with links. June 2, 2020
  6. An Awful, Magnificent Truth by Rev. Carol Thomas Cissel in UUA’s Braver/Wiser Inspiration
  7. UUA Prayer Vigil #wecantbreate YouTube Video

Vancouver-Based Mental Health and Self-Care Resources for BIPoC Congregants and Friends

  1. Black Lives Matter Vancouver has a detailed and comprehensive list of legal, community, mental health and wellness services here
  2. Healing in Colour provides a list of therapists who have agreed to a statement of values
  3. Alica Forneret provides mental health by and for PoC
  4. Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society provides inclusive, accessible, and culturally-based healthcare and social services.

Ally Learnings for White Congregants and Friends

  1. Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
  2. The 8th Principle project of Unitarian Universalism
  3. Black Lives UU Spiritual Subscription Box
  4. The Church of the Larger Fellowship an American UU congregation “without walls”
  5. Resources based on your current stage of racial identity development

Anti-Racist Parenting

  1. Antiracist Education Resources compiled by Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan
  2. “How To Be An Antiracist Parent” recording from Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan
  3. Resource roundup for parents
  4. Anti-racism resources for white people and for parents to raise anti-racist children
  5. Resources for Talking About Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids from the Center for Racial Justice in Education
  6. The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story pushing awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.
  7. A fabulous list of children’s ebooks from the VPL called “Stand Up! Racial Identity, Racism, and Resistance for Grades K-7”

Canadian General Anti-Racist Resources

  1. Systemic Racism Explained in under 5 minutes
  2. The Story of Slavery in Canadian History at the Canadian Human Rights Museum
  3. The Canadian federal government page of anti-racism resources
  4. Vancouver Mutual Aid Organizations and Resource List
  5. Black Lives Matter Vancouver 
  6. Feminists Deliver: Confronting Anti-Black Racism in Canada (video: a panel of 8 Canadian Women of Colour)
  7. The University of Toronto Anti-Black Racism Reading List

Books

“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
—Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.)

 

 

 

CUC May 2020 National Conference & AGM Highlights

Featured image – Susanne Maziarz, Music Director at Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Toronto; co-leader with Rev Wayne Walder of a cross-Canada ceremony of remembrance, We are together, at the national gathering on 17 May 2020.

*12 more photos at the end of this post!

CUC eNews Coverage here.

CUC May 2020 National Conference Highlights

  • Video of the CUC Cross Canada Sunday Service One Storm, Many Ships
    (edited video, 90 minutes). The wonderful story for children of all ages read by Kiersten Moore has been deleted from the saved video pending copyright approvals from Disney.
  • CUC 2019 Annual Report (pdf document, 56 pages)
    The annual report is full of information about CUC’s work and how you might participate. It’s very worthwhile reading!
  • Attendance at 4 meetings via Zoom & YouTube: 150, 170, 200, 1,000
    (Numbers are approximate because more than one person may have been on one connection and some people had more than one connection!) Details of events follow.
  • If you’re interested in participating in these events in the future, contact the UCV UU Connections Committee – currently Keith Wilkinson, Lynn Armstrong, Kiersten Moore, & Emilie Adin. Text or phone Keith at 604-838-5643 or Lynn at 778-835-2546 or watch for a newly updated UCV Directory of Small Groups, Committees, and Teams, anticipated soon!

Plenary sessionThurs 14 May 2020, 150 participants; informal discussion of the resolutions being presented at the Sat AGM.

Gathering CeremonyFri, 15 May 2020, 170 participants, virtual banner parade with photos sent from many congregations across Canada, with music added, assembled by Amber Bellemare in Montreal.

Cross Canada Service – Sun, 17 May 2020, 1,000 participants, four ministers, many musicians and singers
Video available on CUC’s YouTube channel.

Annual General MeetingSat, 16 May 2020, 200 participants (97 delegates, 100 observers, 45 congregations)
See the CUC Annual Report for details.

  • Reviewed CUC’s expected investment performance with the investments manager;
    (investments at the end of Dec 2019 were valued at $6.1 million);
  • Approved an operating budget of $812,000 (compare this to UCV at $600,000);
  • Approved changes in procedures for electing board members;
  • Elected new board members;
  • Approved 2020-21 goals and strategic priorities;
  • Responded to questions about the International Council of Unitarians and Univeralists (ICUU) conference still scheduled for Montreal in October 2020;
  • Received reports regarding a few of the many initiatives outlined in the Annual Report:
    • Youth and Young Adults (Annual Report, pp 23-26)
      plus CazUUm – CUC youth zoom conference (34 participants)
    • Truth Healing and Reconciliation Initiative (Annual Report, pp 29-31)
    • Social Justice Action (Annual Report, pp 26-28)
    • Dismantling Racism (Annual Report, p 35)
    • Polyamory Task Force (Annual Report, pp 36-55 – the full 19-page report from the task force on this complex subject, including recommendations for the CUC.)
  • Celebration of special awards:
    • Sharing our Faith Awards – Awards to support emerging programs in several congregations (Durham, Mississauga, Edmonton)
    • Northern Lights Award – support for a major initiative, this year for Northwest Toronto Co-housing Project (involving Unitarian fellowship of Northwest Toronto)
    • Shining Lights Award – for new innovative programs (see CUC website for details)
    • Theological Education Fund Award – Co-sponsored by CUC and UUMOC (UU Ministers of Canada) for support of ministerial students (grants made to two ministerial students ths year)
    • Knight Award – Awarded to Rev Frances Deverell for dedicated service on social justice issues including work with the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice CUSJ
    • See the above links or email the CUC office for more details about any of the CUC award programs.

 

Some screen shots from the CUC Canada-wide Virtual Service, Sun 17 May 2020  

(Google the congregational web sites for more images and information!)

Sunday Service Leaders:

Rev Norm Horofker, Halifax Universalist Unitarians

Rev Karen Fraser Gitlitz, Saskatoon Unitarians

Rev Meghann Robern, Winnipeg Unitarian Universalists

Rev Wayne Walder, Neighbourhood Unitarian Fellowship, Toronto

Rev Samaya Oakley, South Fraser Unitarians, Surrey BC

Spoken Word

Taz Trefzger, Hamilton Unitarians & 2020 CazUUm Co-Dean

Carter Mahoney, Peterborough Unitarians, Young Adults Ensemble

Wonderful singers and musicians from across the country

Halifax, Peterborough, Toronto, Vancouver…

James Morris (guitar), Halifax, playing Making Waves, composed for the occasion.

Peterborough Unitarians – Spirit of Life (Mark, Julie, Katherine, Stephira, Ben, Linda)

Vancouver Unitarians Elliott and Edgar playing work by Cape Breton’s Allistair MacGillivray

James Hill teaching us the ukulele “peace chord”.

Vancouver Unitarians Choir Leads: Beth, Erin, Bryan, Gavin
leading Canadian Unitarians in Blue Boat Home.

 

UCV Supports “A Just Recovery For All”

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver has just joined an alliance of nearly 240 organizations that have come together to develop key principles for a “Just Recovery for All” from the COVID-19 pandemic. As governments begin to make plans for recovery, organizations are joining together to send a message that we cannot return to the old “normal”. Now is the time to imagine a better future.

 The principles below were informed by a month of consultations with over 200 groups and individuals across Canada by https://justrecoveryforall.ca/

You can see the full text and sign on to the principles using this form: https://forms.gle/TYrkQtzVkGcYETVb8

Outreach Opportunities Fund Update

Outreach Opportunity Fund Recipients (Feb-June)
 
Normally, the Outreach Opportunity Fund (OOF) donates a portion of the Sunday service collections to a registered charity over a four month period. Given the current circumstances, the OOF Committee took the decision to send a cheque for $2,000 to the current recipient, the Aboriginal Mother Centre (AMC), in mid-April rather than wait until the end of May. The funds are urgently needed to assist AMC extend its outreach services during this covid-19 crisis.
Even though OOF donations have decreased over the past few weeks due to having virtual services, we still found that there were sufficient funds in our OOF  account to offer an additional $2,000 to another recipient. Our focus was on the Downtown Eastside (DTES), given the critical situation the homeless and other vulnerable groups are facing in that community. The Committee decided to award the funds to PHS Community Services Society to help meet the demand for more meals in the DTES as so many kitchens have closed down because of covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, we will continue to ask congregants to send in their donations to OOF to replenish our fund. A new recipient will be selected for the four month period beginning in June. All contributions are gratefully received. Donate Here

“Enough angels in heaven, more needed in hell.” – Alastair McIntosh

The UK Unitarians Annual Conference 6-9 April 2020 was billed as Being Together – A three-day virtual gathering for spiritual connection. Mary Bennett and I, both from Vancouver, signed up to hear the keynote address at the conference on 8 April via zoom. It was scheduled in a Greenwich evening time slot (conveniently a Pacific mid-morning time slot!) and featured Alastair McIntosh speaking with 150 participants on the theme “The Revolution Will be Spiritual”. Alastair is described as an independent writer, broadcaster, speaker and activist who is involved in a wide range of contemporary issues, from land reform, globalization and nonviolence to psychology, spirituality and ecology. His forthcoming book ‘Riders on the Storm’ explores the science, psychology and spirituality of climate change, and of the need to build soul and meaning in these troubled times. Alastair is a Quaker, and is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University.

Meeting Safeguards – There were many safeguards in place for this zoom gathering to reduce the chance of zoom-bombing and meeting hijacking. All of this was carefully explained by the host to those who had been admitted. There was a password, a waiting room, all microphones were muted and under the control of the host, and chats and video sharing were disabled. The co-hosts, (zoom-bouncers for the zoom-bombers), watched and listened for malicious interlopers and were ready to eject them permanently from the meeting if some inappropriate video content was displayed. Happily, there were no disruptions.

The keynote theme – Alastair spoke on the “the interiority of the spiritual”, ethical activism in the form of small acts of kindness, and drew from a diverse range of spiritual writings including the Upanishads, the Bible, the work of American theologian Walter Wink, and WB Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming.

The 150 participants were divided randomly into 20 breakout rooms afterward for a short discussion of what we’d heard and how we were doing during the pandemic. Like many zoom activities, these small groups were intimate and interesting. My small group included participants from congregations in York and London in the UK, and me from Vancouver.

A recording of the video is expected to appear soon. Watch for more at unitarian.org.uk .

It is also linked at: http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/

Recordings of some of the other sessions can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNKHWNVhvQxTVcSnPh9Vdsw/videos?fbclid=IwAR3ZG8MtpHp4yv6fOXh7hlOVnAPGc4igze8-7B58IdbG3tyGjKXfeRTmkA4

Dismantling Racism Survey

A future where Unitarian Universalist congregations actively work on dismantling racism: that’s what we’re focusing on. The CUC’s Dismantling Racism Study Group needs your help. We’ve put together this short survey to find out where we’re at, and where we could go. Give us 15 minutes of your time today to honestly tell us about what you’ve observed in your own congregation – we’d really appreciate it.

Click the link to go directly to the survey!
–> https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DRSGSurvey <–

UCV’s Tamiko Suzuki and Doug Ennenberg are both part of the CUC Dismantling Racism Task Force.

50 years ago Greenpeace was launched in the Fireside Room

The Meeting in the Fireside Room that Launched the Voyage of the Greenpeace to Amchitka Island

photo

Above: Fireside Room

Few people know a meeting in the Fireside Room at Hewett Centre, in 1970, ratified the first voyage of a fishing boat renamed the Greenpeace, or that the inspiration for the name Greenpeace occurred in the courtyard outside the Centre.

The now-legendary voyage of the fishing boat Phyllis Cormack, — renamed Greenpeace, — is considered the inaugural voyage of Greenpeace International, one of the most successful environmental organizations in the world today.

photo

Above 1971: Robert Hunter, Co-founder of Greenpeace, aboard the Phyllis Cormack
Photo Credit: Robert Keziere | He writes: My contact sheets indicate the photo was taken at sea, eastbound, somewhere between Akutan Island and Sand Point, Alaska. Our ship was underway to the customs office in Sand Point, alas, away from Amchitka Island and the Cannikin nuclear test. Understood at the time.

(more…)

CUC National Voice Statement, February 2020

The recent RCMP raids of Wet’suwet’en land defenders in northwestern British Columbia has provoked widespread rallies, blockades and protests, world-wide media coverage, public statements by First Nations, politicians, industry, labour, and the public.  In view of these developments, we think it timely and important to restate the initial position taken by the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) on January 10, 2019:

CUC Pledges Solidarity with ​Wet’suwet’en

“The Canadian Unitarian Council has joined thousands of organizations and individuals pledging solidarity with the ​Wet’suwet’en​ Hereditary Chiefs, who are blocking the development of a Coastal GasLink pipeline on their traditional territories in northwestern British Columbia: 

  1. WE COMMEND the courage and vision of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their community of activists.   
  2. WE ARE WATCHING across the province, country and internationally.   
  3. WE DENOUNCE any attempt by Coastal GasLink Pipeline, the federal government, provincial government or RCMP to interfere in the rights of the Wet’suwet’en to occupy, manage or maintain their lands.   
  4. WE URGE that any and all actions taken by the federal and provincial government, industry, and policing agencies must be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en laws) and collective Title. 
  5. WE PLEDGE support to the frontline land defenders and affirm the collective hereditary governance of the Wet’suwet’en who are enforcing Wet’suwet’en laws on their unceded lands.”

Obviously, the situation has continued to evolve since last year. We recognise this is a complex matter and many of us bring strong opinions and passionate voices to the conversation—given our Unitarian Universalist principles and history, that is how it should be. We recognise, as well, quoting the Afro-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, that “if there is no struggle, there is no progress” for “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

While we reaffirm the January 10, 2019 CUC Statement pledging solidarity with Wet’suwet’en, we urge Canadian Unitarian Universalists to reflect on how we live our faith and convictions when interests and constituencies are polarized.  We urge each other to live our principles.  May our actions be guided by respect for each other’s dignity, by compassion and empathy, by the voice of conscience and reason, by a desire for justice and equity, and by a deep respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

We urge Canadian Unitarian Universalists to read and become familiar with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—our nation is a signatory to this Declaration; many of its articles clarify and promote the work of reconciliation and de-colonialisation which we dare hope is still alive in Canada today and will be for generations to come.

“Red Paper” published by the Yellowhead Institute

Please join the Reconciliation Working Group’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 29th at 10:30 in the Family Room. . We’ll be discussing the new “Red Paper” published by the Yellowhead Institute in Oct ’19. All are welcome. For info and to RSVP, please contact Lynn Armstrong lynnbea@gmail.com or 778-835-2546.

More info about the “Red Paper”

1) Preface: https://yellowheadinstitute.org/2019/10/24/preface-landback-redpaper/
2) Full report: https://redpaper.yellowheadinstitute.org/
3) Royal Proclamation of 1763: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/royal-proclamation-of-1763

New Outreach Opportunities Fund Recipient, Aboriginal Mother Centre

The Outreach Opportunities Fund Committee has selected a new recipient, the Aboriginal Mother Centre (AMC). It is dedicated to taking at risk mothers and children off the streets by providing housing  in 16 suites for mothers and up to three children under nine years old. The Centre is able to offer all the support, tools and resources a mother needs to regain and retain her child. These resources include counselling, advocacy, education, training, and spiritual and social support. AMC also carries out homelessness outreach, a family wellness program, licensed daycare and a community kitchen. Nominated by a congregant, AMC will receive funding from the Sunday Collections starting 1 February.