Category: Social Justice

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

A Call to Become Actively Anti-Racist

We are called to action around racial justice within our congregation, ourselves, and in collaboration with our community. I encourage everyone to read this report from the CUC’s Dismantling Racism Study Group. –Kiersten Moore, Director of Lifespan Learning.

From Vyda Ng, Executive Director of the Canadian Unitarian Council:

The Dismantling Racism Study Group has completed their report on the work they have been engaged in since 2019. The report, along with background on the study, is available on the CUC website on the Dismantling Racism Study Group page.  You may read it directly with this folder link.

Our grateful thanks to the members of the Study Group who have spent many hours engaged in this work. They are:

Beverly Horton (Hamilton) – Co-Chair
Rev. Julie Stoneberg (Peterborough) – Co-chair
Douglas Ennenberg (Vancouver)
Charmaine Ferworn (Mississauga)
Ashlyn Noble (Winnipeg)
Pamela Smith-Loeters (Mississauga)
Catherine Strickland (North Shore, Vancouver)
Tamiko Suzuki (Vancouver)

Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty

What can we do individually and collectively to reduce harm and bring about climate justice?

Our food system has a huge impact on climate. Food production is fraut with racism and oppression of the people who grow our food. It is also a very complex system. Eating less meat, particularly red meat, has clear health and climate benefits. Large scale change needs to come from good policy and public pressure to create system change. The following organizations are working to create real change for those who produce and harvest our food as well as the impact of agriculture on our planet:

These are good places to start for information and action. Stay tuned for more!

Update from the Refugee Committee

The refugee committee has been busy submitting applications to fill the 50 allocations we have been allocated (one allocation/one person).

We have good news from one of our sponsored young people who has completed his accountant training, started working in his field, is getting married soon and will be a father in the fall. His sponsorship ended in November 2020.

The more recent arrivals are doing well.

The arrivals are still rare due to COVID and depend on the overseas offices ability to process applications, ability to interview, to do security checks which are usually extensive, to have a medical assessment and to have flights available and allowed to depart and land in Canada.

We have much more demands for sponsorship than we have allocations which is quite heartbreaking as so many are in unsafe and dire situations, including children.

We are very grateful for the support we get and the donations that allow us to bring refugees to safety. We could not do what we do otherwise.

A reminder that private sponsors are required to support the sponsored for one year with monthly allowance plus start up costs (furniture, bathroom needs, kitchen wares etc…).

Please contact the refugee committee if you have any questions

Challenging Racist British Columbia

July 20, 2021 is the 150 year anniversary of so-called British Columbia and a recent publication by CCPA provides sobering history.

The Social Justice Committee plans to host a book study group over the summer to discuss this important publication. Please email socialjustice@vancouverunitarians.ca if you are interested in joining us. Click here to download this 80 page booklet.

Below is the description of Challenging Racist “British Columbia” .. 150 Years and Counting provided by the CCPA:
“This booklet dives into the long history of racist policies that have impacted Indigenous, Black and racialized communities in the province over the last 150 years since BC joined Canada. The illustrated booklet, co-published by the CCPA-BC Office, ties the histories of racism and resistance to present day anti-racist movements.

Co-authored by Nicholas XEMŦOLTW̱ Claxton, Denise Fong, Fran Morrison, Christine O’Bonsawin, Maryka Omatsu, John Price and Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, the 80-page, illustrated booklet is being released in advance of the 150th anniversary, which is on July 20, 2021. This engaging resource has been designed to assist anti-racist educators, teachers, scholars, policymakers and individuals doing anti-racism work to help pierce the silences that too often have let racism grow in our communities, corporations and governments.”

Vancouver Unitarians Join Extinction Rebellion at Cambie Bridge Shut Down

photo: Cambie Street shut down

Above: We joined the die-in at the intersection of Broadway and Cambie, then marched to the middle of the Cambie bridge for the sit-in

photo: Cambie Street shut down

Above: Vancouver Unitarians Carry the Flame at the Cambie Bridge Sit-In

A group of Vancouver Unitarians, including Mairy Beam, Rob Dainow, and Vivian Davidson, joined several hundred protesters in the March 27, 2021 Extinction Rebellion march for old growth trees and climate justice.

“Logging old growth directly violates Extinction Rebellion’s demand to Act Now,” said Kelly Tatham, a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion.

We are all standing up for the climate – and for our ecosystems – whenever we can and in whatever ways we can. Every little bit counts.

Anti-Racism Resources

Last summer, there was a huge 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. It is important to us to continue this conversation, not just in response to the media and public outcry but as a function of our ongoing dedication to see real change occur at all levels.

We want to refresh and promote the resources we shared last summer. We are grateful for submissions from members and friends in keeping this resource list current.

Within our own organization, we are working to decolonize our systems and have arranged a Decolonizing Practices Workshop for staff, board members and congregants. Check out the link for more information – this will take place April 24th, 2021 from 10am to 3pm.

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. Mental Health Issues Facing the Black Community free health guide from Sunshine Behavioural Health
  4. Alica Forneret provides mental health by and for PoC
  5. 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
  6. Support Black Owned Businesses 

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.)

Playlist: Rethinking Reconciliation


UCV Podcasts on Unitarianism and Indigenous People

single quote

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.) This illustrates how issues embraced by different Committees at UCV are interconnected. Certainly, reconciliation cannot be separated from land title, land protection and water protection.

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

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

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

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Bruce McIvor

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Aline LaFlamme

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Nan Gregory

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Cole Harris


BYRC–a little about who we support

Vancouver Unitarians have donated $12,000 to the Broadway Youth Resource Center towards a Food Security program for youth and their families. The funds donated come from grants received from Vancouver Foundation’s Robert and Anna Koerner Foundation Community Fund. Here is a little more about BYRC and their work:

Check our webpost here for more information about the Food program, and visit the BYRC website.

Keeping Our Ethical Base Strong – UCV & the World

At the UCV Partner Church Sunday Service on 22 Nov 2020 and at the subsequent forum on Unitarian Social Involvement in African Contexts we gathered together virtually with fellow Unitarians from Burundi and some of their supporters elsewhere in Canada. The connections UCV has had in this work are interesting. We’ve been meeting and corresponding with Rev Fulgence Ndagijimana for a number of years now, beginning with emails of support when he was imprisoned in Burundi and we joined other international voices of concern that helped have him released. He eventually made his way safely with his wife and son to Saskatoon as refugees, where he finalized some of his UU Ministry Association credentials, and established Flaming Chalice International (FCI), a Canadian Registered Charity. (That means Canadians can make donations directly to FCI and obtain a charitable donation receipt for income tax purposes.)

Rev Fulgence was the founder of the Burundian Unitarian Church in 2002 and is active in the International Council of Unitarian Universalist (ICUU). He recently moved from Saskatoon to Ottawa (“mon pays…c’est l’hiver!”) where there is a larger Burundian community. He remains active with FCI as well as supporting other community initiatives including the emerging Rutana Burundi / Vancouver Canada Partner Church Relationship.

This week, Rev Fulgence told me about a UU connection that I didn’t know about, namely, the support for Burundian community economic initiatives by Spirit in Action, (their slogan is “micro grants, major change”), an inter-denominational US-based charity that began in the mid twentieth century, and whose current Executive Director is Tanya Cothran, a Unitarian. Tanya lives part time in California and part-time in Toronto where she is a member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto.  Tanya also served for several years as Treasurer of the Canadian Unitarian Council She travels regularly to Africa to meet with grant recipients and potential new recipients, and in 2017 she co-authored with Jennifer Lentfer the book Smart Risks: How small grants are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

The deep message, for me, in these supportive connections is the value of our Unitarian Principles and Sources, particularly Principles #1, #2 and #6 which state:

“We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

I’ve intentionally included lots of links in this story (ten, I believe) to highlight the complex and surprising interdependent social and ethical web of which we are a part. That web needs on-going attention as old links end and new engagements emerge. That’s what steady organizations like Vancouver Unitarians, Toronto Unitarians, and the Canadian Unitarian Council provide. When we give to charities like FCI and SIA that provide direct support for people in need, whether they be refugees or people working hard to build better lives for themselves in their own countries, we should also remember to give, I believe, to some of the organizations that act to coordinate and facilitate that support. So—I hope you’ll donate to one of these boots-on-the-ground enterprises, and also to Vancouver Unitarians for our members, minister, and staff to use in
keeping our ethical base strong.

 

Photos:

Left – Tanya Cothran, Executive Director, Spirit in Action (SIA).

Top – Rev Fulgence Ndagijimana, Flaming Chalice International (FCI).

Trans Day of Remembrance – Nov 20

We will be acknowledging Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20th.

There are two events to mark in your calendars:

We are very happy to have Morgane Oger present on trans rights in the workplace for our November 18th Action Evening: All Genders Welcome

In addition, for our November 25th Action Evening, Glenn Deefholts will read from his recently published book Genderfluid: A Way of Being

Please click the links above for the action evenings Zoom link and additional information about our speakers. See you there!