Philip Symons – A Man For All Seasons

Editor’s note: Margaret Rao’s letter has been updated to correct the date, as per Christine Johnston’s comment.

This season of ‘extreme’ cold weather from coast to coast to coast is just one version of the “climate of change” that Canadians are facing, in every season, and every sense of the phrase. No doubt, there will be more record-breaking temperatures, fires, floods and droughts to come, and we will need all hands on deck to create the inner and outer resiliency needed to take on the human-made storms ahead. Writer and activist Rebecca Solnit entreats us ‘to feel the horror and the hope, both, together – and then to choose hope.’

Every hard-hitting issue of JUSTnews, our CUSJ newsletter, challenges me to do the same, winter, spring, summer and fall!

It has been a privilege to come to know our seasoned JUSTnews editor and Board member Philip Symons, over the years. Philip dives unflinchingly into the domestic and global crises of our times, while managing to extend a message of hope with a dash of humour to deal with the multi-faceted dilemmas confronting humankind. Philip has been part of CUSJ since about 1998, when he joined the JUSTnews editorial committee, bringing his professional expertise, and his social-justice-minded spouse and soul mate, Marya Nyland, to the copywriting table. He went on to become CUSJ President. Philip became JUSTnews editor in 2006, following in the footsteps of fellow First Unitarian Church of Victoria congregant and JUSTnews creator, Mel Johnston.

CUSJ has been blessed to have such multi-talented and committed editors and activists from its earliest days as a provincial, and later national, network. JUSTnews continues to uphold the highest standards in print journalism. CUSJ members have come to eagerly anticipate and rely on our quarterly newsletter which, like all-seasons tires, helps steer us safely through the bumpy highways and unforeseen byways of life.

As Philip approaches a milestone four score birthday in January 2018, he has chosen to pass the baton to the next generation of UU writers and activists. The good news is that a highly qualified member of the Board, Leslie Kemp, has offered to fill Philip’s BIG shoes. Leslie has a wealth of experience on a number of editorial boards and in all aspects of writing, as well as being a longstanding social change activist and environmentalist. We are thrilled to have Leslie take on this new position, and we wish Philip, and Marya, all the best in the coming years.

Philip has the last word on passing on the editorial mantle to Leslie: “Enjoy the job – a lot! As Guy Dauncey said, ‘If it’s not fun, it isn’t sustainable.’ ”

Wise words to live by. Thank you Philip.

Love, Joy & Justice!!!

Your appreciative President,

Margaret Rao

CUSJ President


2 thoughts on “Philip Symons – A Man For All Seasons”

  1. Lovely letter. Philip has been a stalwart and talented Editor for many years. He is much appreciated in many ways as Margaret says so eloquently.

    But one fact is wrong. CUSJ was created in greater Toronto in 1996 but did not become an official national organization until 1998 in Victoria, ie, not 10 years earlier as suggested. Mel was editor from 1998 to 2006. I am proud to be the one who chose the name Justnews. I later became Treasurer for 7 years.

    Margaret I will let you correct the date.

    Cheers, Christine J


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