Chapter and group reports – 2017

Global Justice Working Group (Ottawa)

We have prioritized Indigenous Issues:

The first event last fall was to welcome MP Romeo Saganash, who has been very involved with the UN Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples going back over many years. (Mary Duncan) This was followed by three public events at our congregation, explaining what this declaration means and how it fits into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A lawyer from Akwesasne, William Davis, was instrumental in explaining this. Bill VanIterson organized this.

On May 7 we will present the film The Pass System, which depicts how our Indigenous people became prisoners of their reserves from 1886 until 1951 and had to ask the white agent for a pass to leave. Monique Manatch from Barriere Lake and Palestinian professor from Ottawa U Nadia Abu-Zahra will then discuss the similarities between the Canadian and the Israeli Colonialism. (Anita & Ria)

We have also had a session on The Overrepresentation of our Indigenous People in our prisons. (Frances, Anita, Bill)

Last September we held an Electoral Reform event.

Israel/Palestine issues:

  • Showing of the film The Occupation of the American Mind
  • Welcoming Dr. Yousef Jabareen, Arab MK of the Knesset last October who spoke to a large audience. He explained that an Arab member can be easily fired if he or she criticises the present government there. (Anita & Ria)
  • A film night around Hassan Diab’s legal problems –first in Canada and since his extradition to France. Organized by Ria.
  • Involvement with several organizations that help students in social housing to finish high school: Pathway to Education, SWAG (Students Will All Graduate). We are also helping Indigenous high school students in their Wasa Nabin program at the Odawa Friendship Center. Brent Kaesler from Pathway spoke to members on April 30. (Anita & Ria)
  • Mary Jackson, founding co-ordinator of Mining Watch Canada invited by Bob S.

~Anita MacLean

Islands Chapter (BC)

In March, we attended A Site C dam vigil put on by the Kairos rolling justice bus. The First Unitarian Church of Victoria led the vigil with songs and stories outside the BC Legislature. We brought the CUSJ banner and wore our t-shirts.

We will have a May meeting after our May 9th provincial election.

~Leslie Gillett

Southern Alberta Chapter (Social Justice Committee)

Your Social Justice Committee (SJC) started 2016 by inviting the Calgary activist community to Wickenden Hall for a January showing of the movie This Changes Everything, by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein. By co-ordinating publicity with Green Sanctuary Committee (GS) and the Council of Canadians (COC), as well as using social media and available print media, we attracted more than 120 people. Our community was re-acquainted with many long-time activist friends, attracted some new friends, and netted $650 for the church.

SJC remains focused on Indigenous themes. In November 2015, we awarded the first (recent) internal William Irvine Award to Unitarian Church of Calgary’s (UCC’s) own William (Bill) Wuttunee, although posthumously. In spring, we presented another movie with GS and COC support, Elder in the Making, about two youths, one Indigenous and one a Chinese immigrant, exploring Alberta landscapes and history.

SJC requested and received a committee budget. Bruce Godwin stepped down as Chair in order to pursue more humanist studies. Penney Kome became Chair.

Penney Kome wrote a “4 Questions” column for the Quest from January to June 2016, on behalf of SJC, interviewing some of UCC’s activist members who are often absent. Penney has been keeping members informed of upcoming political actions by posting events to UCC’s Facebook page.

In addition to the activities mentioned above:

  • In May 2016, Susan organized a breakfast meeting on behalf of SJC so that CUSJ members could participate in the Ottawa CUSJ general meeting. Calgary was the only place to join the webcast as a group. Many thanks to Christopher Feitz and Hendrik Schaink for their technical help through the year.
  • September 2016 – We rented two surreys for the Pride Parade and marched in the middle of the parade with UCC’s Pride Rainbow Banner.
  • We collected 143 pairs of women’s shoes and boots to support the Indigenous women’s Sisters in Spirit rally and shoe Medicine Wheel.
  • October 2016 — We organized a movie night for Silver Donald Cameron’s film, “Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy Planet.”
  • Penney wrote a Quest article about Thank You notes from 4 Others recipients.
  • SJC arranged for the Turkish Sufis to share their Noah’s Pudding with the congregation after the service.The Sufis are under severe attack in Turkey, and appreciated the support. We appreciated their companyand the pudding too.
  • November 2016 – SJC promoted electoral reform with a display and a laptop where people could fill out the survey
  • December 2016 – SJC presented the William Irvine Award to Chantal Stormstong Chagnon and Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes during the Dec 11 service. Debra also spoke about her visit to Standing Rock, ND
  • SJC promoted electoral reform during coffee hour
  • January 2017 – SJC presented Michael Moore’s movie, Where to Invade Next
  • February 2017 – SJC (Penney) presented Sunday Service about the Elizabeth Fry Society

Toronto Chapter

The CUSJ Toronto Chapter includes members involved in local, regional, national and international debate and action in matters of social, economic, environmental and political justice.

CUSJ’s quarterly newsletter, JUSTnews, is a springboard for discussion and action, including letter writing, petition signing, posting articles and events on the Social Justice bulletin board and on the Eco-Social Justice Group listserve as well as in First Light, Toronto First’s weekly e-newsletter. CUSJ’s banner was raised in a number of climate, anti-pipeline, anti-Islamophobia, anti-free trade, pro-fair trade, pro-democracy, including electoral reform, national housing and international women’s solidarity demonstrations.

Many thanks to Toronto First member Jack Dodds for his presentation and briefs to the federal government’s Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) on Bill C-22 and Bill C-23 (Pre-clearance Act for U.S. Customs and Border Protection). These briefs are posted on CUSJ’s website.

CUSJ Toronto Chapter also co-hosts bi-monthly eco-social justice films. We began the year with a series of audience choice ‘short docs’ that set the tone for the challenging year ahead, including U.K. inspired Transition Towns. We end the year with Revolution: Save the Humans by the late eco-activist and well-beloved Torontonian Rob Stewart.

~Margaret Rao

West Coast Chapter

There is interest in collaborating in social justice activities across congregations (in the name of the Westcoast Chapter of CUSJ) and there have been some attempts to do so including a November 2016 March and Rally against the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Vancouver has an active Social Justice Committee and these members proudly carried the new CUSJ banner at the March 4, 2017 Rally for Poverty-Free BC. We invited members of other Vancouver area congregations to join us at the march and rally but none were able to. It is our hope that participating in concrete actions together will build momentum for an active Westcoast Chapter of the CUSJ but perhaps we need to re-examine this strategy.

~Leslie Kemp and Lynn Armstrong