Statement on National Housing Strategy

 A statement by the CUC National Voice Team on the announcement of a national housing strategy. The CUC National Voice Team consists of the President of the CUC Board, the President of the UU Ministers of Canada, and the CUC Executive Director.

On behalf of the members of the Canadian Unitarian Council and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada, we welcome the announcement on November 21, 2017, by the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, of the federal government’s national housing strategy.  Funding dedicated in this national plan to social housing, and to the needs of women, children, the homeless, people in housing need, and those who rent, is especially good news, and we receive it with appreciation and joy.

In May 2010, delegates to the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Unitarian Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the federal government, in consultation with residents across the country, to create a national affordable housing strategy that would begin to meaningfully address our nation’s full-spectrum housing crisis.  Along with other religious bodies and civil society organizations, members of our congregations subsequently wrote and petitioned the federal government, as well as their Members of Parliament, to enact a national affordable housing strategy.

We are pleased with Minister Duclos’s statement that “the federal government is back in housing in a big way.”  It is a crucial commitment, and long overdue.

Years ago, speaking of our dire housing needs, Roy Romanow said that Canada was a “nation half-built.”  We encourage our federal government to follow through on funding and implementation of the housing strategy, and that it will continue to work with all levels of government and civil society, to build that neglected half of the house of our nation yet to be achieved.

We wish the Ministry, and all levels of government success in guaranteeing and realizing this fundamental right to safe, adequate and affordable housing for all our nation’s peoples.

Although the announcement about the National Housing Strategy has been made, we encourage you to continue writing to your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to ensure the strategy is implemented. Find your MP here

Westwood Director of Religious Education Writes Children’s Book

Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet’s book The Secret Wish of Dragon H is a book telling the story of Horus, a dragon who yearns for the wings he’s told only female dragons are allowed to have. Below, the author reflects on the inspiration for the story and how it can be useful as an introduction to issues of gender identity.

I have been a member of Westwood Unitarian Congregation in Edmonton, Alberta, for many years now. I’ve had the great privilege and honour for nearly five of those years of holding the role of Director of our Religious Education Program.  In February of 2016, the theme was “Building Bridges of Transformation”.  We’d been building all kinds of bridges since September (literal and metaphorical!), and it was becoming challenging to find children’s books on this  theme.  A trans woman was delivering the upcoming sermon, and I wanted to present a clear, related message to our children and the congregation that morning.

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The Deep Well of Appreciation

To rise, to rise each morning with the faint glow of starlight on our backs as we head into the joys, the surprises, the challenges of each day sometimes with awe and wonder, perhaps expectation, perhaps dread…

To rise, to rise each day peering over waterlines, sandbags, walls, garbage, bunkers… in windswept deserts and streets lined with sweet smelling olive trees alike.

What a gift we are given when we can rise in freedom, of some sort, to some degree.

This year, for once, for one honest moment, let us forgive our ancestors for the real and true roots from which the Thanksgiving ritual emerged. Let us acknowledge the less than honorable circumstances that created the “original” table of abundance that North Americans attempt to re-create each year. Let us acknowledge and forgive, each other and ourselves for perpetuating inaccurate history.

For how can we be truly grateful if we do not?

We rise with you, Spirit of Truth and Justice, to stroll through all the many gardens of gratitude, inhaling the crystal clear air of freedoms attained, through rough and tumble avenues of debate and destruction.

This year, in solidarity, let the hands across North America reach toward each others’ hearts to feel the pulse that has longed for centuries to beat as one: Whole, spirit-filled and grace-full, swimming in the river of thankfulness for the clarity such intentions provide.

This year let us give not until it hurts, but until we can look in the mirror and know that we are reaching profoundly into the wells of gratitude, know that we are sitting in the pure joy of it, tearfully acknowledging the gift to rise each day and make bread or beds, give smiles, elicit laughter, cross the line that is personal space to meet in the circle that is a hug.

Spirit of Compassion, you know that if we were never to give thanks, these gifts would still abound.

You know, we would rise and walk in the dark of emptiness, missing completely the air of humanity the being-ness that is grounded in the awareness, the age-old knowledge that we are all one, and together create the One.

This year, let us commit to always rise above wherever it is we find ourselves.

Let us give thanks for the interdependent web that brought food to our tables, for the spirits that gave of themselves so that we might eat, for the bended backs that labored in the hot sun and all the carriers that reached their destinations.

In this rich well of appreciation, let us stretch our hand across the table of abundance, pressing lifeline against lifeline, giving thanks that we can do so, and gently holding in our hearts those who cannot, and could not from the beginning.

Spirit of Our Deepest Desires, this year, let us commit to truly rising as One Unitarian Universalist voice working for and loving all of humanity.

Que asi sea. So may it be. Blessed Be.

Amen. Ashe. Ho! As Salaam Alaikum. Shalom.

Namaste. Paz.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marta I Valentín

With thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Worship Web.

Update on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides

As we resume the church year, many people are reflecting back on a summer of fun, sun, and relaxation, while many others are busy getting calendars and programming in place. We here at the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Task Force (THRR)  wanted to take a moment to give you a heads up on some programming opportunities, as well as to let you know the status of the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guides  (THRRG) material.

We are excited to announce that effective October 1, 2017, three of the five THRRG will be available in their final form. Congregations with trained facilitators will be able to access the following levels of the THRRG: Adult, Young Adult, and Upper Elementary. Thank you to everyone who took part in facilitating, participating, or supporting these pilots.

We are looking for congregations to pilot the youth THRRG to begin in the fall of 2017, or starting in January 2018. Please let us know if you’re interested – contact information is below.

We’ve already held a couple of Facilitator Trainings on:

  • Saturday, August 26 from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern

  • Wednesday, August 30 from 3-6 Pacific, 6-9 Eastern

  • Saturday, September 30, 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern

Don’t worry if you forgot to register! You can mark your calendar for the following dates, so that you have trained facilitators in place!

  • Saturday, November 4 from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern.

  • Saturday, January 13 from 9-12 Pacific, 12-3 Eastern.

Please keep an eye on the CUC’s eNews for ways to sign up, or let us know you’re interested by e-mailing us – contact information provided below. The cost to participate in this training is $25.00 for Canadian congregations, $50.00 for community groups or Unitarian congregations from outside of Canada.

The THRRG Task Force is also beginning the process of revisioning itself to become a standing committee of the CUC to continue the work of our commitment to Truth, Healing and Reconciliation. We are excited that Amber Dawn Bellemare of the team will step forward as Chair. The team will be transitioning Amber into this role over the coming year.

If your congregation is interested in knowing more and/or offering the THRRG, please contact us at reconciliation@cuc.ca.

Upcoming Youth and Young Adult Events

Youth and young adult ministry is an important part of Canadian Unitarianism, both in the work of the CUC and at the congregational level. Here are some events coming up over the fall, and a reminder to save the date for the CanUUdle XVIII and the National Conference May 18-21, 2018.

For youth (14-20):

High School Our Whole Lives (OWL) Weekend – October 20-22 – Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga

Registration open until October 13

For youth advisors and adults working with youth:

Central Region Gathering – Beloved Community

October 28 – Unitarian Fellowship of London

Registration open until October 20

Workshops include: Meetings and meaning (Rev. Peter Boullata), Congregational covenants (Rev. Linda Thomson), and Youth Ministry Training for adults working with youth (Asha Philar). Full day Junior Youth mini-con for ages 10-13!

Special price for young adults: $25

Youth and young adults: Save the date for May 2018!

CanUUdle XVIII – May 18-21, 2018 – First Unitarian Church of Hamilton

Registration will open in February. Youth and adults wanted to for the planning (staff) team – applications open in November.

Young adults at the CUC National Conference – May 18-21, 2018 – McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

18-35 year old UUs will once again gather on the May long weekend, in conjunction with the CUC Conference in Hamilton. Our weekend will be a mix of multigenerational events and young adults social and worship time. Stay tuned for more details!