CUC Awards

Shining Lights Award

Shining Lights Chalice created by Jo’Anne Kelly of Winnipeg

The Shining Lights Award celebrates innovative projects developed by our congregations and groups. Awarded annually in May, the Shining Lights Award honours creative and impactful programs, and provides a platform for all congregations to be inspired and learn from each other. Learn more about the nomination process and how Canadian UUs are welcome to share their stories of inspiration, from the smallest project to the largest program.

Our previous winners:

In 2020 the congregation of the First UU Church of Winnipeg received the Shining Lights Award for their creative and comprehensive month-long celebration, including more than 20 events, centred around the topics of death, dying, and grief. The congregation hosted a variety of events including a resource fair, movie and art night, book discussion, and two well-attended workshops: an advanced care directives workshop and a full day communications workshop which was delivered twice with more than 45 people attending.  Overall the organizers estimated more than 400 attended the events, with 75 to 80% of those being new connections for their congregation. They celebrated the success of the month-long event with a potluck meal and meaningful conversations with new friends and community partners.

The first Shining Lights Award was presented to the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton for their social justice work focusing on affordable housing; sexual and gender justice; and empowering those living in poverty to fulfill their potential.

Social Justice Recognition Award

Unitarians and Universalists have a proud history in the forefront of many movements for social change. The Social Justice Recognition Award is granted to an individual for their outstanding contribution locally and nationally in an area of social justice work. This individual is nominated by their peers for making notable contributions to a single initiative or for their overall commitment to social action.

In 2018, the SJ Award was presented to Philip Symon for his unflagging commitment to working through domestic and global issues, and for being the editor of JustNews, the newsletter of the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice for twelve years.

Awarded to posthumously to Bruce Schwartzentruber (First Toronto), 2015.

Victor and Nancy Knight Living Tribute Award

The Victor and Nancy Knight Living Tribute Award is presented at the CUC National Conference, which is held every other year. The award honours the ideals exemplified by the lives and work of Nancy and Victor Knight in furthering the principles of Unitarianism in Canada, and is presented to a living person who has, as a volunteer, contributed at the national level towards furthering these ideals. As an encouragement for others to follow the Knights’ example, an award is made annually from the income of the fund to the recipient. Check below for the notable list of Knight recipients.

Nominate an outstanding Unitarian Universalist for a Knight Award
Nominations may be submitted by any member or friend of a Canadian UU congregation and must be accompanied by a citation describing what the nominee has done at the national level to promote the Unitarian Universalist principles in Canada and why they should be considered for the award. Retiring members of the CUC board and CUC employees are not eligible for nomination until a minimum of five years after their departure. The citation should be at least 200 words in length and may be submitted by email to John Hopewell at If you would prefer to mail your nomination in, please email John for his mailing address.

Nominations must be received by February 28th in conference years.

In 2020, the award was presented by Kim Hunter to Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed

Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed

The Nancy and Victor Knight Living Tribute Award was created in 1961 and revived in 1995,  to recognize individuals who have furthered the principles of Unitarianism Universalism and Liberal Religious principles in Canada.  

The 2020-2021 recipient easily meets that standard.

As an author and speaker, he has challenged us to confront racism in our denomination and society and to grow into a more diverse and truly inclusive religion. As a religious leader, he has inspired us with the intelligence of his thought and the depth of his compassion. As a leader in our Canadian denomination, his patience, wisdom and non-anxious presence helped bring about a new era in the CUC.

The 2020-21 recipient of the Knight award is the Reverend Mark Morrison-Reed.

In the 1990s, while a co-minister in Toronto, Mark played a critical role serving as facilitator between the CUC and the UUA as discussions began regarding the autonomy of the CUC.  As the meetings became more formal, Mark was appointed to the CUC negotiating team. 

Herman Boerma -a past CUC President and Knight recipient described Mark as having a “ calming influence”  that “ kept the conversation on point and amicable.”   He had credibility with the representatives of both sides of the border. 

As a  member of that negotiating team,  and as President of the CUC at that time, I can personally attest to Mark’s calming influence. But to be fair, while calm, Mark’s commitment to setting the CUC on a new path was fierce and passionate.

Brian Kiely, also a Knight, recalls Mark standing at the CUC ACM crying freely as the overwhelming majority of delegates voted to approve the separation process in principle.

In 2001 Mark became CUC President and used his terms to complete the autonomy process and help start the CUC on its new path thereby furthering UU principles in Canada.

Throughout his career, Mark has written several books on matters of race and spiritual integration.  As a CUC volunteer, he undertook a 2012 survey of Canadian Unitarian congregations on diversity and brought the results to the membership in the Keynote speech at the 2013 CUC Annual Meeting, entitled Radical Inclusion.  I re-read his keynote this morning, and the message and challenge it includes is relevant more than ever today. 

In 2020 Mark was a volunteer member of the CUC Black Lives Matter Roundtable. His work on diversity and race pushed the boundaries of our understanding of Unitarian principles challenging Canadians to live our religious ideals.

I am told that Mark also led by example among his colleagues in the UU Ministers of Canada, bringing that same thoughtful perspective to their deliberations.  He co-led that organization through a powerful extended workshop confronting racism and privilege. 

My grandmother Nancy Knight knew Mark and I can say without any doubt at all, that she would be thrilled to see him being honoured by this award which is given in her name and in the name of my grandfather. 

Mark has exemplified the ideal of furthering Unitarianism in Canada by prodding us with his ideas while still comforting us with his compassion, humour and love. 

Mark, thank you for all you have done for Unitarianism and Universalism in Canada.

2020Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed
2019Rev. Frances DeverellFirst Unitarian Fellowship on Nanaimo
2018E. Lisbeth DonaldsonComox Valley Unitarian Fellowship
2016Ellen CampbellFirst Unitarian Congregation of Toronto
2015Barbara TaylorUnitarian Church of Vancouver
2015John TaylorUnitarian Church of Vancouver
2014Christine JohnstonFirst Unitarian Church of Victoria
2013Rev. Brian KielyUnitarian Church of Edmonton
2012Leroy DickeyFirst Unitarian Congregation of Waterloo
2011Kim TurnerUniversalist Unitarian Church of Halifax
2010Ralph GreerUnitarian Church of Vancouver
2009Art BrewerFirst Unitarian Congregation of Toronto
2008Stan CalderUnitarian Church of Edmonton
2007John SlatteryBeacon Unitarian Church
2006Heather WattsUniversalist Unitarian Church of Halifax
2005Bert ChristensenFirst Unitarian Congregation of Toronto
2005Anna MacIverFirst Unitarian Congregation of Toronto
2004Ruth Patrick Unitarian Church of Edmonton
2003John HopewellFirst Unitarian Church of Victoria
2002Bernie KeelerUnitarian Church of Edmonton
2001Herman BoermaUnitarian Congregation of Saskatoon
2000Helen BackhouseUnitarian Church of Calgary
1999Ed RatcliffeKingston Unitarian Fellowship
1998Jack WallaceUnitarian Church of Vancouver
1997Mary Lu MacdonaldUniversalist Unitarian Church of Halifax
1996John MayDon Heights Unitarian Fellowship
1995Charles EddisUnitarian Church of Montreal
Phillip HewettUnitarian Church of Vancouver