CUC eNews: February 12, 2019 – Issue 77

In This Issue:

Staff Portrait: Erin Horvath, Social Justice LeadErin Horvath

This past summer a job posting was forwarded to me by my sister, Mel Horvath-Lucid, who is the Director of Congregational Life and Learning for the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph. It was for the Social Justice Lead position at the CUC and, while I have never lived anywhere with a Unitarian congregation, she urged me to apply, insisting I would feel at home with Unitarians. I am happy to say, she was right. Since August 2018, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this rich tradition, meeting some wonderful people, and sharing my skills to further causes I feel passionately about.

One such cause is decolonization as it relates to our involvement with First Nations peoples and lands. I have spent the past 22 years living and working alongside Indigenous communities within Northwestern Ontario. I continue to be involved through my community development work which takes me North each month while I work on a variety of projects related to building self-sufficient, sustainable and secure communities. I was interested in the CUC’s position because, in the job posting, it stated that Unitarians were interested in educating themselves about their part in colonization. Those of you who have been Unitarian for a while, may not find this statement surprising. For me, however, this is something that I don’t hear often, and rarely from faith groups. For about a year prior, I had been thinking about how I could speak to the gap that seems to exist between non-Indigenous peoples’ understanding of colonization and the reality that is experienced daily by my Indigenous family members, colleagues, and friends. I saw this job posting as a timely invitation for me to grow while supporting the CUC with this very important work (I love how the Universe works!).  

In addition to reconciliation initiatives, I am working on other areas of social justice including our two-year water campaign, the Ripple Effect, creating materials to help congregations prepare for the upcoming federal election, creating a workshop to help congregations build relationships with their neighbouring Indigenous communities, and using my entrepreneurial skills to help programs become more self-sustaining.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this capacity, and I look forward to getting to know more of you over the coming months.

Learn More About Erin

Update on the CUC’s Truth Healing and Reconciliation Initiative

By Amber Dawn Bellemare

CUC’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation (THR) initiative has entered a new phase and has a new resource team to oversee this important work. We are taking our time to strengthen our relationships within the team and have moved toward using our individual passions and strengths to achieve the goals that are outlined in our Unitarian Universalist Funding Program Grant.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve done so far:

  • The Canadian Unitarian Council joined thousands pledging solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, who are blocking the development of a Coastal GasLink pipeline on their traditional territories in northwestern British Columbia. 
  • The THR Team continues to develop materials for people from 6 to 100 years old. We wish to thank and acknowledge with appreciation, the congregations who have helped by piloting the Reflection Guides and providing feedback on their experience with the guides. We have built on this experience to update the overall experience. The new Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guide (THRRG) website is now available for:

    • Adult 8-Session
    • Young Adult (Reconciliation Through Film)
    • Upper Elementary
      Note: The new THRRG will be piloting: Lower Elementary this spring and Youth this summer
  • A new peer-lead facilitator orientation and coaching process has been developed and is in its pilot “beta” phase. Stay tuned for details on registration costs for these materials.
  • The schedule for the CUC’s THR Film Guide, in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, is now available.

Rev. Norm Horofker, Halifax congregation’s minister, let us know that Deborah Eisan, the Program Director for the Mi’Kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax is co-facilitating their adult THRRG sessions. She “has told us that she uses our project as an example of Truth and Reconciliation in action.”

We look forward to hearing of the partnerships you are forming and how THR work is going in your congregation. Contact us:

Read More About Truth, Healing and Reconciliation

CRA Draft Guidance On Charities’ Public Policy Work

The Canada Revenue Agency issued draft guidance explaining how the CRA will administer changes to the Income Tax Act which allow charities to carry on unlimited public policy dialogue and development activities (PPDDA) to advance their stated charitable purpose. The publication of the guidance follows Parliament passing legislation that changes the rules governing charities’ political activities. These changes were included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018. The CRA is accepting comments on the guidance document until April 23, 2019. All feedback received will be considered to inform the publication of a final version of the guidance. (Source: Imagine Canada)

Executive Director, Vyda Ng, shared, “The CUC is very pleased with this change in policy. It is one of the recommendations made to the Canada Revenue Agency in 2015. The guidance seems to provide clear guidelines for charities to engage in public policy activities. The CUC will be consulting with other charities for their views”.

Join a roundtable discussion on Monday, March 11, 7:30 pm ET to provide your thoughts. The CUC will submit feedback prior to the April 23rd deadline.

Canada Without Poverty Case

On Friday, February 1, the federal government withdrew its appeal of the 2018 court ruling in Canada Without Poverty case. That ruling struck down limits on charities’ non-partisan political activities as unconstitutional; recent changes to the Income Tax Act, including the elimination of the category of “political activities” effectively implemented the judgment that voids the section of the Income Tax Act limiting the political activities of charities. (Source: Imagine Canada

Register for the CRA Policy Roundtable

 UU Hysterical Society Celebrates “Inherent Mirth and Dignity”

The Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society began, fittingly, as a joke. In 2015, Saskatoon Unitarian Liz James and some friends saw that the Lucy Stone Housing Co-op, a Unitarian cohousing community, was seeking new occupants and decided to submit some fake applications using the names of famous dead UUs. The applications needed a common fake email address, and so the name “UU Hysterical Society” was coined.

That could have been the end of it, but James found she missed the opportunity for humour the prank had provided. So she created a Facebook group to share content that would be particularly funny to UU’s, a group that has since grown to include over 10,000 members.

“Funny is important”, writes James in the tongue-in-cheek guidelines posted on the society’s website. “It nurtures a sense of identity and culture, it nourishes hope, it creates connection and joy”.

Indeed, most of the 10 or so posts per day members contribute to the group fulfill these objectives by being relatively uncontroversial. What James finds most rewarding about being the group’s moderator is the jokes that go sideways and the conversations they often spark.

“When there’s a joke that some people think is funny, and other people point out an angle that no one had thought of, then we need to sort of wrestle through walking that line between being funny and edgy and also keeping in mind who all might be reading things and through what lenses”, she says. “And having that conversation is one I find really interesting”.

One such conversation arose with a Halloween post of a cartoon featuring trick-or-treaters badgering a woman handing out candy about whether it’s organic, gluten-free, and gender-neutral. While many society members found the woman’s perplexed reaction amusing, someone pointed out the cartoon could be painful to those who aren’t cisgendered, something James realized then but hadn’t appreciated initially.

As the guidelines would suggest, however, James doesn’t take any of this too seriously, although she heeds the UU principle affirming compassion in human relations (“if someone is hurt by a thing and asks me to take it down, I’m likely gonna”, she states). For those more concerned about free speech, she suggests they consult “the entire rest of the Internet”.

But if anyone is interested in inviting someone to partake in “a free and responsible search for lube and condoms”, they can find these and other sentiments emblazoned on the UU-themed Valentine’s cards available in the society’s online shop.

Visit the UU Hysterical Society’s Facebook Group

UU United Nations Spring Seminaryourh and older adults in gathering

The UU United Nations Office Spring Seminar takes place from April 11 – 13  in New York (read the listing below under International Events). The seminar brings together people of all ages who are passionate about, and committed to, justice and international human rights.

The 2019 theme is “Equity in Action: Gender in an Intersecting World.” This intergenerational seminar offers opportunities to collaborate with others while learning how to be a global activist. Through workshops, peer and expert-led panel discussions, community building activities, and worship services, participants undergo a transformative process of learning, reflection, and growth as we explore some of the most challenging issues facing humanity today.

Traditionally, Canadian participants have made up a third of the seminar’s participants. A large portion of these is youth. We’d like to encourage youth and youth advisors to consider attending. The experience of being in New York (just across from the UN Plaza!) engaging in conversation, making new connections, and participating in global actions is an unforgettable and mind-altering experience. To help you plan, this primer was prepared by Tony Turner, who lead youth groups on the journey and put that experience into solid advice.

The CUC’s Executive Director, Vyda Ng, will be a speaker on the panel exploring gender and race. Check the UU-UNO Spring Seminar page for registration details.

Download the Intergenerational Spring Seminar Information Handout for Canadian UU Youth & Youth Advisors

Announcement: Pilot to Change CanUUdle Age Range in 2019Canuudle 2018 gathering

After discussion and consultation with religious educators, ministers, youth advisors, parents and youth, the Canadian Unitarian Council has decided to change the age range for 2019’s CanUUdle from 14-20 to 13-19. CanUUdle is our annual, national youth conference that takes place every May long weekend. This event is an important part of our youth programming, providing spiritual development and leadership opportunities for Unitarian youth and adults, and creating friendships across the country.

Since 2001, CanUUdle and CUC youth events have used the 14-20 age range, allowing us to serve high school aged youth, and giving youth the flexibility to bridge into young adulthood at their own pace. We now feel that a 13-19 age range would better serve youth at CanUUdle because it reflects the youth age range in many of our member congregations, and would allow more youth to be part of the national youth community. 2019 will be a pilot year to see how the new age range affects the con community and local youth groups.

Congregational staff, leaders and youth advisors have received a letter with more details about this change, and guidelines for 13-year-old attendees. We have also sent out information for parents and youth, and encourage them to discuss this change.

After CanUUdle we will consult with youth, parents, advisors and religious educators to evaluate the impact of the age change and decide whether to make 13-19 the age range for all future CUC youth events.

This change is part of our commitment to continually improve what we do, and how we do it, in response to the needs of our Canadian Unitarian membership (you!).  We welcome questions and comments about the age range pilot, before and after CanUUdle. Please contact Asha Philar at if you would like to discuss the age range.

Learn More About the CUC’s Youth Programming

Registration Opening February 15 for CanUUdle and Chorus

The CUC’s annual national conferences for youth and young adults are happening in Calgary, May 17-20. Registration for CanUUdle (for youth age 13-19 and their adult advisors) and Chorus (for young adults age 18-35) will be open from February 15 – April 30. Visit the CUC Event Calendar listings for more information about each event, and to find the registration forms.

Check out the CUC Events Calendar

Join the Canadian Unitarian Council on Facebook!

Upcoming Events

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact
Deadline: the 14th of each previous month.

National Events

CUC 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM), May 11 from 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. PT, The Atrium at Centre for Social Innovation, 192 Spadina Ave (please note change of location).

CanUUdle XIX, May 17 – 20 – Hosted by the Unitarian Church of Calgary
CanUUdle is the annual national conference for Canadian UU youth and their adult advisors.
Registration will be available soon.

Chorus, May 17 – 20, Edge Camp Retreat Centre, AB
Each year, Canadian UU young adults (18-35) gather to build beloved community, deepen our cross-country connections, and grow as spiritual beings. Chorus will be held at River’s Edge Camp & Retreat Centre near Calgary. Registration will be available soon.

International Events

Equity in Action: Gender in an Intersecting World,  April 11-13, 2019, New York City
The UU United Nations Office is excited to host this year’s Intergenerational Spring Seminar on gender equity in collaboration with the UU College of Social Justice. Programming will be interactive and intergenerational, encouraging participants to challenge their assumptions, connecting their activism with grounding in UU faith, and empowering them with the tools to bring back to their communities to make change locally and globally.

Youth and Young Adult 

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In, 3-11, 4-8, 5-6, 6-10, 7-8, 8-12, 8 p.m. ET
Gathered Here is a monthly online check-in and gathering for Canadian Unitarian Universalist young adults.

Peterborough Self Care UU Youth Con, Friday, February 22 – Sunday, February 24
Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough, Ontario


Worship as a Beacon for Congregational Growth, Saturday, March 30, 9:30 – 12:30 p.m. PT (12:30 – 3:30 p.m. ET)
Part one of two, we’ll explore ways to create meaningful worship that engages minds, hearts, and spirits. Our presenter is the Rev. Dr. Barbara Wells ten Hove.

Connecting Across the Generations, April 13, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m ET
Churches are one of the few places (outside of our own families) where we can make friends across the generations. How can we use that niche to build a sense of community, trust, connection, and care? Facilitated by Asha Philar,  CUC’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Specialist.

Photography and Video 101, April 20, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. ET
Amber Dawn Bellemare will be covering the basic of photography and video creation in this webinar. Among other topics, Amber will address what equipment you need and what software, along with providing links to get you started in editing. General guidance and suggestions will be shared to get you up and running. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period.

Roundtables and Virtual Gatherings

Virtual Gathering: Hope in Hard Times, Wednesday, March 6, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. ET  OR
Saturday, March 9, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET 

Arising out of common concern, voiced by religious professionals, we invite people to join in this time of reflection and sharing – looking at the ways we find Hope in Hard Times.

CRA Policy Guidance, Monday, March 11, 7:30 p.m. ET
The discussion will focus on the CRA’s draft guidance explaining the administration of changes to the Income Tax Act. The CRA is accepting comment until April 23, 2019.