CUC Information on COVID-19 & National Conference – March, 13, 2020
As the situation with the COVID-19 Coronavirus rapidly develops,and congregations make decisions about whether to proceed with activities, the CUC team offers you our support and some resources to help as we navigate this together. As communities of faith, we can play significant roles in helping to prevent the spread of infection, in providing a calm and reasoned presence, and in modelling safe practices.
The CUC has been monitoring the situation with the help of various government resources.
This recently released Government of Canada resource “Risk-Informed Decision-Making for Mass Gatherings during COVID-19,” has been particularly helpful. We also recommend following the guidelines of your local and provincial public health offices.
Resources for Congregations
It’s important that we remain in conversation, support each other, and share resources. To help do this, we are inviting congregational leaders to attend one of two roundtable conversations this weekend (March 14 & 15). The goal of these roundtables is to share practical and pastoral resources for congregations, to provide information about online streaming options for those congregations who are pondering alternatives to Sunday services, and to address questions and concerns. We welcome you all, wherever you are in the decision-making process.
Three additional COVID-19 Update roundtables have been set up for ongoing support and resource sharing: Session 1:March 21, 1 pm ET/4 pm PT; Session 2: March 28, 1 pm ET/4 pm PT; and Session 3: April 4, 1 pm ET/4 pm PT.
The CUC has also set up a resource folder with information for congregations. The Folder can be found here, with sections on National & International Sources for Updates, Safety Measures, Reflections, Meditations and Readings, and Virtual Meeting Options. There is even a section on 20-second Handwashing Ditties! If you have additional resources to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CUC’s National Conference
The decision has been regretfully made to cancel the National Conference in May in Halifax. In light of the rapidly evolving situation, we, together with the UU Church of Halifax Host Team, feel that holding a gathering in these times is not a safe situation. This is in line with the just-announced recommendation from the Nova Scotia government to limit gatherings to 150 people.
However, this presents an opportunity for us to explore national online connections instead. The planning teams are working on this, and updates will be sent to you in the coming weeks.
CUC staff will be in touch with those who have registered about refunds.
Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting will proceed as planned on May 15th. This will be fully online, as we have the capability for this. To become informed about this process, please sign up for one of the online voting orientation sessions in April, And remember to register your online delegates by April 15. More information about the AGM is here.
We have heard from some congregations who have already made the decision to suspend services and programming. As we consider our next steps at the CUC National Office, in consultation with our partners and leaders, the health and wellbeing of our staff, congregations and leaders and our partners remains our top priority.
If you or your congregation need further support, please do not hesitate to reach out to Rev. Linda Thomson and Joan Carolyn at email@example.com.
CUC staff who work at the Toronto office will be doing so remotely from March 16, 2020 until the situation improves. You can continue to reach us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) and by leaving a voicemail message. All other staff work remotely from their home locations.
We know that the pace of change on this issue has been fast. Many of us are finding ourselves torn by the conflicting need to be informed and to manage our stress levels. It is our hope that we can find creative and safe ways to connect. During these uncertain times, may we remember to treat others and ourselves gently. May we respond to others with compassion and care. Our Seventh principle reminds us of our connections to one another – may we cherish them now, as much as we ever do.
“These are anxious days…The pulse of life calls us … to nourish our spirits with art and song, friendship and tenderness, and quiet. The pulse of life is beating in each and every one of us. Amidst the clamor of these times, let us heed its sure and steady rhythm.” – The Pulse of Life, Jennifer Johnson
CUC Releases Your Guide to Hosting an All-Candidates Meeting, September 2019
In Canada, the next federal election will take place on October 21, 2019. On, or before (at prepolls), this day, Canadians will elect Members of Parliament (MP’s) across the country who will represent the views and interests of their constituents in the legislative assembly. The Elections Canada website contains the information you need to vote, including your electoral district, checking or updating your registration, student voting, accessible polling stations, information for Indigenous voters, and voting by mail.
What is an All-Candidates Meeting?
At an All-Candidates Meeting, residents have a chance to hear from the candidates, evaluate political platforms, and ask questions about current issues. All nominees running for MP in aarticular district are invited to gather and share their views. These events are non-partisan, meaning all political parties are invited and attendees get to hear about the issues from many different perspectives. The focus may be broad and cover a range of issues, or be focused on an issue of particular importance to the hosting group. Examples include, but are not limited to, poverty, women’s rights, climate change, business, Indigenous rights, and immigration. Local media often cover and even moderate these events. Typically, All-Candidates Meetings take place in locations like community centres, town halls, and school auditoriums which are shared community spaces and feel welcoming to people from all walks of life.
Why host an All-Candidates Meeting?
Hosting an All-Candidates Meeting is an ideal way to understand where your local candidates stand on issues that matter to you, your organization, and your community. These meetings offer your community an interactive way to learn about the issues and form an opinion about those running for office. When you host a meeting you play an important part in local democracy. If done in a way that is engaging, inclusive, and interesting you could foster an interest in civic engagement and political affairs. For groups with particular issues that are important to them, it is an opportunity to invite the broader community to learn about that issue from a non-partisan perspective.
In recent years there has been a trend towards “us and them” politics in Canada, the United States, and abroad. This has contributed to a culture where respect for difference is waning alongside constructive inquiry and non-partisan debate. More than ever we need to make space for honest conversations that allow people to better understand each other’s lived experiences while searching for solutions that address the environmental, economic, social, and cultural challenges of our time . If thoughtfully organized, with a diversity of perspectives represented, an All-Candidates Meeting has the potential to be such a space.
Download and continue reading Your Guide to Hosting an All-Candidates Meeting(pdf)
Download All You Need to Know for the Federal Election: One-Page Resource (pdf)
CUC National Voice Team Statements
The National Voice Team consists of the President of the CUC Board of Trustees, the President of the UU Ministers of Canada, and the CUC Executive Director. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
CUC Response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)
CUC Response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)
June 6, 2019
The Canadian Unitarian Council acknowledges the systemic and ongoing nature of colonization of Indigenous peoples, land, and resources on this land. We are becoming more aware of the many ways in which colonization unjustly privileges settlers at the expense of Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge the findings and calls to justice of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Final Report, and that these require immediate attention.
As Unitarian Universalists, we have also taken a stand for gender equality and the rights of LGBTQ+ peoples – values that intersect with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ (MMIW) Calls for Justice.
The term ‘genocide’ is used in this report (read the reflection on ‘genocide’ in theExecutive Summary) to describe our collective actions towards Indigenous peoples. As challenging as it is to acknowledge this term, in particular towards Indigenous women and girls, we accept this assessment based on the 1948United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. We are mindful that resistance to the use of ‘genocide’ may be linked to beliefs about our identity as a nation and denial of the facts of our shared history. It may also be linked to a mindset that emphasizes individual intention/action while minimizing the role of systemic influences in racism and privilege.
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller has stated that an “absolute paradigm shift is required to dismantle colonialism in Canadian society”. We recognize that the paradigm shift asked of settlers may cause us to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. While we may not have individually constructed the racist system that is in place, we are each complicit in sustaining it until we take steps to change it. Therefore, we take ownership for our part in a system that has resulted in Indigenous women and girls:
- being 12 times more likely to go missing than any other demographic;
- being 16 times more likely to be killed or disappear than white women;
- constituting almost 25 percent of all female homicides in Canada between 2001-2015.
As Unitarian Universalists we are committed to studying this document with the intent of taking action on the231 Calls to Justice starting with item 15.3, which urges us to read the final report, take other steps to educate ourselves, and call on our governments to take action.
From the Canadian Unitarian Council National Voice Team, which consists of the President of the CUC Board of Trustees, the President of the UU Ministers of Canada, and the CUC Executive Director.
Resources for reading and action:
- Be informed and educated:Executive Summary of the Final Report
- CBC article: “231 Imperative Changes: The MMIG’s Calls for Justice”
- United Nations Office on Genocide Convention and Responsibility to Protect
- Government of Canada – Indigenous Peoples
- Hold the government accountable for follow-up action:
- Contact your Member of Parliament
- Global News: “Prime Minister Promises Action”
- CBC article: “Prime Minister Says Deaths and Disappearances of Indigenous Women and Girls Amount to Genocide”
Download CUC Response to MMIW
Canadian Unitarian Church Response to Christchurch
– From the CUC Board President and Vice President, CUC Executive Director and the UU Ministers of Canada
March 15, 2019
Response to the UU World’s article, “After the L, G, and B”
The statement below is issued after the publication of a UUWorld article which caused harm to trans and nonbinary UU leaders and colleagues. The CUC, UU Ministers of Canada and the Canadian UU Religious Educators share this statement with you, as we are committed to being in right relationship with our trans and nonbinary siblings. Please feel free to share the CUC in Solidarity with Trans and Nonbinary UUs.2019-03 widely
A recent article in UU World, “After the L, G, and B” published on March 1, 2019, harmed and further marginalized transgender and nonbinary UUs and leaders, their families and allies. Through one family’s experience, the article was meant to model ways for UU World readers to engage respectfully with transgender and nonbinary people. Instead, it caused pain, and for many, served to increase isolation.
The Canadian Unitarian Council, the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada, and the Canadian Unitarian Universalist Religious Educators wish to express our sadness that transgender and nonbinary UUs have again been marginalized within our faith community spaces. In choosing to commission one of its first feature pieces about trans issues in Unitarian Universalism from a cisgender person, the UU World centred cisgender discomfort and fragility around trans identity, instead of focusing on the enormous contributions that trans and nonbinary UUs have made to our faith. The editorial staff chose to run the piece, despite being advised by a prominent trans UU leader that the article as conceived would cause harm.
In the face of this harm, we wish to reaffirm our commitment to trans and nonbinary UUs in Canada and in our movement at large: to radical inclusion, love and justice. As largely cisgender-led institutions, we strive to continue to be in right relationship with our trans and nonbinary UU siblings and to be honest in our communications with each other, even when (or especially when) we make mistakes that hurt each other. We call on cisgender leaders and people in our community to journey with and lift up the voices and experiences of transgender and nonbinary people in our UU communities, recognizing that in this interdependent web of existence, what affects the one affects the many.
TRUUsT (Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together) members, and trans UUs widely, have responded to the article, sharing the hurt and the further marginalization which occurs when trans people are viewed as exotic “others.” TRUUsT issued a response to the UU World article. In part, the response states, “We are living in a UU faith community full of people with whom we have covenanted to live into our best selves, our authentic selves, in a multitude of expressions and complex realities, but who continue to deny us a place at the table even as they examine their internal systems of oppression on other matters.”
Alex Kapitan, trans UU leader, activist, co-leader of the Transforming Hearts Collective, and steering committee member of TRUUsT, was quoted in the UU World article. Kapitan had urged against the publication of the article, and reflected: “I could not be more disappointed or pained by the harm and the lost opportunity this article represents. The UU World could have uplifted the spiritual gifts of trans UUs and provided the call our movement desperately needs to address the failures of this religion with respect to trans inclusion. Instead, the publication of the article continued the current trend of marginalizing trans people and supporting cis UUs in their resistance to creating basic access for trans UUs, much less fully inclusive and affirming spiritual homes.”
In speaking with the CUC about what’s required of cisgender UUs in the aftermath of this article, Kapitan emphasized that a faith-grounded approach is necessary, rather than a purely intellectual approach to learning about trans/nonbinary identities – and so are heart-centred spiritual practices that allow people to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Kapitan adds that to truly be in solidarity and right relationship, cisgender people need to resist the desire to centre life around their own world view and to ‘fix’ others or the situation, and dare to shift away from a desire to avoid “offending” trans people to a desire to offer care toward trans people.
In the days following the publication of the UU World article, both UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray and UU World editor Christopher Walton responded with apologies and an acknowledgement that hurt has been caused.
– From the CUC Board President and Executive Director, the UU Ministers of Canada, and the Canadian UU Religious Educators, with thanks to Katharine Childs, Arran Liddel and Alex Kapitan.
During this year, the CUC will feature a series on trans and nonbinary UUs, their lives, work and experiences. We ask that congregations which display the UU World article also include Alex Kapitan’s statement and CB Beal’s Medium article, and delve into understanding how the article is harmful.
- TRUUsT response to UU World article: Putting the “T” First
- Alex Kapitan’s statement: What It Takes to De-Centre Privilege: The Failure of This Week’s UU World Article
- CB Beal’s Medium article: Centering the Marginalized: Symphonie and Triptych
- UU World article “After the L, G, and B”
- UU World Editor Christopher Walton’s apology
- UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray’s apology
- TRUUst Report on the Experiences of Trans Unitarian Universalists
- TRUUsT Call to Action: https://transuu.org/support-us/
CUC Pledges Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en – January 11, 2019
The Canadian Unitarian Council has joined hundreds of other organizations and individuals 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:
1. WE COMMEND the courage and vision of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their community of activists.
2. WE ARE WATCHING across the province, country and internationally.
3. WE DENOUNCE any attempt by Coastal GasLink Pipeline, the federal government, provincial government or RCMP to interfere in the rights of the Unist’ot’en to occupy, manage or maintain their lands.
4. WE URGE that any and all actions taken by the federal and provincial government, industry, and policing agencies must be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en laws) and collective Title.
5. WE PLEDGE support to the frontline land defenders and affirm the collective hereditary governance of the Wet’suwet’en who are enforcing Wet’suwet’en laws on their unceded lands.
Sign the pledge from Unist’ot’en Camp
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau –
The Honourable Daniel Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
David.Lametti@parl.gc.ca, Fax: 613-954-0811
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Find your Member of Parliament
Contact the RCMP directly and let them know your view of their impending operation.
National RCMP Headquarters
Email: RCMP.HQMediaRelations-DGRelationsmedias.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca (media contact)
Please take action in your own community along with other Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice activists in your area.
Here are some of the other important ways you can support the Unist’ot’en, Gitdumt’en and the entire Wet’suwet’en Nation:
Donate to the Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gitdumt’en Territory: https://www.gofundme.com/gitdumt039en-access-point
Donate to Unist’ot’en Camp: http://unistoten.camp/support-us/donate/
Donate to Unist’ot’en Camp Legal Fund: https://actionnetwork.org/fundrai…/unistoten-camp-legal-fund
Get updates from Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gitdumt’en Territory: Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gitdumt’en Territory:
Unitarians Offer Comprehensive Sex Education Program
The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) announces the availability of the sex education program, Our Whole Lives (OWL), to Ontario schools and parents.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada – August 29, 2018 – The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) advocates for fact-based sexuality education, which is provided in many Unitarian congregations through its progressive Our Whole Lives (OWL) program.
The CUC believes that the Ontario government’s decision to repeal the comprehensive 2015 Health and Sex Education curriculum and reinstate the curriculum from 1998 will leave children at risk and adversely impact schools’ ability to create cultures of inclusion, safety and consent. Neither does it prepare students of all genders and sexual orientations to develop healthy, consensual relationships.
To fill the gap of the important information and content that is missing from the 1998 curriculum the Canadian Unitarian Council supports and promotes Our Whole Lives (OWL). OWL is an extensive lifespan sexuality education program created almost 20 years ago by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ in the US. The curricula includes age ranges from kindergarten to adulthood, and has been updated regularly to stay current. The 2018 OWL program provides honest, accurate, and developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.
OWL supports and encourages family conversations about sexual values and healthy decision making. The curriculum is based on the principles of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice, and inclusivity, and helps people of all ages make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behaviour. The program dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives.
“Through our experience offering Our Whole Lives, we understand the profound effect that inclusive, respectful, fact-based sex education can have on young people,” says Vyda Ng, Executive Director of the CUC. She adds “Our Whole Lives empowers children, teens and others across age lifespans to understand not only their bodies but also their relationships and the importance of consent and respect in building healthy relationships.”
The Canadian Unitarian Council is deeply concerned that the loss of comprehensive sexuality education in Ontario schools will leave children and youth vulnerable at a time when they most need accurate information and empowerment to make good decisions. Asha Philar, OWL Coordinator for the CUC states, “The Our Whole Lives program gives youth the tools to make healthy and age-appropriate choices and helps LGBTQ youth find self-acceptance and support. Without access to accurate information and learning opportunities, Ontario students are put at risk and we fear that LGBTQ youth will face even more barriers to acceptance.”
OWL programs are available through many Unitarian congregations from September to May. To find out more about the OWL program and where workshops for ages kindergarten to adult are available, contact email@example.com.
More information about the CUC’s Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education program can be found on the CUC website. https://cuc.ca/congregations-leaders/religious-exploration/our-whole-lives-owl/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information and calls to action:
Members of the CUC and its congregations are invited to sign the following petition calling on Premier Ford to keep Ontario’s 2015 sex-ed curriculum:https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/doug-ford-keep-ontario-s-sex-ed-curriculum
Please phone Education Minister Lisa Thompson to reinstate the 2015 Ontario Health and Sex Education curriculum: https://www.leadnow.ca/call-to-save-sex-ed/