Canadian Unitarian Church Response to Christchurch

The world weeps with the news of senseless violence and death, and hold in our hearts the victims and families of the New Zealand mosque shooting. Violence of this kind fueled by hatred and fear cannot be allowed to exist. We choose to respond with love and refuse to respond with more violence.
 
In the face of our grief, we pledge ourselves anew to act with compassion. Holding true to the inherent worth and dignity of each being, we are moved to respond with kindness and empathy when faced with ignorance and bigotry.
 
Unitarians will show up beside our Muslim colleagues and siblings. We embrace expressions of religion which champion inclusion and cooperation among all faiths. We will continue to work towards a world where our interdependence is manifested through love and justice.
 
To demonstrate solidarity and support, we encourage UUs across Canada to participate in vigils in their local communities.
 

– 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.

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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.  

Quick links:


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
https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSdNtxbSahBWHsa9Wy…/viewform

Take Action!

Federal
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau –
Telephone: 613-992-4211
justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Fax: 613-941-6900

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
https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

Contact the RCMP directly and let them know your view of their impending operation.
National RCMP Headquarters
Telephone: 613-843-5999
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 owl@cuc.ca.  

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 owl@cuc.ca.

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/


About the Canadian Unitarian Council

The Canadian Unitarian Council / Conseil unitarien du Canada (CUC) is the national association of Unitarian Universalist congregations in Canada. We are a diverse faith community bound by a common commitment to equity and justice. We covenant to a set of principles, which calls us to seek peace, liberty and compassion, to search for truth and meaning, to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and to uphold democratic processes.

Media Contact:

Vyda Ng, Executive Director
executivedirector@cuc.ca
905.351.4798

Download the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Our Whole Lives (OWL) brochure