Canadian Unitarian eNews | Issue #9, October 2011

CUSJ Board Members and Other UUs
Arrested at Ottawa Tarsands Protest

By Rev. Frances Deverell
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

The Oak Street Market

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice President Rev. Frances Deverell (right)

CANADIAN UNITARIANS for Social Justice (CUSJ) joined with the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, and the Indigenous Environmental Network to make a statement against the Tarsands on Parliament Hill September 26th.

Rev. Frances Deverell and Ahti Tolvanen from the CUSJ Board, and Ria Heynan and Dan Milligan from First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa climbed the fence to show their public commitment to a change in policy. Some of them were arrested as part of the protest.

Other Unitarians, Bob Stevenson, Katherine Gunn, and Jan Heynan, participated in the Ottawa Witness Group to monitor the behaviour of both protesters and police.

The goal of the day was peaceful civil disobedience to make the points that:
  • It is unacceptable that Canada is doing nothing about the problem of climate change, and is escalating the growth of the tar sands, our most polluting project.
  • It is unacceptable to industrialize landscapes on such a scale, destroying whole ecosystems.
  • The Harper government must address the known medical problems tarsands pollution is causing to people living downstream.
  • The Harper government must honour the treaty rights and the human rights of indigenous people.
  • The billions of dollars in subsidies paid to oil companies should be transferred into the renewable energy sector.
It was a privilege to work with young leaders from Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, and aboriginal leaders, who showed us how to conduct a peaceful demonstration. We had excellent pre-action training in non-violent action. The police are also to be congratulated in their handling of the situation. A good day for Canada.

Visit the CUSJ website.

Holding a United Nations Sunday

WE LIVE in a global village. What happens around the world impacts our lives in substantial ways, from the food we eat to the air we breathe to the rights we enjoy or don’t.

Similarly, what we do impacts the lives of people across the globe. As believers in social justice, Unitarian-Universalists are mindful of this, and (as this issue of eNews shows) many work on local, national and international issues.

We know we need to be global citizens. The United Nations is our link to the world — and the UU-UNO is our link to the U.N.

While progress in civil rights and freedoms has been made, there are still real equality gaps. The progress of women, more than half of the world’s population, has not been uniform or universal. Women here at home and around the world are paid less for their work; their health is neglected or compromised. The world suffers from the oppression of women, from lost opportunities — we all suffer when we fail to empower women who could be helping to create a better world for all of us.

Progress happens only when we make it happen. This is why the UU-UNO chose “Empower Women for a Better World” as the U.N. Sunday theme for this year.

Your congregation can help by:

  • Scheduling a U.N. Sunday, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Picking a speaker who can speak to issues of gender equality and women’s rights, or one who can help your members better understand the work of the UU-UNO. 
  • Taking a collection to forward to the UU-UNO in support of their work. Consider dedicating the collection on your U.N. Sunday, in support of this important ongoing effort.
The U.N. Sunday Package, will help you plan for your service. Information on handling and forwarding donations is available from the CUC office.