The Unitarian Church of Calgary has a long, strong tradition of involvement in social action. Many members are involved with local, national, and global movements working to achieve a just and sustainable world. And sometimes an issue comes along that engages the support of the entire congregation. The role of the Social Justice Committee is to foster and coordinate social action for the church by addressing the three pillars of justice – education, direct service, and advocacy for change.
A Condensed History of Social Justice at the Unitarian Church of Calgary :
- The Active Sixties. Our Social Action Committee had 10 sub-committees in the 1960s. An especially newsworthy action concerned the eventually successful efforts to remove daily prayers from public schools.
- Planned Parenthood. In the 1970s, we worked with other community groups to establish a local clinic providing information and services on reproductive health.
- Child Haven. Founded in 1985 by Unitarians to assist destitute women and children in India, Child Haven International now operates nine homes in India,Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet. Members of our congregation contribute ongoing financial support individually and through designated service collections.
- Sanctuary for Mauricio Romero. In 1993 we provided sanctuary in the church to Mauricio Romero for 6 months when he was threatened with deportation to El Salvador. He is now a Canadian citizen.
- Raging Grannies. The Raging Grannies, founded in Victoria in 1986/1987, are well known for dressing up and singing satirical protest songs in their efforts towards a more just and peaceful world. The Calgary chapter was started in 1998
by a member of our congregation. Several members of our congregation are currently involved.
- The Pride Rainbow Project. In June 2005, members of our church youth group completed a rainbow banner over 500 feet long that was displayed on Parliament Hill during rallies supporting legalization of same-sex marriage. The story of this achievement is now a display in the Canadian Museum of History!
- Annual Gay Pride Parade. We have a tradition of strong participation in Calgary’s annual Pride parade – carrying banners and placards and the glorious Rainbow Banner. Pieces from the original banner are also displayed in annual Pride Parades across the country.
- 4 Others. Beginning in 2006, our congregation has been giving funds to charitable organizations, mostly local, whose goals are compatible with our Unitarian principles. Criteria are reviewed by the 4 Others Task Force.
- Calgary Community Peace Pole. Our congregation participated in the September 27, 2009 Multi-Faith Walk and contributed funds toward the Peace Pole Project located on south side of the Bow River.
- First Nations Justice. Promotion of justice for First Nations people has long been a high priority for our congregation. We have offered support to the Siksika both on reserve outside Calgary and within the city.
- The William Irvine Justice Award. This award is given annually to honour a person(s) or organization for extraordinary services provided to benefit social and/or environmental justice in the Calgary community.
- Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ). Individual membership in CUSJ is encouraged and entirely voluntary. With the revised Tax Act, CUC is taking leadership in social justice again.
- Refugee Sponsorship.
The Canadian Unitarian Council is a Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This Agreement allows Unitarian congregations to privately sponsor refugee families from war-torn countries.
Calgary Unitarians have been welcoming refugees for decades, from an early 1980s Boat People family, to a Kosovar family in 1999, to an Ethiopian couple in 2016 and an Iraqi family in 2018. Each arriving family receives financial and social support from our congregation as they settle into Canadian life. CU also provided sanctuary for Mauricio Romero in 1993 (see above.)
For further information or to get involved, please contact the Social Justice Committee.