Social Justice

Calgary Unitarians Pride Parade banner 2016

Unitarian Universalists believe that it is how you live your life that is important. Our Eight Principles call us to ethical behaviour and social and environmental justice.

We invite you to explore the ways in which our church community acts for a just and sustainable world. Come and get involved!

Social Justice acts we are involved in at present.

Environment and Climate Change

Climate change is undoubtedly the most serious threat to our civilization even though it is often pushed off of our radar for more flashy and exciting “urgencies”.  We can all make the effort to reduce our impact but how do we do that on an individual, congregational, community, municipal, provincial, federal or international level?  We at Calgary Unitarians work together to come up with plans that we can achieve individually or cooperatively.

Indigenous Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 Calls to Action. The Canadian Unitarian Council and local groups have directed energy to understanding and supporting actions around the Commission’s report and its calls to action. The CUC helps with education and local actions have led to change; Calgary held its first Indigenous led honourary opening of city council and we’ve renamed both Reconciliation Bridge and Riverside School to be more respectful and mindful of our history. This local work was supported with the resources of the Canadian Unitarian Council which aided in our efforts to educate ourselves through book clubs and at CU Friday events.  Calgary Unitarians also actively support the Reconciliation Team at the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good

Indigenous Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 Calls to Action. The Canadian Unitarian Council and local groups have directed energy to understanding and supporting actions around the Commission’s report and its calls to action. The CUC helps with education and local actions have led to change; Calgary held its first Indigenous led honourary opening of city council and we’ve renamed both Reconciliation Bridge and Riverside School to be more respectful and mindful of our history. This local work was supported with the resources of the Canadian Unitarian Council which aided in our efforts to educate ourselves through book clubs and at CU Friday events.  Calgary Unitarians also actively support the Reconciliation Team at the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good

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.  In March 2022, we welcomed a man from Iran who we sponsored in collaboration with members of Scarboro United Church.  We are currently awaiting the arrival of a family from Syria and two families from Eritrea.  Each arriving family receives financial and social support from our congregation as they settle into Canadian life.   On a historical note, Calgary Unitarians also provided sanctuary for Mauricio Romero in 1993

Basic Income

Many believe that a Basic Income would assist in solving many of the problems currently facing our community and society.  There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings around Basic Income.  Our members believe that by informing our congregation and the wider community, many of our challenges can be alleviated.

Social Isolation

Studies have indicated that loneliness is one of society’s greatest negative determinants of health.  A sense of belonging can benefit a person in a multitude of ways both physically and mentally.  Our team attempts to break down the barriers that isolate people in order that they may live free of this burden.

The Unitarian Church of Calgary has a long, strong tradition of involvement in social action. Calgary Unitarians are founding members of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good (CACG),   a non profit, non partisan alliance of community groups, schools, unions and congregations in Calgary, representing over 36,000 people. Much of the social justice work done by Calgary Unitarians today is through the CACG in order to better leverage our efforts and have greater voice. By collaborating  we can organize our power to shape a just and compassionate Calgary. https://www.calgarycommongood.org

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.
  • For (formally 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.

For further information or to get involved, please email the Social Justice Team.