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Vancouver Unitarians call for Permanent Ceasefire in Israel/Gaza and release of hostages

The Vancouver Unitarians’ congregation formally endorsed the statement by the Canadian Unitarian Council and Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada calling on the State of Israel and on Hamas to agree to a permanent ceasefire and the immediate release of all hostages.

The statement calls on the Government of Canada to stop shipments of weapons to Israel and instead advocate for “a lasting peace with self-determination, civil, religious, and political rights as a foundation.”

Canadian Unitarians are urged to write to their Members of Parliament to voice their support of a permanent ceasefire, the return of all hostages, and the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid in Gaza. 

The resolution was passed at the Extraordinary General Meeting on June 9, 2024.

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Vancouver Unitarians vote to encourage members to move money out of Big 5 Banks

Vancouver, BC – As the world braces for another disappointing conclusion of the annual global climate talks, COP 28 in Dubai, Vancouver Unitarians “light one candle rather than curse the darkness.” We believe that action is the antidote to despair, so we have voted to encourage our members to defund fossil fuels by moving money out of Canada’s big five banks which bankroll the Tar Sands and climate chaos worldwide.

Vancouver Unitarians have voted to formally oppose bank investment in fossil fuels and encourage members to move their money out of the Big 5 Canadian banks, namely RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC. The resolution also encourages members to drop investments in fossil fuels and the Big 5 Canadian banks and affirms solidarity with Indigenous Peoples who oppose fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure on their traditional territories.

The Big 5 Canadian banks are among the top global financiers of fossil fuels, having financed over $1.12 trillion CAD in climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects since 2016. This includes providing key financing for Coastal Gaslink Pipeline and Trans Mountain Pipeline, two pipeline projects that do not have consent from Indigenous nations whose territories they cross. RBC in particular was the world’s top fossil fuel financier in 2022. 

The resolution received 76% support at the Vancouver Unitarians 2023 AGM held Nov. 19. The Vancouver Unitarians are a diverse community of spiritual practice that have advocated for social and environmental causes since their founding in 1909. In 2012, the Vancouver Unitarians divested from pipeline companies and passed a resolution encouraging its members to do the same. Members have been active in opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline with several having been arrested for breaking the injunction.

The Seventh Unitarian Principle calls on us to “respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” “It is incumbent upon us to align our actions with our values, especially at such a pivotal juncture for humanity,” says Karl Perrin of the Vancouver Unitarians’ Environment Team. “After a summer of record-breaking heat waves and wildfires from coast to coast, we are running out of time to slow this ticking time bomb. We need to do everything we can to stand up for younger and future generations.”

The resolution adds to a growing movement of Indigenous leaders, students, faith groups, environmental NGOs, celebrities, filmmakers, and more that are pressuring the Big 5 banks to divest from fossil fuels and projects that violate Indigenous rights. The Wet’suwet’en Nation has called on the international community to support them in their campaign to pressure RBC to drop the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which crosses their territory without consent. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs have similarly called on the banks to drop the Trans Mountain project. 

As Unitarians committed to dismantling systemic racism, we are compelled to speak out against actors that perpetuate racial injustice and colonialism,” says Tamiko Suzuki of VU IBPOC Plus Allies team. “By financing projects such as the Coastal Gaslink pipeline here in BC, the Big Banks are complicit in environmental racism and the criminalization of land and water protectors while also contributing to a climate crisis that hurts the poorest people of the world most.”

The Vancouver Unitarians are not alone in breaking ties with the big banks. Last March, the UofT student union voted to ban sponsorships from RBC and close its RBC bank account, following nationwide student protests. In August, over 200 filmmakers and movie stars signed a letter calling on TIFF to drop RBC as its sponsor. 


For interviews, please contact Karl Perrin of the Vancouver Unitarians’ Environment Team. Email: perrink[at]shaw[dot]ca.

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