Those who had the opportunity to be present at the Unitarian service on Sunday, October 21st enjoyed the ceremony awarding 7 Rockridge Secondary youth with the John Gibbard Memorial Award. Anna Terrana, the Gibbard committee Chair described the event as “very uplifting”. She found the recipients “amazing” and their words gave her “hope for the future”.
Congratulations to Scott Brownlie, Turner Brown, Natasha Heavyside, Blake Henderson, Duncan Lucas, Olivia MacNeil and Anna Robertson for their commitment to upholding the values of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Together, they represent their school’s Amnesty Urgent Action Network. For five years, they have met weekly, under the direction of teacher and co-ordinator Dan Conner, to check the latest alert from Amnesty International’s Canadian Headquarters and immediately write letters to the governments involved on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves and who urgently need help.
During the service, Reverend Steven Epperson spoke passionately about the role of the United Nations as a place for dialogue, working for peace among nations. He was equally strong to express disappointment at the current Canadian government for their lack of respect and support to the UN. He reminded us that for a long time Canada was one of the three countries which had refused to sign on to the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous peoples. The UN is currently celebrating the second decade of the Indigenous people of the world. Two years ago, Canada signed the Declaration but our government continues to ignore principles such as consultation with the First Nations peoples, as seen in the pipeline discussions and other positions taken by the government.
In the words of the Co-President of the Vancouver Branch, Patsy George, “It was indeed a pleasure to be present once again where two organizations supporting the work of the UN stand together and celebrate UN day together”. Undoubtedly, other participants came away feeling elated and committed all over again to the United Nations and what it stands for.