Social Justice

Sharing an inclusive partnership with neighbours near and far, Bloor Street listens to the voices of concern, advocates for those having struggles and welcomes the opportunity to support faithful and courageous action to bring ease to difficult circumstances.

The Latest

Thanksgiving Offering Recipients Need Your Help

This year the Social Justice Committee is pleased to announce that the recipients of the Thanksgiving offering are the FCJ Refugee Centre and The Mittima Food Bank Society of Pond Inlet.

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering of family and friends. Too often under COVID or in communities where food scarcity is an issue it is community organizations, often administered by volunteers, who share the joy, hope and food for the season. Join us as we support those in need.

The Mittima Food Bank Society of Pond Inlet has been a previous recipient of funds from BSUC. The need for food support for individuals in the community is great. As well, funds are used to have community meals which strengthen the links between family and friends. Located on northern Baffin Island the Inuit community economy is based mostly on subsistence industries and many struggle to provide appropriate food for family members. Click here for the Facebook page.

The FCJ Refugee Centre “serves refugees and others at risk due to their immigration status, and welcomes anyone asking for advice, counsel and support regarding these issues”. The centre advocates “for the many systemic issues that newly arrived refugee claimants face in Canada including lack of resources, marginalization, and discrimination”. Click here to learn more. 

Haiti Appeal

Thank you to all congregational.members for their generous donations to the Haiti Appeal 2021. $2305.00 was raised.

Stamps for Oxfam

Yes, we are still collecting stamps for Oxfam! Learn more by downloading the pdf of Oxfam’s newsletter here, and read on for a thank you note from Bill Woodley.

Thank you very much for your stamp donation(s). For us, it is like opening a present every time a new package or envelope arrives! As I may have said before, we can’t get enough current mail to meet all the demands from collectors. Snailmail is out of fashion and heading the way of the dodo bird but it hasn’t totally disappeared yet.

My purpose in writing today is also to update you about a very difficult but (for us) rewarding year.  As you probably can guess, we stamp volunteers are working from home. The Oxfam office is still closed but we are now allowed in occasionally to collect the mail and to process donations.

Donations have been arriving steadily, and so we held another of our mail auctions recently that raised over $10,000. This shows us that there are still many stamp collectors out there and that they have been looking for something to keep them busy during COVID.

We have been getting some impressive donations from long-term collectors once they downsize, and from their estates once they pass on. And so this year we have passed a major milestone: we have now raised more than half a million dollars from stamp sales for Oxfam projects since the stamp program began almost 40 years ago.

In case you haven’t seen it, I am attaching the latest report on the project we have been helping to sponsor for the past 5 years. We are now looking at a new COVID related project in Africa.

We are always happy to get your donations of stamps, old envelopes, postcards, postmarks. Recent envelopes that have received special postal attention are  good too, if they do not divulge sensitive or personal information.

I hope you are keeping well and again, many thanks,

 Bill Woodley

Stamp program

Volunteer co-ordinator

The Heart Garden

The Heart Garden on the corner of Bloor and Robert Street began as “a response to the TRC’s call for permanent reminders of the residential school history. Its goal is to create a welcoming public space for reflection on a very well trafficked corner of Toronto as well as an outdoor space for ceremony. The garden expresses our sorrow for the loss and abuse of so many Indigenous children in residential schools and our hope to build public awareness towards reconciliation with Indigenous people. In the garden, against the backdrop of a church built during the same era that the residential school policy began, we honour Indigenous spirituality.” (TSP)

The children of our church school have participated in learning more about Indigenous culture through a number of visits to the Heart Garden. As well, your BSUC Social Justice Committee made a donation to help in the creation of the garden.

As you watch the video enjoy the voices of the children as they talk about the meaning behind the Heart Garden. Listen to an Indigenous Elder who talks about the impact of the residential school system. Click here to see the video, or watch below.

Afterwards take a few minutes to say the prayer that the children said when they sent hearts to the closing ceremony of the TRC in 2015.

“Help us to open our hearts to others, pay attention to our thoughts, words and actions, notice when we have hurt others and change our behaviour in the future. With this Heart Garden we honour children who were lost or survived the Indian residential System.”

Education

The Social Justice Committee, with input from the congregation and others, arranges educational events and the circulation of educational material on topics that the Committee believes are important to society and of interest to the congregation.

Reflections on a Trip to Palestine/Israel 

Over the next months a number of people are going to reflect on their trips to PalestineIsrael. The most recent travellers in 2019 were Nora McKay, Nena Cervantes and Ron & Maure Kentner. In 2018 Randi Helmers and Martha ter Kuile travelled to the holy land. Over a number of years others from our congregation have joined George Bartlett and Marianna Harris on these trips.  

Each month, following the themes of Kumi Now, there will be one or more personal reflections and specific information on the current topic. We listen to scripture in our services about the holy land in the time of Jesus. These reflections will look at the holy land as it exists at this time. It is beautiful in its geology, magnificent in its history but there are issues that need resolution. 

The Kumi Now project is an attempt by many people and organizations to “stand firm in the face of oppression”, to seek justice and inclusion based on international law and to commit to non-violent resistance. Each week Kumi Now introduces a “different organization working to raise awareness about specific issues in Israel-Palestine”.  The personal reflections will give you an account of what visitors saw and heard during their travels. 

You can read the latest information and reflection here.

Fundraising

The Social Justice Committee and sub-Committees are active in many areas including the following:

  • Togogos support grandmothers in Africa, who are raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, by raising money and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
  • The Refugee Outreach Program raises money each year to send refugee mothers and children to summer camp.  They also collect toys for an annual Refugee Christmas Party.
  • The Social Justice Committee collects funds and gifts each Advent Season for designated organizations and also raises funds in response to Relief Appeals through the United Church of Canada.

Advocacy

The Social Justice Committee, as part of its educational role, advises the congregation when there is a call to action on particular issues.  This can include information about petitions, letter writing campaigns, demonstrations and lobbying of community or political leaders.  If the Social Justice Committee or others within the congregation believe that Bloor Street United Church as a whole should advocate on a particular issue a proposal can be made to the Church Council for their consideration.

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