There was a significant Anglican presence at this information and community-building event. The mood was very positive as MVA moves forward with new members and new community initiatives. The theme of the day can be summed up in what one delegate from the Vancouver and District Labour Council said: “MVA is a coalition based on relationships and relationship building, not on issues”. She also pointed out that MVA gives a rare opportunity for people to join their union concerns and actions with their faith expressions.
Anglican participants included representatives from the following parishes and organizations:
St. Catherine’s, North Vancouver
St. Laurence, Coquitlam
St. John’s, Port Moody
St. Thomas, Vancouver
Over half of the 55 representatives of member organizations at the meeting represented faith groups: Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Baptist, independent,, United Church (Longhouse and Kairos) and an alternative Roman Catholic community with a woman pastor. The United Church Longhouse Ministry reported that they are circulating a petition to be forwarded to the Ministry of education asking that more ‘authentic indigenous information’ be added to the BC public school curriculum.
Deborah Littman, lead MVA organizer reported that the Diocese of New Westminster is now a sponsoring organization of MVA.
Part of the meeting was a one-one-one conversation with someone previously not known to you focussing on each other’s past story, present challenge, and what change around you means most to you. Great exercise. Again, this one-one-one encounter reinforced the theme of the day that “solidarity” is based on relationships built through shared stories and discovered commonalities.
Current MVA initiatives:
1. “RouteSpeak” - an activity that grew out off the Translink referendum, RouteSpeak is creating listening circles around the top of transit in South Vancouver. Based on the reality that transit is linked to social isolation and economic disparity and powerlessness to change present realities, MVA is working with South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (the work at St. Thomas in the South Vancouver community initiatives was recognized) to have a “community walk” to gather stories and hear a variety of voices abut public transit needs in the South Vancouver community. Politicians will hear these voices and be invited to talk “with” and not “to” people concerned. It is the goal of RouteSpeak organizers to organize similar listening circles, community walks, and conversations in other parts of the Lower Mainland.
2. Housing on the North Shore: Paul for St. Catherine’s presented the plans for the “Housing Affordability Assembly” to be held at St. Catherine’s on Monday, February 8 at 1:00 and invited all MVA groups to have a presence at the discussion. Regional mayors, councillors and provincial and federal government representatives have been invited to attend.
3. MVA is looking to support member organizations in ‘deepening (their) engagement) in MVA and asked for ways we can support each other, and MVA could help build capacity within member organizations.
A number of discussion table were formed around this third initiative. We had an “Anglican Table” and exchanged information about helping our parishes be involved in MVA. Parishes attest to being transformed in their mission and outreach as a result of MVA membership. St. Thomas is very involved in the South Vancouver transit initiatives at the moment. MVA has given them a new sense of “why we are here”. The parish has had a listening campaign about how to articulate the capacities they have, and what action can grow out of those capacities that will involve and help transform the surrounding community. In intentional relationship building, they see a transformation from a “charity” mentality to a”social justice” mentality.
Parishes agreed that convincing parish leadership and finance committees to continue to provide funds to continue MVA membership is a challenge. Parishes see that MVA membership is an opportunity to support larger community initiatives in concert with other organizations around us. The points around parish budgeting for MVA include:
Conclusion: Anglican involvement in the Metro Vancouver Alliance is generating positive action in the diocese through the Eco-Justice unit and through individual parish involvement and stimulating a sense of ‘mission’ in our midst that augments our existing foundational beliefs around “God’s mission in the world”.
Photos are from the July 8, 2015 - Living Wage Rally