GVAT June 5 Meeting

GVAT June 5 Meeting

An incredible event took place on the evening of Tuesday, June 5th at the Baumann Centre. GVAT has grown so much in the last year, it was time for us to come face to face and reflect on our successes and to be inspired by what we can achieve when we act together. This was an acknowledgement of our commitment to our shared future. Among the 19 members attending including First Unitarian were several other organizations who were exploring membership and were with us for the first time. The excitement in the room was contagious.
Among the invited guests included the Mayor of Oak Bay, Nils Jensen and the Honorable Carole James, MLA for Beacon Hill and the Minister for Finance and Deputy Premier.
Those representing First Unitarian were Rev Melora, Marion Pape, Kym Hines, Judy Gaylord, Sonja Ignatieff, Steve Sharlow (our new Vice President) and myself. Some of us stood out in our new Kelly green GVAT T-shirts with our chalice logo and name across the back of the shirt.
The evening started with our two Co-Chairs who greeted Cecilia Thomas from the Songhees Nation who welcomed us to her territory. The two co-chairs acknowledged that we were here because we believed in each other and recognized that the real power we hold is in working collectively. Bishop Gary Gordon from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria spoke about the evening’s celebration and that one year ago a small group of 50 gathered in the BCGEU hall interested in the idea of working together across different divides. At that time, GVAT was still an idea and one year later 19 organizations have committed their money and members.
A Roll Call was held where a representative from each member organization introduced themselves and their group. Kym Hines bore witness for First Unitarian.
Almost 300 people have attended of the community organizing workshops during the past year. As well GVAT held their first civic academy in March to address the Opioid crisis. This was an excellent presentation from several speakers and Minister Judy Darcy the Minister for Mental Health and Addictions came and pledged to enter into a new public relationship with us. Exciting stuff.
It was stressed that before we could truly move forward together, we also had to continue getting to know one another – understanding our strengths and challenges both individually and as an organization. Building authentic public relationship is the glue that holds all this together.
Rev. Melora spoke passionately about the future of our young children and thinking of the next generation and the world they will have to navigate. The important work of GVAT would help to create change in their lives.
I spoke of the importance of the Listening Campaigns encouraging the various organizations to start the process. Our ongoing listening campaign here at First Unitarian set a benchmark for other organizations. The Listening campaign is one of the most fundamental tools we have to help us, as a huge broad-based organization, to inform us about what our members care about most and for empowering us to be able to tackle the issues. Once all members have conducted their listening campaigns, we will discern which issues we will all work on together and then launch them at an event 10 times the size of this one!!!
Thank you to all those who contributed to this very special evening! We have only just begun.

Susan Layng