Dorothy Stephens

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July 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, July 21st, Salisbury House Garden City, 787 Leila Avenue, 9:30 – 11:00 AM.

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters. 

New? Curious about who we are and what we do? Summer’s a good time to check us out. 

Click here for event details.

 

Save the Dates 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – August 18th  

Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival – August 23rd to 25th  

Fall meeting dates – September 14th, October 5th, and November 16th 

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming events. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Steinbach Pride Parade – July 6th  

Links to event details are on our Community Events page. 

Latest News   

Religion still present in Manitoba courtrooms 

Bibles are still routinely being used in Manitoba courtrooms. Should they be? This question was raised by a HAAM member who was recently summoned to appear as a witness. Along with the subpoena, she received an information sheet which includes the following instruction: 

“When you are asked to testify, you will go to the front of the courtroom to be sworn in. The court clerk will ask you to take the Bible in your right hand, state your full name and swear to tell the truth. You must give your name and promise to tell the truth, but you do not have to swear on a Bible if you do not want to.”  

similar document intended for participants in small claims court states:

“You and your witnesses are required to give evidence under oath or affirmation. A Bible is available in the courtroom, or you may affirm to tell the truth without swearing an oath on the Bible. If you or your witnesses wish to make an oath on another sacred object or sacred book, please bring it with you to court.”  

Seriously? Doesn’t this violate the principle of privacy and impartiality? It means that participants in court cases are being identified to spectators (and more importantly, jurors, lawyers, and judges) according to their religious beliefs – or lack thereof. That alone could cause prejudice before the witness even speaks.  

The Winnipeg Free Press published an excellent editorial on this subject back in January, after the RCMP added the option of allowing witnesses to testify while holding an eagle feather rather than a holy book. A nice gesture, and well-meaning, but what’s next? Can someone swear on their lucky rabbit’s foot? Their favorite baseball card? This is not to say that witnesses should not be allowed to bring their favorite holy book, eagle feather, security blanket, or any other object that gives them comfort – but why does the rest of the room need to see it? And what is its relevance to telling the truth?  Is it any less of a crime to lie when testifying if one has not sworn on a holy book? Is there any evidence that people who swear on a holy book or object are more honest than those who don’t? And why should one religion’s holy book be provided by the courts, while members of other religions must provide their own?    

Why is any of this necessary at all? It’s just one more tradition that needs to be consigned to the trash heap of history. Eliminating religious rituals from the courtroom will help keep our justice system impartial and fair for everyone.

Outreach Report – World Religions Class 

On June 12thHeather Murray and Helen Friesen (both from the Eastman Humanist Community) and I visited the Grade 12 World Religions class at Green Valley High School in Grunthal, Manitoba.  HAAM has been invited for the previous 6 years to speak to this class.  The class had previously heard presentations from representatives of various Christian denominations, and Jewish and Islamic faiths. This was the first time that Heather, Helen and I had been involved.   

The class was small, with only 9 students.  It appeared that all students considered themselves to be Christian.  We did a short presentation describing HAAM and the EHC and our personal backgrounds.  We then talked about our paths to atheism or non-belief. This led to a question and answer session in which most of the students participated actively.  I was especially interested in the discussion of sexism in the bible. Some of the students defended some of the more controversial passages, while other students expressed more progressive views.  Some students already had thoughts about the traditional male-dominated leadership that is present in many churches.   

I found this opportunity to engage with young students very worthwhile and would recommend that HAAM and EHC continue to participate in this event.                                                                                –  Arthur (last name withheld) 

Editor’s Note: This speaking engagement was part of HAAM’s ongoing Ask an Atheist program. We’re happy to arrange to have someone to speak to any school or community group and answer questions about atheism and Humanism. See our Outreach page for more information.

 

Book of the Month – What is Humanism?

If you’re a secular parent looking for ways to explain your value system, there aren’t very many books out there to help you, but here’s a good one. A member recently brought to our attention this colorful little (48 pages) book about Humanism by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young. You might recognize Rosen as a well-known children’s author (does “Going on a Bear Hunt” ring a bell?), but here he tackles more serious subject matter in a light-hearted way. When this book was published in 2015, the British Humanist Association crowd-funded a campaign to provide it free to British schools, and by mid-2017, almost 4000 schools had requested a copy 

What is Humanism? How do you live without a god? And other big questions for kids explains Humanist values like empathy, critical thinking, human rights, and social responsibility, in positive terms and without bashing religion. It examines topics traditionally handled by religion, like the meaning of life, ceremonies marking birth and death, the origins of life, where we get our morals from, and what is consciousness. It includes open-ended discussion questions designed to develop critical thinking skills 

The age range for this book of course depends on individual children and circumstances, but it’s likely best suited for late elementary and middle school (about grades 4-8). However, it would also be a great introduction to Humanism for teens and adults who have had limited exposure to perspectives or beliefs outside their own religious communities. 

HAAM does not yet have a copy of this book, but we intend to get one. In the meantime, it’s readily available at the Winnipeg Public Library (13 copies). Summer is a great time to discuss life’s big issues with your kids. Happy reading! 

Outreach Report – Summer in the City

For the first time, the Humanist outreach booth at the Steinbach festival was completely staffed by members of the Eastman Humanist Community, and by all accounts, it was a great success. Volunteers reported that there were some productive conversations and positive reactions from visitors, as well as the usual critics and shocked expressions from passers-by.  

The EHC developed their own signs, pamphlets and banners for the booth. Congratulations to all involved! 

June 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Outreach at Summer in the City 

Friday June 14th – Sunday June 16th, Steinbach  

If you’re out enjoying Steinbach’s Summer in the City Festival this June, be sure to stop at the Humanist outreach booth to chat and offer your support.

Details here.

Summer Solstice Party 

Saturday June 22nd, 5-9 PM, Kildonan Park 

Relax and celebrate the Summer Solstice with your fellow HAAMsters! 

Everyone is welcome!

Make sure to read the full event post so you’ll know what to bring.

Save the Dates 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

July 21st and August 18th  

NEW! We’ve scheduled two brunches over the summer for whoever’s around. (You’re not going to be away for the WHOLE summer, are you? Lucky you, if you are!) Most of us will be in town for at least part of the summer, so why not get together? Catch up on the news or meet a new friend over breakfast.  

As usual, we rotate these brunches around the city so that no one has to drive across town all the time. The July brunch will be in the Garden City area and August one will be in Transcona.  

Mark your calendar now so you won’t forget.  

Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival

August 23rd to 25th  

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming events. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Celebrate Pride! Whether we identify as part of the Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diverse (GSRD)* community or not, we can all celebrate human diversity, show our support, and enjoy the party! 

*GSRD is Pride Winnipeg’s new preferred identity acronym for what most of us know as LGBTQ etc. Iincludes everyone without needing to add more and more letters. 

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd  

Morden Pride Parade – June 22nd

Steinbach Pride Parade – July 6th  

Links to the details about these events are on our Community Events page. 

Latest News

June 21st is World Humanist Day! How will you celebrate?  

World Humanist Day had its origins in the 1980’s, when the American Humanist Association created it as both a way to spread awareness and share the positive values of Humanism, and as a day for Humanists to gather and socialize with one another. It is now celebrated internationally. Learn more about World Humanist Day from Humanists International (formerly known as the International Humanist and Ethical Union).  

Let everyone know that you’re proud and happy to be a Humanist! On June 21st, plan to share Humanism with your friends, family, and social media networks.  The What is Humanism? page on HAAM’s website has lots of information about what Humanism is and what Humanists believe, plus short videos and links to other pages for further reading. So share away! 

Prayer at City Hall – Update   

If you’re a long-time HAAM member or newsletter reader, you might remember that back in September 2016, Tony Governo began a legal challenge to Winnipeg City Hall’s longstanding practice of opening council meetings with prayers, which continued even after the Canadian Supreme Court ruled such prayers unconstitutional (see City Flouts Supreme Court Ruling on Prayer) 

It’s been almost 3 years since the last update, but this case is not over. Tony recently reported that the Manitoba Human Rights Commission dismissed his complain, so his next step is a judicial review. He would welcome a pro bono lawyer. If anyone knows of a lawyer who might be able to help, please contact HAAM. 

Coathangers? Never again! 

After being relatively quiet for several decades, the abortion ‘debate’ is rearing its ugly head in Canada, as anti-choice lobbyists are emboldened by recent political gains in the US. There have been clashes between opposing protestors in several major Canadian cities, so don’t for one second think that it can’t or won’t eventually happen in Winnipeg. Get ready to dust off your old protest signs and fight for reproductive rights in Canada yet again. 

Women and agencies affected by these new barriers to health care need our help and support. Here are some suggestions for actions you can take and organizations that could benefit from either donations or volunteers. Every effort helps, even if it’s just a public declaration of solidarity. 

Locally 

– Consider donating to or volunteering at the Women’s Health Clinic, the Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC), or Klinic Community Health Centre, all of which provide impartial, evidence-based pregnancy counselling options, including abortion services or referrals. 

Nationally 

– Support the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (and follow them on social media to stay up to date on current needs and issues). 

– Work to support progressive candidates for the upcoming federal election this fall, and then VOTE! Before choosing a candidate, think about the direction you want our country to take. No politician is perfect, so we need to consider our priorities.  Let’s not turn back the clock on reproductive choice – or any other hard-won progress.

Internationally 

– If you feel moved to help women in the US states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio, so far) with abortion bans, here are some information and links about how to do that.  

– Donate to international aid organizations that support and include abortion services as part of women’s health care and family planning. Two such organizations are Plan Canada and Ipas 

If we don’t defend our hard-won rights, opponents will be eager to take them awayHandwringing won’t accomplish anything, and we all know that prayer won’t either, so we need to do something more practical

Stand up for women’s health care – donate, volunteer, speak out! 

Book of the Month – The World Until Yesterday 

Jared Diamond’s books about human societies are always fascinating and informative. Much of his perspective is personal, gleaned from the decades he has spent working in New Guinea. In The World Until Yesterday – What can we learn from traditional societies?, he offers insights into the lives of some of the last remaining people in the world who are still living in traditional bands and tribes, the way that everyone lived until around 10,000 years ago.  

Is there anything worthwhile to learn from these ‘primitive’ peoples? How do they resolve conflicts, raise children, care for their elderly, solve problems, communicate, work, and look after their health?  Diamond compares those societies to the typical WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and developed) societies we know today. His experience provides him with a wealth of knowledge and personal anecdotes to illustrate his points. 

Jared Diamond’s illustrious career as a professor of geography in California has included studies in physiology, evolutionary biology, and biogeography. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. His awards include the National Medal of Science and a Pulitzer Prize. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit the Library page to request to borrow a book or DVD, and we will make arrangements to get it to you.

 

May 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Options in Death Care for Non-Believers 

Saturday, May 11th, Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, 5:30 PM (Note the location!)

We’ll be talking about death care, ceremonies and services, and what’s new in the funeral industry in Canada.

Special guest will be Shane Neufeld of Integrity Death Care. Details here

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, May 26thOriginal Pancake House at The Forks, 9:30 – 11:00 AM 

New people welcome! Details here.

Save the Dates 

Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival in Steinbach – June 14th to 16th 

Summer Solstice Party – June 22ndKildonan Park 

Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival – August 23rd to 25th  

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming events. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd  

Steinbach Pride Parade – July 6th  

For more information on these events, visit our Community Events page. 

Charity of the Month – Dying With Dignity Winnipeg Chapter 

Dying With Dignity Canada is the national human-rights charity committed to improving quality of dying, protecting end-of-life rights, and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering.  Most of us are by now familiar with their work in providing support to adults wishing to die on their own terms, advocating for rules governing medical assistance in dying (MAiD) that respect the rights of patients, educating Canadians about advance care planning and legal end-of-life options, and supporting health care practitioners who provide MAiD.

In addition to the national office in Toronto, DWD Canada has chapters in each province (and in larger provinces, major cities) that provide for needs and concerns arising in their area.

The Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity is active in the areas of education, patient advocacy and support, and the witnessing of MAiD applications. We aim to be revenue-neutral, taking in only as much as we spend, but there are costs we need to be reimbursed for by head office. These include printing Health Care Directives and training and event posters, and reimbursement for the cost (gas and meals) of travel outside of Winnipeg for speaking engagements, training, and witnessing of MAiD applications. Our current goal is to obtain funding for a toll-free telephone number so patients can arrange for witnesses for their MAiD applications without our volunteer coordinators exposing their personal phone numbers to the public.

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on our websiteJust include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News  

Partners for Life Update 

Summer is coming, and that always means that Canadian Blood Services will be scrambling to keep their supplies stocked up. If you are able to donate over the summer, please help out! If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, or you’ve never donated before, take this 2-minute eligibility quiz. Then follow the links on the quiz page to find out more about blood donations and book your first appointment. 

HAAM is part of the Partners for Life program, which creates incentive for members of participating organizations to donate. We have set an annual target of 25 donations from HAAM members and supporters. There is no prize if we meet it, except for bragging rights and the satisfaction of helping others. Make sure to enroll in Partners for Life if you give blood, so that your donation will be counted towards our annual goal. All the information you need is on the HAAM website (and bonus information about the online organ donor registry is included on the same page).  

As of mid-April, we are at 6 donations, so we have a way to go to reach 25 by the end of the year. Give now! 

Outreach at Local Seniors’ Residence

Outreach doesn’t just happen at our booths at summer festivals, although of course, those are our major opportunities. But the “Ask an Atheist” speaker program is available all year round and available to any group that is interested in learning about atheism and Humanism. Usually this involves high school ethics or world religion classes.

On April 23, Jeffrey Olsson was invited to speak to an audience of seniors at the Portsmouth Retirement Residence, as part of a series of talks they were holding about different religious beliefs. Jeff’s presentation covered atheism, and topics related to the use of critical thinking skills, such as Epistemology (the study of knowledge, or how we know what is true), Faith, Logical Fallacies, and the Scientific Method.

Jeff stressed the importance of everyone taking time to evaluate their own beliefs in a critical light, and to consider if their beliefs are suitable for life in a truly diverse society. He also stressed the importance of judging your own beliefs, while respecting the right for others to hold to their own.

Finally, Jeff’s own personal journey away from faith to non-belief was discussed, and he reflected on the effects that the Canadian Residential School system had on his own faith, the faith of other clergy, and his family.

Jeffrey Olsson is a member and past president of HAAM, and a former Anglican Priest. His book Leaving Faith Behind, about his journey out of the faith, is in our Library.

On the Web – Explore Nonbelief 

Summer’s coming, and for a lot of us, that means a break from routine and a chance to relax and unwind. Maybe you’ll find time to do a bit of reading or watch a few videos. Want to learn more about Humanism and Atheism? If you’re relatively new to the Humanist community, are still questioning religion, or have left faith behind fairly recently, you may have a lot of questions about living as a non-believer.   

You’ll find lots of answers if you look at the Resources menu on HAAM’s website. There are downloadable/printable copies of the brochures we hand out to the public at our Outreach booth, links to information about Humanism and atheism, the names of local and online secular support groups and services, a network of secular organizations, and discussions about religious involvement in Manitoba schools and health care facilities. 

The Exploring Nonbelief page has recently been updated. It contains links to over 50 videos, blogs, podcastsnews and reference sites, and articles about Humanism and atheism. Topics covered include the Bible, counter-apologetics (refuting religious claims)science and evolution, and resources that will inspire you to be a proud and happy Humanist. There is also a list of excellent videos addressing the most common question that non-believers get asked – where we get our morals from. By the time you finish exploring the material on HAAM’s Exploring Nonbelief page, you’ll be well prepared to answer questions about morality – and a lot more besides. Happy reading! 

Book of the Month – Fact or Friction: Where the Known meets the Unknown 

In this collection of 14 essays, Skeptic Magazine editor Michael Shermer examines the personal barriers and biases that plague and propel science, especially when scientists push against the unknown. What do we know and what do we not know? How does science respond to controversy, attack, and uncertainty? When does theory become accepted fact? 

Several personal tales are included, from Shermer’s days as a student and evangelical Christian to his growing interest in science and skepticism. But the book isn’t only a display of his experiences; it’s ammunition we can all use when dealing with misleading or manipulative teachings. 

Topics range from a fascinating discussion of the controversy several years ago over a group of atheists and skeptics attempting to label themselves ‘The Brights‘, to an analysis of the true cause of the mutiny on the Bounty. Shermer discusses the witchcraft hysteria in Europe and the colonies from 1560-1620, and then demonstrates a striking parallel between that and the Satanic cult/false memory mass delusions of the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are also essays on “heresies of science” and “spin-doctoring science”, which are a depressing indication of how the public lacks understanding of what science does and has done. 

The individual articles in this book make it perfect for several short reads, (i.e. ‘bathroom reading’). 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit the Library page to request to borrow a book or DVD, and we will make arrangements to get it to you. 

Have an Idea for a HAAM Event?

Summer hasn’t even started, but we’re already thinking about fall meetings and events. Is there a topic you’d like to learn about, or a speaker you’d like to hear at an upcoming meeting? A social issue, a hot topic, or a book you’d like to discuss at an informal get-together? It doesn’t have to be only about atheism or Humanism. There are lots of other topics and concerns of relevance to Humanists – like separation of religion and government, science, public education, freedom of speech, human rights, environmental stewardship, reproductive rights, and end-of-life choices.

Have you seen a video you think would be great for next year’s Film Fest? Do you know of a community event you think our members might be interested in? An opportunity for outreach? A fun group activity? A secular charity that could use our support?

HAAM members come from every imaginable background. Most of us are former believers who are very familiar with religion, but we come from all denominations of Christianity, as well as other faiths. Then again, some of our members grew up in secular homes and have never been religious at all. So our knowledge level and interests vary widely.

Let us know what interests you. Contact us with your suggestions – or, better yet, come to an event and chat with a member of our executive in person.

Last Chance to enter the Humanist Canada essay contest 

Students! Write an essay on any topic related to Humanism that would be of interest. $8,000 in total prize money to be awarded to the winning essays. 

If you’re not a student, tell your favorite student about this contest!  

Deadline to enter is May 15th. See Humanist Canada for details and rules.  

April 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

The Bear Clan Patrol – Reclaiming Our Streets 

Saturday, April 13th, Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, 5:30 PM 
(Note Location!) 

The Bear Clan is changing minds, changing people, and changing the world for the better. We hope you’ll join us to learn more about it.

Click here for details about our guest speaker, and the location, food and drink, and parking.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, April 28thThe Park Café (beside the duck pond at Assiniboine Park), 9:30 – 11:00 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters. 

Details here.

Save the Dates 

Monthly meeting – May 11thOptions in Death Care for Non-Believers (rescheduled from January) 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – May 26th

Summer Solstice Party – June 22ndKildonan Park 

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming events. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives) 

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter. 

Next workshop will be held Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 AM at the Henderson Library. 

Click here for details and to register. 

Save the Date

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd

For up-to-date information on upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page. 

Charity of the Month – Bear Clan Patrol 

Learning about the vital work done by the Bear Clan Patrol is what motivated us to ask their executive director James Favel to address our group. We’ll be collecting funds at our April meeting to support their efforts. 

The Patrol works at preventing crime and providing a sense of safety, solidarity and belonging to the communities they serve. The concept behind their strategy is simple – community people working with the community to provide personal security in the inner city in a non-threatening, non-violent, non-judgmental and supportive way. 

Be Part of Change

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on our websiteJust include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News  

Strategic Planning with Humanist Canada 

At the end of February, I met with the board members of Humanist Canada to help facilitate their efforts at strategic planning. They recognized that they needed to decide on what their priorities will be for the near future. They decided on several goals, and the steps to get there. 

I personally haven’t had much contact with Humanist Canada. I just remember many years back it being a complicated thing – mainly regarding membership fees. I will admit, they have a bit of work to do, but this is a new board, new leadership, and they have some clear ideas on how to improve and grow the organization. For one thing, they are the only national humanist organization in Canada, and the longest lived. Humanist Canada has been around for 50 years. As the national organization, they can organize campaigns and spread the word about important issues.  

The main activity of Humanist Canada is their Officiant program. They have licensed humanist officiants who perform weddings, funerals, and baby namings. However, this program is limited to Ontario, because Ontario is the only province in Canada which recognizes marriages performed by Humanist officiants. In other provinces, marriages must either be solemnized by a religious representative or a government official (either a marriage commissioner, justice of the peace or similar). In British Columbia and Quebec, governments have refused to recognize Humanist officiants. In other provinces, the bureaucracy simply may have not been asked to answer the question yet. 

Chapters and Affiliates 

The current HC board would like to start increasing their membership and re-vamping their affiliate and chapter program. Established groups like HAAM could become affiliates of HC while maintaining their own autonomy and their own websites. Smaller, less formal groups could become chapters and have their own web page on the HC site.  

Paying a membership fee to be an affiliate of HC would give HAAM access to other resources, such as a webinar series that HC is hoping to launch this year. And that’s one of the issues being debated. What would the benefits be to local groups for becoming HC affiliates? Would affiliated groups get discounts for the webinars, or some number free? Humanist Canada is still deciding. But I would like to recommend that HAAM consider joining HC as an affiliate.  

– Donna Harris 

Library News  New Books 

Past president Jeff Olsson has been cleaning house again and donating his books to HAAM, and as a result, our library continues to grow. His most recent donation includes four books by Carl Sagan, so if you’re a fan, you’re in luck!    

Carl Sagan was an American astronomer and astrophysicist best-known for popularizing science. He published over 600 scientific papers and 20 books, created the hit TV series Cosmos, and wrote the science fiction novel Contact (on which the movie is based). 

The four new additions by Sagan are: 

Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science – A collection of articles that Sagan originally wrote way back in the ‘70s. Topics include intelligent robots, the discovery of extraterrestrial life, pseudo-science, kooks and charlatans, and spirituality. 

Comet – everything you ever wanted to know about comets, beautifully illustrated, and written in language a non-scientist can understand. 

Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective – Sagan’s views about the possibility of life on other planets. He was optimistic that there may be thousands of advanced civilizations in our galaxy, and billions of galaxies. 

Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God – Published posthumously, this is the text of a series of lectures originally given in the ‘80s. This book has been described as a way to balance scientific reality and the natural spiritualism of humankind. 

Add these titles to the six books by Sagan that we already had in our library (Billions and BillionsCosmosDemon-Haunted World, Dragons of EdenPale Blue Dot, and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors), and we now have an impressive collection of his work. 

Our Growing Collection 

There are now over 250 items in our HAAM library. You can see the complete list of 20 recent additions or browse the entire collection on our Library page.  

Have you got any great books at home that other HAAM members might be interested in? We will accept gladly accept gently used books for our library. Just bring them to any meeting or event. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit the Library page to request to borrow a book or DVD, and we will make arrangements to get it to you. 

$8,000 in prize money available in Humanist Canada essay contest

Students! Write an essay on any topic related to Humanism that would be of interest.

If you’re not a student, tell your favorite student about this contest!

The entry deadline has been extended to May 15th. See Humanist Canada for details and rules.

Winnipeg Free Press sells out to ‘Faith Groups’ 

HAAM past-president Donna Harris recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press in response to an article on their Faith page. The newspaper did not publish her letter – but we will. Here it is:  

Re: Generous Faith Groups fund more religious journalism 

I am extremely disappointed in the Free Press for pandering to local faith groups in order to continue and expand religious journalism. 

First, why faith groups? They don’t represent a sizable proportion of the population. What about the quarter of Winnipeggers who have no religious affiliation? Why isn’t their voice being heard? We may have freedom of religion in our country, but that also means freedom from religion as well. I, personally, do not read the Free Press to learn which congregations did what. 

Considering that religious reporting is largely navel-gazing, I don’t see how this is a step forward in reporting. Claiming “a continuous exchange of ideas and a profitable debate based on real and correctly reported facts”, is the complete antithesis of what religion provides. Honestly, religion is based on our early fears and ignorance. For example, when early people didn’t know what the lights in the sky were, or why people sometimes just dropped dead, they assumed an agency, which became myth, and then god. We didn’t have an answer for many things, so god did it. But we are now light years beyond that type of thinking. Actively relying on religion to find answers to today’s problems doesn’t go any farther than “thoughts and prayers”, and that, sadly, means nothing. 

Instead, we should see far more reporting on skepticism, scientific issues and other real, fact-based topics. Too much space is already devoted to topics that are dubiously supernatural – “woo-woo” if you will – and belong firmly in our superstitious past (horoscopes, anyone?).  

Please be assured that I mean no offense to believers. I know that many faith groups do tremendous service to our society, and those volunteers work very hard. But that’s the point. It’s people helping other people – no god is required. 

Lastly, it breaks my heart because I’ve been a Winnipeg Free Press since the death of the Tribune back in the 80’s, but I’m seriously considering cancelling my subscription.   

Did you miss the March meeting?

It’s way more fun to attend the meeting to enjoy the films with others and discuss them. But if you couldn’t make it, here are the links to the short films that were shown:

 

 

 

 

End public funding for pseudo-science

Many of us were outraged to hear recently that the Canadian government is funding international aid to Honduras to teach homeopathy.

PLEASE SPEAK UP about this!

CFI Canada has prepared this summary of the problem, along with the information about who to write to. Here is their article.


International Aid and Homeopathy

Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is an insect-borne tropical disease that begins with flu-like symptoms and can end with heart failure for 20-30% of those infected. There are pharmaceutical treatments available which can reduce symptoms (and have up to a 90% cure rate for infants and young children). But recently, Global Affairs Canada allocated $350,000 to send volunteer homeopathic practitioners to Honduras to provide homeopathic “treatments”. Perhaps the Global Affairs staff mean well. Perhaps they believe there is some link between the group they are funding and the (well-known effective humanitarian organisation) Doctors without Borders. But homeopathy is pure quackery — there is not even a feasible mechanism for homeopathic “medicines” to work, because they contain no active ingredients.

This is clearly a misuse of our tax-supported international aid money, and we encourage readers to contact the Minister of International Development by email to

Marie-Claude.Bibeau@parl.gc.ca (Twitter: @mclaudebibeau), or by postal mail to:

Mme. Marie Claude Bibeau
Confederation Building, Suite 407
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

You may also wish to contact your local MP.

CFI Canada would like people to notify them if you have sent an electronic or paper letter, and if you received a response. They’ll post a selection on their website. info@centreforinquiry.ca

Seanna Watson, CFI Canada


Write now!

Tell the federal government that this is not OK. Unless you want to write your own letter or include additional information, you can pretty much just copy from their article into your email.

Copy it from the beginning up to the line “This is clearly a misuse of our tax-supported international aid money“. Then add that you are demanding that the government stop funding dangerous pseudo-science.

Add your name and contact info, address your letter to the Minister and your own MP, and include a bcc to CFI (optional).

Stand up for science and evidence-based decision-making. Do it now while it‘s fresh in your mind. It should only take about a minute of your time. 

March 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Super Secret Shorts

Saturday, March 9th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

HAAM’s annual film night, featuring a series of short films on a variety of topics.

But don’t ask what the films will be – it’s top secret.

Click here for details.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, March 24th, Pony Corral Pier 7 (1700 Pembina Hwy), 9:30 AM

Our monthly informal get-together. All welcome.

Click here for details.

Save the Dates

Monthly meetings April 13th and May 11th. Topics TBA.

Summer Solstice Party – June 22nd 

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming events.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives)

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter.
Next workshops will be held – 
Saturday, March30 at 1:00 PM in Steinbach 
Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 AM in Winnipeg (at the Henderson Library)

Click here for details and to register.

For up-to-date information on upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

Charity of the Month

On the downside of a brutally cold Manitoba winter, we’re all looking forward to summer – sunshine, waterparks, and beaches. But summer can be a dangerous time for kids who don’t know how to swim. Every year, there are drownings at Manitoba lakes – and the victims are likely to be newcomers to Canada.  

Recent immigrants (adults as well as children) are four times more likely than Canadian-born citizens to be unable to swim. There are lots of possible reasons – they may have escaped unrest or war, spent time in refugee camps, come from an area where swimming pools were only available to the very rich, or just never lived near lakes or water.    

Several tragic drowning accidents in the past couple of years have prompted calls for swimming classes for new immigrants. Regular swim classes can be impractical for families struggling to learn English, adapting to a new culture, and living on a tight budget until they get established.  

Enter a new charity created last year to help at-risk Manitoba kids enjoy the water safely. Ready, Set, Swim is a community-based foundation that provides swimming lessons to children ages 6 to 18. It operates on the principle that knowing how to swim is not a luxury – it’s a life-saving skill for everyone! Basic swimming lessons are offered free of charge to newcomers and low-income families. Children are accepted by referral and given a swimsuit, a towel, a swim bag, and shampoo. Bathing suits will be culturally appropriate if necessary, and translators assist both the kids and their parents. There is also a classroom component for the parents to teach them about water safety. 

Let’s help get some needy kids ready for a fun and safe summer!  

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on the sidebarJust include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Calls to Action

Support “Audrey’s Amendment” to Canada’s Assisted Dying law

Canada’s current law on medical assistance in dying (MAiD) requires that patients must be mentally competent at the time of the procedure, even if they have previously been assessed and approved. That means that someone who applies and is approved, but who chooses not to go ahead with the procedure immediately after approval, may lose the right to receive MAiD if their condition deteriorates and they lose competency.

That’s the situation that Halifax’s Audrey Parker found herself in this past fall. She was dying of metastatic breast cancer, applied for MAiD, and was approved. But she delayed the procedure, hoping to enjoy one more Christmas with her family. In October, however, she learned that the cancer had spread to her brain. Fearing that the growing cancer might soon affect her cognition, she decided to go ahead with MAiD before Christmas rather than risk losing her mental capacity to consent and being forced to die a prolonged and uncomfortable death.

Audrey died with medical assistance on November 1st, but before her death, she went public with her story to protest the unfairness of the legislation. Now people across the country are asking for the federal government to pass “Audrey’s Amendment” to the assisted dying law. It would allow an exception to the consent requirement for people in the category of ‘assessed and approved’. Applicants would still need to be mentally competent to consent at the time of the application and assessments, but if they lose capacity after approval, due to progression of their illness or the medications need for comfort, the procedure could still be carried out.

Please add your voice to those who are asking for this change! Dying With Dignity Canada has drafted a form letter to the federal justice minister – all you have to do is add your name and click ‘send’ (you can also add a personal note if you wish).

 

to read more and sign the letter.

 

Stand up for Access to Reproductive Health Care

Mifegymiso (the abortion pill) has allowed greater accessibility to reproductive rights across Canada – except in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which are the only provinces not providing universal coverage for the medication. In Manitoba, mifegymiso is currently available free of charge only at the Women’s Hospital (HSC) and the Women’s Health Clinic (both in Winnipeg) and at Brandon Regional Health Centre. This creates unnecessary barriers for rural and remote women, a group that already experiences difficulty accessing reproductive health services.

Please add your voice to others asking our provincial government to provide universal coverage for Mifegymiso for all women in Manitoba.

Join this letter-writing campaign. Don’t worry! You do NOT have to write a letter – that’s already been done. All you need to do is download it, add your name, and then send it to the campaign organizers. The signed letters will be forwarded to Cameron Friesen, Manitoba’s Minister of Health, and Rochelle Squires, Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

After downloading the letter, make sure to add your info to both copies of it (one for each cabinet minister). Then just save and send.

 

to download and add your name to the letter.

 

Latest News   

Check out this blog by local Humanists

HAAM’s partner organization based in Steinbach, the Eastman Humanist Community, continues to grow and thrive in the Bible Belt. They hold regular meetings and informal get-togethers, have their own small lending library, and have started a blog with contributions from their members.

In the most recent blog post, EHC president Gary Snider considers two aspects of human evolution – why did we evolve such large brains when other animals did not, and what effect did past changes in climate have on our evolution? In previous posts, Heather Murray evaluated claims commonly made by conspiracy theorists about ‘Big Pharma’; Helen Friesen pondered why so many people long for the ‘good old days’ when they were demonstrably not great at all; and Jordan Kroeker caught up on some of the science education denied to him by his Christian upbringing. Take a look! 

Book of the Month – Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement 

Quiverfull is a conservative Christian movement whose adherents view all children as a gift from god. Its name comes from Psalm 127, verses 3-5: 

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. (NLT) 

Quiverfull followers eschew all forms of birth control, even ‘natural family planning’. In 2009, journalist Kathryn Joyce explored the fascinating world of the families who are part of this movement in her book QuiverfullInside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. Professional reviewers referred to her discussion as ‘echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘frightening’, ‘insightful’, ‘riveting and deeply disturbing’, and ‘a corner of the Christian right that has taken misogyny to sadomasochistic extremes’. Readers who relate to the content or have had personal experience with Quiverfull families use words like ‘nightmare’, ‘abuse’, ‘cult’, ‘brainwash’, and ‘trigger’ in their reviews. Readers who were not previously familiar with the concept use words like ‘yikes’, ‘scary’, and ‘unbelievable’.  

If you have only a superficial understanding of what it’s like to live in a conservative Christian bubble, then this book will open your eyes. It’s a subject worth learning about. Proponents of the Quiverfull movement would love to repeal suffrage and dismantle civil rights laws; the rest of us ignore that at our own peril. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our Library page if you would like to borrow this book.   

Thinking about Summer yet?

Spring is almost upon us, and if you have school-aged kids, that means you’re probably already thinking about what to do with them over the summer. We get questions every spring about children’s summer camps.

Overnight camps

If you’re looking for an overnight summer camp, your choices as a secular parent are pretty limited. Most of what we know was summarized in our June 2018 newsletter. But if you have questions or are looking for more info, please contact HAAM. Some of our members have provided references and anecdotal information, and we can pass that along to you.

Day camps

Now there are way more options, as long as you book early. Many secular organizations host day camps, and they represent a wide variety of interests. Check out the camps offered by the Children’s Museum, the Manitoba Museum, Fort Whyte Alive, the Assiniboine Park Zoo, the Wellness Institute, the YMCA, the U of M (Minu U), the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, the Winnipeg Gymnastics Centre, the Humane Society, Mad Science of Manitoba, Camp Manitou, Oak Hammock March, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Something for everyone, and most of these are educational, too.

Please help HAAM help other families

Lastly, if you have experience (whether positive or negative) with any camp (day or overnight) that might help other secular families, please let us know and we’ll make a note of it in our ‘summer camp info’ file for future reference. All correspondence is confidential.

Video – Religion in Manitoba Public Schools

Back in 1986, Chris Tait was the high school student who bravely challenged the existing practice of daily prayer and Bible readings in Manitoba’s public schools, by remaining seated at his desk and refusing to participate. His court challenge eventually led to the Manitoba Schools Act being amended in 1992, banning mandatory school prayer. Chris is now a lawyer and continues to follow the issue of religion in public schools. In 2012, he was the guest speaker at a HAAM meeting, where he talked about his experiences and about how some schools (especially in ‘Bible Belt’ communities) were still breaking the rules.

We recently came across a video of that meeting, posted to YouTube by past-president Jeff Olsson on his own page. Thanks for saving it, Jeff! It has how been uploaded to the HAAM YouTube channel.

Has the situation improved at all in the last few years? It would be nice to hope that Manitoba schools are becoming more inclusive and impartial, but anecdotal reports usually suggest otherwise. If you have  information about what’s happening now, we’d love to hear from you.

February 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

The Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Saturday, February 16th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

Can science and faith to co-exist peacefully? We welcome scientist Dr. Simon Potter to talk about his experiences.

Click here for details.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, February 24th, Perkins Restaurant, 1277 Henderson Hwy, 9:30 AM

Our monthly informal get-together. All welcome.

Click here for details.

Save the Dates

Monthly meeting – Video Night, Saturday March 9thCanad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 PM. More info TBA.

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming events.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives)

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter.

Next workshops in Winnipeg will be held on Saturdays at 10:30 AM –
February 16 at the Fort Garry Library, and April 13 at the Henderson Library.

There will also be a workshop in Steinbach on Saturday March 30 at 1:00 PM.

Click here for details and to register.

For up-to-date information on upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

Charity of the Month

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program

Did you know that burrowing owls do NOT actually burrow? They get their name because they nest in burrows, but they cannot dig the burrows themselves. They rely on animals like badgers, foxes, gophers, and ground squirrels to dig burrows for them.

So what happens when land is cultivated and farmers exterminate ‘pests’ like foxes and gophers? You guessed it… There are fewer than a dozen pairs of burrowing owls left in Manitoba, and fewer than 800 left in all of Canada.

And yet a single family of burrowing owls can eat 1800 rodents and 7000 insects during a summer. Wouldn’t it be better to encourage the owls to flourish?

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program studies these owls, and in 2010, began reintroducing breeding pairs to southwestern Manitoba. The program also offers educational presentations to increase public awareness of the owls and the importance of grassland conservation, and works with landowners who have suitable habitat to encourage protection for the owls.

You can see burrowing owls in ‘person’ at the Assiniboine Park Zoo and Fort Whyte Alive.

Let’s give a hoot about our fellow creatures and help these beneficial little birds get re-established in our grasslands.

  Donations for the Charity of the Month are accepted at any of our events.  Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on this page. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

Election results from our AGM

Meet your new HAAM executive for 2019:

President – Pat Morrow
Secretary – Cheri Frazer
Treasurer – Henry Kreindler

Members at Large are Tammy Blanchette, Norm Goertzen, Tony Governo, Donna Harris, Sherry Lyn Marginet, Arthur Prystenski, Caren Schramm, Dorothy Stephens, and one other who needs to remain anonymous.

Many thanks to Donna Harris for serving as President for the past 6 years! (And also for staying on as a member-at-large.) You’ll find a list of our executive (with photos) here.

Reminder – Humanist Canada Essay Contest

Don’t forget to encourage your favorite teenager to enter this competition. There is $4000 in total prize money. Open to all Canadian high school students. Entry deadline is March 1st. Complete contest details are available on the Humanist Canada website.

 

Partners for Life Report (blood donations)

We pledge 25 donations a year, and in 2018 we came SO close! At year end, we had 24.

Let’s get off to a great start to meet our goal this year! If you haven’t donated recently (or ever), do it now!

Click here for all the information you’ll need to get started. (Everyone is welcome to participate; you don’t have to be a paid HAAM member, just a supporter.)

Support Science – Celebrate Darwin Day

February 12th is Charles Darwin’s 210th birthday, and International Darwin Day – a global celebration of science and humanity. Darwin Day inspires people throughout the world to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. More info, including educational resources, are at DarwinDay.org.

Today, more than ever, we need to stand up for science!

Spread the word! (click image to enlarge)

 

HAAM President interviewed for Canadian Atheist

One of Pat Morrow’s first assignments as our new president was an interview for the  Canadian Atheist website. In addition to discussing his own beliefs and background, Pat took the opportunity to tell readers a little bit about HAAM.

“Everybody has issues and goals that are important to them and they all overlap. What’s important is we harness these passions and all work together. Not just inside our local organizations but all across the country.”

Awesome interview, Pat! Inspirational, positive, and insightful!

Make sure to read the whole interview.

Book of the Month: Why Evolution is True

If you’ve left conservative Christianity (or any other religion, for that matter), you may now accept evolution, but still not really understand how and why it’s true. Or maybe you understand the basics, but have a hard time explaining them and coming up with examples to demonstrate your points when challenged by a creationist. Then this book is for you!  Author Jerry Coyne is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where he specialized in evolutionary genetics – so he knows his stuff. Why Evolution is True provides a succinct summary of the facts supporting the theory of natural selection, and reviewers note that you don’t have to be a scientist to understand it.

Coyne explains the basics of evolution in just under 300 pages. He covers the geological and fossil history that corroborates it; how fossils came to be; missing links and transitional fossils; animal vestiges; embryonic development; bad design; bio-geographic separation; dimorphism; dead genes; genetic drift; sexual selection; and the evolution of the modern-day human. There’s also a great glossary of terms at the back.

Along the way, Coyne also discusses (and refutes) common creationist arguments, such as that `everything happens by chance’, and misinterpretation of dating methods.

Why Evolution is True has been called “one of the best current books on evolutionary theory”. It’s a clear look at a complex subject. You’ll want to have this material in your knowledge base.

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.
Visit our Library page if you would like to borrow this book.

Meeting Venue Update (decisions, decisions…) 

We’ll be back at Canad Inns Polo Park for our February and March meetings, since the U of W was booked for only one meeting as a trial of the venue. So what was the verdict?  

On the plus side for the room at the U of W: it’s centrally located and on major bus routes, the meeting room is larger, it’s quiet and private, we can serve food and drinks, members can bring their own food and drinks (which makes attending more affordable), and noise level isn’t an issue.  

On the minus side: parking isn’t as convenient, and the table set-up made it difficult to socialize and mingle.  

On balance, there were more positives than negatives, so we’ve decided to try the U of W again, hopefully for our meetings in April and May. We plan to re-organize the tables to facilitate socializing, and maybe get a pot of coffee going… As with any major decision, we will never be able to please everyone 100%.  

Stay tuned for updates. When meeting dates and locations are confirmed, they’ll be posted on our Events page 

Why doesn’t God make himself Known?

Good question. It was posed online to Peter Enns, who is a member of HAAM’s Steinbach offshoot, the Eastman Humanist Community.

You can read his answer on our Perspectives page. What would your answer be?

 

Why doesn’t God make himself known?

Peter Enns (aka The Village Atheist), a member of HAAM’s partner group, the Eastman Humanist Community, was asked the following question on Quora:

If God created the Earth and wanted humans to know that he created it, why did he not write an indestructible Bible instead of having humans write it for him? 

This was his response:

This is a very valid and good question. Thank you for asking it. 

I read one answer claiming that if God had written the book himself it would make us like robots, and we wouldn’t have free will. That is a cop out. We often hear that God is a loving father. Well I had a loving father; he was there for me physically, and that didn’t take my free will away. I could love him or refuse to love him; I could obey him or refuse to obey him (which I admit I often did), but I always loved him, and he loved me. Now what if he had been absent from my life, and only left me a book about himself, but not written by himself? A book that told me his rules that I should obey, and also that he loved me, but it had a catch – if I didn’t believe that the book came from him, and that he loved me, he would someday come and burn me alive. Of course, the book also stated that if I believed in the book and believed that he loved me, he would give me a mansion. Do you think I would believe the book actually came from my Dad, and therefore follow it? I might have as a little boy, but as soon as I became old enough to reason and think for myself, I think I would doubt that the book came from my Dad, and I doubt that I would take it seriously. Would you? 

Your question is exactly what people need to ask. It is a well thought-out question; we should ask those type of questions. They lead to critical thinking; they lead to searching for answers; they lead to advancement in human thinking; they lead to truth about what the cosmos is and how it works. 

Every writ or script ever written about God, god or gods has been written by humans, so humans like you and I have written scriptures about countless gods. Many of those gods have gone on to be considered part of ancient mythological writings, which we don’t take seriously anymore, and the reason is that people have asked questions like yours. But some scriptures and gods survived (or evolved from) ancient religions, and more were created by humans as time went on. Thanks to questions like yours, we will (and are) finding out that the ancient gods aren’t much different from modern gods and religions. The gods themselves are silent; the only noise we hear comes from the spokespeople. Every God, god or gods have one thing in common – they can’t survive without spokespeople. So the verdict is out and the options are very few. Your question supports the case and is one of the questions we need to ask in court. Will God, god or gods enter the witness stand and answer your question? I doubt it; only the spokespeople will answer, but they are all bringing different writings to present as evidence, and those writings all contradict each other.  

So what are the options that the court must agree on, since the missing person or persons has not been found to testify? 

  1. God, or god, or gods, if they exist, are incapable of revealing themselves, and humans are incapable of discovering them. 
  2. God, or god, or gods, if they exist, do not want to be revealed and are making sure that humans will not discover them. 
  3. God (or god, or gods) don’t exist.

There are no other options. Only God, or god, or gods, if they exist, are able to once and for all end this thousands-of-years-old debate. But so far, all we hear are the spokespeople, who all believe that their god(s) is the real deal. Also, as you can see, every option produces zero gods for us to encounter. So really, as far as we are concerned, every option is the same. 

Peter has given us permission to publish this article and use his name because, as he explains in a paraphrase of Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the TRUTH, because it is the power of KNOWLEDGE that brings peace to everyone who believes; not AN IMAGINARY GOD OR GODS.

My revised version of that verse. Emphasis mine.

(Compare Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. NIV)

January 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Options in Death Care for Nonbelievers (and our AGM)

Saturday, January 12th, at the U of W, beginning at 5:00 PM

Have you ever thought much about what you want when you die? Wondered what’s legal? What’s available in Manitoba? Our guest Shane Neufeld has over 20 years in the funeral industry. He has answers, lots more useful information, and stories…

Be sure to read the full event post for important details about the time, location, and dinner.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, January 20th, Denny’s Restaurant, 1750 Sargent Ave, 9:30 AM

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.  

Details here.

 

Save the Date 

The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, Saturday February 16th. Details here

Check our Events calendar for latest information.

Latest News

Charity of the Month – Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre 

You have probably never heard of Ndinawe, but it’s been around for about 25 years, helping (mainly) Indigenous kids in Winnipeg’s William Whyte neighborhood. It’s been in the media recently because of its newest program, Tina’s Safe Haven, a 24/7 drop-in space named for Tina Fontaine, who was murdered in 2014 at the age of 15. Her family believe that she might be alive today if a place like this had been available to her.  

Tina’s Safe Haven is only one of several culturally appropriate programs for at-risk youth offered by Ndinawe. They also have

– a transitional living program for 16 and 17 year-olds who need to learn the life skills necessary to live as independent adults;
– a support program for families of youth engaged in risk-taking behaviors (gang involvement, violence, substance abuse);
educational support for teenagers who have been out of school (dropped out, in the Youth Centre, suspended), and who wish to transition back into the school system;
– and a safe house that provides 24/7 shelter and basic necessities for children and youth who are living on the streets, at risk of exploitation, or just need a place to stay. 

In addition, they offer counseling services, train former sex trade workers to become accredited in youth and child care, and provide outreach and community monitoring (focusing on gang activity, high-risk addresses, and sexual exploitation). 

It’s an overwhelming challenge. Let’s help strengthen our community by supporting these vital programs. 

Donations for the Charity of the Month are accepted at any of our events.  Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on this page. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Your HAAM President’s 2018 Message

Greetings everyone! It’s the end of another year, and I have to say it was a busy one.  We continued our outreach efforts, our regular HAAM and Eggs brunches, and our monthly meetings.  Once again, we had some top-notch speakers.  Hearing from Neil Carter by Skype went especially smoothly, thanks to the help of our awesome volunteers.

This group has grown since I first started attending over 10 years ago, and it’s also shifted membership somewhat. We need to continue welcoming younger and increasingly diverse members, as they add so much to the strength of our group.

To that end, it’s time for me to move on, and turn over the title of President to someone else. I’ve had a great run as President, (I won’t list my mis-steps here, but there were a few), but it’s time for fresh blood and fresh ideas.  I’ve appreciated everyone who has helped out over the years, especially all the members of the executive team.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of this group, so if you believe that you’ve gotten anything from this organization, please consider volunteering in any capacity.

In conclusion, I leave with these words of (semi) wisdom:  to continue being a true Humanist, please continue to stand up for love, decency, and inclusion, and don’t give hate any more room to grow. Try to understand others and their points of view, especially in this age of instant messages and social media. Always stay skeptical.  Don’t believe anything until you’re satisfied it’s true. And last, in a less wordy version of the Golden Rule – don’t be a dick.

Peace and happiness to all.                                                                                                        – Donna Harris

New Meeting Venue

Remember that survey about our meeting venue way back in the summer? We received several suggestions for new locations to consider. HAAM’s executive looked at all of them, so thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas.

The survey responses suggested that changing our meeting time from a Saturday evening to a different evening would not improve attendance (and Sunday mornings proved even less popular), so we will continue to meet on Saturday evenings. 

Almost all the venue suggestions were for banquet or bingo halls, legion branches, or community clubs. None of those turned out to be feasible because of high cost and limited availability. On Saturday evenings they are mostly booked for socials, banquets, weddings, and other parties, and the rents are way beyond our budget.  

room 2M70

The most promising recommendations were from the couple of people who suggested that we consider meeting at one of the universities. One respondent works at the U of W and was able to supply additional info about room rentals and support our application, so we’re trying that out for the January meeting.

The U of W has the advantages of being central, on major bus routes, and completely accessible. We can bring our own food and make a little noise without disturbing others. We hope you’ll come out to our January meeting and help us evaluate this new space. We’ll be looking for feedback from those who attend. 

Essay contest!

Humanist Canada just announced an essay contest for high school students, to promote the logical thinking and communication skills valued by humanists.

Write a 7,500 – 15,000 word essay, in either English or French, on any interesting and relevant topic related to Humanism. Submit your entry before 01 March 2019, and you’ll have a chance to win a share of the $4000 in total prize money that’s being awarded (prize for the best essay in each language is $1,000). Entrants need not be Canadian citizens, as long as they attend a Canadian high school and are born after 30 September 1999.

If you’re not personally eligible to enter, please share this contest with your favorite teenager. Let’s encourage our young people to put their writing skills to work, promote Humanism, and win some scholarship money to help with their education. Essays may also be published later in Humanist Canada’s magazine.

Complete contest details are available on the Humanist Canada website.

Blasphemy law update

Great news! Canada’s archaic blasphemy law has finally been repealed. Canada now joins England, Norway, the Netherlands, Malta, Iceland, Denmark, France, and Ireland – all of which have repealed blasphemy laws in the past 10 years.

Bad news! There’s still a good part of the world where you can be imprisoned or even put to death for blasphemy. Look at this map – green (recently repealed); yellow (local restrictions); orange (legal restrictions); red (prison); brown (death penalty).

Click here for a complete and interactive version of the map with more information. It’s great to celebrate progress, but clearly, there’s still a lot more work to be done.

Book of the Month: Ideas that Matter 

This winter, tackle something a little meatier than what you might choose if you were heading to the beach. British philosopher A.C. Grayling writes about complicated ideas with style and eloquence. In Ideas that Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century, Grayling discusses a multitude of concepts (from Absolutism to Zeitgist), that broadly fall into three main categories:  

– Fundamentalism (religious belief not subject to compromise);
– Globalism (the world becoming more interconnected); and
– Bioethics (ethical issues raised by the advance of science and medicine).

Read about altruism, cloning, consumerism, feminism, neo-conservatism, secularism, tolerance, vegetarianism, and many more ‘ideas that matter’. Topics are arranged alphabetically, and each is discussed in just a few pages, so if you keep the book for a few weeks, you could treat it as a sort of intellectual ‘bathroom reader’.   

For each entry, Grayling describes the idea and then offers his own commentary on it. How many of his opinions do you share? How many do you disagree with – and can you explain why? This book will have you examining – and sometimes reconsidering – your current beliefs. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our Library page if you would like to borrow this book 

Year in Review

2018 was another very successful year. Over the past 12 months, our members have:

–  Learned about being ethical eaters, the sex lives of animals, the laws governing assisted dying, religious private schools, evidence for evolution, advance care planning, how apologists view morality, comprehensive sex education, pseudoscience, and what it’s like to be an atheist in a Bible Belt community.

–  Socialized over drinks and Sunday morning brunches, celebrated Darwin’s birthday, attended our annual Film Fest, met Matt Dillahunty on tour, and held parties for the summer and winter solstices.

–  Donated to organizations that counsel victims of sexual abuse, operate a cat spay and neuter program, provide work opportunities for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities, support low-income students, provide baby gear for low-income parents-to-be, teach comprehensive sex education, and provide community policing. We also paid the annual school tuition for our sponsored child in Kasese, Uganda, helped fund a new vehicle for the Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, gave blood, and signed up to be organ donors.

–  Reached out to a wider audience by placing a Christmas message in newspapers and on social media, setting up information booths at summer festivals in Steinbach, Stonewall, and Morden, attending local debates and speeches held by religious apologists, speaking to high school students, advertising on the new Fossil Discovery Centre’s vehicle, and writing an article for a local ethnic community newspaper.

–  Stood up for issues that matter to Humanists. Our members wrote letters and signed petitions encouraging governments and community leaders to tackle climate change, support reproductive rights, refugees, and the LGBT community, ban gay conversion therapy, repeal blasphemy laws, approve advance requests for MAID, adopt inclusive lyrics for O Canada, accept blood donations from gay men, allow a full range of end-of-life options, and end faith-based health care. We encouraged our members to vote for progressive school trustee candidates, and our own celebrations became ‘greener’ as we move to become less wasteful.

–  Supported each other by sharing ideas, advice, personal stories, knowledge of resources like secular therapists and secular help for addictions, and information about religion in public schools and summer camps. We expanded our lending library and extended its reach to include members of the Eastman Humanist Community, and we wished long-time members good health and farewell.

Whew – No wonder it felt busy! If you missed any of these stories, you’ll find them all in our Newsletter Archive.

Now we’re looking forward to another great year. Please support HAAM with your membership fees as well as your participation and input. We need you! With a larger group of supporters and volunteers we can accomplish even more in 2019!

2019 Membership Fees are Now Due

Please join or renew today.

You can pay online using the PayPal link on our website, or by cash or check in person at any event.

Visit the Join Us page for more information.

 

 

 

 

December 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Winter Solstice Party 

Saturday, December 15th, Norwood Community Centre, 87 Walmer St 

Door opens at 5:30 – potluck supper at 6:00

Make sure to read the full event post for important information about what to bring.

 

Saturday, January 12th – AGM and monthly meeting (topic TBA)  

Sunday, January 20th – next HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Our Events calendar will be updated once we finalize the details. 

 Latest News 

With the approach of the New Year, it’s membership renewal time.  HAAM operates on a calendar year, meaning that our membership fees come due in January.

NEW members who join HAAM for the first time this fall (between September 1st and December 31st) pay the full annual fee but are considered paid up for 2019.  Everyone else needs to renew. 

Our membership fees are affordable and include a ‘limited income’ option if applicable (and they haven’t gone up in 10 years!). Memberships can be renewed anytime by credit card using the PayPal link on our website, by cheque in the mail, or by cash or cheque at any event.  

What’s the money for? 

HAAM is entirely run by volunteers, but like every organization, we have expenses that need to be met just to keep afloat. They’re pretty minimal. Here’s a brief run-down of what your membership dollars are spent on. 

Rental space – our biggest expense. We need a place to hold our meetings and other events. There’s even a fee to reserve the picnic site for our summer Solstice party.  

Guest speakers – Many of the guest speakers at our meetings don’t cost anything. Others receive a small honorarium, depending on their circumstances. Very occasionally, we book a professional speaker. Regardless of whether the speaker receives any compensation, we always cover the cost of their dinner while attending the meeting. 

Equipment – miscellaneous stuff we need for our meetings and events. Most of these items are one-time expenses (like a video projector), but this past summer we had to replace 2 folding tables that were stolen from our Outreach booth in Stonewall. 

Supplies for social events – like food and condiments for our summer Solstice party 

Community Outreach – fees for booth rentals at summer fairs, printing costs for brochures, business cards, and posters, and an occasional advertisement or donation to a Humanist cause or charity 

Office supplies – stationary, printing, postage 

Administration – fees for maintaining our website, bank, MeetUp, and PayPal accounts 

We count on our members to support HAAM’s continuing work in providing a community for non-believers. A larger membership base also gives us a larger voice in the public sphere.  

We don’t turn people away if they cannot afford a membership – but it’s a pretty good deal. How many organizations can you join for as little as $10 per year? Please support the group that supports you!  

 Note – if you plan to participate in our AGM in January, dues MUST be paid in order to vote. 

Suggestions welcome

Your HAAM executive is busy planning meetings and events for the winter/spring season.

Got any ideas? Is there a topic you’d like to learn about, or a speaker you’d like to hear? An issue you’d like to discuss? Do you know of an opportunity for outreach? A fun group activity?

We welcome our members’ ideas and involvement. Contact us with your suggestions – or just show up at one of our events. We’d be happy to chat with you in person.

 

Ways to celebrate the winter solstice

December is dark, and we can’t change that. So why not embrace the darkness, instead of letting it get you down?

Here are a few suggestions for how to do that (besides attending our Solstice Party, of course):

  1. Curl up by the fire and relax with some mulled wine
  2. Cover a pinecone with peanut butter and hang it on an evergreen tree for the birds
  3. Or decorate a whole tree for the birds if you have one
  4. Take a walk after dark and look up at the stars
  5. Meditate over hot tea and a sugar cookie
  6. Make an old-fashioned orange pomander
  7. Turn off the lights and have a feast by candlelight
  8. Print this picture and color it (click it to enlarge and download)
  9. Make an evergreen wreath
  10. Stay up all night to welcome the return of the sun

 

Book of the Month: I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas 

Bah Humbug! Comedian Lewis Black is sick of all the syrupy yuletide marketing ad nauseam that is shoved down people’s throats after Labor Day. In this short book, he delivers a stinging indictment of the greed and hypocrisy of the ‘holiday season’, with some warmth and humor mixed in to temper the message. 

Black has made a career of talking about subjects that make other people squeamish, and this book is no different. He tackles our obsession with the over-priced, over-hyped, over-sentimentalized, and over-rated holiday season, ripping into traditions like Christmas cards, dinners, toys, advertising, shopping, trees, carols, and gifts. His suggestions to improve this time of year – spend time with your friends, give to others, and quit letting advertisers, retailers, and religious fanatics dictate how to spend the holidays.

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book 

Godless in Dixie

Were you unable to attend our November meeting with special guest Neil Carter (Godless in Dixie)? You missed a great conversation! But thanks to Paul Morrow, we got it all on tape. You can catch it on our YouTube channel.

And while you’re on our YouTube Channel, check out some of the videos from previous guest speakers. There’s some great stuff on there.
The ratings winner so far is Richard Carrier’s talk from last summer about the historicity of Jesus, with almost half a million views. But there are also great presentations on religious schools, the ethics of counter-apologetics, blasphemy laws, grieving without religion, the limits to freedom of speech, Humanist values, and more.

Reminder

Make your voice heard!

Don’t forget the Calls to Action from last month’s newsletter.

There are links 3 petitions to sign. Links to all of them are on our Home page.

 

 

November 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Monthly Meeting – Godless in Dixie 

Saturday, November 17th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM 

Our special guest for the evening (via Skype) will be Neil Carter, a public-school teacher and former evangelical Christian who lives in Mississippi.

Details here.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, November 25th, Original Pancake House, 1445 Portage Avenue, 9:30 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.  

Details here.

Winter Solstice Party

Saturday, December 15th, Norwood Community Club, 87 Walmer St, Winnipeg, 6 PM

Save the date!

Our Events calendar will be updated once we finalize the details.

 

Calls to Action 

There are 3 new petitions to sign, all in just the last month!

As Humanists, we need to support and speak up about what matters to us. Our collective voices can make a difference.

Gay Conversion Therapy

A group in Lethbridge has launched a petition to the House of Commons calling for a nation-wide ban on ‘gay conversion therapy’ (the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions).  

This petition seeks to make conversion therapy a criminal offence across Canada.  It is already illegal in Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, the city of Vancouver, and several US states. A nation-wide ban would aid enforcement of provincial/local laws where it is currently illegal, since practitioners tend to operate covertly. This CBC news article has more background information on the issue.  

The movement to ban conversion therapy is gathering steam. Please sign now to add your support for outlawing this dangerous practice. 

The petition is open for signatures until January 18th, 2019. 

Advance Requests for Medical Assistance in Dying

Current legislation requires that Canadians requesting Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) be mentally competent at the time of the actual procedure. A patient who meets the criteria and receives approval, but whose cognition deteriorates after the paperwork is completed, will no longer eligible, and their procedure will be canceled. Advance requests for assisted dying, such as a health care directive asking for MAID to be performed at a later date if certain conditions are met, are presently illegal and will not even be considered.

A growing number of people are claiming that the law is unfair and demanding that their wishes be respected, and some of those affected by the prohibition against advance requests are now speaking out.

Recently, a BC family who lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s Disease launched a petition calling for the House of Commons to amend the Criminal Code to allow advance requests for medically assisted dying.

Please sign now to support personal autonomy in medical decision-making for all Canadians.

This petition is open for signatures until January 30th, 2019.

Forcing patients to transfer for assisted dying

Publicly funded hospitals and long-term care facilities across the country, controlled by faith-based boards, are requiring vulnerable and seriously ill patients to travel to another institution to receive an assisted death. Some will not even allow assessments or interviews about assisted death on their premises. St Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg is one of a number of institutions in Manitoba that restricts access.

Publicly funded institutions should not be allowed to restrict the legal rights of Canadians. Please tell your premier to put an end to this practice.

Charity of the Month The Bear Clan Patrol 

Winnipeg is home to one of the five largest urban Indigenous populations in the world, heavily concentrated in certain inner-city neighborhoods on Treaty 1 territory. The Bear Clan originated in the 1990’s, motivated by the ongoing need to assume the traditional responsibility to provide security to the Aboriginal community. The Bear Clan draws its direction solely from traditional Aboriginal philosophies and practices. 

The Bear Clan Patrol is a community-based solution to crime prevention, providing a sense of safety, solidarity, and belonging to both its members and to the communities they serve. ​This is achieved in a non-violent, non-threatening, non-judgmental and supportive manner primarily through relationship building and reconciliation.  

The Patrol works in harmony with the broader community rather than in conflict with it, and in a relationship that encourages rather than seeking to defeat leadership as it emerges at a local level. Its members believe that it is critical to develop the knowledge and skills of young people, as they will inherit the current conditions. 

The Bear Clan’s mission is to provide restoration and maintenance of harmony within the community by: 

​- promoting and providing safety; 

– conflict resolution; 

– mobile witnessing and crime prevention; 

– maintaining a visible presence on the streets; 

– providing an early response to situations; and 

– providing rides, escorts and referrals.  

Currently there are well over 375 men and women involved with the Patrol on a volunteer basis. ​The Bear Clan has been in the news a number of times lately for the vital work they are doing. The organization continues to grow, recently opening an office on Selkirk Avenue and expanding their territory to include the West Broadway area.  

Please support this incredible organization! Their efforts make this city a better place for all of us. 

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on this page. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News 

Não acredita em Deus?

Communities are not always defined by geography. We hear and read so much about the difficulties experienced by non-believers in Bible-belt towns south of Winnipeg. But what if your religious group is bound together by language and culture rather than town limits? There are many ethnic communities in Manitoba whose members are not confined to a single district, town, or neighborhood.

HAAM exec member Tony Governo belongs to one such community – he and his family are Portuguese. Winnipeg’s Portuguese community has over 11,000 members, and they are overwhelmingly (95-97%) Roman Catholic.

In an article he wrote for the local Portuguese newspaper, O Mundial, this past summer (June/July issue), Tony described what it’s like to be a non-believer in a community whose social activities center almost exclusively around the church. Here is his English translation:

Não acredita em Deus? Você não está sozinho

(Do not believe in God? You are not alone)

Our culture, both in Portugal and in the Portuguese community of Manitoba, is deeply immersed in religion, specifically in Catholicism. Just look at our publications and see our “cultural” events. Contrary to popular belief, we are not all believers.

A national survey conducted in 2011, entitled Religious Identities in Portugal: representations, values ​​and practices, indicates that 3.2% of respondents are indifferent, 2.2% are agnostics, and 4.1% are atheists. The Canadian census of 2011 shows that in Manitoba, one in four is irreligious, with 26.5%.

Non-believers can go by any number of labels. Some choose to be identified as atheists, secular humanists, agnostics, skeptics, or free thinkers. They lack belief in any deity, afterlife, judgments, and rewards, or any other idea related to the supernatural. And they are among you; they are your co-workers, friends, or family.
Many Portuguese Catholics were determined and conditioned by their family and not exactly by belief or conviction. For this reason, there are many atheists sitting in the pews.

Leaving the closet as an unbeliever is an act of courage in a remarkably religious community. You should only leave if it is safe to do so. If you are still dependent on your family, it is wiser to stay in the closet. Whether in or out of the closet, know that you are not alone.

We are free not to believe. We are free to question.
If you would like to meet other non-believers with a similar mind, check out the website haam.ca – Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba.

The newspaper printed Tony’s article (click image to enlarge), and in the spirit of supporting freedom of expression and constructive dialogue, the editor also added some of her own ideas about the piece. She also graciously offered to “open up O Mundial to a thoughtful exploration of belief” by inviting other readers to share their views as long as they are “respectful and kind.”

However, since the article ran, no responses have been received – either positive or negative. No protests, no letters to the editor, no emails to HAAM. Makes one wonder what subscribers thought when they read it… No way is Tony the only non-believer in Winnipeg’s entire Portuguese community. Perhaps there is just no one else willing to risk being outed, or to tackle deep subjects. In every community, someone has to be the first to come out.

At least in HAAM, Tony, you know you’re not alone!

 

Book of the Month: Godless 

Since our meeting topic this month will be about adjusting to life after religious deconversion, here’s another perspective you might like to read, from someone who left Christianity some time ago.  The full title of the book – Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists – pretty much describes its content. 

Dan Barker was an evangelical Christian for about 19 years as a youth and young adult. He served as the pastor of a charismatic church and wrote a musical for Sunday School children that is still earning him royalties 40 years later! But he threw that all away in 1984 when he suddenly announced to his family and friends that he had become an atheist. How did that happen? How does someone go from speaking in tongues to becoming the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation? 

Barker explains in this tell-all book. Spoiler alert – speaking in tongues isn’t evidence of god(s) or anything supernatural. The book is an easy and enjoyable read. Barker writes as he speaks, in an unpretentious, even folksy style. If you’re not familiar with him, this 5-minute clip from one of his best-known speeches will give you an idea.  

Godless also contains Barker’s famous Easter Challenge, first issued in 1990. The challenge is simple – reconcile the 4 Gospel accounts of Easter Day into a coherent narrative. No one has been successful (so far), but you can have a little fun reading about it. 

If you are a former believer, you will undoubtedly relate to many of the author’s feelings and experiences, and if you were never a ‘true believer,’ Barker will help you understand the evangelical mindset. Either way, you’ll find this book deeply insightful. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.  

It’s that time of year again…

Every year around this time, someone contacts us about a school or community organization collecting gifts or money for shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. If you are not familiar with this project or the organization that runs it, you can learn all about it on our Religion in Public Schools web page.

Make sure you understand the goals of Operation Christmas Child before deciding to contribute. The take-home point is that it’s primarily an evangelical Christian organization… the shoebox gifts are just a means to proselytize.

October photos

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden now has their new van, with HAAM’s name on the back as one of their sponsoring organizations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tammy and Luc Blanchette donned their tinfoil hats in preparation for Tammy’s presentation on pseudoscience. Great presentation, Tammy!

There’s also a photo from the meeting in our Gallery.

October 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, September 30th, Perkins Southdale Mall, 123 Vermillion Road, 9:30 AM

Everyone’s welcome. Details here.

 

Pseudoscience! 

Saturday, October 13th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM 

Wear your tinfoil hats for an evening walk through pseudoscience, woo, and all things bullsh*t. 

Details here.

 

Save the date 

November 18th   Special guest Neil Carter, who blogs as Godless in Dixie, will join us via Skype from the US Bible belt.  

Our Events calendar will be updated once we finalize the details. 

 

Charity of the Month   

Kasese, Uganda (click to enlarge)

It’s October, so that means our charity is the Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS). Kasese is a town of just over 100,000 people, north of Lake George and at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda. It’s a growing community, in part because of increasing tourism (proximity to two national parks). Industries include copper mining and cobalt production. Kasese serves as the headquarters for the district and boasts a hospital, an airport, and a small power station.

As the brainchild of Bwambale Robert Musubaho, KHPS was founded with the help and support of Humanists in many countries. It’s run by the Kasese United Humanist Association and is open to both boys and girls ages 3-14. Since opening in 2011, the school has grown to three campuses

Rukoki (Nursery, Primary & Secondary), with 249 students
Kahendero (Nursery & Primary), with 181 students
Bizoha Muhokya (Nursery & Primary), with 281 students

Bogere John in September 2018. Look how he’s grown!

The surrounding predominantly-religious community is sometimes hostile, but Humanist values are gradually catching on, with three other Humanist schools, two health clinics, and many businesses in the area founded on the Humanist model.

The school has a Child Sponsorship Program to assist with tuition for needy, bright, disadvantaged, and vulnerable children. HAAM has been supporting a little student, Bogere John, at the Bizoha campus since 2015. We just received his most recent report card, and we’re delighted to see that he earned nearly all A’s. He appears to have caught up after a serious bout of malaria last year caused him to fall a bit behind.

Every fall, we need to collect enough money to cover his tuition for the coming year. Anything extra goes to the general school fund. Donations are required to assist with basic expenses like textbooks and school materials, building upkeep, and teacher salaries.

So we hope you will join us to support Bogere John and the Kasese Humanist Primary School. As the school’s motto says, “with science we can progress”.

Right: Bogere reading The Day the Dinosaurs Died

Please give generously! We can’t fix the whole world, but we can make a difference in the life of this child. 

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News 

HAAM is supporting science education in Manitoba 

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (in Morden) is getting a new vehicle (a “fossil dig adventure van” with an “exciting Jurassic-world theme look”). This new van will travel throughout the Pembina Valley and the province for dig tours and outreach events. and be seen by tens of thousands of people each year. 

And HAAM’s name will be on it (in one of the yellow circles, shown in photo) as one of their sponsors! This is a great way for us to support scientific research and education, while getting our name out all over the province. It’s totally win-win – CFDC gets a donation towards their new van, and we get the advertising for as long as they drive it. 

Some of our longer-term members may recall that we also sponsored their last van (see the September 2014 newsletter). Watch for the new van once it hits the road! 

Manitoba’s children need your vote!

The next general municipal election will be held in Manitoba on Wednesday 24 October 2018. Are you planning to vote for school trustees in your area? Maybe you weren’t really thinking about it, because you don’t have kids in school, so you don’t follow school division news and don’t know the people who are running.

But did you know that even in Winnipeg, there are currently people sitting on public school boards who are opposed to supporting LGBTQ students? Who want creationism taught in public schools? Who oppose comprehensive sex education? Who try to sneak Christian prayers and teaching into public schools in any way they can, including supporting organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and Child Evangelism Fellowship?

In Winnipeg, these trustees usually don’t get their way because they are outvoted by other members of their boards. That’s why you don’t hear much about them. But they keep trying. If religious groups could just get enough of their members elected… So far they haven’t – yet.

Meanwhile, outside the city, especially in ‘bible-belt’ communities, it can be difficult to find ANYONE running who supports evidence-based learning and fair treatment of all students. But there are some good candidates out there – we just need to find them.

Please! Take a look at who’s running in your division. Try to find out who they are and what they stand for (even if they have been on the board for a while). You may have to google their names, search for them on social media, or ask your friends. And if you know of a good candidate, spread the word. Make the effort – and then VOTE. Quality education benefits everyone in our society – not just families with kids.

Summer Outreach report

August was very busy with two Outreach weekends in a row. August 17-19 marked our first venture to Stonewall Quarry Days, and August 24-26 was busy with our regular trip out to Morden for their Corn and Apple Festival. 

Our dauntless Outreach director, Pat Morrow, has now completed his entertaining and insightful report on those adventures. You can read all about them here.

There are more photos in our Gallery. 

 

 

Partners for Life update 

Have you donated blood recently? We’re heading into the last quarter of 2018 and hoping to meet our pledge of 25 donations from our members. Last year we exceeded it! This year, so far, we are only at 18. 

So go donate blood and save some lives! If you haven’t participated in Partners for Life before (or have never donated blood at all), all the information and links you need are here. 

 

In Memoriam – Jake van Raalte (1928-2018) 

One of our long-time members passed away this summer. Jake and his wife, Miep, were members of HAAM since the late 1990s. Miep served on the executive from approximately 2000 to 2007. She died of cancer in 2009. Jake continued to attend meetings when he could, usually preferring to sit as close to the front as possible so that he could hear and understand the speaker better. He enjoyed attending HAAM meetings for the conversation with other members and listening to the speakers, although he may not always have enjoyed the speakers equally.  

Jake enjoyed looking after their lovely property and was very proud of it. A visit to their home usually meant that we would leave knowing a bit more about all the beautiful flowers he grew. 

Jake at HAAM’s 2013 Winter Solstice party

After Miep died, Jake spent the next few years taking over all her duties and organizing her papers, books, etc. In 2012 Jake called to tell me that he had discovered a bank account he had not been aware of (or had forgotten about), and that he wanted to donate the balance in that account to HAAM. The amount was $1,500. HAAM’s executive was very happy to receive this donation and tried to come up with a significant way of thanking him. That’s when the idea of a Lifetime Membership was born. Jake was the very first member to receive it. 

Jake became ill in the last couple of years before he died and was unable to attend our meetings. He did not recognize me when I went to visit him in September of 2016. In July of this year, Jason van Raalte, Jake’s grandson, called to tell me that Jake was dying. I was able to visit Jake and Jason on the morning of July 14. Jake died later that day. 

Jake’s full obituary can be read here. Our heartfelt condolences go to Jake’s son Mike van Raalte, and grandson Jason.  

-Helen Friesen 

Video of the Month: Hell House 

Hallowe’en is coming up, so if you have never watched George Ratliff’s 2001 documentary Hell House, there’s no better time. This film is almost a ‘classic’ by now, and you might even find it funny – if you don’t find the subject too pathetic and disturbing.  

Hell House is a look at an annual Hallowe’en theater production, staged by the youth group of Trinity Church (Assemblies of God) in Texas, and seen by thousands of visitors annually. The show consists of a series of skits portraying the evils of the world, designed to scare young people into repenting and becoming Christians. The societal evils acted out in the play include everything from homosexuality to Harry Potter books. The play is followed by an emotionally-charged altar call, pleading with members of the audience to accept Jesus as their savior.  

Ratliff didn’t mock his subjects, or judge their mission and motives – but you can. Prepare to be terrified at this horrific manipulation of young minds. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this DVD.  

Outreach Report: Stonewall Corn and Apple?

That seems like a strange title for this report, but it was a busy August for HAAM as we did two outreach events back to back – at Stonewall Quarry Days and the Morden Corn and Apple Festival. Six days of outreach within two weeks felt like one big long event, and it was hard not to mix up the two festivals. On Friday morning of the Morden outreach, I actually turned up Highway 7 for about 100 m to drive to Stonewall (call it morning fog).  

Week One 

Stonewall Quarry Days was a first-time outreach for us. Stonewall is a small town just north of Winnipeg that is quickly becoming a bedroom community. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say half its population makes the commute into Winnipeg for work. It’s not part of the Bible belt per se; however, it does have a lot of churches. We met quite a few like-minded thinkers there who hadn’t heard of HAAM, and as a result, I know there will be some new faces at our upcoming meetings and events. One fella I spoke with talked about starting a secular organization in Gimli, which would be terrific, but time will tell. 

Responses from the community 

Stonewall was a different outreach experience for me. It was first time that HAAM has held an outreach in a community populated with much of my extended (born-again Christian) family. That part actually went well; nephews and nieces stopped by and said hello. What was surprising were the reactions of other people I know in the community – people my age and older who would see me at the booth, make eye contact, and keep walking. One did take the time to stop and call us schmucks, and label Humanism as stupid. He came back the next day and apologized, but knowing the family, I’ll bet his wife made him… After years of talking to believers, it never ceases to amaze me how religious folks can completely lose their composure when they find out that somebody they’ve known for years is an atheist. I’m pretty sure I won’t be invited to barbeques at that guy’s place anymore, and if I am, the visit might take on a little different tone.  

Pastor Henry, a well-known retired pastor of New Life Church (the largest church in the community) stopped by the booth and chatted with me. He took the time to write about our conversation in a column in the Stonewall Argus newspaper. His report was relatively accurate, in my opinion; however, so much was left out that it leads one to a completely different understanding of the conversation, compared to what actually occurred. I felt it was worthy of a rebuttal, so I wrote a response to the paper.

Was our outreach in Stonewall worth the effort? Of course – I’m looking forward to seeing some of those new faces at upcoming meetings. 

Week Two 

One of our outreach workers trying to understand “creationist math”

Just a week later we were Morden for our annual Corn and Apple outreach. This was our seventh year there, and as far as I can recall it was our busiest and most productive. I think much of that success was related to the organizers’ decision to place us only two booths away from the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) trailer. This 17-foot tow-behind altar to stupidity, ignorance, and misinformation was a constant source of entertainment and traffic; both the YEC crowd, and our own target audience of humanists, atheists, and other like-minded thinkers. It’s my hope that with all the business cards we handed out for the Pembina Valley Secular Community, they will experience some substantial growth this year. 

Peddling creationism 

Being almost next-door to the creationist trailer, it was always interesting to see how they operate their outreach. A mostly friendly bunch worked Friday for the local crowd. In the daytime they set out little plastic dinosaurs and coloring books to entice the children and their parents to come in and see “real science”. On the weekend they changed things up for an influx of out-of-town folks; this setup consisted of a message board and a table where you could talk to a creationist. I spoke to a gentleman about where he got the data on population growth /death rates etc for his “mathematical proof” that we came from Adam and Eve. The best he could come up with was “it’s a conservative estimate”. Personally, after a little more discussion, his answer leads me to believe that it is a conservative estimate arrived at by pulling it out of his colon.  

Misrepresenting science 

The next question that day was “How do you have 65-million-year-old fossils that contain flesh, veins and blood cells, and DNA?” This was an attempt to misrepresent the 2005 work of Dr. Mary Schweitzer. I asked the gentleman at the booth if he was familiar with the work of Dr. Schweitzer, but he didn’t know who she was. Then I encouraged him to explain his question, asking “What do you tell the folks about blood, veins, and DNA found in the 65-million-year-old dinosaur bone”? After much deflection, I asked him even more directly “What do you think ‘flesh’ is in regards to the question?” “Not bone”, he replied. With a little more questioning and a little more obfuscation on his part, I could see he was getting agitated, because he was getting louder and beginning to Gish-gallop. So I left before causing an electrical fire in his brain. 

A very short time later, one of the creationist ladies brought me a free pamphlet that explained exactly what they’re teaching about Dr. Schweitzer’s work. The following is an excerpt from the pamphlet Reality Check: Round 2 – the Dating Game (published by the Somerset Bible Chapel). 

“In 2005, Dr. Mary Swcheitzer (sic) an american (sic) paleontologist, was the first to report finding soft red blood cells, stretchy blood vessels, collagen and DNA within the fossilized remains of a T-Rex… No fresh blood cells, soft tissue or intact DNA should be found in supposedly 65 million years (sic) old samples, basic chemistry and physics preclude it. So how can we find such soft tissue in such good condition? Obviously, the time when those animals died and were fossilized is much less than the supposedly 65 million years.” (emphasis mine)

Real science 

Talking to creationists and reading their literature would lead the layman to believe that, with a little salt and pepper, T-Rex’s “flesh” or “tissue” is ready for the barbecue. The actual science tells a different story. I’m no biologist or paleontologist, but anybody with Google and a modicum of scientific understanding can read about Dr. Schweitzer’s actual findings, and they are truly amazing. In her reports, flesh is not mentioned. The researchers had to dissolve rock and fossilized bone to uncover the structures they were looking at. 

– The “soft red blood cells” mentioned in the creationist pamphlet are actually heme, or the oxidized remnants of iron that was once in the blood. (Oxidized iron is commonly known as rust.) 
– The “stretchy blood vessels” are actually base proteins of collagen held together by their chemical bonds in a process we don’t completely understand (yet). 
– The “intact DNA” Is actually badly damaged, fragmented pieces of DNA found inside the collagen proteins.  

Dr. Schweitzer was even a guest speaker at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden recently.  

Lying for Jesus 

some of the creationist ‘literature’ we collected

It never ceases to amaze me how far creationists will go to lie for Jesus. If you enjoy reading creationist literature occasionally as I do, you will in short order notice that frequently, scientists’ names are misspelled, common names are used for scientific terms, and logical concepts are changed (e.g. a more obscure term is used, or a name is just completely made up). It’s common enough to cause one to wonder – Are they trying to change the language? Are they stupid? Or are they just trying to make it harder for people to look up accurate information? 

Visitors to the booth come in many varieties 

We have many visits to the booth by religious sorts, like the drive-by spitters (these people don’t actually spit at us, but their gestures suggest that they’d like to); the Catholics who believe that the church is ordained by God and what priests to do doesn’t matter; and of course, the many who feel that we just need Jesus! Then there are always the doctrinal disagreements that inevitably occur when two Christians from different sects visit the booth together. This year we had one Christian telling us that God sends us to hell, while the other asserted “no he doesn’t; we send ourselves”. They couldn’t seem to iron it out between themselves, but they were united in agreeing that we’re going there… somehow.  

But by far the most disturbing visit we had this August was near the end of the festival from a man and his wife? daughter? After his testimonial about how terrible he had been in his earlier life (he was a really bad dude who saw a death and did drugs… yada,yada…), he got Jesus. Right from the beginning this fella kind of gave us the creeps. Our feelings were confirmed when he turned to our outreach worker Tracy and said “Hey, you know you are really a beautiful woman, ya know the only thing stopping me from raping you is Jesus” My jaw was on the ground, but without missing a beat, Tracy says “If the only thing stopping you from raping me is Jesus, then you go right ahead and keep believing in him, and hold onto him tight”. After the guy left and the waves of creepiness dissipated, we all felt we needed a shower. 

Finding our people 

But outreach is not really about the creeps, the wacky, the delusional, or the intentionally dishonest. It’s about reaching out to our people – Humanists. To that end, I think we greatly increased the number of folks who showed interest in the Pembina Valley Secular Community. We actually found a secular counselor and therapist who resides and practices in the Morden/Winkler area. We even met some folks who would like to help out with outreach. One gentleman I talked to is a geneticist. He mentioned that he had had a conversation with the creationists, in which they asserted that they know something about genetics – and the look on their faces when he told them “actually, I am a geneticist.” I really wish I could’ve been there. 

Here’s to our volunteers 

Well that was two weekends and two outreaches. I’ve gotta thank all our volunteers: Tracy, Tony, Donna, Lawrence, Blaine, Dorothy, Adriana, Arthur, and Norm. Without all of you it wouldn’t be possible. We had lots of conversations, met a lot of new people, and I think significantly added to our Humanist community. 

– Pat Morrow

September 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, September 2nd, Smitty’s Garden City, 9:30 AM.

Let’s get together as we start the fall season. Details here.

Sex Education in Manitoba

Saturday, September 8th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 PM

Our guest speaker will be Bre Woligroski, Sexuality and Reproductive Health Facilitator from SERC (Sexuality Education Resource Centre MB). Details here.

 

Charity of the Month 

SERC (Sexuality Education Resource Centre) Manitoba is a community-based, non-profit, pro-choice organization dedicated to promoting sexual health through education. SERC provides inclusive, non-judgmental education about sexuality based on the belief that people have the right to accurate information on all their choices. The centre offers comprehensive and personalized consultations, education, information, and resources for a variety of sexual health topics. 

SERC’s services include 

Community education programs and workshops 
– Community consultations and outreach 
– Safer sex supplies (condom distribution) 
– Training workshops and consultations for service providers 
– Education for newcomers to Canada in multiple languages 
– Culturally based programs for indigenous youth 
– Affirming programs for LGBTTQ* community  
– Confidential email for questions 
– Lending library and online resource library 

To protest the lack of support for sexual health and rights displayed by some of our politicians, we will be making our donation in honor of Conservative MP Ted Falk (Provencher), who has publicly denounced gay rights, transgender rights, and abortion rights. Mr Falk will be notified that his stance on these issues is the inspiration for our donation.

Please donate to support responsible, comprehensive sex education! 

Donations for the Charity of the Month are accepted at any of our events.  Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on this page. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Save the dates

HAAM and Eggs Brunch, Sunday September 30th, Perkins Southdale Mall, 9:30 AM  

Monthly meetings – Saturdays at Canad Inns Polo Park from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm 

October 14thTammy Blanchettepseudoscience and alternative medicine 

November 18th – Topic TBA.

Our Events calendar will be updated once we finalize the details for these meetings. 

Latest News 

Website contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of the What’s on our Website contest! 

Adriana Sedlak was the first person to send in the correct answers. She wins a free meal at one of our fall meetings.

Marcia Masse was the first person to send in her contest entry, but unfortunately, she had one wrong answer. She wins the consolation prize of a free drink at a meeting.    

Here are the answers:      

1. In the photo illustrating HAAM’s position on public education, what is the message written on the poster that the protester is holding? (Position Statements) Let’s teach kids to think outside the box, not fill in circles.

2. The third from last item on our list of suggested resources for people wanting to learn about evolution is a series of short YouTube videos. What is the name of this video series? (Exploring Nonbelief) Our Origins Made Easy (video series)

What is the definition of morality as stated on our website? (What is Humanism?) Morality is defined as caring about the welfare and well-being of thinking creatures.

4. What is Question #7 on our list of ‘Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Religion?’ (Brochures) Why are the most prayerful countries the most deprived, and not the most successful?

5. In the Atheist Bible Study, which two modern translations of the Bible were used for the readings? (Bible Study) New Living Translation and New International Version

6. Name two secular self-help organizations you could contact if you were struggling with an addiction. (Help and Advice) Any two of Life Ring, Smart Recovery, Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS), and Secular AA

We hope that this little quiz inspired a few people to take a closer look at all the resources and information on our website. If you didn’t get around to looking, check it out now (no more prizes, though). 

Summer Outreach

August has been very busy with two Outreach weekends in a row. August 17-19 marked our first venture to Stonewall Quarry Days, and August 24-26 was busy with our regular trip out to Morden for their Corn and Apple Festival.

It was an eventful couple of weekends. We linked up non-believers in Bible belt communities with others in their area, engaged in counter-apologetics discussions with pastors, challenged creationists, and survived the theft of two of the tables from our booth.

Our dedicated Outreach coordinator, Pat Morrow, promises to have his full insightful and entertaining report on both these events ready for our next newsletter.

In the meantime, a big thank you to all our dedicated and intrepid Outreach volunteers! It’s always fun and a great learning experience, and we couldn’t do it without you.

 

Venue survey results

Thank you to everyone who responded to the recent survey about the venue for our monthly meetings.  Here’s what we learned from the responses: 

Most of the people who responded are paid HAAM members who attended at least one monthly meeting during the past season. About a third are unsatisfied with our current meeting venue at Canad Inns Polo Park, while only about 1/6 are completely satisfied. 

Over half of our respondents regard food as relatively unimportant at our meetings, although one person did note in a comment that having food or a meal encourages networking and social time. 

Almost half of those who answered would like to meet in a more family/kid friendly location, while the rest regard that as unimportant. Of course, many of our meeting topics are unsuitable or uninteresting for small children, but it would be nice to at least have a space for kids to play if parents need to bring them to a meeting. 

More than one third reported that if we found a more flexible / family-friendly meeting space, they would be more likely to attend. 

Regarding our meeting night (Saturday), there was no big demand to change it. If we did, weeknights could be considered, but Sunday mornings were a definite ‘no’. 

More than a quarter of respondents would find it helpful if our meeting location were on a major street with a bus route.  

To see the full survey results in graph format, click here.

We received 9 suggestions for new meeting places that we could consider, as well as a few other helpful comments, such as a request that we ensure any venue we consider is wheelchair accessible.  

HAAM’s executive will be exploring these suggestions over the coming weeks. In the meantime, our fall meetings will continue to be held at Canad Inns up until November. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!  

If you have any further comments or suggestions, you can always contact us by email (info@haam.ca) or via our contact form. 

Book of the Month

We have a number of books in our library about psychology and neuroscience. The study of how the mind works and why people think and behave the way they do is one of the last frontiers of modern science – there is so much yet to learn. 

Canadian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Norman Doige has spent years studying neuroplasticity, psychotherapy treatment outcomes, schizoid personality disorders, and other phenomena of the mind. In 2007 he wrote The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. This book contains stories of people with mental limitations or brain damage whose lives have been transformed, including blind people learning to see, IQs being raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with grace, and depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated. The publisher claims that this inspiring book will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential. 

The reviews are glowing – both from professionals (“psychiatric literary genre par excellence” – The Globe and Mail; “a remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain” – Oliver Sacks) and from readers (“life changing!”; “this book will empower.”; “this book gives you hope”, etc). 

Does this all sound too good to be true? Are you a bit skeptical? Have a look and decide for yourself! 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.  

It’s ‘Back to School’ time again

Do you have questions about religious programming and proselytization in public schools? Every year HAAM gets calls and emails from concerned parents about this issue. 

Make sure you know what the law says about religious instruction and religious clubs in the public school system. All the information you need is here. 

If you still have questions after reading it, contact us.  

August 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Look for our members at these summer festivals in August.  

Make sure to stop by the Outreach booth and say Hi! 

 

 

Stonewall Outreach 

August 17th to 19th, Stonewall Manitoba 

HAAM begins a new Outreach this August at Stonewall Quarry Days.

Come visit us in our booth at Stonewall Quarry Days for a conversation worth having.
Details here.

Morden Outreach 

August 24th to 26th, Morden Manitoba 

This will be our seventh year doing Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival. For those who appreciate that knowledge and understanding will always be better than believing through faith, Morden offers a unique experience.

Come visit us in our booth at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival for a conversation worth having.
Details here.

Then plan to join us for brunch as we begin our fall season. 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, September 2nd, Smitty’s Garden City, 2305 McPhillips Street (in Garden City Shopping Centre) 

This monthly casual get-together will be our first event of the new season. So welcome back! (or just ‘welcome’, if you’re new). Details here.

Fall meeting dates: 

Our monthly meetings are held on Saturdays at Canad Inns Polo Park from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Plans for fall are underway.

September 8th 

Our guest speaker will be Bre Woligroski, a Sexuality and Reproductive Health Facilitator from Sexuality Education Resource Centre MB (SERC). 

October 14th 

Our own Tammy Blanchette will be speaking about pseudoscience and alternative medicine. 

More information about upcoming HAAM events will be posted on our Events page once we finalize the details. 

About our meetings and events 

Welcome! If you are new and just checking us out, you are welcome to attend one or two events before becoming a member. After that, if you wish to continue to participate, we ask that you support the group by joining. Our annual dues are reasonable and include a limited-income option. 

All events are subject to change, and some details may be TBA. In the event of inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, events may be subject to cancellation or details may change. Check future newsletters, the Home page of our website, our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates. 

Latest News 

What’s on our Website? Take a look and enter to win! 

Have you looked at this website lately (or ever)? (Beyond checking an event post or reading this newsletter, that is.) There’s a whole lot more on here than you might realize. It’s full of helpful information and links to resources that might come in handy. 

Here is just some of what you’ll find: 

– Information about HAAM – who we are and what we stand for.  
– Information about Humanism. 
– A searchable archive of past newsletters and articles. 
– Suggested resources for people who have recently left religion or are questioning their beliefs. 
– Links to community organizations, secular charities, and local support groups. 

Win a free dinner! 

Explore our website. Then complete this short quiz.  

Be the first person to email in all the correct answers, and you will win the cost of your dinner at an upcoming HAAM meeting*. All the answers are easily found on our web pages. (Hint: The title of the page containing the answer is shown in brackets after each question.) 

* Maximum value $25. Must be used at one of our fall 2018 meetings (Sept 8, October 13, or November 17).  1) In the photo illustrating HAAM’s position on public education, what is the message written on the poster that the protester is holding? (Position Statements)

2) The third from last item on our list of suggested resources for people wanting to learn about evolution is a series of short YouTube videos. What is the name of this video series? (Exploring Nonbelief)

3) What is the definition of morality as stated on our website? (What is Humanism?)

4) What is Question #7 on our list of ‘Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Religion?’ (Brochures)

5) In the Atheist Bible Study, which two modern translations of the Bible were used for the readings? (Bible Study)

6) Name two secular self-help organizations you could contact if you were struggling with an addiction. (Help and Advice)

Email your answers to info@haam.ca. 

Support our monthly charity program

Our Charity of the Month program will resume in September. Please support it – your contributions will help make a difference in our community (and occasionally across the globe) and show that Humanists care! 

Religious institutions have long claimed most of the credit for charity work, but let’s face it – much of the donated money and volunteer effort they receive goes toward supporting the organizations themselves, rather than assisting those in need. And with the decline of religion and the closures of churches, secular charities are needed to make up for the decrease in legitimate charitable work once done by religion. 

There are lots of secular charities and worthy organizations out there if you look – and we look. Since setting up the Charity of the Month program about 5 years ago, our members have supported over 40 different groups. Many of these are small, local, and less well known than the organizations we associate with big fundraising lotteries, walkathons, and advertising budgets. Most of our charities were started by ordinary people who just wanted to support a cause, meet a need, or right an injustice. 

You don’t even have to attend a HAAM meeting contribute to this program! Donations to the current Charity of the Month may be made using the Donate button on this website (just add a note about what the money is for). You can also browse our list of past charities for a cause you’d like to support and donate directly via that organization’s own website. 

Book of the Month: Can believers change their minds?

One of the most frequent questions that we get asked about our Outreach program is whether the effort is worth it; i.e. does anyone ever change their mind?  

Of course, the main goal of our Outreach program isn’t to ‘deconvert’ believers. Major reasons for setting up the booth are 1) to let closeted atheists know that they are not alone and that there is a supportive community of non-believers out there for them; 2) to promote reason and critical thinking; and 3) to clear up misconceptions about atheism and Humanism, and let believers know that it is possible to be good without a god. 

But yes, we do also engage in discussion, and sometimes debate, with believers. Why bother? Does it ever make a difference, or are we just wasting our time and energy? Aren’t most fundamentalists too committed to their beliefs – or just too stupid – to see reason?  

The answer to that is an emphatic NO. Even staunch fundamentalists can change their minds. All it takes is the right question or comment to spark someone’s curiosity, or plant a seed of doubt, and start them on the path to reason. Of course, change doesn’t happen instantly; and often it occurs, not in the believer participating in the discussion, but in a bystander listening to the conversation.

If you have difficulty believing that this is possible, then you really need to read Seth Andrews‘ book Deconverted – a journey from religion to reason. Seth is the guy who created the Thinking Atheist online community, YouTube channel, and weekly podcasts. He knows what it’s like to grow up in a fundamentalist Christian home, live in a Christian community, attend a private Christian school, and work in a Christian-based business – because he did all of these. This short book, which relates the personal ‘testimony’ of his exit from religiosity in his late 30’s, will vanquish any notions you might have that religious people are too ‘stupid’ to be reasoned out of their irrational beliefs.  

Deconverted is an easy read; Seth writes in the same folksy style that he uses in his speeches and podcasts. (Check out the book trailer.) He clearly explains the triggers that planted the first seeds of his doubt in his mind, and where those led him. If you also left conservative Christianity, then you’ll relate to much of what he describes. If you didn’t, and you have a hard time understanding how people can hold such ridiculous beliefs, then you’ll gain insight from reading his story. 

Bonus: If you enjoy the book, you can hear Seth discussing it, and his experiences, on his podcast here. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.  

Share your story

Many of our members were once religious – even very religious. How they ended up leaving all that behind and finding Humanism can be a fascinating (but sometimes difficult and sad) story.

We all have our own story to tell. Sharing our stories with each other helps create community with those who have had similar experiences and fosters understanding from those who had different experiences. It helps us all realize that we are not alone. Telling our stories publicly also helps clear up some of the misconceptions that people have about atheists.

What experiences shape your story?

– Did you grow up in a religious environment (family and/or community)?
– If you were once a ‘true believer’, what triggered your first spark of doubt?
– If you left religion, when and how did you do it?
– What impact (if any) does your lack of belief have on your family relationships and friendships?
– As a non-believer, where do you turn for guidance, support, and comfort?
– What led you to become involved with HAAM?

Some of our members have already told their stories on our website. We would love to add yours to add to those already there. You can remain anonymous if you wish.  (In fact, it is particularly helpful to hear the stories of people who are not ‘out’, because it lets others in the same situation realize that they are not alone. Feel free to alter or omit any identifying details and concentrate on relating your experiences and feelings. You may wish to include an explanation of why you cannot be ‘out’.

Remember, You are Not Alone

Submit your story to info@haam.ca

All enquiries and submissions will be kept strictly confidential unless permission is given for publication.

Last chance to complete our venue survey!

Thanks to everyone who responded to the very brief survey about our meeting venue. We will be reviewing everyone’s responses and suggestions at our next executive meeting.

If you still didn’t get around to completing it, the survey will be open until the long weekend (August 6th).

We need input from as many members as possible!

Click here to respond to the Venue Survey!

July 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

We’re taking July off, but we’ll be busy with Outreach in August, and we’re already planning for fall.
Mark these dates on your calendars now!

August 17th to 19th we’ll be setting up our booth at Stonewall Quarry Days for the first time this year.

August 24th to 26th we’ll be back at the Corn and Apple Festival in Morden.

 

If you’re planning to attend either of these festivals, make sure to drop by at our booth and say Hi.
New volunteers are always welcome. There’s more information about the Outreach program here.


On Sunday, September 2nd, we’ll kick off our new season with a HAAM and Eggs Brunch.

 

Fall meeting dates:

Our monthly meetings are held on Saturdays at Canad Inns Polo Park from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Planning for fall is still underway. Check back later in the summer for more details.

September 8th

Our guest speaker will be Bre Woligroski, a Sexuality and Reproductive Health Facilitator from Sexuality Education Resource Centre MB (SERC).

October 14th

Our own Tammy Blanchette will be speaking about pseudoscience and alternative medicine.

November 18th   Topic TBA.

More information about upcoming HAAM events will be posted on our Events page once we finalize the details.

About our meetings and events

Welcome! If you are new and just checking us out, you are welcome to attend one or two events before becoming a member. After that, if you wish to continue to participate, we ask that you support the group by joining. Our annual dues are reasonable and include a limited-income option.

All events are subject to change, and some details may be TBA. In the event of inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, events may be subject to cancellation or details may change. Check future newsletters, the Home page of our website, our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Steinbach Pride Parade

Saturday, 21 July, K.R. Barkman Park in Steinbach MB, 11 AM to 3 PM.

Join in the celebration of diversity in southeast Manitoba. Details on their Facebook page.

More information and links to all non-HAAM events are on our Community Events page.

 

Latest News

Feedback (still) wanted

Thanks to everyone who responded so far to our very brief survey asking for your input about our meeting venue. We have received a couple of good suggestions for alternate venues that we might consider. Our executive will be reviewing all the survey responses and suggestions when we meet again at the end of the summer.

If you meant to respond and forgot, or just didn’t get around to it, the survey will still be open until the end of July.

Click here to respond to our Venue Survey!

Calls to Action

As Humanists, we need to speak up about what matters to us.

NEW! Voice your support for essential end-of-life care options. All Canadians should have access to both palliative care and assisted dying (MAID). No one should be forced to choose between them. Details about this issue are available from DWD Canada.

Make your voice heard! Deadline is July 13th.

It’s also not too late to respond to these 3 previous Calls to Action.

Sign the petition to end the gay blood ban

Register to be an organ donor

Demand an end to faith-based health care

 

There are links to more information about all these issues on our home page. If you haven’t had time to read about them and respond yet, you can catch up this summer.

Note that the deadline to sign the petition about the gay blood ban is July 17th.

Blasphemy law update  

Are you under the impression that Canada repealed its blasphemy law last year? If so, you’re mistaken. The law is still on the books – but hopefully not for much longer.

Blasphemy is only one of several outdated laws slated for abolishment in Bill C-51, which was introduced by the federal government last year. But change is slow – the bill took most of the year to get through the House of Commons, and it’s still being reviewed in the Senate. CFI Canada has more on this story.

When the bill passes, Canada will be the eighth country to repeal or abolish its blasphemy laws in just the last decade. But Ireland could beat us to the punch – their citizens are set to vote on the issue this October. Stay tuned.

Book of the Month

Summer’s here, so read something light and funny! You may have seen Penn Jillette in a magic show, or in his TV series Penn and Teller, or even in a music video. He’s been all over the place  in show biz.

God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales is Jillette’s irreverent ramblings and personal stories about the Ten Commandments, religious food laws, magic, family, sex, house parties, scuba diving, and many more unrelated topics. It’s not a novel, but rather a series of anecdotes, suitable for bathroom reading. And it’s not really about atheism; it’s thoughts about life from someone who happens to be an atheist. This book comes with a language warning – so you’re warned.

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

Outreach Report – Summer in the City Festival

One of HAAM’s early forays into outreach was back in 2011; a joint venture between HAAM and the Winnipeg Skeptics at the Red River Ex. As a relatively new member, I did a few shifts, but the results of that outreach were mixed at best. Maybe it was the venue, the lack of clear goals, or too narrow a focus. I felt that, although it was enjoyable, it fell flat at accomplishing much. The next year I was asked to join HAAM’s exec, and we developed a new approach to our outreach. We would focus on promoting Humanism and countering the inherently bad ideas and misinformation propagated by religion with a healthy dose of science and skepticism. Above all, our primary goal would be to build safe, secular communities.

Jump ahead to the 2018 Summer in the City Festival and the Eastman Humanist Community (EHC), a group that HAAM, through its outreach efforts, was able to help launch about three years ago. This year, their members helped with the daily booth setup and tear down, and their volunteer contribution was huge. On Saturday, the day shift was entirely made up of EHC members, staffing the booth in their hometown. This was a first, but to really appreciate its importance, one must understand a little bit about Steinbach.

A little background

In Manitoba, Steinbach is known as the buckle of the Bible Belt. It is home to the second largest megachurch in Manitoba – Southland. Southland’s foyer is probably larger than the MTS Centre’s. Steinbach still has vibrant Mennonite roots, but its theology has diversified into just about every flavor of Christianity, the loudest being the fundamentalist evangelicals or ‘fundagelicals’. Steinbach got its first bars and lounges in 2011, just 4 years after the population climbed above 10.000, which turned the Town of Steinbach into the City of Steinbach. Many locals believe that Steinbach reported artificially low population numbers though the 80’s and 90’s, so that the town council could maintain better control. This is a claim I can’t substantiate to any great degree, but looking at population growth charts, one has to wonder. Today Steinbach’s population is 15,829, and it’s a growing and changing community. However, its council and schoolboard are still dominated by the religious, although this is slowly changing as well. The area’s MP is the evangelical Ted Falk; and its MLA is Kelvin Goertzen, the provincial heath minister who doesn’t understand human rights and officially welcomed Alex Mitala to his church. (Mitala is a Ugandan preacher who supported the ‘aggravated homosexuality’ or ‘kill the gays bill’ in Uganda.) That gives one an idea of what we can be dealing with. So when I say I’m proud of the ECH and its volunteers, I truly mean it. These folks deserve a really big hand.

Some interesting conversations

An outreach report wouldn’t be complete without a few stories of some of our interactions. I don’t engage in every conversation; that’s why it’s important for our other outreach workers to record their own stories (yes, that’s a hint, my fellow Humanists). We had our standard visitors – angry Christians, and others who just don’t know what to make of us. We also had the usual completely dishonest believers who listen, and then proceed to misrepresent what was just said and argue the stuffing right out of the strawman. But this year, Tony and Tammy engaged our first flat-earther. Ya never know if these people are serious, but this guy seemed to be. The unfortunate part is that he showed up with his son.

Saturday afternoon the EHC crew had a young, Christian woman who felt it necessary to pray for them (see “Being prayed for” below). Now I’ve been prayed at before, and every time it happens, visions of George Carlin come to mind saying “Pray for anything. But… God made a divine plan… Now you come along and pray for something. Well, suppose the thing you want isn’t in God’s divine plan. What do you want him to do? Change his plan? Just for you?… What’s the use of being God if every run-down schmuck with a two-dollar prayer book can come along and fuck up your plan?”

Contentious topics

Abortion was another popular topic for debate this year. In one such discussion it was revealed just how broken the moral compass of many in the antichoice movement are. The heavy lifting was done by Dorothy and Arthur. It became quickly apparent that this young visitor from Brandon University was devoid of any compassion for the women. He kept repeating “what about the rights of the baby; it doesn’t have a choice” (‘baby’ being defined as anything from a fertilized egg to a full-term fetus). I interjected “So you’re ok with stripping the rights of actual people and giving them to potential people”? His answer was a nonsensical “but they’re human”. He was then asked if a twelve-year-old girl who was raped by her father and became pregnant should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term. His answer was yes. I felt like ending this conversation with a swift knee to the groin… but that wouldn’t be polite. Both Dorothy and I eventually left him to Arthur, who handled the conversation with professionalism and aplomb.

The good stuff

Of course, we had many productive conversations and several repeat visitors. A fella I spoke with last year joined me when I was having lunch away from the booth. He was with family that day and didn’t want to approach the booth. The young man had lots of questions. Did you ever believe? You don’t worry about hell? He also had follow up questions from last year; not that I remembered our conversation, but he did. He was particularly bothered by the problem of evil. We had run through this before last year, with me explaining the problem, the standard Christian apologetic argument (free will), and the rational response or counter apologetic argument (Satan’s freewill). This is a fella of not much more then twenty, struggling to make his faith make sense. He said we could talk more at the Morden outreach. I gave him a card to email me anytime with his questions, but he thinks face to face is better.

Another fella showed up to thank me for our talk last year. He said he learned how to talk to us and debate better by speaking with me. I responded that I was a little confused, since I didn’t regard our talk as a debate but a discussion. What I found weird was it was just a thank-you; he didn’t have any questions or want to talk…. bit of a head scratcher. I engaged all kinds of people during this outreach, even a two-on-one by a father son preacher team – a first for me.

In the end, this outreach effort was a success. We inspired a lot of people to think; our outreach volunteers had an experience I hope they will want to repeat; our visitors conversed with atheists who aren’t shy about their nonbelief; and most importantly, a few more nonbelievers in the Bible Belt found the EHC.

– Pat Morrow

Being prayed for

I don’t know her name, but “Eve” came up and told us that she had received a word from her god to speak to us. She was nervous and flushed. Eve asked me why I was an atheist. I gave her a quick synopsis of my journey away from faith and she wondered if maybe my leaving was because I had not truly given my heart to Jesus. I felt that was a bit pompous of her, but let it go.

After a bit more banter, she asked if she could pray for us. I said, “Sure, if you want to head off and pray for us; it’s a free country.” She turned a deeper red and said, “No, I’d like to pray for all of you right here.” I told her that I would find that offensive and I didn’t think it was a good idea. She kept insisting, “God has told me to come here and pray with you”. I asked if she really heard an audible voice from her god. I thought for sure she would say she felt some kind of impulse or urge, but she confirmed it was a clear voice she could hear. At this point I began to feel sorry for her, and turned to the others in the booth and asked, “What do you think – do you want her to pray for us?” Their eyes were wide, and I could see they were casting about for some kind of appropriate response. I don’t know who, but someone replied, “I guess it’s okay…”  I asked Eve if the holy spirit could keep the prayer to a minute or less. She wanted to sit with us, so she came right into the booth and took my vacant chair and began to pray. Almost three minutes later she was done. I didn’t listen all that closely, but the gist of the prayer was that she wanted her god to show us how real he was and how deeply he cared for us. A few seconds after her “amen” she was on her way.

Her prayer moved me to ponder how jaw-droppingly insensitive people can be when they get directions from imaginary gods. It also reminded me how happy I’ve been since leaving.  Thanks, Eve!

– Gary Snider (EHC) 

There are more photos from this Outreach in our Photo Gallery.

Solstice Party

Our celebration was an overwhelming success in its new venue at Kildonan Park.

to Rob Daly for being such a great BBQ chef!

  More photos of the Solstice party in our Photo Gallery.

June 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Summer in the City Outreach 

Friday, June 15th to Sunday June 17th, Steinbach MB 

Our annual Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival. Drop in and say Hi! Details here.

Summer Solstice Party 

Saturday, June 23rd, Kildonan Park, 5:00 – 9:00 PM 

New location! Everyone is welcome! Details here.

Save the Dates 

Mark your calendars now so you won’t miss anything!  

Fall meeting dates:   September 8th     October 13th     November 17th  

Details about all upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Winnipeg Pride Parade 

Sunday, June 3rd, Manitoba Legislative Building. Rally at 10 AM and parade at 11. 

The parade marks the finale of Pride Week. 

More information and links to all non-HAAM events are on our Community Events page. 

Latest News 

Feedback wanted 

We’ve been holding our regular monthly meetings on Saturday evenings at Canad Inns Polo Park for the last several years now. It’s a great venue in many ways, but not necessarily ideal for our group. Three main drawbacks are that  

1. we can’t bring in any outside food, even for special celebrations;  

2. we cannot make noise that would be heard in the dining area or the next meeting room (which pretty much rules out music of any kind); and 

3. a hotel meeting room is not particularly spacious or kid/family friendly.  

The perfect meeting space

Here is what we would ideally be looking for:  

1. location – reasonably central (ie not on the outskirts of the city), safe area, on or close to a major route, parking available, no religious affiliation (ie not a church) 

2. reasonable cost  

3. capacity – at least 50 people 

4. availability – Saturday evenings? is there any other time or day we could consider? Sunday morning or a week night?  

5. the ability to bring own food if we want, such as for treats, special occasions, or pot lucks 

6. more kid/family friendly space

7. no noise restriction (ie ability to play music) 

We need your input!

Our executive has been exploring other options, so far without success. We would like your opinions and suggestions. Are you happy with the current location? Does it matter to you if there is food/a meal available at each meeting? Do you know of a place that you think might be more suitable? Would a change of location make you more, or less, likely to attend? What if we found a great location that was not available Saturday evenings? Would you come on a week night? Sunday morning? 

Let us know what you think! Please complete this short (2 minute) survey to help us plan for next season.

Sorry – the HAAM Venue Survey has ended.

Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values 

If you were unable to make it to our May meeting, you missed an excellent presentation by our own Pat Morrow about the false claims that Christians make while trying to claim credit for scientific and moral progress.  

Good news – Pat’s talk is now uploaded to our YouTube channel. Check it out!  

Partners for Life Update

Sign at Confusion Corner in Winnipeg in May

Summer’s here – and that means that Canadian Blood Services will be facing their annual blood shortage as regular donors travel or relax at the lake.

HAAM participates in the Partners for Life program, with an annual pledge of 25 donations from our members. As of mid-May, we had 11 donations… so we’re on track to meet that goal. Maybe we can even surpass it! If you’re a blood donor, please make the effort to donate over the summer.

If you’ve never donated before, or never asked to have your donations credited to HAAM, please join our Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life team and help us reach our goal. Let’s show that Humanists care enough to donate blood!

Information about Partners for Life, and instructions for how to sign up, are here. And as always, if you have questions or difficulty with the registration, contact us. 

Video of the Month 

Summer’s here, so that means it’s Outreach season – and HAAM certainly won’t be the only group doing outreach. Religious organizations and lobby groups will have booths at small town fairs all over Manitoba. You can usually count on finding evangelical Christians, anti-choice groups, and creationists. 

These organizations are very well funded by their supporters, and they put on large and splashy displays, with flashy professionally produced posters and leaflets to hand out. Answers in Genesis, the US-based creationist organization responsible for the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, usually has a whole trailer full of sophisticated schlock at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival. But don’t think that these beliefs are unique to the US. Creationism and science-denial in general is wide-spread in Manitoba’s Bible Belt communities – even in Morden, home of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. Some of our members were indoctrinated with creationism as children. If you haven’t taken it seriously up until now, you need to get out more.  

Want a primer on some of the wacky stuff creationists believe? HAAM has a copy of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the propaganda film in which Ben Stein dismisses evolution (and science in general) as a conspiracy to keep God out of laboratories and schools. Why not borrow it to watch at home this summer, where you can have a good laugh (or a good cry, or maybe just a couple of drinks) while you’re watching. Warning – this film is pretty bad. It links evolution to Nazism and misrepresents interviews with science advocates like Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins. Its initial rating on Rotten Tomatoes was 9%. Roger Ebert called it “cheerfully ignorant and manipulative”. But Christianity Today gave it 3 out of 4 stars. 

Love it, hate it, or just laugh at it – this film will provide you with some insight into the creationist mindset. Maybe it will even inspire you to join us in our outreach booth to promote science and reason. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this video.  

Looking for a Summer Camp? 

Summer’s here – and every year we get asked about children’s summer camps. We’ve written about this topic before, so here’s a summary of what we know. 

Almost all overnight children’s summer camps in Manitoba are directly run by religious organizations. A few others are targeted at specific populations (ie kids with disabilities). The following are the only camps we are aware of that are unaffiliated with religious groups: 

  • Camp Wannakumbac up at Clear Lake (Keystone Agricultural Producers) 
  • Camp Stephens (YMCA) in the Whiteshell 
  • Caddy Lake Girl Guide Camp (girls only, but membership in Girl Guides is not required) 
  • Camp Manitou (True North Youth Foundation) – mostly day camps, but some overnight camps 
  • Camp Wasaga at Clear Lake (families only). 

Disclaimer – noting that a camp is not affiliated with a religious group cannot guarantee that it will be 100% secular. Last summer a member who sent her child to Camp Wannakumbac reported to us that they still recite ‘grace’ at mealtimes.  

Do you have experience with, or knowledge of, children’s summer camps that would help our members?
We’d appreciate your feedback so that we can pass the information along to other families.  

HAAM Venue Survey

Feedback wanted

We’ve been holding our regular monthly meetings on Saturday evenings at Canad Inns Polo Park for the last several years now. It’s a great venue in many ways, but not necessarily ideal for our group. Three main drawbacks are that

1. we can’t bring in any outside food, even for special celebrations;

2. we cannot make noise that would be heard in the dining area or the next meeting room (which pretty much rules out music of any kind); and

3. a hotel meeting room is not particularly spacious or kid/family friendly.

The perfect meeting space

Here is what we would ideally be looking for:

1. location – reasonably central (ie not on the outskirts of the city), safe area, on or close to a major route, parking available, no religious affiliation (ie not a church)

2. reasonable cost

3. capacity – at least 50 people

4. availability – Saturday evenings? is there any other time or day we could consider? Sunday morning or a week night?

5. the ability to bring own food if we want, such as for treats, special occasions, or pot lucks

6. more kid/family friendly space

7. no noise restriction (ie ability to play music)

We need your input!

Our executive has been exploring other options, so far without success. We would like your opinions and suggestions.

Are you happy with the current location? Does it matter to you if there is food/a meal available at each meeting? Do you know of a place that you think might be more suitable? Would a change of location make you more or less likely to attend? What if we found a great location that was not available Saturday evenings? Would you come on a week night? Sunday morning?

Let us know what you think! Please complete this short (2 minute) survey to help us plan for next season.

May 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values 

Saturday, May 12th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

Our own Pat Morrow will talk about Christian apologetic claims regarding the scientific revolution and slavery. His presentation will demonstrate that progress is not due to any gods, but rather to human effort.  Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Saturday, May 26th, Red Top Inn, 219 St Mary’s Road, 9:30 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together. Everyone’s welcome. Details here.

 

Save the Dates 

June 15-17 – Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival (Steinbach) 

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party 

 

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Interbelief Reasoning Dialogue: “What Weaponizes Beliefs?”

Thursday, 3 May, St James Assiniboia Public Library (note change of date)

Presented by the Winnipeg Circle of Reason.

Advance Care Planning – what you need to know

Saturday, May 12th, St Boniface Public Library, 1:30 PM.

Learn more about your rights as a patient, and how to increase the chances of your wishes being respected in a health crisis and/or at the end of life. Registration required. More information here.

Winnipeg Pride Parade 

Sunday, June 3rd, Manitoba Legislative Building.

Rally at 10 AM and parade at 11. 

 

More information and links to all these non-HAAM events are on our Community Events page. 

Charity of the Month  

Just in time for Mothers Day! They say you can’t spoil a baby – but let’s try.  

You Can’t Spoil a Baby has been providing baby supplies to Manitoba families in need since 2011. Its goal is to show families that they are valued by their community by providing them with no-strings-attached gifts to help them care for their baby. 

YCSAB is run 100% by volunteers. The concept is simple:  

Donors can either contribute their once-loved baby items to one of YCSAB’s more than 40 drop-off spots for volunteers to combine into gifts, or follow guidelines provided by YCSAB to make and deliver their own gift using items they collect. Each gift includes items that will help a family through their baby’s first year – a set of newborn to 18 month baby clothes, one ‘big-ticket’ item (like a crib, stroller, or exersaucer), a few other helpful accessories (like feeding, bathing and diapering supplies, blankets, and toys), and a big sibling gift if the family has other children.  

Families who need assistance need to apply for a gift early in pregnancy (the wait list is close to 6 months). Most of the expectant parents who apply do not have friends or family to give them baby items, are single parents or young couples living on Income Assistance, are newcomers to Canada who are starting over, are leaving abusive relationships, or have had a series of tough breaks and need help. In addition to the gift of baby clothes and baby items, YCSAB provides families with an online list of local resources to help with the high costs of raising children. 

YCSAB accepts money as well as gently used baby items that help with the first two years of life. Their highest need items are always sleepers/pajamas in sizes 6-18 months. Used items are encouraged to promote reuse, but they won’t turn away new ones. A list of accepted items can be found on their website. Please check it carefully, as some items must comply with safety regulations. You can bring your donations to our meeting. If you have very large items, or cannot make it to the meeting, let us know and we’ll arrange for pickup and/or transport of your items. 

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Call to Action 

There’s a new petition to the House of Commons urging the government to re-examine the ban against gay men donating blood.  

The current law makes anyone (male or female), who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man within the last year ineligible to donate. Obviously, this is a sensitive issue and there is a lot more to the law than just politics. Blood donation regulations need to be evidence-based, in order to protect us all. That’s why the screening for prospective donors includes questions about drug use, travel history, tattoos, and whether their job involves caring for monkeys.

But when it comes to sexual practices, the law focuses on demographics instead of behaviors – banning ALL gay men, even those in monogamous, long-term relationships, from donating blood. On the other hand, straight people are not excluded from donating regardless of the number of sexual partners they have had – as long as the donor believes that all those partners are also straight. Doesn’t this seem illogical?  

The rationale for the current guidelines and the history behind them are clearly explained on the Canadian Blood Services’ website here and here. In summary, the rules used to be much stricter – a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was in place until 2013. Since then, CBS has gradually been relaxing the standards as more data is obtained. The current one-year ban was initiated in 2016. Of course, we all want to avoid another fiasco like the tainted blood scandal of the 80’s and 90’s that made people sick, cost millions of dollars, and diminished confidence in the safety of Canada’s blood supply. 

But it would make more sense to screen all donors for at-risk practices instead of just banning a whole group of people, and it appears that CBS is gradually moving in that direction. Recently, donors were given a survey asking if they would be willing to answer more detailed questions about their sexual practices as part of donor screening, or whether such intimate questions would discourage them from donating at all.   

The survey question asked: Please state how comfortable you would be answering questions on these topics in order to donate blood or plasma: 

– Saying the number of partners you have had in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you have had ANAL sex with anyone in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you used a condom every time you had sex in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you used the internet or social media (eg Facebook or Tinder) to seek a partner for sexual intercourse in the last 6 months) 
– And several more similar questions 

The answer choices were ‘completely comfortable’, ‘somewhat comfortable’, ‘somewhat uncomfortable’, ‘completely uncomfortable’, and ‘this would stop me from donating’.  

If having to answer these questions deters some people from donating, wouldn’t it stand to reason that most of those who are deterred are those who participate in high-risk behaviors? And wouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s interesting to think about. 

If you support encouraging CBS to focus on behaviors rather than on demographics in their donor screening, please sign the petition. It’s open for signature until July 17th 

Click here to sign the petition. 

And if you ARE currently eligible to donate, please do. HAAM is a member of CBS Partners for Life program. Learn more about it here, and sign up now! 

Latest News 

Your Health Care – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

According to the Health Care Directives Act of Manitoba, a health care directive (HCD) is a legal document that must be respected by your medical team in the event that you can’t speak for yourself. Also, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that all competent adult Canadians have the right to refuse or discontinue treatment.

But did you know that both your HCD and your right to refuse treatment can be ignored by your medical team under certain circumstances? For example, you might have comfort in the fact that you’ve written down and signed your wish not to be resuscitated, in the event that you collapse and someone calls an ambulance. However, what paramedics have told us is that not only will they not take the time to stop and read a HCD when treating a patient in an emergency, but they also can’t respect your request. That’s because they can’t verify your signature, your state of mind, or your competency when you signed it. To be considered valid, a DNR (do not resuscitate) order must be obtained from and signed by your doctor (and even then, there is still some uncertainty about whether it will be followed). And once the patient arrives at the hospital, and let’s say regains consciousness, the patient’s request to refuse treatment could be ignored by staff until a psychiatrist confirms the patient’s competence. So even if it’s your worst fear to wake up in hospital hooked up to machines, that could be exactly what happens in spite of your best efforts to communicate your wishes.

What can I do about this?

So what can you do to prevent such a situation from happening? Well, first of all, do you HAVE a signed HCD in the first place? If not, you can download one for free from End of Life Planning Canada (via DWD Winnipeg chapter), make sure you’ve chosen a proxy who is willing to get LOUD if your wishes are not being respected. Neither of these will likely help with the paramedics, but they will certainly help once you arrive at the hospital. Second, do you have a card in your wallet that states who your proxy is and where to find your HCD? And finally, have you discussed your end-of-life wishes with all of your friends and family? The more backup you have, the safer it will be (legally) for medical staff to respect your proxy’s instructions.

What about MAID?

It is currently not legal to list Medical Assistance in Dying as one of your requests in your health care directive, since your HCD only comes into effect if you can’t communicate, and you can’t have assistance to die unless you’re able to consent when the time comes to administer the drugs. The DWD Canada blog states

“In 2016, an Ipsos Reid poll of 2,530 Canadians found a surprisingly strong level of support for allowing MAID in our HCDs, with no statistically significant regional variations. Approval was high among supporters of the three leading federal parties, especially supporters of the New Democratic Party (84%) and the Liberal Party of Canada (83%). Three out of four Conservative supporters (74%) were in favour, too. 78% of Catholics and 73% of Protestant Christians support allowing Canadians with a grievous and irremediable illness to make advance requests for physician-assisted dying. Sample sizes for people of other faiths weren’t large enough to allow for statistically significant comparisons.

Other poll questions presented different possible scenarios involving advance consent for assisted dying. About eight in 10 (82%) Canadians said they would support physician-assisted dying for patients who have a scheduled assisted death, and were competent at the time of the request, but who lose competence before the request can be carried out (for example, in the case of a patient who falls into a coma just days before the scheduled provision of aid in dying). Seven in 10 (71%) Canadians would support allowing a patient without a diagnosis for a grievous and irremediable illness to make an advance request for physician-assisted dying that would be honoured if certain pre-stated conditions were met.”

Learn more!

If you’d like to be fully informed and complete your HCD, join us for our next workshop on Advance Care Planning, May 12th at the St Boniface Library at 1:30 PM. Become an empowered patient! For more information, and to register (required), contact DWD Winnipeg Chapter.                                                          – Cheri Frazer

Event Review – Debate: Morality 

In April I attended the Feakes vs. Kay morality debate held at Winnipeg’s New Life Sanctuary Church. Darren Kay is a local Humanist writer with an interest in the big questions. John Feakes is the pastor of the aforementioned church. He’s a Young Earth Creationist with a master’s degree in theology from the Columbia Evangelical Seminary (readers are free to look that one up).  

The debate question was “How should we live our lives?”. It asks which is the better framework for forming an ethical morality – Christianity or secularism. 

As far as the calibre of the debate, this was not Wilberforce versus Huxley. Part of the problem was the nature of the question. Feakes was tasked with arguing for the proposition that “Christianity is ethically superior to secularism” whereas Kay was tasked with the negative “Christianity is not ethically superior to secularism”.  Taking the negative put Kay in the situation of having to disprove Feakes’s position and at the same time argue his own. In addition, neither position was clearly defined – whose version of Christianity? and what do we mean by secularism? Feakes did try to define secularism in his rapid-fire slideshow, by displaying every definition of it from many sources.  

For me, the quality of any debate is in its opening statements and initial rebuttals. I found this debate quite formulaic and pre-scripted (or maybe I’ve just watched far too many of them). Feakes opened with the standard creationist shotgun debating technique (AKA the Gish Gallop). Kay did a good job of trying to explain the nature of secular morality, but with the limited time available I think some points were not as clear as they could’ve been, and were therefore missed by the folks who most needed to hear them.  

In formal debate, after the opening arguments come the rebuttals. This is a chance for one to respond to the arguments that were just presented by one’s opponent. Great debaters such as Christopher Hitchens would often do their rebuttals from memory or with just a few notes.  The rebuttal requires debaters to think on their feet, although on occasion, visual aids could be incorporated if one is familiar enough with their opponent’s points to anticipate them. However, in this debate, both sides used fully prepared PowerPoint presentations, which offered the odd spectacle of each of them rebutting arguments that their opponents had not presented. As a result, the rebuttals were disappointing. At some points the evening took on a lecture feel rather than a debate. 

You can find the full video of the evening here on YouTube. It will help those unfamiliar with the moral argument to become better informed, but if you’re looking for the thrust and parry of a traditional debate, this may not be for you.                                                                                                        Pat Morrow  

Library News – Interlibrary loans now available

The Eastman Humanist Community (EHC), based in Steinbach, is growing and now has its own small library. It makes sense to pool our resources – sharing is what Humanists do, right? So HAAM and the EHC have recently reached an agreement to allow inter-library loans between the two groups.

Our own HAAM library is now up to almost 250 items (books and DVD’s), available to all paid members. So check it out!  But if we don’t have the book you are looking for, you are now welcome to check out the EHC’s library as well. If you find something there that you would like to borrow, contact HAAM. We will make arrangements with the EHC to obtain the item for you the next time someone from either group is traveling between Steinbach and Winnipeg.

Book of the Month Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks 

If you’re concerned about the current anti-intellectualism trend that is making people vulnerable to propaganda, advertising, and quackery in medicine, religion, and politics, then you’ll find this book encouraging.  

Ben Goldacre writes in easy to understand language about the importance of learning to think critically when evaluating scientific claims, in order to separate promotional propaganda from reality. He covers research topics like placebos, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it.  

Read about detox baths, ear candling, ‘whole brain learning’, homeopathy, the MMR vaccine scare, cosmetics, vitamin supplements, anti-oxidants, cognitive bias, the misuse of statistics, celebrity endorsements, and more. It’s an entertaining book for anyone interested in the practical uses – and abuses – of science.  

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book. 

HAAM President Donna Harris onstage with Matt Dillahunty during his recent visit. What an awesome show!

 

 

End the Gay Blood Ban

There’s a new petition to the House of Commons urging the government to re-examine the ban against gay men donating blood.

The current law

The current law makes anyone (male or female), who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man within the last year ineligible to donate. Obviously, this is a sensitive issue and there is a lot more to the law than just politics. Blood donation regulations need to be evidence-based, in order to protect us all. That’s why the screening for prospective donors includes questions about drug use, travel history, tattoos, and whether their job involves caring for monkeys.

But when it comes to sexual practices, the law focuses on demographics instead of behaviors – banning ALL gay men, even those in monogamous, long-term relationships, from donating blood. On the other hand, straight people are not excluded from donating regardless of the number of sexual partners they have had – as long as the donor believes that all those partners are also straight. Doesn’t this seem illogical?

Why can’t gay men donate blood?

The rationale for the current guidelines and the history behind them are clearly explained on the Canadian Blood Services’ website here and here. In summary, the rules used to be much stricter – a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was in place until 2013. Since then, CBS has gradually been relaxing the standards as more data is obtained. The current one-year ban was initiated in 2016. Of course, we all want to avoid another fiasco like the tainted blood scandal of the 80’s and 90’s that made people sick, cost millions of dollars, and diminished confidence in the safety of Canada’s blood supply.

Is there an alternative?

It would make more sense to screen all donors for at-risk practices instead of just banning a whole group of people, and it appears that CBS is gradually moving in that direction. Recently, donors were given a survey asking if they would be willing to answer more detailed questions about their sexual practices as part of donor screening, or whether such intimate questions would discourage them from donating at all.

The survey question asked: Please state how comfortable you would be answering questions on these topics in order to donate blood or plasma:
– Saying the number of partners you have had in the last 6 months
– Saying if you have had ANAL sex with anyone in the last 6 months
– Saying if you used a condom every time you had sex in the last 6 months
– Saying if you used the internet or social media (eg Facebook or Tinder) to seek a partner for sexual intercourse in the last 6 months)
– And several more similar questions
The answer choices were ‘completely comfortable’, ‘somewhat comfortable’, ‘somewhat uncomfortable’, ‘completely uncomfortable’, and ‘this would stop me from donating’.

Going forward

If having to answer these questions deters some people from donating, wouldn’t it stand to reason that most of those who are deterred are those who participate in high-risk behaviors? And wouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s interesting to think about.

If you support encouraging CBS to focus on behaviors rather than on demographics in their donor screening, please sign the petition. It’s open for signature until July 17th.

Click here to sign the petition

And if you ARE currently eligible to donate, please do. HAAM is a member of CBS Partners for Life program. Learn more about it here, and sign up now!

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