Upcoming HAAM events

Monthly meeting (and AGM) – Comedy Night!

Saturday, January 16th, online via Zoom (see below for time and schedule details)

It’s a New Year, so let’s start off with some fun and humor to brighten up the coldest month! Winnipeg comedian Rollin Penner will be performing at our next meeting! So pull up a chair and grab a drink – this will be great!

Rollin got his start as a performer singing in an acapella gospel quartet in his early teens. He now performs as a stand-up comedian, headlining shows at Rumors Comedy Club and Wee Johnny’s Comedy Club, just to name a few. He has also appeared several times in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. The answer to the question, “how do you go from singing in a Gospel Quartet to headlining at a Comedy Club?” is too convoluted and long to fit into a bio. Suffice it to say that Rollin’s path included first escaping consecutively from several denominations of Christianity and then winding through several performance genres including Musical Theatre, acting, and broadcasting, and then finally spending many years writing comedy, both for broadcast and for print.

Rollin’s comedy leans heavily on his strict Mennonite upbringing, and his observations on the absurdities of Fundamentalist thought and practice are both insightful and hilarious. Nor does his background in music go to waste, as his shows often include a number of his original songs as well as parodies of Gospel songs he sang many years ago.

While his comedy career has been largely on hold for the last year due to the COVID crisis, Rollin is looking forward to getting back on stage when things open up again, and he continues to write and prepare for that time. Hopefully, it will come sooner rather than later.

Rollin’s performance will immediately follow our Annual General Meeting. Please join us for the AGM as well as the social time and Rollin’s performance. We really need input and engagement from our members! We need you!

As an added incentive to attend the AGM, we have a ‘door’ prize. We’ll draw a name from among the attendees, and the lucky winner will receive this face mask made from fabric printed with Atheist A symbols, sewn by our own Karen Donald.

  Please note that annual membership fees must be paid in order to vote at the AGM.

6:00 PM – meet and greet – let’s catch up on each other’s news after the holidays
6:30 PM – AGM
7:00 PM (or right after the AGM) – Rollin Penner

Everyone is welcome! See you on Zoom!

To ‘attend’ (participate or just listen), EMAIL US (info@haam.ca) and we will send you the Zoom link before the meeting. You do NOT need to have your own Zoom account, just a computer, tablet, or phone to open the link.

It’s membership renewal time

All HAAM memberships come up for renewal every year in January. We need your support now more than ever, during this challenging time, if we are to continue to create a supportive community and provide a voice for non-believers.

All our activities will be virtual or outdoors only, until we can safely resume regular in-person meetings and activities. Renew your membership now (or join for 2021 if you are not already a member). Fees start as low as $10 a year for those on a limited income. Memberships are payable anytime online, or you can mail a check. Details and instructions are on the Join Us page of this website.

Stay connected

We can continue to interact, support each other, and maintain friendships online. If you are not a member of our private Facebook group, and would like to join it, contact us. It is open to anyone in Manitoba who identifies as a Humanist/atheist (i.e. you do not need to be a paid member of HAAM).

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

Like so many other organizations, HAAM’s activities have been dramatically disrupted by COVID-19. We will continue to rely on evidence-based information and follow the recommendations made by Shared Health Manitoba before deciding when to resume in-person meetings and events. We encourage you to visit this website (haam.ca), our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.

Other online events of interest

Check out all these great offerings from the following organizations:

Dying with Dignity – Winnipeg Chapter

Presentations are continuing via Zoom this winter.

The next topic in the Death Matters series is Treasures, Heirlooms, and Stuff, on January 12th or 19th.

Learn about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Manitoba – Present and Future, on January 26th.

The next Advance Care Planning workshop will be February 2nd.

These events are free, but registration is required. Visit the Chapter Events page for details and the full schedule.

Skeptical Inquirer

Are you starved for real information about the pandemic? Skeptical Inquirer Magazine is continuing their series of online (Zoom) lectures by experts in science, skepticism, medicine, media, activism, and advocacy, all devoted to the cause of advancing science over pseudoscience, media literacy over conspiracy theories, and critical thinking over magical thinking.

Disparities in the Midst of COVID-19: Education, Health, and Race – January 7th

The Biggest Bluff: How I learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win – January 21st. A look at the role that chance plays in our lives.

These lectures are free but require advance registration. Visit Skeptical Inquirer Presents, to learn more about these topics and to register. Recordings of the previous lectures are available on the same site (scroll down below ‘upcoming events’).

CFI Canada

The ‘Virtual Branch’ of CFI Canada holds regular online secular chats and support groups for people Living Without Religion. They also host occasional presentations on some varied and provocative topics.

Vaccines and the Misinformation Hydra – January 9th. Featuring science writer Kavin Senapathy.

Secularism in Canada – January 28th

Visit CFI Canada’s Virtual branch MeetUp page for more information and to register for these events. If you missed any of the previous presentations and want to catch them on video, check out CFI’s Youtube channel.

Charity of the Month

Sunshine House was supposed to be our Charity of the Month in March 2020 – but that meeting was canceled at the last minute when COVID hit, and we never did collect for the charity. So let’s try again!

Sunshine House is a small community drop-in and resource center focusing on inclusion and harm reduction in Winnipeg’s core. But one ‘rule’ that sets this drop-in apart from many others is that participants can come as they are; they are not expected to be “clean” or sober.

Sunshine House provides coffee and meals, conversation and activities, laundry and bathing facilities, and harm reduction supplies like syringes and condoms. Two evenings a week, the centre holds a program called “Like That”, where people exploring gender and/or sexual identity can gather for fun, skills building and recreation. On Sundays they serve a full brunch for $2. The centre also advocates for managed alcohol programs and safe consumption spaces in Winnipeg.

In addition to all the challenges this organization faces during normal times, they are now trying to assist some of Winnipeg’s most vulnerable citizens during the pandemic – holding conversations and counselling over Facebook Live and conducting referrals to resources that are open. They really use some extra support. Let’s help!

Please use the ‘Donate’ button (in the right side bar on a computer, or scroll down on a phone) to support this charity. Just include a note that the money is for the charity of the month.

Tax receipts will be issues for donations over $10.

Latest News

President’s Report

If you’re reading this, congratulations – you made it to 2021. I won’t bother recapping the events of 2020; we’ve all lived and are still living through it. Just because the calendar flips over to a new a day and a new year, it doesn’t mean our problems disappear. However, it can mean a new beginning, a fresh start, and all the hope that a new year brings.

Here at HAAM, like many other organizations, we have tried to make the adjustments for the new reality we found ourselves in almost a year ago. With public meetings, gatherings, brunches, and outreach events all cancelled, we moved to digital events, with varying degrees of success.

As Humanists, we know that people are born good; not bad, broken, or sinful. But that belief has taken a beating during this pandemic, with the merchants of fear, the pious, and the willfully ignorant (sometimes wrapped in the same persons) stepping into the spotlight and showing the public a clearer view of their character. Like a Premier who, after being warned about a second wave of infection, spends more than 1/4 million dollars on a billboard campaign to “Restart Manitoba” with the slogan “Ready. Safe. Grow.” (parodied in this image) – only to later, after infections and deaths climb, blame the numbers on people who don’t take public health rules seriously. A half-truth, but the hypocrisy is glaring.

Then we have religious organizations and their pious leaders (both locally and internationally) claiming that public heath orders are a form of religious persecution, violating their right to worship (and collect tithes?). Many religious denominations claim they have a moral truth and the moral high ground, but it turns out that the health and welfare of human beings takes a back seat to their continued need to perpetuate supernatural nonsense. Humanity doesn’t need salvation; it needs education.

Add to them the conspiracy theorists and the anti-science nut jobs, and what was shaping up to be a trying year became almost unbearable.

Once again, it has been science to the rescue.  We thank the millions of healthcare workers around the world trained in the science of saving lives, using their knowledge, empathy, and compassion as they work to the point of exhaustion. Many have died treating and offering comfort to those unfortunate enough to be inflicted with this awful virus, and the battle is far from over. It is also through science that we have been able to develop groundbreaking new vaccines that will one day soon end this pandemic.

The virus, unfortunately, is here to stay. So are the fear salesmen, the pious, and the science-denying whackadoodles. If there has even been a time we need more humanism, that time is now.

If there is one picture from 2020 that will stick in my mind, it will be of a politician…. and no, I’m not referring to the tangerine turd, but his second banana, American VP Mike Pence. A man who stood lockstep in line with his boss. A fundamentalist, young earth, global-flood-believing, anti-evolution, science-denying Christian. He was head of the American coronavirus task force, which did essentially nothing but offer thoughts and prayers. And yet his actions demonstrated that thoughts and prayers are no match for a virus, as he received one of the first COVID vaccine injections. A vaccine developed, not by divine intervention, but through the very human study of science. The science that led to that vaccine was the end result of thousands of years of human inquiry, a product of the enlightenment, and yes, Humanism. “With Science we can progress”; with Humanism we can flourish.

Wishing you all the best in 2021                                                                         – Pat Morrow

Partners for Life report

2020 wasn’t a total write-off after all. HAAM just finished up its best year ever for blood donations. If you were a part of that, give yourself a pat on the back.

In a year when most of us were locked down tight in our homes, HAAM members made the effort to get to Canadian Blood Services to donate blood. CBS never closed, and the need for blood never stopped, despite all the chaos within the health care system and around the province.

For the last several years, we have pledged that our members will donate at least 25 units during the year. For the last couple of years, we have made or beaten that pledge. But this year, we outdid ourselves and contributed 38 units! Outstanding!

For 2021, we have increased our pledge to 30 units – so let’s get off to a good start. If you have never donated blood before, or aren’t yet part of the Partners for Life program, read all about it here. The information and links you’ll need to sign up are on there.

Event report – Winter Solstice party

HAAM celebrated the Winter Solstice on December 19th with a Zoom get together. We had people join us from Alberta, Northern Manitoba, and Southeast Manitoba. It was an enjoyable time sharing our experiences of living through Covid and being separated from people who are important to us. One of our members prepared a trivia game for us to play. HAAM has some really smart people (or at least some people with knowledge of obscure facts). I hope that more people will join our online events until in-person meetings resume. Happy New Year to all. – Arthur Prystenski

Medical Assistance in Dying does not cancel Palliative Care

This is a guest post by Tammy Pham, Advocacy Lead Chair for the Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity Canada.

People who are opposed to MAiD frequently pit palliative care against MAiD, claiming that the health care system should focus on palliative care rather than encouraging people to die; or that funding should go to palliative care rather than the provision of MAiD; or that if palliative care services were improved and more widely available, people would not need or request MAiD.

An op-ed in the National Post in November 2020 expressed these opinions. Tammy addressed the concerns expressed in that op-ed. Read her response here.

Year in review 

What to say about 2020? A lot of our feelings about this year are not printable. Usually, in this year-end report, we remember meetings, outreach booths, celebrations, and a host of other activities that we all once took for granted as ‘normal life’. Not this year.

Most of us survived – except that, sadly, almost 700 Manitobans didn’t survive. And like every other organization, HAAM’s usual activities were significantly impacted and diminished by the pandemic. Here are a few highlights from what we did manage to accomplish.

  • We held only 2 monthly meetings in person, before COVID shut everything down, but they both featured inspirational speakers – Jeff Olsson on leaving faith behind, and Luc Blanchette on the history of Indigenous cultures. In January and February, we also met for HAAM and Eggs brunches, celebrated Darwin Day, and visited a high school ethics class to talk about Humanism. After that, all live indoor events were canceled, but we gathered for our Summer Solstice party at Kildonan Park, and luckily, the weather cooperated. It was great to see people in person again, even once!
  • In the fall, we opened a Zoom account and updated our website. We began holding virtual meetings, including one featuring an interview with the director of the Kasese Humanist school, way across the world in Uganda. Our members worked hard to support and encourage each other from a distance – via virtual meetings and on social media. The newsletter included articles about how look after yourself and your family, and avoid burn-out and depression.
  • Following the suspension of live events, we shared online options for learning, including webinars from CFI Canada, the Skeptical Inquirer, Dying With Dignity, and other organizations. We shared some atheist humor and began inviting non-believers from all over Manitoba and Canada to join our Zoom meetings. We promoted a just economic recovery from the pandemic, Humanist Canada’s annual essay contest, and the Humanist Perspectives magazine.
  • HAAM’s newsletter reported about the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Caravan, a local MP’s egregious use of religious privilege, and some of the more outrageous mail that we receive from the public. We printed an op-ed article that considered the affect the pandemic may have on future religiosity, answered FAQ’s from believers, reviewed a new book by a local Christian apologist, and discussed the diversity of opinion by non-believers about holiday music.
  • Calls to Action – We stood up for MAiD (medical assistance in dying), called for science-based decision-making by the federal government, supported the ban on conversion therapy, fought COVID misinformation and fake news.
  • The Charity of the Month program was on hold for several months due to the cancelation of meetings, but we still managed to support several worthy causes – the West Central Women’s Resource Centre, the Ma Mawi We Chi Itata Centre, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and of course, a child’s annual tuition at the Kasese Humanist Primary School. We also surpassed our Partners for Life pledge for the second year in a row.

So it wasn’t all bad… but it was bad enough. Here’s hoping for better things to come in 2021!