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, March 30 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 sidebar. Just 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.
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 Quiverfull: Inside 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.
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.
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.