March 2020 Newsletter
Upcoming HAAM Events
Monthly meeting – Identity Politics
Saturday, March 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 830 PM
We now pigeonhole ourselves as the religious, the right, the left, gun owners, social justice warriors, vegans etc. etc. Dr. Simon Potter discusses this pressing problem for society and provides historical evidence that the phenomenon is far from new. Details here.
HAAM and Eggs Brunch
Sunday, March 22nd, Smitty’s Fort Richmond, 2835 Pembina Hwy, 9:30 – 11:00 AM
This monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.
New people are always welcome. Details here.
Save the Dates
Saturday, April 4th
Saturday, May 23rd
Summer Solstice Party
Sat, June 20th
Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming HAAM events.
Charity of the Month – Sunshine House
is a small community drop-in and resource organization 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 is open two afternoons a week, providing 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. This is a small organization that could really use our support. Please help!
If you would like to contribute but cannot make it to the meeting, you can make a donation by credit card via the ‘Donate’ button in the sidebar. Just include a note that the money is for the charity of the month.
Tax receipts will be issues for donations over $10.
Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events
Brainy Brunch Breakfast
Members of the Eastman Humanist Community (Steinbach and area) get together for brunch on the first Sunday of every month, at 9:30 AM at Smitty’s in the Clearspring Centre.
HAAM members are welcome to join them.
For more information about the brunch, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity Canada is growing, with new volunteers, an updated website, and new events planned.
Body Options (choices for disposal of your body after death) –
Saturday March 7th. This will the first topic in a series called “Death Matters”.
Advance Care Planning (the ins and outs of Health Care Directives and more) – The March 21st workshop is already full, but there will be at least one more planned for April / early May. Watch for announcements.
For details about these presentations, visit DWDWinnipeg.ca. Pre-registration is required for all events.
For the latest information on all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.
Outreach report – ethics class
On January 24, two members of Eastman Humanist Community and I traveled to the Green Valley High School in Grunthal for a presentation on Atheism and Ethics. There were approximately 20 students in this class. I had anticipated that we were about to encounter an unsympathetic group of students, as Grunthal is located in a highly religious area of Manitoba.
I prepared a small number of questions. I asked the students to anonymously choose between two answers for each question. The results totally surprised me as I was expecting negative views about atheism.
– Question: Who would you consider to more trustworthy a) an atheist or b) a theist? The answers were split roughly 50% for atheists and 50% for theists.
– Question: Which characteristic would better describe an atheist a) angry or b) happy? Overwhelmingly the answer was b). One written comment was – “Happy, because they don’t have to follow strict guidelines in religious texts.”
The students were eager to engage in discussion. Some of them adopted traditional Christian views. Others expressed more progressive attitudes. Topics included sexism in the Bible, Christian and atheist positions on homosexuality, and where do ethics come from if there is no God. I was very impressed that many of the students were thinking about these issues and had developed their own opinions. Although I believe that a large majority of the students define themselves as Christians, I came away believing that religion does not have as strong a hold on them as I had anticipated.
This encounter reinforced my belief that the younger generations are open-minded and thinking critically. I hope that HAAM and the EHC will continue to engage in such presentations to school groups.
– Arthur Prystenski
Manitoba MP displays his religious privilege
Ted Falk is the Member of Parliament for the Manitoba constituency of Provencher, which is in the south-east corner of the province and includes our ‘Bible Belt’ area (the town of Steinbach and environs). Earlier this winter, he sent a sympathy card on government stationary to a family in that area who had experienced a loss.
Not everyone in the deceased’s family was comforted by the religious message expressed in the card, and photos of it were sent to HAAM. (click images to enlarge)
Due to fear of repercussions, both within the family and in the community, there was no formal complaint made about the card by the family members who were upset by it. However, HAAM exec member Arthur Prystenski has written a letter to Mr. Falk to let him know that not everyone appreciated this overt display of Christian privilege, and to remind him that he was elected to represent everyone in his riding, and that in future, he should keep such messages neutral and inclusive.
Here is Arthur’s letter (with personal details redacted). If any response is received, we will update this story in a future newsletter.
Abortion Caravan turns 50 this year
The Abortion Caravan of 1970 was Canada’s first national feminist protest – but if you’re younger than your mid-60’s, you’ve probably either never heard of it or don’t remember it. It’ll be in the news this spring, though, because pro-choice groups are planning events and campaigns across the country in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Caravan and the subsequent achievements for abortion rights in Canada, as well as to draw attention to the remaining barriers to access.
The original Caravan began with a group of young women from Vancouver who traveled to Ottawa, gaining support along the way. By the time they reached the capital on the Mothers’ Day weekend, carrying a black coffin ‘decorated’ with coat hangars, they were over 500 strong. They chained themselves to seats in the House of Commons and burned an effigy of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Their protest caused quite a stir!
At left is the original Caravan slogan that was plastered all over Ottawa prior to the Caravan’s arrival. Note that it contains no details. Last year, CBC’s Sunday Edition radio broadcast did an excellent show about the Caravan, including all sorts of clips from old news coverage, and interviewing some of the original participants. It’s just under 40 minutes long and well worth the listen.
Watch the news this spring for stories about the anniversary of the Caravan. If there are events in the Winnipeg area, we’ll be sure to share them. Let’s celebrate the progress of the last 50 years as we continue to support reproductive rights and look to the future.
Book of the Month – The European Dream
Our library includes more than just the usual books you’d expect on religion. We have a few books on related topics as well, including pop culture, psychology, and politics.
Here’s a book about the European Dream, written by Jeremy Rifkin in 2004. Back then, Rifkin posited that the European Union was already an economic superpower rivaling the US, and that it had the potential to become a full world superpower. He argued that, in contrast to the US model of dominance by military and economic strength, Europe gained world influence and respect through humanitarian and economic aid, and its embrace of multiculturalism and diplomacy. He argued that while the American Dream is in decline, the European Dream promises a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life.
It’s interesting to consider these ideas in hindsight 15 years later. What did Rifkin get right? What did he get wrong? Are any of these dreams realistic? Did the Obama administration make any difference? Could the author have predicted Trump, and what, if anything, will improve after this year’s US election? What influence will Brexit have on Europe? And where does Canada fit into all this? Read what Rifkin had to say and make your own conclusions and predictions.
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.