September 2020 newsletter
September meeting – So how’s 2020 going for you?
Saturday, September 19th, online via Zoom, 7 PM
“I feel like I’ve got a heart of stone, like I’m calloused; I’m tired and weary … It’s just everything – it’s COVID, it’s politics, the awfulness that we see all the time. It just wears you down, ya know? … We’re human; I think that’s the reason it bothers us so much. It knocks you down; it’s like after a while you develop these sort of calluses, where you don’t feel it as much; you become numb, but you don’t want to be numb, you don’t want to become that person that’s become totally insensitive… It’s OK to feel this way; it’s understandable – allow yourself to feel that way, and we’ll get through it.”
– Seth Andrews, from the opening segment of The Thinking Atheist podcast, Cow Yoga, 28 August 2020
Everyone has their own situation. Some of us have to send kids to school in the midst of a pandemic, while others are still unemployed. Some folks won’t wear masks, and oh, those religious and racist memes on your newsfeed! With all the crap in the world right now, how does one keep one’s sanity? What can we do to cope?
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to meet in person, and it may be another long while before we can safely do so again, so we will be trying out the Zoom platform. Our September meeting will be interactive, so we invite you to join us to share your opinions, your questions, your support, and your advice.
After all, we’re all in this together.
To ‘attend’ (participate or just listen), EMAIL US (email@example.com) 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.
HAAM and Eggs Brunch
One Sunday on a patio in September at 9:30 AM – details TBA
Cross your fingers for good weather in September! We had hoped to have brunch on a Winnipeg restaurant patio in August. However, we held off as the number of COVID cases increased, and then planned a brunch for August 30th, which turned out to be rainy.
We’ll try once more to fit in a brunch before the weather turns too cold to sit outside. Watch for an announcement – hopefully for September 6th or 13th. We won’t confirm the date and details until a few days before so that we can check the weather forecast. We’d love to see you in person again!
Virtual option: For those not comfortable attending brunch in person (or those in remote locations), you’re welcome to attend a virtual brunch. We’re looking for volunteers to take turns hosting and we’ll blind-forward the links from our e-mail to protect people’s contact information. If you’re interested in hosting and/or attending, please e-mail us.
Winnipeg Pride Parade
Well it will probably surprise no one that the Pride Parade has been canceled. The Winnipeg Pride Festival, scheduled for September 4th to 13th, will go ahead, but it will be digital only, due to the recent increase in COVID cases. If you want to participate and/or show support, check Pride Winnipeg 2020 for more information.
HAAM registered as a walking group and paid the entry fee for this year’s parade way back in the early spring before the pandemic hit. As a gesture of support, and because so many community groups and charities that rely on fundraising and donations to keep operating are hurting right now, we will leave our entry fee as a donation rather than request a refund.
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 our website (haam.ca), our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.
Online Events of Interest
Flatten the curve of the ‘infodemic’
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.
September 10th – Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall For Them
September 24th – Evolution Only Breaks Things: The Science Denial at the Heart of Intelligent Design
These lectures are free but require advance registration. Visit Skeptical Inquirer Presents, to learn more about these topics and to register.
The recordings of the previous lectures, about COVID conspiracy theories, vaccine development, and cognitive dissonance, are also available on that site (scroll down below ‘upcoming events’).
Presentations from 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.
September 10th – When Doubting Means Death – Ali Rizvi, ex-Muslim author and activist, will interview Omar, a refugee from Pakistan currently being supported by CFIC. Omar was tortured for his unbelief, and is now seeking asylum in Canada.
September 20th – Seth Andrews: Confessions of a Fox News Christian – A former far-right Christian evangelical radio host, Seth will discuss his transformative journey from drinking the Fox News kool-aid to becoming an atheist speaker and podcaster (The Thinking Atheist).
Visit CFI Canada’s Virtual branch MeetUp page for more information and to register for these events.
Calls to Action
Stand up for science in Canada
COVID-19 has shown just how crucial it is for governments to inform their decision-making using the best available evidence. In 2017, the federal government appointed a Chief Science Advisor (CSA) to ensure that government science is made available to the public, to allow government scientists to speak freely about their work, and to support the use of strong science in government decisions. Since then, Dr. Mona Nemer and her team have taken key steps to support science and evidence-based policy in Canada. This work has included building a network of Departmental Science Advisors, creating a roadmap for open science, and contributing extensively to an evidence-based response to COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the current term of the CSA is set to expire in September of 2020. With no new announcements or updates to the office’s funding or mandate, the future of science advice is uncertain.
Evidence for Democracy has prepared an open letter asking the federal government to continue to fund and expand the role of CSA. Having a Chief Science Advisor to provide leadership in federal decision-making is something we fought for in the science community, and it’s time to rally together again to safeguard the role. We must make sure this voice for science remains.
Support the proposed ban on Conversion Therapy
Bill C-8 would have criminalized the cruel and pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy (deliberate attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity). However, its passage has been delayed because parliament has been prorogued.
It’s uncommon these days to find professionals offering conversion therapy (because it’s considered unethical), but it still exists in Canada. The practice has simply “gone underground in faith-based communities”.
The BC Humanist Association is sponsoring a petition in support of the ban on conversion therapy. It calls for Members of Parliament to reintroduce Bill C-8 when Parliament returns at the end of September, and to move quickly to proceed with the ban.
While the bill is not perfect (there are gaps in the bill relating to trans, non-binary, two-spirit and gender-diverse Canadians), it will provide increased protection and show that our Government is on the side of equality and human dignity.
Let’s make sure that secular and progressive voices are heard.
Go to BC Humanist Association Conversion Therapy Ban to sign the petition.
Donate blood to help COVID patients
Do you wish there was something that ordinary people could do to help COVID patients? Well, maybe there is!
Health Canada is now conducting clinical trials to see if convalescent plasma could be an effective treatment for people who are seriously ill with COVID. Convalescent plasma is obtained from the blood of someone who has recovered from the virus. The antibodies it contains could potentially help someone else recover faster.
Convalescent plasma for these trials is being obtained from donors in major cities across Canada, including Winnipeg. If you are under 67 years of age, have had COVID (confirmed by a lab test), and have fully recovered, you are eligible to donate. If you know someone else who meets these criteria, please pass this information on to them. Plasma donors do not need to have ever donated blood previously.
P.S. While we’re talking about blood, don’t forget that HAAM is a member of the Partners for Life blood donation program. We pledge 25 units annually from our members and supporters, and as we head into September, we are at 23 already! Let’s make this our best year ever! All the information you need to participate is on our website.
Laughter is the best medicine
Sometimes, when the world is crazy, it helps to just laugh at all the craziness. If any or all of the statements in this meme apply to you this year – YOU ARE NOT ALONE!