activism

September 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Stand Up for Science

Saturday, September 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

We will be welcoming a guest speaker from Evidence for Democracy to talk to us about encouraging evidence-based decision-making in public policy and ways that we can combat misinformation and ‘fake news’.

If you value reason and science-based decision-making in government, then this is a meeting you won’t wanna miss.

Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, September 22nd, Smitty’s Polo Park, 1017 St James St, 9:30 AM

Meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.

New people are always welcome. Details here.

Save the Dates

Monthly meetings:

October 5th
November 16th

HAAM and Eggs Brunch:

October 20th
November 24th

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Global Climate Strike

Friday, September 27th, Manitoba Legislature, noon to 5 PM

Hosted by Manitoba Youth for Climate Action and Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition
Event details and more information on their Facebook Event page.

Links to Non-HAAM events of interest to our members can be found on the Community Events page.

‘Charity’ of the Month – Evidence for Democracy

Occasionally we make an exception to the usual criteria for our monthly charity fundraiser, and instead support a cause that carries out valuable work but is not a registered charity. Evidence for Democracy fits this category.

So what does E4D do? They promote the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making in Canada. They engage and empower the science community while cultivating public and political demand for evidence-based decision-making. They run campaigns about issues affecting science and public policy, and they educate Canadians about evidence-based decision-making. E4D’s goals include strong public policies based on science and evidence, engaged citizens, transparent, accountable government, and a culture that values science and evidence.

Organizations involved in activities that might be seen as political lobbying might not want to be registered as a charity, because that can impose restrictions on their work. E4D offers this explanation: “Evidence for Democracy is a federally registered non-profit organization. To ensure we can effectively advocate for transparent, evidence-based public policy decisions, we are not a charity and donations are not eligible for a tax credit.”

Donations for E4D will be collected at the monthly meeting. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on our website. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the Evidence for Democracy. Note that for this month only, tax receipts will NOT be issued.

Calls to Action

Please take a minute to let your federal election candidates know that you want the next parliament to fix the flaws in Canada’s assisted dying (MAiD) law. Currently, advance requests for MAiD will not be carried out if the patient is not capable of providing consent at the time of the procedure, even if they have already been assessed and approved.

Our next Members of Parliament — no matter where they fall on the political spectrum — need to understand that they have a duty to uphold your end-of-life rights.

Dying With Dignity Canada has prepared an automated letter that makes it really easy to show your support. All you need to do is add your name and postal code and click ‘send’; it will be sent to every federal election candidate in your constituency.

Vote for Science

Let your federal election candidates know that you care about science and that you want them to support evidence-based policies and decision-making if they are elected to the next government. Scientific research benefits our health care, education, environment and economy.

Votescience.ca is a letter-writing campaign sponsored by a collaboration of Canadian scientific organizations to let politicians know that we care about science and want them to govern based on evidence and reason. It will only take you a minute to add your name and postal code to the form letter, and then copies will be sent to every federal election candidate in your constituency.

 

Latest News

What do Humanists believe?

After our August newsletter was sent last month, we had one angry subscriber who canceled their subscription in response to the article supporting reproductive choice.

If you’re uncertain about what HAAM (as an organization) endorses, please visit our website to learn more. Under the About Us tab, you will find information about Humanism and what Humanists believe. You can also read our Philosophy, Mission Statement, and Position Statements, which were written by members of our exec and voted on by the membership at our AGM several years ago.

Humanists support evidence-based decision-making, empathy, compassion, and fairness. These values generally translate into support for human rights, education, and science, resulting in consensus among most Humanists on a number of social issues. Nevertheless, there is no absolute set of personal beliefs that define Humanism, and no ‘membership test’ required to join HAAM. And of course, our newsletter is public, so anyone can subscribe, whether they agree with our positions or not.

If you still have questions, or would like to discuss any of this, we’re happy to answer – just Contact Us.

Passages

Long-time HAAM member Olga Nahirniak died on Sunday August 4th at the age of 94. She had not attended meetings in recent years due to age and health, but she kept in touch by reading the newsletter, and she came to our Summer Solstice party last year (2018), where she can be seen sitting in the front row in a pink T-shirt in the group photo.

Helen Friesen, who knew Olga well, shared this tribute:

  I was fortunate to see her and visit with her two weeks before her death at a function at the Unitarian Church. She had been in hospital for a while just before that, but she was in good spirits and enjoyed the afternoon with everybody.

  Olga was a special and spunky lady. She had a no-nonsense attitude towards beliefs that didn’t make sense to her, among them being religious beliefs, and she didn’t hesitate to say so over the years.

  I’ll remember her fondly.

Olga’s obituary can be seen at Ethical Death Care. Condolences were sent to her family on behalf of all of us at HAAM. She will be missed.

Venue update (again)

After holding three meetings at the University of Winnipeg in the spring, we received mixed reviews from members and had mixed success with the room. There were two main issues:

1. The location – On the plus side, it is central and easy to get to by bus. On the minus side, parking can be a challenge and some members expressed safety concerns about the area.

2. The room itself – On the plus side, the room is spacious, quiet, and private. On the minus side, we had major challenges with furnishings (once arriving to find that almost all the chairs and tables had been removed, and another time, that piles of boxes and paraphernalia from a previous meeting had been left in the room) and equipment (plugging in a coffee pot resulted in repeatedly blown fuses).

On reflection, the executive has decided to move our monthly meetings back to Canad Inns Polo Park for the fall. We will continue to keep an eye out for the ideal venue.

Our goal is to make our meetings accessible to everyone. If you are one of the people who found it easier to get to the U of W, and need a ride to Canad Inns, please let us know (info@haam.ca) and we will try to arrange one for you.

Book of the Month – The Greatest Show on Earth

This 2010 book by Richard Dawkins has become a classic. He was, after all, a professor of zoology long before he became better known for his outspoken atheist activism. So in this book explaining the process of evolution, he’s really in his element. Lay reviewers repeatedly describe Dawkins’s explanations as clear and easy to understand, with plenty of illustrations and examples throughout.

72% of reviewers on Amazon.com gave this book 5 stars; 5% gave it one star. Guess who those 5% of reviewers were? Hint: They described it as ‘pure fiction’, a ‘diatribe against religion’, and ‘an attempt to brainwash the reader’. Several of them recommended books by creationist authors instead.

This book covers all the questions and topics that people ask about evolution – including missing links and transitional fossils, dating methods, the meaning of the word ‘theory’, DNA, the age of the earth, micro vs. macro, the tree of life, vestigial organs, etc.  We discuss all of these and more at our outreach booth in Morden every year.

If you’re not already familiar with these words and phrases, then you owe it to yourself to read Greatest Show on Earth. Dawkins really does make a complex subject understandable and even entertaining.

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. 

It’s back-to-school time 

Just a reminder: If you have children attending public school in Manitoba, and you have any questions or concerns about religious exercises or religious instruction, please read our Religion in Public Schools information page.

Every year, we get calls and letters from concerned parents, but most of your questions and concerns should be addressed on that page.

Please contact us if:

  • You have questions that are NOT answered on that page,
  • You have new information or updates that we should add to that page, or
  • Your child is attending a school that is violating the guidelines and you would like advice or support.

Morden Outreach

Well that’s a wrap – another successful summer outreach completed. Thanks to all the volunteers who staffed the booth. We have uploaded a few photos to our website gallery. A report will follow in the October newsletter.

August 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, August 18thSmitty’s Transcona, 1512 Regent Ave W, 9:30 – 11:00 AM 

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

New people are welcome.   Details here

Morden Outreach   

Friday, August 23rd to Sunday, August 25thMorden Manitoba  

It’s Morden Corn and Apple Festival time again – and we’ll be back there in our Outreach booth!

Don’t forget to stop by and say hello; we’d love to see you!

Details here.

Save the Dates

Our Fall meetings will be – September 14th, October 5th, and November 16th 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

If you live in the Steinbach area or plan to be in the area, and would like to connect with another great bunch of Humanists, check out the Eastman Humanist Community 

Not all their events or meeting locations are advertised publicly. Visit their Facebook page or contact them via their website for more information. 

Links to Non-HAAM events of interest to our members can be found on the Community Events page. 

Check back periodically for updates.

Charity of the Month 

Our Charity of the Month program will resume in September. At each of our regular monthly meetings, January through May and September to November (8 times a year), we collect donations for a different charity. In 2018, we contributed over $1500 in total towards worthwhile causes. 

HAAM’s executive selects organizations that fill a wide variety of needs – animal welfare, environmental protection, science, assistance for underprivileged and/or vulnerable children and adults, education, health care, counselling and peer support groups. Once a year our donations cover the annual school tuition fee for a child in Kasese, Uganda. 

We don’t necessarily exclude charities operated by religious organizations, but we do prefer those that are secular. This helps ensure that our contributions are spent on the intended programs and not used to support religious institutions or proselytize clients. Manitoba has no shortage of worthy secular charities, many of which are small, grass-roots efforts that don’t receive a lot of publicity.  

Learn more about our Charity of the Month program, and view the list of past recipients, on the Charities web page. 

Latest News  

Partners for Life Report 

We’re just over halfway through 2019, so how are we doing with our pledge of 25 blood donations this year from our members? As of the end of July, we are at 13 donations – so just about halfway. 

If you are due to give blood, or haven’t given in a while, or have never given blood before – this is the time! The blood bank always runs low in mid-summer because regular donors may be away on vacation, so let’s help Canadian Blood Services top up their supply! 

More information about the Partners for Life program, and instructions on how to sign up, are on our website 

(P.S. Information about Manitoba’s organ donor registry is on the same page.) 

Book of the Month – How to Start Your Own Religion 

Philip Athans usually writes fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. He also wrote a Guide to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction, which contains advice about how to create sci-fi and fantasy settings, including plausible invented religions.  

Keep that in mind as you read How to Start Your Own Religion: Form a Church, Gain Followers, Become Tax-Exempt, and Sway the Minds of Millions in Five Easy Steps. This book promises to teach you how to gather the flock, invent mysterious rituals, recruit celebrity spokespeople, and make a blood sacrifice. Is it tongue-in-cheek? Maybe… but truth is often stranger than fiction or fantasy, right? You’ll understand all the mechanics of propaganda and brainwashing by the time you finish the book. Please just don’t try them out on your fellow HAAM members! 

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. 

Get the Facts about Abortion and Stand Up for Choice 

With the recent release of the anti-choice movie Unplanned, and right-wing politicians trying to make reproductive rights an issue in this fall’s federal election, abortion is in the news this summer in a way that it hasn’t been since the 1980s.  

Protesting the movie Unplanned in Cornwall, Ontario

If you’re seeing anti-choice memes and articles posted on social media and want to be able to respond to them, or if you’re just wondering what the facts are behind all the propaganda and hype, here are some suggestions for reading. 

Need accurate information? 

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (formerly Planned Parenthood Canada) has an excellent fact sheet called Common Myths About Abortion. It includes responses to common anti-choice rhetoric, like ‘there is no abortion law in Canada’, ‘post-abortion syndrome’, and many others. 

Dr Jen Gunter is a Winnipeg-born ob-gyn who writes about sex and science on social media. A recent article in Chatelaine magazine called her ‘the most important truth-teller in women’s health’. On her own website, Wielding the Lasso of Truth, Dr Gunter has addressed topics like a fetus’s ability to feel pain, late-term abortions, ‘abortion-pill reversal’, and more. Read those posts here. 

The Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg has a web page that provides information about local access to abortion, as well as FAQ’s about both medical and surgical abortions, birth control options, and after-care. 

Hearing a lot about that new movie? 

Unplanned has been widely critiqued for being manipulative and scientifically inaccurate. There is no shortage of disparaging reviews, in either the mainstream media or the blogosphere, for this compendium of dis-information. Both the Huffington Post and Glamour magazine interviewed medical experts about the inaccuracies in the film, and the Globe and Mail called it a ‘disgusting piece of propaganda’.  

Got kids asking questions? 

Valerie Tarico, an ex-evangelical Christian and psychologist in Seattle, writes about “religious fundamentalism, gender roles, reproductive empowerment, and the intersection of these three”. One of her posts addressed how to talk to your kid about abortion  (including on a personal level, if you have had one yourself). 

Take Action! 

The attack on reproductive rights is escalating.  Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights currently has two ways in which you can show your support for reproductive rights in Canada. Help bust the myths, expose the lies, and support everyone’s right to choose! 

1. Don’t support Unplanned by spending money to watch it! (If you want to know what’s in it, a reporter for MacLean’s Magazine watched it so you don’t have to.) Instead, donate the cost of the movie ticket ($12) to the Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund. This fund provides travel and accommodation for people who need to travel to access abortion services and would otherwise not be able to afford an abortion. 

Click here to donate the price of a movie ticket in protest of Unplanned 

2. Stand up for Choice! Commit to resist political attacks on rights that have been won through decades of activism. HAAM has already signed on as an organization, but you can count yourself in as an individual, too. 

Click here to count yourself in as part of the resistance 

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.

 

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:

 

 

 

 

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.

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.  

February 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Animal Attraction 

Saturday, February 10th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

February 12th is International Darwin Day, so we focus on science and nature at our February meetings.  

This year’s meeting will be about sex. Click here for details and more information.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, February 25th, Original Pancake House (Polo Park), 1445 Portage Avenue, 9:30 AM 

Join us for our regular Sunday morning brunch. Details here.

See complete event listings and details for all upcoming HAAM events on our Events page. 

 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism World Tour 2018 

Sunday, 8 April 2018, Burton Cummings Theatre, 364 Smith St 

 

For details on this and all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page. 

 

 

Charity of the Month CARE Cat Community Outreach Program 

C.A.R.E. (Cat Advocacy Rescue & Education) is a non-profit organization made up of concerned animal lovers and veterinary professionals who work to alleviate the serious cat overpopulation by spaying and neutering cats. The program was founded in 2011 in response to the overwhelming number of stray and feral cats in the North End of Winnipeg. Since then, CARE has spayed/neutered more than 900 feral, stray, and low-income owned cats; over 700 at Machray Animal Hospital and the rest through the Winnipeg Humane Society’s SNAP (Subsidized Spay and Neuter Program). 

In partnership with The Winnipeg Humane Society and Winnipeg Animal Services, CARE helps people get their cats fixed year-round. The funding for these surgeries comes from the FixIt Grant; money raised directly from cat licensing.  

Winnipeg residents are essentially paying for these cats’ surgeries, so only cats within city limits qualify for the program. Through CARE, low-income families can get their kitty spayed or neutered, tattooed, licensed and vaccinated for only $5!!!!  

HAAM member Heather McDonell is one of the veterinarians who works with CARE, and it was our Charity of the Month once before, way back in Sept 2013, so we’re happy to help them again. The group is always looking for additional donations, as well as volunteers to transport cats to and from the clinics, since most of the people the program serves can’t afford vehicles or taxis. CARE has no website, just social media, as this is a grassroots effort. Visit their Facebook page or call the office at 204-421-7297 to make an appointment or obtain more information.  

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 PayPal button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News 

Film Fest Ideas Wanted 

Our annual Film Fest will take place at the March 10th meeting, and we’re currently looking for films. Suggestions are welcome.  

If you know of a film that your fellow Humanists might like (something funny, provocative, inspirational, or educational), let us know. Length can be anything from a couple of minutes to a full movie (but not a really long movie). 

More details to follow in the March newsletter. 

Seeking Secular Therapists 

We have again had a request from someone seeking a counsellor or psychologist who does not invoke religion or suggest prayer during treatment. A while back, we started a list with the names of a few such professionals for future referrals – but we currently only have 3 names on it. There must be way more than 3 mental health professionals in Manitoba who don’t include religion as part of their practice.  

There is no requirement that therapists be non-believers; only that they use evidence-based, secular treatment methods in their professional practice. We do not post their names publicly due to professional regulations and ethics.  

If you are aware of a secular therapist whose name we can add to our list, please Contact Us. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential. Note that providing a referral cannot be construed as an endorsement by HAAM. 

Library News  

Our past-president Jeff Olsson has again been busy cleaning off shelves, and he’s made another large donation to the HAAM library – books, this time. Jeff is well-read and has eclectic taste in subject matter. There’s something here for everyone – ethics and philosophy, astronomy and climate science, atheist humor, psychology and psychoanalysis, skepticism and counter-apologetics (defending non-belief), history and archaeology. Here are just a few of the books he donated:  

-The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) 

-Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming 

-Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion 

-God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (Penn Jillette) 

-God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer (Bart Ehrman) 

-In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension 

-Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History 

-The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Freud) 

-Right to Die: A Neurosurgeon Speaks of Death with Candor 

-Universe: A Journey from Earth to the Edge of the Cosmos 

-Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith (Richard Carrier) 

-Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time 

Check out the complete list on our Library page. Thank you again, Jeff! 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.  

Call to Action – No Funding for Anti-choice, Anti-LGBTQ2+ Groups 

Please add your voice in support of human rights 

The BC Humanist Association haslaunched a petition in support of new application requirements for the Government of Canada’s Canada Summer Jobs program. 

The program provides wage subsidies to employers to hire high school and post-secondary students. The new policy requires applicants to attest that neither the job nor the employer’s “core mandate” are contrary to human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of transgender Canadians. 

Until now, many churches, bible camps and other faith-based organizations could apply for funding under the program, some received tens of thousands of dollars in support to hire summer staff. Religious organizations are still eligible for the funding, but those groups must now affirm their support for safe access to abortion and LGBTQ2+ rights. 

Unhappy with the change, some conservative faith groups are suing the government claiming religious discrimination. 

While we’d hope to see an end to public funding going to religious organizations entirely, ensuring that public funds aren’t given to groups that work to undermine fundamental human rights is a positive step. 

It’s important for the government to hear from Canadians who support these actions, not just the small but vocal lobby for the religious right. 

Sign the petition:No funding for anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ2+ groups 

We’ll submit the petition to the government by February 2, 2018, when applications close for the Canada Summer Jobs program. 

In Humanism, Ian Bushfield
Executive Director BC Humanist Association  

And while we’re on the subject…  

Publicly Funded Groups Must Respect Human Rights  

You won’t want to miss Pat Morrow’s analysis of the ‘kerfuffle’ that has developed as conservative religious groups protest their loss of permission to use public money to undermine the rights of others.

Click here to read Pat’s article. 

 

Being an Ethical Omnivore 

Those not in attendance for our January presentation missed out on a remarkable speaker, Dr. Charlene Berkvens, who singlehandedly runs her 80-acre farm in addition to working a full-time job as a veterinarian. An engaging and interesting guest speaker, the considerable amount of Q and A and group participation throughout attested both to the quality of her presentation and devotion to her life’s work.  

Dr. Berkvens’ accomplishments and dedication to her passions of animal welfare and environmentally sustainable farming practices are truly inspiring, and take their mandate from the principles of permaculture (sustainable agriculture that renews natural resources and enriches local ecosystems) and the 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare, which are:
1) Freedom from hunger and thirst
2) Freedom from discomfort
3) Freedom from pain, injury and disease
4) Freedom to behave normally (according to their species)
5) Freedom from fear and distress 

By the end of Dr. Berkvens’ presentation, there was no room left for ambiguity. Animal welfare and sustainable farming practices are inextricably tied to human interests, in terms of both our health and that of the land. It will take the willingness of ethical consumers, who critically examine their choices, to drive change. In the end, cheap food is not really cheap.    — Rob Daly 

Learn more about  Charlene’s farm – the Fostering Change Farm, by visiting its website or Facebook page. For those interested in supporting sustainable farms with their grocery dollars, Dr. Berkvens provided us with the following list of local food sources in Manitoba, along with links to some of the topics covered, after her presentation:  

Direct Farm Manitoba – list of many local, direct marketing farmers in Manitoba as well as farmers’ markets, etc. 

Harvest Moon Local Food Marketplacesustainably produced, fair local foods directly from local farms 

Bouchee Boucher – restaurant and butcher supporting local farmers 

Feast Cafe Bistro – restaurant that supports local farmers and features local and First Nations foods 

Stella’s – restaurant with some dishes using local food 

Prairie 360 – restaurant with some dishes using local food 

Prairie Box – business that delivers weekly fresh meals with local food  

For more information on some of the ideas / concepts we discussed: 

Holistic Resource Management 

Polyface Farms (Joel Salatin) 

Verge Permaculture 

I would also encourage folks to check out and support: 

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program  

Fort Whyte Centre, Oak Hammock Marsh, The Forks, and Assiniboine Park are great places to enjoy wildlife and the environment in the Winnipeg area.  

A few others to consider checking out include: 

Manitoba’s Tall Grass Prairie Preserve 

Nature Conservancy of Canada (Manitoba) 

As well as the many, many beautiful provincial parks and of course, Riding Mountain National Park. 

A Primer on Assisted Dying in Manitoba 

Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID) has been legal in Canada for 18 months now, but the process and guidelines are poorly understood. Here’s what people need to know: 

 * Manitoba has one centralized MAID team that serves the entire province. Other provinces require that your doctor initiate the evaluation and application process. Here, if you have a terminal diagnosis or a disease that causes you enduring and increasing suffering, you are free to contact the MAID team yourself to discuss whether you might qualify and find out what the next steps are. 

 

 * MAID is not part of the palliative care program in Manitoba. If you are receiving palliative care and you mention that you might be interested in MAID, it doesn’t mean they’ll start the inquiry for you; it’s best to contact the MAID team yourself or to ask a friend or family member to help you make contact. 

  * You do NOT (and should not) have to wait until your body begins to fail before you apply. The application process takes a minimum of 2 weeks, and some patients wait so long that they end up missing the window of opportunity and suffering needlessly in death. 

  * After you make initial contact with the MAID team and they agree you might qualify, they arrange for your first assessment. The assessment team usually consists of a doctor, a nurse, and a social worker. The team interviews you and reviews your medical records. One part of that interview involves speaking with you alone to be sure you’re not being coerced into applying. 

  * An appointment is then arranged with the second assessment team, composed of a different doctor, nurse, and social worker. The two teams don’t communicate with each other about you (the patient) until after both assessments are finished. 

  * After both assessments are complete, the two assessment teams meet and compare notes. If they agree that you qualify, then they recommend that you fill in an application form for medical assistance in dying. 

  * The application form must be signed by the patient (or a proxy, if the patient is physically incapable of signing) in the presence of two independent witnesses. An independent witness is defined as someone who is over the age of 18, a Canadian citizen, not a beneficiary of the patient’s will, and not involved in the patient’s health care. These are the same requirements for serving as a proxy. 

  * Once the application form is filled out, a mandatory waiting period of 10 days begins. You are eligible to receive the service on day 11 after the application form was signed, assuming that in the meantime, the assessment teams have approved you for the service. Note that these 10 days must be “clear” days, meaning that you are mentally coherent; these ‘clear’ days do not have to be consecutive, however. 

  * A significant proportion of MAID applicants do not know two people who are not named in their will, not involved in their health care, and/or who would be appropriate for other reasons to serve as witnesses. Members of Humanist groups across Canada (including many members of HAAM), have been serving as witnesses. Most of these volunteer witnesses also belong to their local chapter of Dying with Dignity. 

  * On the day that you choose to die, you must be mentally coherent and capable of giving consent. Nobody else can give this consent on your behalf, and you cannot consent in advance. 

  * The process of assisting someone to die involves having the MAID provider insert two intravenous lines (one as backup), and deliver 4 drugs through those lines. In Manitoba, this is the only approved method used. The drugs put the patient into a deep sleep and then into a coma, and then cause the heart to stop.

  * Most insurance companies accept the cause of death as being the underlying medical condition, but you should check with your insurance provider to be sure, since those who list the cause of death as suicide can withhold life insurance payments for 2 years after death. 

For links to the MAID team, related legal information, and more, visit the Dying With Dignity Winnipeg Chapter’s website at https://dwdwinnipeg.weebly.com.

— Cheri Frazer is co-coordinator of the Winnipeg Chapter of Dying with Dignity 

2018 HAAM Executive 

The following members were elected at our January AGM.  

President: Donna Harris   Vice President: Pat Morrow 

Secretary: Name Withheld*   Treasurer: Henry Kreindler 

Members at Large: Tammy Blanchette, Rob Daly, Norm Goertzen, Tony Governo, Sherry Lyn Marginet, and Dorothy Stephens. 

Welcome Rob Daly to the team!  

For future reference, the list of executive members can always be found here. 

Thanks to all who attended the AGM.

*Sadly, not everyone can safely identify publicly as non-religious. 

 

Don’t forget to renew your membership! (click here)  

January 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

How to be an Ethical Omnivore and our Annual General Meeting

Saturday, January 13th, Canad Inns Polo Park

We’ll be learning about animal welfare and ethics, sustainable agricultural practices, and environmentally friendly food choices.

Full meeting description and scheduled times for the speaker and the AGM are in the event post.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, January 28th, Perkins Restaurant, 1615 Regent Ave W, 9:30 AM

Join us! Details here.

 

See complete event listings and details for all upcoming HAAM events on our Events page.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism World Tour 2018

Sunday, 8 April 2018, Burton Cummings Theatre, 364 Smith St

 

For details on this and all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

 

Charity of the Month The Laurel Centre

The Laurel Centre (formerly The Women’s Post Treatment Centre) provides individual and group counselling to women who have experienced childhood and/or adolescent sexual abuse. Many adult women have mixed feelings about talking to anyone about their childhood – because it hurts too much. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often experience difficulties in later life, including depression, anxiety, drug and/or alcohol problems, gambling, or feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, isolation, or being ‘different’, ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. The Centre recognizes compulsive coping behaviours, including addictions, as being some of the long-term consequences of unresolved trauma.

95% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused. Check out the Did You Know? page of the centre’s website for more shocking statistics on the frequency and impact of childhood sexual abuse.

The Laurel Centre provides individual, group, youth, and couples counselling; outreach to at-risk and street youth; short-term crisis intervention; parenting classes for survivor moms; and awareness training for professionals dealing with sexual abuse.

The Centre receives approximately 75% of its funding from the Manitoba Government and The United Way of Winnipeg. Fundraising and donations are necessary to make up the rest, and ensure that the work of the centre can continue. Let’s do what we can to help.

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 Paypal button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

President’s Message

I can’t say that I’ll be sad to see 2017 go, but we have certainly ended the year with a couple of definite “wins”.

We took out holiday ads in both The Carillon (Steinbach) and the Pilipino Express (Winnipeg) newspapers. Even though we had to tone down the ad so it wasn’t “offensive” to religious sensibilities, it is a first for our group. We also placed an ad on Facebook, (click to enlarge) which reached over 7,300 people!

Tony Governo spearheaded our donation of blankets to the Main Street Project, made possible with donations that you have so generously given us.

I am so happy and thrilled to know you! Thanks to all of our members who support us by participating and coming out to our events, and to everyone on our executive team, who are all truly amazing. I wish each and every one of you the very best of all things in 2018.  Happiness, health and, most especially, love.                                  – Donna Harris

Partners for Life Update

HAAM members are awesome! 😍 For the first time ever, we met our annual pledge of 25 blood donations. In fact, we exceeded it, with 28!!! If you donated blood in 2017, give yourself a pat on the back, and think about all the lives you helped save.

If you weren’t part of this success, join the Canadian Blood Services’ Partners for Life program now and your 2018 blood donations will be credited to HAAM. Details about the program are here.

Show Me the Evidence

Believers take note – if you are presenting your beliefs to those who don’t already share them (atheists, agnostics, or members of any religion other than your own), you must be prepared to offer evidence for your claims. Expect to have your evidence critically examined before being accepted. If you cannot make your beliefs appear reasonable to an outsider, then perhaps you should re-examine them yourself. (The idea of applying the same skepticism to our own beliefs as we do to the beliefs of other faiths is known as the ‘outsider test for faith’. The phrase was coined by John W. Loftus in his book of the same name.)

HAAM’s Pat Morrow recently examined the evidence for God offered by a Christian apologist who visited one of our outreach booths. Did it pass the ‘outsider test’? Read the answer – and the full story – here.

Library News

Looking for a good movie or TV show to watch this winter? We’ve just added a whole bunch of ‘new’ DVD’s to the HAAM library. Past-president Jeff Olsson recently cleaned off some shelves and donated everything he’s finished watching. He had lots of good stuff, including:

All 8 seasons of Penn and Teller’s Bullsh*t (TV series debunking pseudoscientific ideas, paranormal beliefs, and popular fads);
Guns, Germs, and Steel (Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer-prize winning examination of why some civilizations have survived and conquered others, while others struggle);
Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed (propaganda film in which Ben Stein claims that evolution is a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of laboratories and classrooms);
Collision (documentary about the debates between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson);
An Inconvenient Truth (documentary about Al Gore’s campaign to educate citizens about global warming);
-and more.

Check out the complete list on our Library page. Thank you, Jeff!

Humanists Helping the Homeless

Just in time for the cold weather, thanks to some generous donations, HAAM was able to donate 100 new blankets (from Ikea) to the Main Street Project. Executive members Dorothy Stephens, Tony Governo, and Sherry Lyn Marginet (in purple) were there to deliver the blankets. Thanks Tony for leading this project!

The Story Behind our Ad in The Carillon

The Carillon is a weekly newspaper published by Derksen Printers in Steinbach, Manitoba, focusing on local Southeastern Manitoba news. HAAM ran an ad for one week (in both the print and online editions) starting on December 7 – but it almost didn’t run at all.

We had inquired about a Christmas ad, and made preliminary arrangements (like the section of the paper we wanted it to appear in) back at the end of September. Yet when we submitted the final copy, which included the phrase “Go ahead and skip church!”, the publisher deemed it too provocative and declined to run it. We asked our contact at the paper, who had previously responded to our queries without delay, what was offensive about the ad, and whether The Carillon would entertain any other ad we’d propose. No response was received.

The Carillon is owned by The Winnipeg Free Press, so we decided to ask the VP of the WFP in charge of advertising why the ad had been rejected. The reply, provided by the publisher of The Carillon, stated that they would be “finished” if they were seen supporting such a message in their faith-based community, even if it was tongue-in-cheek. This prompted us to write to the Free Press one more time. We indicated that we know there are numerous humanis

ts, atheists, and agnostics living in the area. We explained that denying our ad would be a violation of Manitoba’s Human Rights Code (section 13-1: No person shall discriminate with respect to any service, accommodation, facility, good, right, licence, benefit, program or privilege available or accessible to the public or to a section of the public, unless bona fide and reasonable cause exists for the discrimination). We also added that perhaps the rejection of our ad would be a newsworthy item for some other news outlet.

We then received another response from the Free Press, doubling down on their position to reject the ad, and stating that a decision made in one of their markets may not be the same as one made in another market. However, the response ended with an encouragement to revise our message to be more amenable to The Carillon’s publisher.

With this in mind, we revised our message to simply say “This Christmas just be good for goodness’ sake! Happy Holidays from the Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba!” The Carillon then questioned why our name was being spelled out in the revised ad, when the original message had ended with just the HAAM logo in the bottom corner. We had to explain that the original message would have been provocative enough to prompt people to look us up, but the new message didn’t have that effect; hence, we wanted people to know who the message was from. The publisher accepted our rationale, explaining that he was only being cautious; since he would be the person who had to deal with any calls about it, he needed to understand the reason for the change.

All this trouble for just one small ad suggesting that people don’t need to attend church to be ‘good’.  Change comes slowly in regions where religion has enjoyed many years of privilege.

To the best of our knowledge, there weren’t any complaints after the ad was published. But it must have provoked some curiosity about non-believers, because not long after, both HAAM and the Eastman Humanist Community were contacted by a reporter from The Carillon asking about the new Humanist group in the Bible Belt. That article ran in the December 29th edition. You can read it on their website here.                                                                                                                                                     – Tony Governo

Letter of Encouragement to Upcoming G7 Summit

Canada will be hosting the G7 conference in June 2018. In advance of the summit, a number of Canadian organizations are working to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights remain central to the Canada’s priorities. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, CARE Canada, and the Climate Action Network – Canada collaborated to prepare a letter encouraging Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that three specific issues remain squarely on the G7 agenda:

  • supporting refugees, migrants and displaced peoples,
  • tackling climate change and its impacts on poor and marginalized communities and
  • ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people.

These issues have often evaded consensus among G7 leaders, and recent trends suggest this will continue to be a challenge for Canada’s G7 Presidency. The letter calls on the government to not only defend progress achieved in recent years and decades on these issues, but also to create opportunity to address remaining gaps in the future.

Likeminded groups in Canada were invited to add their names to the major signatories, and HAAM was pleased to add its support on behalf of our members.

You can read the full text of the letter here.

Year in Review

At year-end we look back at all we’ve accomplished over the past 12 months – and it’s always amazing to see how much it adds up to. We’re a busy bunch! Here’s a quick list:

The Greek god Dionysus

Meetings: Educational and/or inspiring topics included recovering from religion, evolution in Humanistic thought, an atheist comedy night, dying and rising gods before Jesus, solar energy, the historicity of Jesus, atheism in Canada, indigenous spirituality, and the limits of free speech.

Social events: We introduced the HAAM and Eggs brunch last January, and it has become a regular and favorite casual gathering. We also hosted a film festival, parties for the summer and winter solstices, and a bowling night. We celebrated a ghoulish Hallowe’en and attended the film premiere of Losing Our Religion.

Calls to Action: In 2017, HAAM members were called upon to make their opinions known on a number of important issues through petitions and/or letter-writing campaigns. We spoke out against graphic anti-choice ads, supported sexual health and reproductive rights worldwide, demanded the repeal of Canada’s blasphemy law, protested government funding for anti-choice ‘crisis pregnancy centres’, fought against ‘faith-based’ healthcare, defended apostates worldwide, voiced our choice for assisted dying, and demanded fair secular government. Our members also expressed their Humanist values by donating blood, joining the Human Rights Hub, pledging organ donations, marching for science, and attending pride parades.

Timely topics: Our newsletters and articles covered religious violence, religion in public hospitals and schools, the struggles of refugees, religious trauma, the progress of our sponsored child in Uganda, and the origins of Xmas traditions.

Outreach: We have connections with other Humanist/atheist organizations across North America, and in 2017 we added a group in Houston, Texas. Our members attended and reported on religious conferences and presentations about Christian apologetics, faith vs. religion, tough questions from the Old Testament, the origin of human rights, and creation vs evolution. We hosted information booths at summer fairs in Steinbach and Morden, spoke to a world religions class in Grunthal, and launched a series of ads during the Christmas season.

Charities: In 2017 we supported Recovering from Religion, Wildlife Haven, Rainbow Resource Centre, Welcome Place, Women’s Health Clinic, the Island Lake forest fire relief fund, Kasese Humanist school (Uganda), the Christmas Cheer Board, and Koats for Kids.

Hats off to everyone who helped, participated, attended, and financially supported all these efforts! If you missed any of our 2017 happenings, and want to catch up, you can find the details in past newsletters. And make sure to join our activities in 2018!

We had a great time at the Solstice party!

More photos in the 2017 Gallery.

 

 

 

 

Just a reminder that 2018 memberships are now due. You can join or renew online, by mail, or in person at any meeting or event. Our fee structure includes a low-income option, if this applies to you.

Visit the Join Us page for membership information and online renewal.

 

 

 

 

December 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Winter Solstice Party

December 23rd at the Belgian Club, 407 Provencher Blvd, 5:30 PM

Please bring an item for the potluck supper.

Optional – bring your favorite board game.

More details here.

See complete event listings and details for all upcoming HAAM events on our Events page.

Charity of the Month – Koats for Kids

Koats for Kids is a United Way program that collects and distributes winter outerwear to needy families. They collect new or gently used winter jackets (clean with working zippers), ski pants, boots, hats, scarves, and mittens. All sizes are needed – from infant to toddler to youth.

Please bring your donations to our Winter Solstice Party! We’ll collect them up and drop them off at the depot. 

Call to Action Register Your Intent to be an Organ Donor

The Organ Donor Registry is now online!

Organ and tissue donation in Manitoba have gone high-tech. Paper ‘organ donor’ wallet cards are no longer considered adequate, because they are not recorded in any database and may not be available when needed. Instead, Manitoba Health now recommends that you register your wishes online to ensure that they will be known – if and when you ever qualify to donate.

Register your consent to donate at Sign Up for Life.ca. Your information will be recorded and stored in the secure Manitoba eHealth database. In the event of your death or imminent death, your decision will be shared with your family so that they can honor your wishes. Donation will not take place without your family’s consent.

How does it work?

You can register if you are 18 years of age or older and have a valid Manitoba Health Card. You can donate organs and tissues (heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, small bowel, stomach, corneas, heart valves, pericardium, bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and skin) for transplant. You can also indicate whether or not you would want your organs or tissues to be used for medical education or scientific research purposes.

Everyone can register to be a donor regardless of age, medical condition or sexual orientation. Your decision to register should not be based on whether YOU think you would be eligible or not. Eligibility is determined by the health care team after a patient’s death.

Thanks to Karen Donald for the tip!

Latest News

Bill Favors Religion over Patient Rights

Having sat through a community hearing at the Manitoba Legislature on the issue of Bill 34, The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act on the evening of November 6th, I’d like to share some observations, comments, and take-away points from what was said. It should be noted that I learned about this hearing at the very last possible minute, and I’m uncertain as to whether the speakers were there by invitation or whether there had been an option for the public to sign up ahead of time to speak. As such, I can’t account for the small number of speakers calling for amendments, vs. the majority, who called for keeping the bill as is. Of the 16 speakers, only 3 (Dr. Alewyn Vorster, representing the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba; Mary J. Shariff, from the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba; and Cory Ruf of Dying with Dignity Canada), advocated for amending the bill with clearer language that removes ambiguity, out of concern that a broad interpretation of the bill could result in denial of MAID information, referrals, and services to Manitoba patients.

Of the 13 speakers in favor of the bill as presented (two representatives from Catholic organizations, 10 doctors, and a private citizen), all cited personal religious beliefs as part of their presentations, in addition to many other arguments. Their most common arguments and concerns centered on personal religious conviction/conscience, the Hippocratic Oath, fear of health care professionals being required to make MAID referrals, reprisal should they refuse to do so, patient abandonment, assertions that medication is adequate to maintain comfort until “natural” death occurs, and the belief that “there is no crisis of access”. Most maintained that they wouldn’t do anything to block access to MAID services, and while all stated that they wouldn’t make a direct referral to the MAID team, most (with a couple of exceptions) were willing to refer patients to a third party who would.

Since When Do Institutions have Rights?

From what I learned during a previous conversation with my MLA, Andrew Micklefield (who was in attendance), and certainly from what was shared at this hearing, it’s clear that there is a disconnect between Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen’s statement, “We will protect the rights of institutions”, and the real-life ramifications of that statement for patients who are now forced into a potentially agonizing, painful, and certainly undignified transfer of service to another hospital if they opt for MAID while in a faith-based facility in Manitoba. As an example, to quote one speaker, Dr. Albert Chudley (a Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health, as well as Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, at the University of Manitoba, and who ironically professed to have taught clinical ethics), the bill “doesn’t diminish patient rights”, “transfer remains an option”, and “patients are not in pain”. Dr. Ann McKenzie, amidst stories of personal tragedy and appeals to the Hippocratic Oath, is of the opinion that vulnerable patients who choose MAID as an end of life option “lose time with family” and create trauma for those who remain.

Is there a duty to refer?

In conclusion, when asked by Andrew Swan, an opposition MLA who supports the bill, if the Health Minister would require health professionals to provide MAID referrals, Goertzen stated that he doesn’t believe health professionals (including nurses, pharmacists etc.) should be required to make referrals. The Minister said the government would “support the rights of institutions… not at the expense of access”; however, he did not acknowledge that failing to provide information and referral directly impacts that access. The provincial government is siding with publicly-funded, faith-based hospitals that are denying on-site access to MAID services, which is a violation of the Charter Rights of Manitobans. This bill sets the rights of religious institutions above patient dignity and humane end-of-life care.

All clauses of Bill 34 were passed, unamended.                                                                                                 – Rob Daly

Is Christmas really a Christian Holiday?

If you celebrate and enjoy Christmas, don’t feel guilty about it. There’s no need to give it up just because you no longer view it as a religious holiday. Some of the following details may be disputable, because sources vary, and it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of customs and rituals that date back to antiquity and cross cultures. But this much is clear – Most of the traditions we associate with Christmas either originated in pre-Christian myths or have absolutely NOTHING to do with Christianity.

It’s all about the solstice

Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Ancient astronomers were able to detect that after the solstice, the days became longer and the noonday sun rose higher in the sky.  This was interpreted as a promise that warmth would return once more to the Earth. Numerous pre-Christian cultures and Pagan religions celebrated the return of the Sun and honored a birth or rebirth of one of their gods or goddesses on or near the solstice. These included Attis (Roman), Dionysus (Greek), Osiris (Egyptian), and Mithra (Persian). Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from December 17 to 23 throughout the Roman Empire. Many of these celebrations included fertility rituals and symbols intended to encourage Mother Earth to begin reproducing again.

In the late 3rd century the Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with the birth celebrations of savior gods from other religions into a single holy day (December 25th), so it was relatively easy to incorporate the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

These are Pagan? Really?

It’s no surprise, then, that quite a few of our modern Christmas traditions have Pagan roots. Here are a few examples:

Feasting and partying – Saturnalia was the liveliest of the ancient Roman festivals. The celebration included days off work, street parties, candles, gifts, and greenery. Saturn was the god of agriculture, so feasting was an appropriate way to celebrate the fruits of the harvest.

Mistletoe and Holly – Mistletoe was considered a magical plant and a fertility symbol by many ancient cultures, so people used to practice ‘fertility rituals’ underneath it; nowadays we usually just kiss. The complimentary colors of red and green represent male and female, and we still see them in the holly leaves with their red berries used in Christmas wreaths.

Santa Claus is partly based on myths that predate St Nicholas. The Norse god Odin is often pictured as an old man with a white beard and long cloak. Odin led a hunting party through the skies, riding an eight-legged horse. In winter, children would leave their boots near the chimney, filled with carrots or straw for the horse, and in return, Odin would leave a little gift in the boot. In Celtic Neopaganism, the Holly King and the Oak King fight a battle each summer and winter solstice, with each reigning half the year. Depictions of the Holly King often look remarkably like a sort of woodsy Santa Claus.

Caroling originated with the practice of wassailing – traveling through fields and orchards in the middle of winter, singing and shouting to drive away any spirits that might inhibit the growth of future crops.

Gift-giving – During Saturnalia, it was tradition to give children gifts of wax figures that represented the sacrifices made to Saturn to wish for a bountiful harvest.

Evergreens – Romans decorated their homes with bits of greenery during Saturnalia. Pines and firs were cherished as a symbol of life and rebirth in the depth of winter, and were traditionally hung around doorways and windows. Egyptians used palm fronds instead.

Fruitcake comes from Egypt. Once baked, it lasts a looooong time without going bad, so it was often placed as an offering on the tomb of a loved one.

The Yule log originates in Norway. The Norse believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice. To celebrate the return of the sun each year, they would light a Yule log and let it burn all night long. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.

Decorated trees – During Saturnalia, on the eve of the Midwinter Solstice, Roman priests would cut down a pine tree, decorate it, and carry it ceremonially to the temple celebrations. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm in the cold winter months; food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat.

  Most Humanists enjoy the various celebrations and traditions around the Winter Solstice, regardless of their origins. So

from all of us at HAAM – whatever you celebrate!

Countdown to 2018

Please support HAAM with your Membership

Membership renewal for 2018 is now open. Please note that HAAM operates on a calendar year, meaning that membership fees are due in January. First time members who join between October and December pay the full fee but their membership includes the upcoming year. If you are one of those brand new members, this notice does not apply to you. Everyone else needs to become a member or renew.

We count on membership revenues to support HAAM’s continuing work in creating community and providing a voice for non-believers. Fees are affordable and include a ‘limited income’ option if applicable. Please support the group that supports you! Memberships are payable anytime by credit card using the PayPal link on our website, by cheque in the mail, or by cash or cheque at any event. More information about membership and renewal is on our website.

If you plan to attend our AGM in January, dues MUST be paid in order to vote.

Become Involved!

Get to know your fellow Humanists and help us develop a supportive community. Do you have a suggestion for a meeting topic or social event? An issue you’d like to discuss? A charity you think we should support? Do you have a talent to share? Can you help out with a specific task, project, or event? To keep our group active and interesting, we need YOUR input and help.

Watch for our New Ads

On Saturday, December 7th, HAAM will be running a seasonal ad in the local Steinbach newspaper, The Carillon. It will appear in both the print edition (on the front page of Section C), and in the online edition. We will also be running an ad on Facebook in December.

If you want a sneak preview, check out the banner image on our Facebook page.

Watch for our ads – and when you see them, please share them to spread the word! 

Stressed Out About the Upcoming Holidays?

Do you live in a religious community, or with religious family members? Is the holiday season stressful for you because of it? Are family get-togethers uncomfortable? A little guide called Being Openly Secular During the Holidays might be helpful. Topics include managing stress, adhering to holiday traditions, and dealing with religious family. It also contains a secular grace and some links to further resources.

We also covered this topic in last year’s December newsletter.

Book of the Month Salt Sugar Fat

Here’s a book that might give you pause before you dig into too much holiday party food – Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss. After reading it, you probably won’t want to dig into quite so much holiday party food.

How much of our food comes from cardboard boxes, plastic packaging, fast food restaurants, take out, microwaves, lunch meats, processed cheese, cookies, candy bars, etc.? If you don’t know, or feel uneasy about the answer, you may not want to know.

Moss looks into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

Get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions! If you read this book now, guaranteed you’ll be making different (and better) choices in 2018.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.  

Is There a Right to be an A**hole?

At our (packed) November meeting, U of M professor Steve Lecce spoke about free speech. His awesome presentation was followed by a lively Q and A. If you couldn’t attend, you can now catch it on our YouTube channel.

 

October 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

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

Monthly Meeting – Finding Humanist Thought in Indigenous Beliefs

Saturday, October 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 PM

Details here.

In the spirit of the season, we’re going to decorate the room up a bit for Hallowe’en. You’re welcome to come in costume (optional).

 

Spooky Night at Six Pines

Friday, October 20th, Six Pines (just north of Winnipeg), 7:30 PM

Note that this event is intended for ages 15+.

Make sure to read the event details before attending. 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, October 22nd, Smitty’s Restaurant, 2835 Pembina Highway (Fort Richmond), 9:30 AM

Newbies Welcome! Details here.

 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Beyond the “Creation vs Evolution” Debate

October 12th at 7 PM and October 13th at 10 AM and 7 PM. Click for locations.

 

 

For details on all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

Latest News

Charity of the Month – Kasese Humanist Primary School

HAAM sponsors a child in Uganda by paying his annual school tuition. Our little boy is called Bogere John, and 2018 will be our third year of sponsorship. He’s a bright little kid, and smart, but he’s an orphan, and he’s had a difficult year.

His spring report card showed that in some subjects he performed only ‘fair’, while other subjects had no mark and were recorded as ‘missed’. This was in sharp contrast to his report card from the previous year, in which all subjects were good or excellent. In a letter, School Director Bwambale M Robert explained that in the middle of the term the boy got “some serious malaria and he had to miss some lessons at the school”, which was a “key factor for his sliding”.

Robert continued – “He however recovered and he is now fine. Normally in most people’s home, the health and hygiene conditions in some of our children and families is not all that fine, this becomes a root cause of some illnesses of our children… My teachers remain committed to ensuring Bogere gets back to his feet and normalize to the better and excel with his studies.” Robert also noted that Bogere’s guardian is “also not well, health-wise”.

Our executive recently received a copy of Bogere’s second term report card, and we are pleased to note that he is catching up in some subjects, although he still struggles with others. Good for him for keeping at it! For us in Canada, it’s hard to imagine the difficulties some children face to get an education.

We will be collecting for little Bogere John’s 2018 school tuition fees at our October meeting. Any extra money we collect above his tuition requirements will go to help the school itself. Please give generously!

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 Paypal button on our website. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Help Wanted!

HAAM is looking for a new librarian.

Job Description and Requirements:

  • Be a regular, paid member of HAAM who attends most meetings.
  • Store and look after HAAM’s collection of just over 200 books and DVD’s. They come with their own bookshelf (it’s about 3’ wide X 6’ tall).
  • Bring a selection of books to each meeting.
  • Keep track of books as they are signed out and returned.

This is a great opportunity for someone who likes to read. The lucky volunteer will have access to ALL of our books almost ALL of the time. (To see what’s in the collection, visit our Library page.) It’s not necessary to attend every meeting; usually arrangements can be made to send books with another HAAM member if the librarian is absent.

A big thanks to Chad and Gloria Froese who have been looking after our library for over 2 years. Work-related travel and a young family is making it difficult for them to attend many meetings, but they continue to store the books until we find someone willing to take on this responsibility. Please contact us if you’re interested.

Ideas Needed – Help Us Build Community

A group of HAAM members attended the Canadian premiere of “Losing Our Religion” at Cinematheque in September. It’s a very well-made documentary about pastors struggling when they lose their faith – especially while they’re still preaching. (More info here.) If you missed the screening, or weren’t able to be there, it will air on CBC Docs (the documentary channel) in Canada on Sunday evening October 15th, with an encore showing on Wednesday evening October 18th. Check listings for local times.

Several of the peopled interviewed for the film mentioned the importance of community. We can all definitely appreciate that sentiment. It’s in part why we join HAAM and come out to the meetings. And probably the main thing people miss when they leave religion.

The producers included scenes of people taking part in the Sunday Assembly, which just seemed to come together on a whim. And they also interviewed the founder of the Houston Oasis, which is a similar freethought group. These groups host meetings which are slightly more “church-y” in feeling than our HAAM meetings, but they also include things like coffee and live music.

It’s got me thinking – about how to grow our membership and build community, and about being able to create different types of get-togethers. That just doesn’t seem possible in our current meeting space. Should we forego the meeting rooms? Perhaps give up the meal in favor of a better space? What do YOU think? Is it time for us to look for a new home? Let us know!

Donna Harris, President

New Reasonfest Videos

Our YouTube channel is gradually taking off as we have recently added two more videos. They are from our 2015 conference River City Reasonfest, which some of you may have attended. The playlist from that conference now includes:

Greta Christina – Comforting Thoughts about Death that have Nothing to do with God

Eric Adriaans – Canada’s Blasphemy Laws and Human Rights

Tracie Harris – Is Religion Good for Families?

P Z Myers – Evolution is More Complicated than you Think

Special thanks to Paul Morrow for working so hard producing and editing these videos. Check out our channel!

Call to Action – Support Fair, Secular Government

The Freedom of Thought Report is an annual survey on discrimination and persecution against non-religious people in countries around the world. It is published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union each year on December 10th, International Human Rights Day. The full report (over 500 pages) covers every country in the world.

You might not think of Canada as being a country with a significant number of human rights concerns, but the 2016 report notes several issues (details here).

These include:

  • Recognition of the supremacy of God in the constitution and the national anthem, which, although largely symbolic, has been used to argue for allowing religion or prayer in government offices.
  • Granting automatic charitable status to organizations that promote religion, while requiring secular organizations to commit to community services to attain charity status. Also, allowing religious groups the right to maintain a building fund, but requiring secular organizations to apply for such a fund and then adhere to the conditions laid down by the Charities Directorate of the CRA.
  • Partially or fully funding religious schools, many of which discriminate on religious grounds in hiring and in accepting students. In some provinces, the government provides funding to Catholic schools but denies such funding to any other religion or belief.
  • Court rulings that allow sincerely held religious beliefs to prevail over freely contracted obligations (i.e. allowing people to back out of signed contracts on the basis of religious convictions).
  • The continued presence of a blasphemy law in the Criminal Code. (This law is one of many set to be repealed in a current review, but it is not yet officially dead.)
  • Exemptions in the Criminal Code (Section 319 3b) regarding the public incitement of hatred of identifiable groups (i.e. publishing hate literature) if the opinions expressed are based on religious belief or a religious text.

In response, an e-petition (E-1264) has been registered with the House of Commons asking the federal government to investigate the systemic discrimination against non-believers in Canadian laws and regulations.

This isn’t just a formality – it’s more important than you might think. Consider that parliamentary committees hear only from witnesses that their members invite. Since they are religious, they invite religious people. Others are asked to write submissions. For example, the Canadian Heritage Committee has heard from more than five Muslim groups regarding religious discrimination, but no Humanist groups regarding the same topic.

Please sign the petition.

Add your voice to the growing number Canadians who want fair, secular government for all!

For an idea of how Canada compares on a global scale, check this ‘freedom map’.

Color scale, from most free to most oppressed, is green-yellow-orange-red-brown. Find more maps and details here.

Book of the Month Just Pretend

Dan Barker is the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (and a former evangelical). In this little book (only 72 pages long), he describes gods and religion to children from an atheist perspective, and explains why adults would believe in any religion at all. He refers to religions collectively as just another myth; a sort of ‘Santa Claus for grown-ups’. Because of the Santa Claus analogy, this book is not suitable for children who haven’t yet outgrown belief in a literal Santa. Its target age range would probably be 8-11 year old kids.

The book is clearly aimed at the children of families with non-believing parents. If this describes your family, and you are looking for a book to help your child understand what religion is all about, this might be a great choice. It is probably most useful as a starting point for discussion – read it along with your child and answer their questions.

It may not be appropriate for all families, depending on how much religious ideology your child has already been exposed to, and your own ideas about teaching religion and religious tolerance. Read it yourself first before deciding.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

Charity Checkup

October through to the New Year is always a big time for charities and fund-raisers, both in the schools and in the community. There are SO many groups and causes out there – but are they all worth supporting? Before contributing, take a few minutes to learn about the charity that’s asking for your money, time, or endorsement. Read its mission statement to make sure it reflects your own values and beliefs. Some well-known, established charities make promoting religion a primary goal, component and/or requirement of their work. That’s fine if it’s what you want to support, but most of us in the Humanist community do not.

One group that operates in some Manitoba schools (and communities) is Samaritan’s Purse, which runs a shoebox donation program called Operation Christmas Child. If your child brings a note home from school asking you to support this charity, make sure to read our Religion in Schools page first to learn about its real mission.

There are plenty of charities that could use our support that are run by secular and/or religious organizations who do not evangelize the groups they serve. For some suggestions, have a look at the list of charities that HAAM has supported over the past few years.

July 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Summer Barbecue

Saturday, July 22nd, Assiniboine Park, 6:30 PM (Note the time)

 

 

An Evening with Richard Carrier

Saturday August 19th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 7 PM    

 

 

Camping Weekend

Date TBA, Birds Hill Park

 

And don’t forget about our Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival August 25-27.

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page, or click the name of the event on the right sidebar.

Save the Dates

Our fall monthly meetings will be September 9th, October 14th, and November 18th, and our winter Solstice Party is booked for December 23rd. Details TBA.

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

July Community (non-HAAM) Events

Human Rights – By Design or By Default

Thursday, July 13th, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, 7:15 PM

(click poster to enlarge)

   

Steinbach Pride March for Equality

Saturday, July 15th, 11 AM

 

For details on these upcoming community events, visit our new Community Events page.

Latest News

Guide to Religion in Manitoba Schools

Every year, we hear concerns from parents wanting to know how to handle a situation in their child’s school related to religion. Usually the concern involves questions regarding the legality of a current practice, or complaints from parents who already know that their local school is flouting the law.

To help clarify the issues surrounding religion in Manitoba’s public schools, and provide parents with current information about what is – and is not – allowed, we have added a new web page to our site under the Resources tab. Check it out! And please provide us with your feedback so that we can add additional information to the page.

Tough Questions from the Old Testament

An encounter with a Christian apologist at our outreach booth at the Summer in the City Festival in Steinbach in June led one of our members to watch a sermon examining the character of the god of the Old Testament. Read highlights of that sermon, and our atheist’s commentary, on our Perspectives page.

 

 

Our name in lights at Canadian Blood Services.
Click to enlarge.

Partners for Life Update

Just a reminder that if you can donate blood, please do! Summer is always a busy time for the blood banks, and Canadian Blood Services is already short. HAAM is part of the Partners for Life program, a friendly competition among businesses, schools, and community groups to show how generous their members can be. We know that Humanists are good people who donate blood! Our goal for 2017 is 25 donations, and as of the end of June we have 13, so we’re on track to meet it. Yay!

If you aren’t registered with Partners for Life, the instructions are here (or see link in right sidebar). And if you have already donated this year and weren’t registered, don’t worry. Just sign up now, and all your donations in 2017 will count toward HAAM’s total.

Steinbach Outreach Report

An Eye-Opening Weekend

Another summer outreach season is upon us. Here at HAAM we always look forward to it, but especially so this year, because for the first time, we were joined by three brand-new volunteers from the Eastman Humanist Community (EHC) in Steinbach. I would like to thank these people, especially since, being their first time doing something like this, they really didn’t know what to expect. I think I can speak for all when I say that it was a very eye-opening experience for them. A couple of comments they made that I found humorous were “That sign is causing some serious chiropractic neck adjustments” (referring to folks whose eyes read our front banner in disbelief as their feet kept moving). And later “This sign is like catnip for some Christians”.  (See our 2017 Event photos for a picture of it.) After the outreach, I asked one of them for his reflections on the weekend, and he had this to say:

“During my few hours there, hundreds of people took note of the booth but most were unwilling or too shy to approach. Of those who did, it was interesting the variety of comments we received. A good number indicated that they were Christians and asked questions like:

  • Where do your morals come from if you don’t have God?
  • So when you die you think that there’s nothing – you just cease to exist? and
  • What caused the big bang? Wouldn’t it be easier to admit that God made it?

Most encouraging, were the 25+ people who were excited to see us and who took our contact information. If only half come out to our next meeting, we’ll have to re-arrange our space to accommodate them!

A pleasant surprise were the several ‘gentle’ Christians who came by and said things like: ‘I’m sorry for the hostility you folks must be getting’ or ‘I agree with many of the things you stand for; this place needs you.’

It will be interesting to see the ripples that come from this weekend!”

The Ripple Effect

I think the ripples he refers to are threefold:

  • First, the impact our outreach will have on the growth of the EHC.
  • Second would be the effect on our new volunteers. A second volunteer, who, from what I was able to observe, knows just about everybody in Steinbach, had many longtime friends and acquaintances of his stop by. Some seemed surprised that he was “with this group”; others saw him in the booth and just kept walking. His non-belief was previously no big secret, but I do have to admire a man who is willing to out himself so publicly.
  • Third, the effect on the community. For those unfamiliar with Steinbach, the city has deep religious roots, which in the last few years have been challenged by its growth and the diversity that comes with that. Anecdote: One of our members was having a yard sale a block or two from the festival when a trio of senior ladies walked up. She asked the trio if they had been to the festival. With no further prompting one of them replied “Yes, … do you know there are atheists there!” Yup, the ripples will be interesting.

A Conversation Worth Having

For me, the best conversations seem to take place near closing time, and often with younger believers. This is pure conjecture on my part, but I think folks like that see our booth and want to talk, but it takes all weekend for them to work up the courage. I suppose in the last hours of the festival they decide: now or never. That seemed to be the case on Sunday.

Our booth was approached by a young man and a couple of his supporters, or what I prefer to call listeners. The young man was well-spoken but not rehearsed, and I do mean that as a compliment. Many visitors show up with memorized apologetic arguments; they parrot what they’ve heard but really can’t go beyond what they’ve memorized. This young man from Steinbach Christian High School asked honest non-leading questions, with a genuine interest in who we were and why we don’t believe in God.

The conversation started with the usual clearing up of misconceptions and misrepresentations about Humanism, atheism and agnosticism. In outreach this has become standard practice when engaging someone who has the limited worldview of a Christian education. I explained that Humanism isn’t a religion as there is no supernatural belief, no holy books, and no dogma. I went on to explain the fundamental differences between Humanism and many forms of Christianity, such as:

  • Humanists believe we are a product of this planet, not that the planet (or the universe for that matter) was created for us.
  • Generally, Humanists are passionate about their epistemology (the study of knowledge and belief); we can’t accept an idea on faith alone – we really need to know that our beliefs are true.
  • Christianity demands obedience to God; to love and serve God is considered a good thing. With Humanism, doubting and questioning everything is considered a good thing.

Finally, I explained to him that as Humanists, we believe that science and the scientific method are the best ways to tell fact from fiction, which is why most, if not all, Humanists today are atheists. To which he exclaimed that “science doesn’t disprove God, so how do atheists say there is no god?” After running through the argument (again) that generally atheists don’t claim there is no God, I did try to explain to them the concept of a strong atheism (the assertion that God does not exist).

Certain concepts of gods can’t exist because they are logically incoherent. I offered the student the simple example of an all-loving god who allows the creation that he loves to go to a place of eternal torment/torture that he created. This god can’t logically exist (unless we bastardize the definition of love into meaninglessness). I then asked him for his definition of love and he started to go into the free will argument that love is allowing choice. I completely agree that allowing choice is part of love; however for me, a better definition of love is what we find in 1 Corinthians 13 “(Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude…”) I said that if we are going to define torturing someone forever as being kind, we will have to redefine that word, too. (It seems that God is violating his own holy word.)

By now I could tell the student was getting a little flustered, so I listened to his description of the free will argument, which was pretty good for being off-the-cuff. When he got to the part where God cannot make himself known to us by appearing in person because it will take away our free will, I asked him, “Does Satan have free will?”, to which he gave me a nod in agreement. I continued “But Satan has intimate knowledge of God. If I have the story straight, Satan used to work for God and saw him in person, but yet Satan still has free will. If seeing God in the flesh (so to speak) does not affect Satan’s free will, why would it affect ours?”

His flustered look was starting to become real stress, so we switched to book recommendations. He recommended C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and asked me if I had read it. I told him I had not, but that I have read many other books and articles about Lewis’s arguments. I recommended The Trouble With Religion by Sophie Dulesh; she takes a mighty whack at deconstructing Lewis’s ideas in chapter one, so he doesn’t have to read the whole book.

We continued for a while about the good bits and the bad bits of Christianity, and how we can find many of the good bits of Christianity in many other religions, which both pre-date and post-date Christianity. I could tell that this young man really cared about what he believed in, and I think he really began to understand some of the immorality and absurdity of the Christian religion. Of course, what he does with this information is entirely up to him, and I wish him luck on whatever path he chooses. But from his body language, facial expressions, and the way he asked questions, I feel this was a conversation very much worth having. For me, it was one conversation that made the entire weekend worthwhile.                                        – Pat Morrow

The Conversation Worth Having (Christopher Hitchens)

Demand an End to “Faith-Based” Health Care

Religiously-affiliated health care institutions are denying patients access to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada because of the beliefs of the religious boards controlling their policies. This is infringing on the ability of patients in those facilities to access a legal procedure, resulting in seriously ill and dying patients being subjected to prolonged suffering. Partisan policy should have no place in publicly-funded institutions that are required to serve all Manitobans.

Our website has all the information you need to get up to speed on this issue, including links to recent news articles for more background information. You will also find a sample letter that you can send to the hospital and government representatives, along with contact information for them.

Please add your voice to support the growing number of Manitobans who believe that government should remain neutral on matters of religion and that no religion should receive preferential treatment over another religion, or the lack of religion.

This is OUR publicly funded health care system, and we need to hold our elected representatives responsible for ensuring that it serves everyone. Demand better!

Book Film of the Month

Heart of the Beholder is a 2005 drama film written and directed by Ken Tipton, based on Tipton’s own experience as the owner of a chain of videocassette rental stores in the 1980’s. Tipton and his family had opened the first videocassette rental stores in St. Louis in 1980; their business was largely destroyed by a campaign of Christian fundamentalists who objected to the chain’s carrying Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ for rental.

Heart of the Beholder features Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek) and a very early performance by Chloe Grace Moretz as a child actress.  It won “Best Feature Film” awards at several film festivals. Critical comments included “It is in many ways a politically charged film as it touches on issues of freedom of speech, religious beliefs and all-out fanaticism”.  Here is the original trailer.

Thanks to Karen and David Donald for the donation.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this DVD.

 

Demand an End to “Faith-Based” Health Care

Why is Religion Controlling Access to Medical Care?

You’ve probably heard and read about the situation at St Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, where a Catholic-controlled board of directors was ‘stacked’ in order to vote down a proposal to allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) on the premises. This is a serious concern, especially since St Boniface Hospital is only one of a number of ‘faith-based’ health care facilities in Manitoba and across Canada that are restricting access to legal services. So far, the provincial government has shown no inclination to step in. It’s time for the majority of Canadians who support MAID to speak up and demand that something change.

Important points about MAID

No health care worker is required to participate

In Manitoba, MAID is the responsibility of a specialized team of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers who travel from site to site carrying out interviews and examinations with patients who request an assisted death. They subsequently carry out the procedure on site. Health care workers in those facilities are not expected to participate in the assisted death of patients in their care. Indeed, they specifically have the right remove themselves from the area based on conscientious objection to the procedure. Individual people have rights – but buildings don’t. What faith-based institutions are doing is refusing to allow the procedure to take place on their premises – even if their own staff are not involved.

Patients cannot choose their hospital

In our publicly-funded health care system, patients frequently do not have the opportunity to choose the hospital in which they are treated. Many services are consolidated at certain sites and not offered at others – so even if a patient presents to the emergency room at the hospital of their choice, they could end up being transferred to another. Ambulances are directed to hospitals according to both service and bed availability, so in an emergency, the patient has no say whatsoever. This means that all publicly-funded hospitals must be able and willing to accommodate all patients.

This is not a criticism of the hospital or its staff

Neither HAAM nor anyone in the media is criticizing the staff or the care provided at St Boniface Hospital. The staff there are dedicated professionals who provide excellent care, and the majority of them support their patients’ right to make their own health care decisions. Indeed, several staff members have bravely spoken out publicly to advocate for their patients’ comfort and autonomy. The issue at stake is the control of hospital policy by a religious board of directors. There is no place for that in a public hospital, and the board should be removed.

Not happy with the current situation?

Speak up about it! Here’s a sample letter that you can use to make your views known. Copy and send as is, or edit and personalize it. Or phone instead if you wish, and use this letter for talking points.

Contact information follows at the end. 

I’m writing you today as a concerned citizen regarding the issue of publicly-funded, faith-based hospitals denying tax-paying Canadians the right to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). I’m sure you agree that Canada has, is, and will continue to be defined as a Cultural Mosaic. This term represents what is at the very strength and heart of our nation – namely our diversity represented by people of many cultures and faiths, and increasingly those who choose no faith at all.

I am asking that you take action to ensure that this defining characteristic is not rendered meaningless and continually violated by the partisan agreement signed by the Manitoba government in 1996 allowing faith-based facilities to “maintain their respective mission, vision and culture” to the detriment of patient care. In this agreement, our government showed deference to one faith over others, and empowered the Catholic Health Corporation to supersede the right of choice for dying patients of all or no faiths, in clear violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • Section 2(a) of the Charter grants: freedom of conscience and religion.
  • Section 7 of the Charter grants: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
  • Section 12 of the Charter grants: Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

While the Charter guarantees the rights of individuals to religious freedom, it does not guarantee that right to publicly-funded institutions. By continuing to honor this agreement, the Manitoba government is allowing publicly-funded faith-based hospitals to violate the rights and freedoms of every qualifying patient who would choose to receive MAID, by denying them the liberty to make this end-of-life choice, and subjecting them to cruelty via prolonged suffering. I see nothing in the Charter, and quite the opposite, that gives the Catholic Health Corporation the right or authority to impose its religious views on Canadians, or to withhold services on that basis as a public entity, and in so doing, deny freedom of conscience to its patients.

I am asking that steps be taken by this government to enforce our Charter rights and revoke this agreement on those grounds. Further, I ask that steps be taken to make the regional health authorities responsible for the oversight of health care in the province so that all Manitobans have equal access to all health care options, regardless of their own religious or cultural affiliation or that espoused by the health care facility, in keeping with the non-partisan spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I am asking you to support the individual’s right of conscience in making end-of-life decisions that will preserve their dignity and prevent the cruelty of unnecessary suffering.

I look forward to hearing what you and your government are prepared to do to resolve what is an unconscionable state of affairs in our hospitals.

Suggested recipients

Manitoba government

Manitoba premier Brian Pallister: premier@leg.gov.mb.ca or 204-945-3714

Minister of Health, Kevin Goertzen: minhsal@leg.gov.mb.ca or 204-945-3731

Send a copy to your own MLA: Find your MLA here and then click on his/her name here for contact info.

Federal Goverment

Since assisted dying falls under federal jurisdiction, contact the federal government as well.

Minister of Health Jane Philpott: Jane.Philpott@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-3640

Send a copy to your own MP: Find your MP here

St Boniface Hospital

And of course, don’t forget to tell St Boniface Hospital exactly what you think of their board’s shenanigans.

info@stbhf.org or 204-237-2067

June 2017 Newsletter

June HAAM Events

HAAM and Eggs Breakfast

Sunday, June 4th, Smitty’s Restaurant, 580 Pembina Hwy (at Grant), 8:30 AM. Note the change of time.

 

Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival

Friday June 16th to Sunday June 18th, Steinbach, Manitoba.

 

 

Summer Solstice Party and BBQ

Saturday, June 24th, 5:30 PM, Assiniboine Park

 

There are MORE HAAM events coming up later this summer! See them all on our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

June Community (non-HAAM) Events

Winnipeg Pride Parade

Sunday June 4th  Both the time (11 AM) and the route have changed this year.

 

For details on this and MORE upcoming community events this summer, visit our new Community Events page.

Latest News

Coming this August – An Evening with Richard Carrier

Author and historian Richard Carrier will be touring Canada this summer, and HAAM is very excited to be hosting an evening with him on Saturday August 19th.

Richard has a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy from Columbia University, and is a published philosopher and historian, specializing in contemporary philosophy of naturalism, and in Greco-Roman philosophy, science, and religion, and the origins of Christianity. He blogs regularly, lectures for community groups worldwide, and teaches courses online. He is the author of many books including Sense and Goodness without God, On the Historicity of Jesus, Why I Am Not a Christian, Not the Impossible Faith, and Proving History, as well as chapters in several anthologies and articles in academic journals. For more about Dr. Carrier and his work see www.richardcarrier.info

Richard will be speaking to us on the topic Did Christianity Really Begin without a Jesus? At the Intersection of Skepticism and History. If you’ve heard or read his work before, you already know that Richard is not convinced that there ever was an actual historical person named Jesus. The whole of Christianity could be based on nothing more than myth! Come and hear him explain his position and ask questions about it.

If you want to check out some of Richard’s work before meeting him in person, you can borrow his book Sense and Goodness Without God from our HAAM library, or watch one of his many videos on YouTube.

  This event is still in the planning stage. Further details will be announced as they are finalized. Check the event post on our website for updates.

Meet Another Humanist!

Pamela Johnson is the latest to add her profile to our Meet the Humanist web page. If you’ve been to one of our regular meetings, you’ll be familiar with the beautiful teapot that she painted for us.

The Meet the Humanist page is our opportunity to let the world know that non-believers are just regular people, and to let closeted atheists know that they are not alone. We’re always looking for more people to add their stories. (You can remain anonymous if you wish.) Contact us if you’d like to share your story.

Atheism in Canada Has a History? Who Knew?

I had the pleasure of driving out to Morden last week to hear Peter Cantelon and his Diversitas group host, as usual, another excellent talk. This month’s presentation was given by the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Elliot Hanowski on the history of non-belief in Canada. This was a very eye-opening and informative evening; I was taken aback by the incredibly rich and vibrant history of Canadian and Manitoban secular, atheist, and Humanist groups. It is a part of Canadian culture that I, and many others, are sorely unaware of!

Dr. Hanowski whisked us though the early history of non-belief, beginning with Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages, but the main focus of his talk essentially began at the beginning of the Enlightenment Era. We learned about such famous figures as Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, and Denis Diderot. Of course the bulk of the time was spent addressing the title topic – non-belief in Canada. What I also found interesting was to learn that so many non-believers were at the vanguard of social changes like the liberalization of the abortion and contraception laws, and the introduction of universal healthcare.

Dr. Hanowski described the large migration of non-religious settlers to BC and the long history of secular/freethought groups in early and modern Quebec. In one nineteenth century case, the wife of a secularist and Catholic Church critic asked to have her husband buried in the graveyard of a local Catholic church. It took five years and multiple court cases, but in the end she won, and was allowed to bury him in the church yard. In attendance at the funeral were some 2500 British soldiers and police, to prevent a near riot! The church members were later able to make themselves feel better by having the bishop come out and de-consecrate the small bit of ground where the heretic was buried.

In Manitoba, we heard about early twentieth-century secular movements such as the Rationalist Society, and Winnipegger Marshall J. Gauvin, who would attend priests’ sermons one week then critique them the next. He routinely had 300-600 people attend his lectures, and once debated a fundamentalist preacher to an audience of 3000.

Dr. Hanowski is a member of ISHASH (The International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism). This organization is a collection of academics dedicated to learning more about the history of us – the non-believers, Humanists, atheists, and freethinkers.

I have just barely touched on Dr. Hanowski’s entertaining and enlightening talk here, and there’s a reason for that. If you missed it, have no fear. Details still need to be worked out, but Dr. Hanowski has agreed to join us for an evening in the fall. So keep your eyes open and your calendars clear as our new meeting season picks up again in September.

You won’t want to miss this one!                                                                                                              – Pat Morrow

We’re Gearing Up for Summer Outreach

June marks the beginning of our summer outreach season. We’re all looking forward to Steinbach’s Summer in the City Festival, and we have will have a new banner at the booth to promote Humanism.

Last year was a challenging outreach, and this year we expect more of the same. But this time we will have help from some of the newly-formed Eastman Humanist Community. A few of their intrepid members will join us at the booth talking with believers and non-believers alike.

Summer in the City promises some great entertainment, with Tom Cochrane on the main stage Saturday evening. But Sunday’s performances will feature entirely Christian artists, since ‘Worship in the City’ will now become an all-day event.

Any way you slice it, this is going to be an interesting weekend! So please join us! If you’re a HAAM member, please consider helping out at the booth. Everyone who attends the festival is welcome to just pop by for a visit and say Hi.

See you out there!

Most of us read a lot of depressing news these days about issues that matter to us as Humanists. Do you get discouraged, or even avoid the news, because you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it?

Sometimes there are actions we can take, however small, to make our voices heard. Usually these involve writing to politicians or signing petitions. Please take the few minutes to make your opinion count!

New! Stop Government Funding of ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centres’

Please help us stop government funding of anti-choice groups. Here is a sample letter that you can send to Manitoba government Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition. Opinion aside, it just doesn’t make sense for governments to fund organizations that oppose legal services. Let’s make our voices heard!

Update on Canada’s Blasphemy Law

The map below shows countries that still had penalties for blasphemy in 2016 (click to enlarge). Shamefully, Canada is still on the list.

A recent Call to Action asked HAAM supporters to write to their MP’s demanding the repeal of Canada’s outdated blasphemy law. A number of us did. Here is the response one of our members received from her MP:

  Thank you for writing to me about Bill C-39 and changes to blasphemy laws. I apologize for the delay in my response.

  As you know, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, is currently in the process of reforming our justice system to make it more fair, relevant and accessible. This reform involves modernizing the Criminal Code. Given that the last broad review of the criminal justice system occurred in the 1980s, an in-depth examination of how the system is currently working will assist in identifying gaps to ensure a comprehensive and modern justice system. To fulfil this commitment, the Minister is undertaking a program of consultation and engagement with stakeholders through a series of regional roundtables across the country.

  While Bill C-39 does not touch on blasphemy laws specifically, I would like to note that the Minister has referred to Bill C-39 as a first step in a larger review that will span her entire mandate. To that end, the Minister continues to act on her mandate to review our criminal justice system in a comprehensive way.

 Thank you again for writing to me about changes to blasphemy laws. If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me again.      

  Sincerely,

  Dan Vandal

It’s not exactly a promise, but at least it’s an acknowledgement. Maybe it’s a start. At least her letter put the issue on one MP’s radar. We need to continue to urge the government to include the blasphemy law in that ‘larger review’ they mention.

It’s not too late to add your own voice to those who have already written. There’s more information and a link to a sample (pre-written) letter on the home page of our HAAM website. All you have to do is copy, paste, and send.

Current Calls to Action are always posted on the Home Page of our website. The only way we’ll ever make a difference is to stand up and be counted!

BOOK OF THE MONTH – Being Gay is Disgusting

Yes, that really is the title of the book. Actually, the full title is Being Gay is Disgusting – or, God Loves the Smell of Burning Fat. It’s been over 3 years since author Edward Falzon visited Winnipeg while on tour, promoting his book. So there are lots of new people in HAAM who may not have heard of it. Don’t let the title put you off – it’s intended for shock value. The book is really just an entertaining and painless way to become familiar with the first five books of the Old Testament. And yes, the well-known verses condemning homosexuality are in there, along with lots of other prohibitions that are probably less familiar.

I thought, when I first got this book, that it would be a severely abridged version of the ‘real’ Bible, but no. Edward has all the information in there, even the boring genealogies (but they’re in chart form instead of endless passages of ‘begats’). None of the sordid details are omitted, either; he only updated the language to make reading the Bible understandable and fun. It’s a great way for the ‘unchurched’, or those who have never read the Bible, to get to know what’s in there. I referred to it regularly when I read the Old Testament as part of HAAM’s Atheist Bible Study project. (Editor’s note: If you didn’t read along with us back then, you can still do it now – the reading guide and my notes are all posted at that link.) One of the best features of the book is Edward’s hilarious and insightful footnotes!

Here’s an excerpt from the book (with its corresponding footnote):

Genesis 14 – Big War, Abram Kicks Butt

  So anyway, there were five kings, including the kings of both Sodom and Gomorrah, who had all been subject to a king called Kedorlaomer (“Ked” to his mates). After twelve years of this, they all rebelled. In the 14th year, King Ked teamed up with three other kings and destroyed no less than four territories, plus two more on the way home.

  So the five other kings went down to the Dead Sea, which was full of slime pits, and waged war on Ked and his friends.28 They lost. Badly. When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled to the hills, some of their men fell into the slime pits. The victors took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah and went home. They also took Abram’s nephew, Lot, who was living in Sodom at the time.

   28You know, at this point in the Bible, only about 370 years have passed since Noah’s flood. I’ve always wondered how there can be nine kings and a Pharaoh, each with their own civilians, servants, slaves, and livestock, created from the eight people on the ark. I still haven’t worked it out – I’ll keep you posted.

The long days of summer are a great time to sit outside and read a book. Wouldn’t it be fun to be caught at the beach with a title like this? A sure conversation starter…

We have a couple of copies in our library (click here to borrow), and a few leftovers from Edward’s promotional tour to sell at $15 each, if you’d like your very own (contact us).                                                                             – Dorothy Stephens

 

April 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Dying and Rising Gods Before Jesus

Saturday, April 8th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 8:30 PM.

 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Saturday, April 29th, Perkins Restaurant, 2142 McPhillips St (just south of Garden City Shopping Centre), 9:30 AM

 

For details on these and more upcoming events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

Upcoming Community (non-HAAM) Events

March for Science

Saturday, April 22nd, Manitoba Legislature, 1 PM

 

 

Future Community Events

Friday, May 19th Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, with our own Rollin Penner

Wednesday, May 24th – Public Lecture – Secular/Atheist Movements in Canada

For details on these and more upcoming community events, visit our new Community Events page. 

Latest News

Ask An Atheist Day 

The official date is Thursday April 20th, but during the month of April, we are inviting anyone to ask us anything, anytime – so go ahead and think up your toughest questions! Details are on the home page of our website.

If you are ‘out’ as an atheist, and would like to participate in this event as an individual, feel free to use one of the following images (created by the Secular Student Alliance) on social media to encourage your friends to ask you their questions. (Or you can refer people to the HAAM website if you don’t want to answer yourself.)

Profile Pic

Profile Pic

Facebook banner

 

Click images to enlarge and download.

 

 

 

Can Faith and Science Co-Exist?

According to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines (any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no), the answer would obviously be ‘no’. But that’s not the opinion of Dr. Patrick Franklin, a professor of theology who gave a lecture on the subject in March.

HAAM’s Pat Morrow drove out to Morden to listen. Pat’s report on the evening’s discussion mentions Bible verses, creationists, Richard Dawkins, pedophile priests, the garden of Eden, Galileo, and an ode to flowers. How do these all tie in together? Read his fascinating and informative account here. It appears on our Perspectives page.

 

Charity of the Month in Action

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre was our Charity of the Month in September 2014. Back then, they were raising money to replace their old van, and promised that donations of $250 or more would be recognized with a decal on the new van as an indication of that sponsorship. HAAM members came through with the required amount, but we never saw the result until recently.

When Pat Morrow was in Morden for the Diversitas Lecture held at the museum, he noticed the new van in the parking lot and snapped this photo (click to enlarge). That’s great advertising for HAAM – and a nice little reminder, especially in a Bible Belt town, that non-believers can be charitable, too.

Call to ActionDemand that Canada’s Blasphemy Law be Repealed

The crime of blasphemous libel (Criminal Code Section 296) is still on the books in Canada. It was the subject of a petition in 2016. In the government’s response to that petition, on January 30, 2017, Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould indicated that the blasphemy law would be reviewed along with other outdated laws as part of a broad review of the justice system.

Now that review is underway. Government Bill C-39, an act to repeal provisions and remove passages of the Criminal Code that have been ruled unconstitutional (‘zombie laws’), is currently before the House of Commons. It addresses such varied issues as duelling, abortion, practicing witchcraft, and water-skiing – but nothing about blasphemy. Why not?

The current “zombie law” bill may be the best opportunity to advance secular human rights Canadian secularists are likely to see. Don’t let it pass! Write to your Member of Parliament and demand the repeal of Canada’s blasphemy law.

Click here for a sample letter that you can use or edit if you wish.

Opinion – Why Do Refugees Cross the Border? (and why should we help them?)

I’m thinking right now about all the Facebook memes and comments posted about people’s individual struggles in life. How we don’t really know what people are going through, what battles or demons they may be fighting; you know the ones.

Do these memes only apply to us? You and I who are lucky enough to have been born in Canada; you and I who see the world only through the lens of Facebook; you and I with our first world problems; you and I who have never lived in war-torn countries; you and I who have never had to fear for our lives, and especially the lives of our children; you and I who are not fleeing discriminatory policies and outright hatred from the government of a country that once used to be a beacon of hope. We do not know the individual stories of these people until we actually hear and assess them. The fact that they are coming from the USA right now is the result of the policies of the vile Trump administration.

Canada is a rich country that can afford to accommodate immigrants and refugees as well as do more to look after our own homeless and poverty stricken people. It is not an either/or issue for me. It is only a matter of political and collective will.

I am a descendant of people who came to Canada under what was then an open-door policy based on race and ethnicity. My people, for the most part, were not refugees; they were economic migrants – looking for a better life for themselves and their children. Knowing this, I for one have a hard time slamming the door in the face of newcomers, especially if it means turning back desperate asylum-seekers and children at the border.

Immigrants and refugees cost us money on arrival, but once established, they pay rich dividends that far exceed their initial cost to Canada. If it’s the cost of supporting refugees that concerns us, I can only imagine the billions of dollars and vast infrastructure needed to really seal off and secure our borders if we wish to stop people walking across.

As far as the lengthy wait for immigrants who pursue the application process, for the most part these people and their children are not in any physical danger. Canada has a problematic legal immigration process that favours people who are well off. That needs to be changed.

So, yeah, what about all these silly memes about our personal struggles… while we sit in our comfortably warm homes, and live and work in a safe country.                                                                                                                          – Bob Russell

Charity of the Month – Welcome Place

Welcome Place

The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC) had its beginnings in the years following WWII, when “displaced persons” had to declare their religious affiliation to enter the country. Back then, each denomination sought to help their own people integrate into Canada. Over time, as common goals and interests emerged, these groups began to work together, eventually becoming the MIIC. For nearly 70 years, MIIC has welcomed, reunited, and settled refugee families from all over the world.

Today, MIIC’s services include:

  • Assistance with settlement
  • Information about and orientation to life in Canada
  • Referrals to community services like English classes, employment counseling, financial and legal support, etc.
  • Interpretation/translation, counseling, advocacy and support
  • Information about Provincial and Federal Government services such as healthcare and social services
  • Life skills training
  • Orientation to neighborhoods and transportation (like public transit and climate information)
  • Personal financial help (like budgeting, shopping, and banking)
  • Education about emergency preparedness (like child safety, fire, food, pedestrian, winter)

Newly arrived government-assisted refugees are temporarily housed at Welcome Place Residence (521 Bannatyne Ave, in photo), in self-contained and furnished apartments with access to on-site support. Except that this year, Welcome Place is full and struggling to keep up with the demands for its accommodations and services, due mainly to the influx of asylum-seekers escaping the USA. By early March, they had already assisted almost 200 new refugees, including pregnant women and unaccompanied minors.

To try to meet this increasing demand, MIIC launched a new fund-raising campaign in March, called #Open Your Hearts – A Celebration of Humanity. Their goal is to raise $300,000.00. Every little bit helps – can we help them reach their goal?

  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 PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Book of the Month

Among the donated books added to our library last month is a little gem entitled The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors; Or, Christianity Before Christ, by Kersey Graves. Since many people will be celebrating Easter this month, a book that examines ‘heathen gods’ that predate Christ sounds fascinating. But get this – it was written in 1875! That’s not a typo; even way back then, there were skeptics and freethinkers.

Graves asserted that Jesus was not an actual person, but a creation largely based on earlier stories of deities. This book was a forerunner to the increasingly popular Christ-as-a-myth theories, and its ideas have been used in the documentaries The God Who Wasn’t There, The Pagan Christ, Zeitgeist: The Movie, and Religulous.

The gods discussed in this book include those from Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, Tibet, and Babylon, and all share at least some of the following traits we associate with Jesus, including miraculous or virgin births, being born on December 25, having stars point to their birthplaces, being visited by shepherds and magi as infants, fleeing from death as children, spending time in the desert, having disciples, performing miracles, being crucified, descending into hell, appearing as resurrections or apparitions, and ascending into heaven.

Graves’ ideas have since been critiqued and refined by modern scholars like Richard Carrier, but why not take a look at the ‘original’ Jesus-myth book just for fun? Visit our library page if you would like to borrow it.

November 2016 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

The Humanism of Star Trek

Saturday, November 19th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 8:30 PM

Secular Parents’ Book Club Meeting

Thursday, November 24th, 7 – 9 PM, location TBA

Winter Solstice Party

Saturday December 17th, Heritage-Victoria Community Club, 950 Sturgeon Road, 5:30 PM


For more information on these events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Latest News

Prayer at City Hall Update

no-prayerTony Governo has filed a formal complaint about the prayers at city council meetings with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. He recently learned that his complaint has been registered. This means that it will be served on the Respondent (the City). They will be asked to provide a reply within 30 days. Then the complaint will be investigated, which could take 8-10 months from the time it is assigned. The investigator then makes a recommendation to the Board. The Board then decides to dismiss or take to next stage.

Tony was recently interviewed by CTV News about the threats he received on social media after his complaint. And also in October, Edmonton’s city council decided to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and ended the practice of opening their meetings with prayer. After contemplating a ‘moment of reflection’ instead, they ultimately decided that it made more sense to just skip the whole thing and just get down to business. Wouldn’t it be nice if Winnipeg could do the same?

If you have not previously read about this issue, you can catch up here.

Openly Secular Day is Tuesday, November 15th

openly-secularAre you openly secular? Not everyone is – and not everyone can be. Too many people cannot reveal that they no longer believe, for fear of negative repercussions from their family, business/employment, friends, or community. But if we’re ever going to reduce the stigma of being a non-believer, and dispel the notion that atheists believe in ‘nothing’, more people have to come out of the closet.

The mission of the Openly Secular Campaign is to decrease discrimination and increase acceptance of atheists and Humanists by encouraging as many people as possible to let others know that they are non-religious. November 15th is Openly Secular Day, and it’s no accident that the date is just around the beginning of the holiday season – a time when so many people get together with family and friends. The goal on that day is to have as many people as possible ‘come out’ to just one other person. If you can do this, check out their website for more information and resources, and to take the ‘One Person Pledge’.

October event recap

October was a busy month! Our evening showing of the film A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy and Meaning in a World Without God was truly inspirational. President Donna Harris opened with a brief presentation about what Humanism is and how it differs from atheism. A big thank-you goes to Kumaran Reddy for recording it for us.

For a number of people, it was their first HAAM event, and one of those new people won our door prize – a copy of the book version of A Better Life. If you were unable to attend that evening, it is possible to view the film at home for a small fee. Check it out here.

If you couldn’t make it to our meeting to learn about the Humanist Outreach program in Uganda, and HAAM’s support of a secular school there, you missed a great evening. You can read news coverage of the meeting here.

Watch this short (2 minute) video message from Robert Bwambale of Kasese Humanist School.

Here is our sponsored student, John Bogere, saying hello to us.

Religious Exercises in Schools?

religion-in-schoolJust a reminder – Section 84(8) of the Manitoba Public Schools Act reads “If a petition asking for religious exercises, signed by the parents or guardians of 75% of the pupils in the case of a school having fewer than 80 pupils or by the parents or guardians of at least 60 pupils in the case of a school having an enrolment of 80 or more pupils, is presented to the school board, religious exercises shall be conducted for the children of those parents or guardians in that school year.”

This petition must come from the parents/community, NOT the school. The Minister of Education has ruled that public schools must be non-sectarian and that staff at the school cannot participate in recruiting students for prayer groups by contacting parents or sending home permission slips to be signed. It has come to our attention that some schools are still doing this, and one school division recently ended the practice simply because a parent brought it to the attention of the superintendent.

If this is still happening at your child’s school, we would like to know about it. Please contact us.

Call to Action – Speak up about Operation Christmas Child

shoeboxIf you’re involved in a school or other organization that collects for Operation Christmas Child, there are some very good reasons NOT to participate – even if you’re Christian (and especially if you’re not).

Find out more here, here, and here.

Spread the word!

 

 

Book of the Month – Pale Blue Dot

pale-blue-dot-bookWith Star Trek as our meeting topic, this seems like a good month to feature a book about our place in the universe. We have a copy of Carl Sagan’s 1994 classic Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. The title is, of course, based on the famous photograph of the same name – a picture of the Earth from 4 billion miles away, taken by Voyager 1 in 1991 as it approached the outer limits of our solar system.

The book begins by examining the idea that humans think they are uniquely important in this vast universe. Sagan continues by exploring our solar system in detail, and discussing the possibility of life on other planets, suggesting that our very survival may depend on the wise use of other worlds. He argues that in order to save the human race, space colonization and terraforming (the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying the atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology of another planet or moon to make it habitable by Earth-like life) should be considered.

Watch this very moving tribute to Sagan and the Pale Blue Dot, produced by Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist). It’s only 5 minutes long.

Charity of the Month – The North Point Douglas Women’s Centre

north-point-douglasThe North Point Douglas Women’s Centre is just east of Main Street, near Dufferin Avenue. The address alone provides a wealth of information about the clients it serves. Its mission is to promote a safe, healthy, vibrant community for women and families, by offering programs designed to provide support, training, resources, and opportunities to women in the area. The centre arose out of a project sponsored by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg in 2000, to address problems caused by poverty and a lack of resources. Today it is a community hub where women and their families gather.

computer-point-douglasPrograms include

  • A drop-in safe space with snacks, activities, computer and phone access, laundry facilities, and a clothing and household items collection
  • Counselling and domestic violence recovery support
  • A neighborhood oven for community baking and events
  • Community safety programs
  • Health, fitness, and nutrition programs
  • Support and referrals for women dealing with stressors such as shelter, employment, emergency food and clothing, school, Child and Family Services involvement, legal help, Employment and Income Assistance disputes, daycare, etc.

What to Donate

Currently, the centre has a particular need for the following items that they go through very quickly

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Baby formula

Please bring these items to the monthly meeting and we will deliver them to the centre. Of course, money likely wouldn’t be turned down, either. 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 PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a message letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Partners for Life Update

donate-blood

Yay! HAAM members are now up to 15 donations for 2016! We have 11 members registered in the program, 7 of whom have donated at least once this year. We’re still just ahead of Steinbach Bible College, (with 13 donations), and there are almost 2 months to go! Let’s get a few more units in by New Year.

There’s no prize for donating blood – just bragging rights and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that Humanists are helping their fellow humans. So get out there and do it!

You can donate at the main clinic on William Ave (across from HSC) during their regular hours (Mon 10-2 and 3:30-7:30; Tues 1:30-7; and Wed-Sat 8-2), or attend one of these mobile clinics in the Winnipeg area.

Here are two new points worth noting (thanks Janine Guinn):

  1. The recommended time between donations for women is being increased to 84 days, because of the ongoing risk of low hemoglobin. (The interval for men remains at 56 days.)
  2. If you book an appointment at least 48 hours ahead, you can now have your pre-donation health questions sent by email and complete them online before you go, saving a bunch of time.

Note that you must register with the Partners for Life program in order for your donation to be credited to HAAM. Click here for more information and instructions on how to sign up.

We Need You!

help-wantedIt’s time to start looking ahead again to the upcoming year. Please consider volunteering to serve on our executive! We need people who are enthusiastic about building a supportive community, promoting a secular society with fairness for all, and advocating for critical thinking in the larger world. If you can contribute ideas, energy, time, and/or effort, you’re welcome to join us! The more committed people we have, the more we can accomplish.

Meetings are usually held monthly, (dates and times determined by mutual availability), with online contact in between. Please consider volunteering, or accepting the offer to join if you are approached. Many hands make light work, and enable HAAM to offer more events and programs, and make a bigger difference to our members and community.

Elections will be held at our AGM on January 14th – so you have some time to think about it or talk to members of our current executive if you have questions.

Outreach Report

outreach logoOutreach has been very busy since our last newsletter. Tony Governo and Tammy Blanchette have been out to speak to another high school class in southern Manitoba. I enjoyed meeting with a local hospital chaplain who is taking a class on world religions in an effort to become better at his job in spiritual care. His overall goal was to learn how to best to approach a “Humanist/atheist person” (his words) with regards to their spiritual care. It was a helluva starting point, but the ensuing discussion was interesting for two people who are, metaphorically speaking, from different planets.

A little later in October, Donna Harris and I (with Todd De Ryck along as an observer) spoke to a U of W class called “Crises in Faith” – an exploration of five major contemporary critiques of religion. We explained the usual atheism and Humanistic philosophy. The students’ questions were sometimes challenging, and as often happens when discussing philosophy, the conversation goes off in the strangest directions. We found ourselves having to explain why, when making societal decisions, both religious and non-religious people are welcome at the table of ideas, but religion itself shouldn’t and can’t be granted special privileges. I also found myself in the really odd position of explaining why the national socialism of the Nazis in the middle of the twentieth century was not a secular government. This is why we love outreach and especially visiting school classes; you really don’t know what someone will say next.

We’re looking forward to November and our visit to the newly formed Steinbach Humanist group; that should be fun.                                                                                                                                   – Pat Morrow

When Good Intentions Cross Ethical Lines

This article appears on our Perspectives page. You can read it here.

January 2016 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • 2015 Year in Review and President’s Message
  • Outreach Reports
  • Which community leader doesn’t seem interested in speaking to our members?
  • HAAM helps sponsor a refugee family
  • and more…

January newsletter

June 2015 Newsletter

church and state  HAAM has a busy summer ahead! In our June newsletter:

  •   Updates on the stories we’ve been following on religion in our public institutions,
  •   Details about all our upcoming events (including speakers who will be appearing at our River City Reasonfest conference in September), and
  •   A link to view the presentation on the Ethics of Religion if you missed it at our May meeting.

June Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events
  1. Winter Solstice Party

    December 14 @ 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
  2. HAAM and Eggs Brunch

    January 19, 2020 @ 9:30 am - 11:00 am
Save the Dates!

Winter Solstice Party

December 14th

Monthly Meetings

Jan 11th (includes AGM)
Feb 8th
Mar  14th
Apr 4th
May 23rd

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Jan 19th

Other Upcoming Events

For community events of interest to HAAM members, click here.

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