charity

March 2020 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly meeting – Identity Politics

Saturday, March 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 830 PM

We now pigeonhole ourselves as the religious, the right, the left, gun owners, social justice warriors, vegans etc. etc.  Dr. Simon Potter discusses this pressing problem for society and provides historical evidence that the phenomenon is far from new. Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, March 22nd, Smitty’s Fort Richmond, 2835 Pembina Hwy, 9:30 – 11:00 AM

This monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.
New people are always welcome. Details here.

 

Save the Dates 

Monthly meetings:

Saturday, April 4th

Saturday, May 23rd

Summer Solstice Party

Sat, June 20th

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

Charity of the Month – Sunshine House

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

Sunshine House is open two afternoons a week, providing coffee and meals, conversation and activities, laundry and bathing facilities, and harm reduction supplies like syringes and condoms. Two evenings a week, the centre holds a program called “Like That”, where people exploring gender and/or sexual identity can gather for fun, skills building and recreation. On Sundays they serve a full brunch for $2.

The centre also advocates for managed alcohol programs and safe consumption spaces in Winnipeg. This is a small organization that could really use our support. Please help!

If you would like to contribute but cannot make it to the meeting, you can make a donation by credit card via the ‘Donate’ button in the sidebar. Just include a note that the money is for the charity of the month.

Tax receipts will be issues for donations over $10. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Brainy Brunch Breakfast

Members of the Eastman Humanist Community (Steinbach and area) get together for brunch on the first Sunday of every month, at 9:30 AM at Smitty’s in the Clearspring Centre.

HAAM members are welcome to join them.

For more information about the brunch, contact eastmanbrainybrunch@gmail.com. 

End-of-Life Planning

The Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity Canada is growing, with new volunteers, an updated website, and new events planned.

Body Options (choices for disposal of your body after death) –
Saturday March 7th. This will the first topic in a series called “Death Matters”.

Advance Care Planning (the ins and outs of Health Care Directives and more) – The March 21st workshop is already full, but there will be at least one more planned for April / early May. Watch for announcements.

For details about these presentations, visit DWDWinnipeg.ca. Pre-registration is required for all events.

For the latest information on all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page. 

Latest News

Outreach report – ethics class

On January 24, two members of Eastman Humanist Community and I traveled to the Green Valley High School in Grunthal for a presentation on Atheism and Ethics. There were approximately 20 students in this class. I had anticipated that we were about to encounter an unsympathetic group of students, as Grunthal is located in a highly religious area of Manitoba.

I prepared a small number of questions. I asked the students to anonymously choose between two answers for each question. The results totally surprised me as I was expecting negative views about atheism.

– Question: Who would you consider to more trustworthy a) an atheist or b) a theist? The answers were split roughly 50% for atheists and 50% for theists.

– Question: Which characteristic would better describe an atheist a) angry or b) happy? Overwhelmingly the answer was b). One written comment was – “Happy, because they don’t have to follow strict guidelines in religious texts.”

The students were eager to engage in discussion. Some of them adopted traditional Christian views. Others expressed more progressive attitudes. Topics included sexism in the Bible, Christian and atheist positions on homosexuality, and where do ethics come from if there is no God. I was very impressed that many of the students were thinking about these issues and had developed their own opinions. Although I believe that a large majority of the students define themselves as Christians, I came away believing that religion does not have as strong a hold on them as I had anticipated.

This encounter reinforced my belief that the younger generations are open-minded and thinking critically. I hope that HAAM and the EHC will continue to engage in such presentations to school groups.

Arthur Prystenski

Manitoba MP displays his religious privilege

Ted Falk is the Member of Parliament for the Manitoba constituency of Provencher, which is in the south-east corner of the province and includes our ‘Bible Belt’ area (the town of Steinbach and environs). Earlier this winter, he sent a sympathy card on government stationary to a family in that area who had experienced a loss.

Not everyone in the deceased’s family was comforted by the religious message expressed in the card, and photos of it were sent to HAAM. (click images to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to fear of repercussions, both within the family and in the community, there was no formal complaint made about the card by the family members who were upset by it. However, HAAM exec member Arthur Prystenski has written a letter to Mr. Falk to let him know that not everyone appreciated this overt display of Christian privilege, and to remind him that he was elected to represent everyone in his riding, and that in future, he should keep such messages neutral and inclusive.

Here is Arthur’s letter (with personal details redacted). If any response is received, we will update this story in a future newsletter.

 

Abortion Caravan turns 50 this year

The Abortion Caravan of 1970 was Canada’s first national feminist protest – but if you’re younger than your mid-60’s, you’ve probably either  never heard of it or don’t remember it. It’ll be in the news this spring, though, because pro-choice groups are planning events and campaigns across the country in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Caravan and the subsequent achievements for abortion rights in Canada, as well as to draw attention to the remaining barriers to access.

The original Caravan began with a group of young women from Vancouver who traveled to Ottawa, gaining support along the way. By the time they reached the capital on the Mothers’ Day weekend, carrying a black coffin ‘decorated’ with coat hangars, they were over 500 strong. They chained themselves to seats in the House of Commons and burned an effigy of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Their protest caused quite a stir!

At left is the original Caravan slogan that was plastered all over Ottawa prior to the Caravan’s arrival. Note that it contains no details. Last year, CBC’s Sunday Edition radio broadcast did an excellent show about the Caravan, including all sorts of clips from old news coverage, and interviewing some of the original participants. It’s just under 40 minutes long and well worth the listen.

Watch the news this spring for stories about the anniversary of the Caravan. If there are events in the Winnipeg area, we’ll be sure to share them. Let’s celebrate the progress of the last 50 years as we continue to support reproductive rights and look to the future. 

Book of the Month – The European Dream

Our library includes more than just the usual books you’d expect on religion. We have a few books on related topics as well, including pop culture, psychology, and politics.

Here’s a book about the European Dream, written by Jeremy Rifkin in 2004. Back then, Rifkin posited that the European Union was already an economic superpower rivaling the US, and that it had the potential to become a full world superpower. He argued that, in contrast to the US model of dominance by military and economic strength, Europe gained world influence and respect through humanitarian and economic aid, and its embrace of multiculturalism and diplomacy. He argued that while the American Dream is in decline, the European Dream promises a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life.

It’s interesting to consider these ideas in hindsight 15 years later. What did Rifkin get right? What did he get wrong? Are any of these dreams realistic? Did the Obama administration make any difference? Could the author have predicted Trump, and what, if anything, will improve after this year’s US election? What influence will Brexit have on Europe? And where does Canada fit into all this? Read what Rifkin had to say and make your own conclusions and predictions. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.
Visit the Library page to request to borrow a book or DVD, and we will make arrangements to get it to you.

February 2020 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly meeting – Lost Cultures

Saturday, February 8th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 830 PM

Join us as educator and science enthusiast Luc Blanchette takes a look at the people who came before. Who were the first people in North America?

Plus we’ll celebrate Darwin Day as we delve into a little-known time in human history.

Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, February 23rd, Salisbury House, 1277 Henderson Hwy (near Springfield Road), 9:30 – 11:00 AM

This monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.

In February our brunch will be in East Kildonan. New people are always welcome.

Details here

Spring meeting dates

Sat, March 14

Sat, April 4

Sat, May 23

 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Brainy Brunch Breakfast

Members of the Eastman Humanist Community (Steinbach and area) get together for brunch on the first Sunday of every month, at 9:30 AM at Smitty’s in the Clearspring Centre.

HAAM members are welcome to join them.

For more information about the brunch, contact eastmanbrainybrunch@gmail.com.

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

Charity of the Month – Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre

The name Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata translates from Ojibway into the phrase, “we all work together to help one another.” This organization has over 30 years of experience helping Indigenous people rebuild families. Today Ma Mawi has over 50 programs, 11 sites, and 200+ staff and volunteers.

The centre provides gathering places for learning, traditional arts and crafts, youth programming, community events and celebrations, and a Bear Clan rest stop. Its programs and services are numerous and varied. Highlights are:

Community programs

Money management skills
Community drop-in
Computer lending and free internet access
Short- term assistance and services for families in financial crisis
Parenting groups
Personal growth and development workshops
Support for families healing from the effects of violence
Home-based crisis intervention for emotional, behavioural or psychiatric difficulties
Addressing the sexual exploitation/trafficking of underage girls

Facilities for children in care

Short-term assessment home for young women 13-17 years old
Short term licensed homes and intensive support for birth families working toward reunification
Long-term safe house for young women and transgender youth 13-17 years old
A rural healing lodge for young women and transgendered youth 13-17 years old
Residential learning facility for pregnant adolescents and mothers 13-17 years old
Long-term licensed homes for Aboriginal children and youth
Long-term home for young boys 11-14 years old
Emergency care program for children under the age of 10 and their siblings

Youth programs

Cultural teachings and sacred ceremonies
Hunters & Gatherers (Cubs & Scouts)
Future is Yours – for youth ages 14-20
Positive Adolescent Sexuality Support (P.A.S.S.)
Free recreational and cultural programming
Rising Sun Pow Wow Club
North End Hockey Program

That’s an amazing list of resources working to strengthen children, youth, families and community.

Let’s help Ma Wawi to build safer communities, protect children, and keep families together.

If you would like to contribute but cannot make it to the meeting, you can make a donation by credit card via the ‘Donate’ button in the sidebar. Just include a note that the money is for the charity of the month.

Tax receipts will be issues for donations over $10.

Latest News

New! ‘Escape button’ now on our website

Sadly, it’s not always safe to be publicly identified as a non-believer. For some people, it may not even be safe to be seen reading books or websites about atheism or Humanism. Depending on someone’s age, occupation, family structure, financial status, or community, that could get them into a lot of trouble. It’s not uncommon for non-believers who are ‘outed’ to lose their jobs, end up divorced, be evicted by their parents, have educational funding cut off, or be socially shunned. Many times, at our Outreach booths in Morden and Steinbach, we have had young people (and sometimes adults) approach us with curiosity or enthusiasm but refuse to take a brochure (or even a business card,) lest they be caught with it later.

We direct these people to our website and tell them to contact us if they have questions. But what if that’s not safe, either? The website receives visitors from all over the world. Depending on someone’s personal circumstances, they may be viewing it on a computer at school, at work, at a library, or from some other public place where they risk exposure.

Introducing the ‘leave site quickly’ button. It’s hot pink, and you’ll see it just under the menu bar on the right side of every page if you’re on a desktop or laptop computer (see screenshot below). When you hear your mother / teacher / boss coming, click that button and it’ll take you to the YouTube home page. Happy surfing!

Notes from our AGM

Here are our 2020 HAAM executive, elected at the AGM on 11th January:

President – Pat Morrow

Secretary – Andrea Kaplen

Treasurer – Henry Kreindler

Members-at-Large – Tammy Blanchette, Karen Donald, Cheri Frazer, Tony Governo, Donna Harris, Sherry Lyn Marginet, Arthur Prystenski, Dorothy Stephens, and one person who needs to remain anonymous.

These are the people who plan our meetings and events, monitor our social media accounts, pay the bills, send out the newsletter, update the website, organize social activities, answer emails, keep track of membership, etc etc etc.

The motion to amend our Position Statement on Human Rights to include respect for gender identity and personal pronouns was passed by our members. You can read all of HAAM’s Position Statements here.

The About Us page has been updated with an acknowledgement that our meetings are held on Treaty One territory.

Curious about HAAM’s history?

Our president’s message in last month’s newsletter sparked some questions and confusion among long-time and former members about HAAM’s origins. Such was the informal structure of the group back then, that we didn’t have many written records.

Thanks to the efforts of Helen Friesen, who searched her own memory banks and then emailed past president Barrie Webster (at right, now living in BC), we were able to flesh out some almost-forgotten details of our early days. The About Us page on our website has been updated to include this information.

Book of the Month – The Bible for Dummies

Regardless of your opinion of the Bible, there’s no denying that it has influenced much of western art, music, literature, and public discourse. But what do you really know about it?

Do you know who wrote the Bible and how it was put together? Who really killed Goliath? What did the Old Testament prophets prophesize about? What’s Elijah’s claim to fame? When was the Jewish exile? What exactly are seraphim? (Hint: they’re not particularly angelic.) How many wise men visited baby Jesus? Who were the Pharisees? What was the Sermon on the Mount? The mark of the Beast? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, aren’t you at least a bit curious?

If you’ve tried to read the Bible before but found your eyes glazing over, this book provides a great overview. You’ll find it helpful if you want to know the highlights without having to read all the details. It has no significant bias either for or against religion; it just provides an overview of the basics and avoids discussing contradictions and controversies, sticking instead with the consensus of mainline (mostly Christian) Bible scholars.

(Note: If you are really curious, and want to read the entire the Bible from a skeptic’s point of view, check out the Atheist Bible study page.) 

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.

Partners for Life results

We did it! We actually beat our 2019 pledge! (see results below) Of course, there is no actual prize except for bragging rights and the satisfaction of saving lives – so we might as well brag about it!

We’ve renewed our pledge of 25 units annually for 2020, so let’s get this year off to a good start. Maybe we can hit 30!

If you have never donated blood before, or aren’t sure if you’re eligible or not, find out by checking the Canadian Blood Services’ Am I Eligible? page. If you’re eligible, make an appointment soon! Instructions on how to have your donation credited to HAAM’s pledge, and other useful information about the Partners for Life program, are on our website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 12th is International Darwin Day

It would be Charles Darwin’s 211th birthday, if he were still alive. He died in 1882 at the age of 73, but the implications (and repercussions!) of his work and discoveries continue today.

Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and humanity. Its purpose it to inspire people throughout the world to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin.

We’ll be recognizing Darwin Day at our February meeting (a few days early, but Charles probably won’t notice).

Mailbag

HAAM get lots of emails and messages through our website and social media accounts. Questions, comments, concerns. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Messages of support and flaming apologetics. Our executive reads them all.

So thanks to everyone who takes the time to read our sites and contact us. It’s nice to know that there are people out there who are paying attention.

We take privacy very seriously.  We never reveal our membership list, or ‘out’ anybody, or discuss confidential inquiries outside of the members of our executive who need to know (i.e. those responding to or helping the person with the concern). But we can share a few of the more interesting messages we receive without revealing personal or identifying information about the sender. Here’s a recent email from someone who just found our website, that helps make our efforts feel worthwhile.

After watching numerous videos and reading several books centered on or written by the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even Dan Dennett, I am left to marvel at the patience that these men, and those like them, have when entering into “debates” with religious advocates, figures, or apologists. After a couple of decades of policing, I can say with experience just how exasperating it is to try to reason with someone who is under the power of a delusion. The position these men find themselves, nay, volunteer for, in the name of promoting free thought and discourse, is to try to reason with people who operate under the delusion of an imaginary, invisible friend who lives in the sky somewhere, who watches their every move and thought from the day of conception until beyond death. From experience I can say that a better recipe for frustration is difficult to find; the exercise is all but designed to fail.

To debate or discuss many topics with the “faithful” is, in my mind, akin to trying to speak seriously to adults who still need a nightlight to sleep at night for fear of the dark. These people sadly set themselves up to not be taken seriously, and their opinions on adult topics (those being world issues, matters of governance, medicine, or scientific endeavor or the like) ought to be dismissed out of hand, or at least penalized for weight, as those of not a “serious and grown up person”, as Hitchens would put it.

Contrarily, in our current state of global madness, it is exactly these types of people that hold the highest office. When pondered sufficiently, the realization of this is utterly depressing. This is to thank you for your website and your continuing work to inspire more people to hopefully put away the nightlights, and become serious grown-up people who put their faith in humanity, and accept responsibility for their role in it.

Kind Regards
Name withheld

 

January 2020 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

AGM and Monthly meeting – Leaving Faith Behind

Saturday, January 11th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue

We will begin our meet-and-greet time early, at 4:30 PM, to accommodate the AGM at 5:00 PM. Dinner will be after the meeting, at around 6:00, followed by a brief regular meeting at about 6:45 and our speaker at 7:00.

Please come to the AGM! – we need your support and input as we plan for the coming year.

Our guest speaker at the meeting will be Jeffrey Olsson. Jeff will be talking about his personal journey out of religion. There will be plenty of time for Q & A, and we would love to hear your stories about leaving faith behind, as well as your questions.

More details in the Event Post.

We will be collecting hygiene products for our Charity of the Month at this meeting. Keep reading for details.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, January 19th, Original Pancake House, The Forks, 9:30 – 11:00 AM

This monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.

Note the location – We move around the city every month.

New people are always welcome. More details in the Event Post

Spring meetings are booked

Sat, February 8
Sat, March 14
Sat, April 4
Sat, May 23

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

Charity of the Month – West Central Women’s Resource Centre

The West Central Women’s Resource Centre is located on Ellice Avenue near Maryland, in the Spence neighborhood.

What resources does the centre offer? A better question might be – what doesn’t it offer? Here is a sampling of its services:

  • Drop-in services – coffee, snacks, socialization, phones, computer access, showers, hygiene supplies, information, and referrals
  • Food – coffee and tea always on, breakfast and lunch 3 days a week, dinner twice a week
  • Childminding while parents are in the building
  • Housing and income assistance for women experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity
  • Indigenous programming – healing retreats, sharing circles, traditional activities like drumming and beading, teaching by community elders, ceremonies, and more
  • Training and skill-building for employment
  • Immigrant settlement services, including assistance with finding housing, child care, health care, language classes, employment, and community programs and services

On Wednesday afternoons, the centre hosts a ‘hygiene giveaway’. Every Wednesday – even when holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day happen to fall on Wednesdays. Because if you need a shower and lack supplies, it really doesn’t matter what day it is. Think about that…

At our January meeting, we’ll be collecting supplies for that hygiene program. Please bring shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, pads and tampons, sunscreen, hand lotion, lip balm, and bug spray. They also need accessories like razors and nail clippers. New, unopened items only, and full sizes are preferred (i.e. not travel sizes or little bottles from hotel rooms).

Here’s a link to their full list of needs: Hygiene items needed

If you would like to contribute but cannot make it to the meeting, you can make a donation by credit card via the ‘Donate’ button on our website. Just include a note that the money is for hygiene supplies for the January charity.

Tax receipts will be issues for donations over $10.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Brainy Brunch Breakfast

Members of the Eastman Humanist Community (Steinbach and area) get together for brunch on the first Sunday of every month. They meet at 9:30 AM at Smitty’s Restaurant in the Clearspring Centre (145 Park Road W) in Steinbach.

They would welcome HAAM members who are interested in socializing with other Humanists and supporting and encouraging non-believers living in the Bible Belt.

For more information about the brunch, contact eastmanbrainybrunch@gmail.com.

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

Latest News

President’s Message

It seems like only yesterday that I attended my first HAM meeting; my youngest was just out of high school and I was trying to figure out what this Humanist thing was about. Today I’m a Grampa and writing the year-end president’s message. Boy time does fly!

HAAM was founded as the Humanist Association of Manitoba (HAM) by Cecil Drummond Muldrew (1923 – 2004), a truly amazing individual who I wish I could’ve met. Cec (as he was known) is listed by the Manitoba Historical Society as one of our Memorable Manitobans. Cec was followed as president by Helen Friesen, Barrie Webster, Jeffrey Olsson and Donna Harris… Today’s HAAM is just the latest of several Humanist organizations in Manitoba going back to the 1920s, with the Winnipeg Rationalist Society, and later, Marshall J. Gauvin’s Winnipeg Humanist Society. So in my first year as president, I’ve had some pretty big shoes to fill.

HAAM has come a long way since it’s inception. Back then, meetings were generally just a few people getting together socially to talk about the issues of the day and what could be done. Today, HAAM has a solid membership base, and with the advent of social media, a broad range of supporters from around the province, the country, and even internationally. We have helped found Humanist groups in Eastern Manitoba, the Pembina Valley, and Brandon. Our outreaches have connected with thousands of people, with many folks discovering they were probably Humanists long before they knew what the word meant. We’ve been able to hook up people needing help with trained secular counselors and therapists. Our members have donated thousands of dollars to lesser known but vital local charities. Most notable among our charitable projects is, of course, Kasese Humanist Primary School in Kasese, Uganda, and our sponsored child Bogere John, who I am happy to announce completed his school year just last month and has advanced to grade two. All this wouldn’t be possible without our members and our small but dedicated group of volunteers.

But we could be doing more.

If we could expand out volunteer base, we would be able to expand our programming and charitable work. HAAM needs folks to help out with the day-to-day running of the organization as well as our special projects, of which we have several upcoming. So as we make our way into HAAM’s 24th year, I’m using my year-end president’s message to ask you, our members, to step up and help out.

We can’t do it without you.

Hope to see you at a meeting soon.

Pat Morrow

Free courses in Humanism

Humanism isn’t a synonym for atheism, and not all atheists are Humanists. If you’re not clear about the difference between Humanism and atheism, there is some basic information about Humanism on HAAM’s website. Our What is Humanism? page includes links to videos and further reading, and a free-to-download e-book about Humanism from Humanists UK.

The American Humanist Association recently announced online courses in Humanism. Their basic courses are free, and topics include science, psychology, politics, ethics, and more. Advanced courses require a fee, and include celebrant training for weddings and memorial services, Humanist parenting, feminism, and racial justice.

HAAM cannot endorse any of these courses without actually reading the content, but they look interesting and promising. If any of our readers sign up and take them, we’d love to hear your feedback.

Passages: Remembering a former HAAM member

Just in time for the New Year, as we reflect on the past and wonder what’s ahead in 2020, we have a heartwarming story about friendships made at HAAM, sent in by one of our members. Read it on the Perspectives page.

 

Call to Action – End of Life Choices should be a choice!

Tell Canada’s federal Justice Minister to remove the unconstitutional ‘reasonably foreseeable’ rule from Canada’s assisted dying law immediately. This clause has already been found unconstitutional in Quebec. Now it’s time for Parliament to restore the rights of suffering Canadians who are discriminated against under the federal assisted dying law.

Read more about this issue, and add your name, at dyingwithdignity.ca/revise-the-law.

Memberships are now due

HAAM’s mission is to build a secular community where non-believers can feel safe and supported. We stand up for progressive secular values and provide social connections for non-believers in Manitoba. Your membership fees enable HAAM to continue this mission.

HAAM has no paid staff. All the work that goes into keeping the group operating – like planning and hosting events, offering outreach programs, producing this newsletter and maintaining our website, posting and monitoring social media content, maintaining financial records, responding to questions and emails, etc – is done by volunteers. But every year, there are basic expenses we need to meet, like meeting space, equipment and supplies for events, printing and postage, and administration fees for our website, banking, and PayPal accounts.

If you have not already joined HAAM, please become a member today! Fees are affordable and include a ‘limited income’ option (as low as $10 a year) if applicable. Memberships can be renewed anytime by credit card using the ’Donate’ button, by cheque in the mail, or by cash or cheque at any event.

If you have already joined or renewed – thank you! We look forward to seeing you at our next event.

Remember that memberships must be paid before (or at) the AGM if you want to participate in the meeting.

Book of the Month – Living the Secular Life

Start the New Year off with something inspirational! Phil Zuckerman is a sociology professor who specializes in studying secular culture. He literally studies how and why people are ‘good without a god’.

The various chapters in Living the Secular Life – New Answers to Old Questions examine what non-religious people believe about, and how they deal with, universal human issues like morality, society and community, death and dying, child-rearing, and times of crises. Using both research and anecdotes, Zuckerman demonstrates that a secular life can be ethical and full of joy and wonder. Readers repeatedly report that they gained confidence, inspiration, and encouragement from this book, and that it’s a wonderful guide for living a happy, productive secular life.

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.

2019 in Review

Every year at this time we look back on all that HAAM members have enjoyed and accomplished over the last 12 months. A glance at the calendar for 2019 shows that HAAM members have been very busy – or at least, those who participated in all these activities were very busy. If you live in the Winnipeg area, and you didn’t participate – why not? Keep reading to see what you missed, and make it your New Year’s Resolution to get out and join us in the New Year!

Meetings – In addition to being social gatherings, our monthly meetings provide a forum for learning and discussing a wide variety of topics and social issues. This year, we tackled secular funerals, science in the public arena, community patrols, religion in public schools, gender identity, women’s rights, and the incompatibility of science and religion.

News – Our monthly newsletter covered the repeal of Canada’s blasphemy law (finally!), a Winnipeg newspaper ‘selling out’ to cover religious news, the legal challenge to prayers at city hall, religion in Manitoba courtrooms, and our president’s interview for Canadian Atheist.

Community – We gathered for Sunday brunch in every month except June and December. We chatted and opined with each other on social media, and shared blogs and personal stories. We mourned the loss of members past and present. We networked and socialized (in person and online) with secular folks from the Eastman Humanist Community and around the country. We experimented (unsuccessfully) with a new meeting venue.

Celebrations – We recognized Darwin Day (Feb), World Humanist Day (June), and World Human Rights Day (Dec). Many of our members attended or participated in local Pride festivals in the summer and celebrated secular versions of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We held parties for the Summer and Winter Solstices.

Activism – HAAM participated in campaigns to protect the rights of Canadians and promote progressive decision-making by those in government. We supported access to assisted dying, reproductive rights for women, science and evidence-based election candidates, and government action on climate change.

Education – On our website and in our newsletter, we shared news and information about Humanist values, religion in public schools, health care directives, organ donation, facts about abortion, and summer camps suitable for secular kids.

Library – HAAM has over 250 books (and a few DVDs) in our library, with a different one featured in each monthly newsletter. In 2019, the featured books covered apologetics, evolution, Humanism, secular holidays, religious parody, Christian fundamentalism, philosophy, anthropology, and pseudoscience.

Outreach – HAAM members spoke with dozens of visitors at summer fairs in Steinbach and Morden, and explained Humanism to a high school class in Grunthal and residents of senior’s home in Winnipeg. We also reached hundreds of followers and supporters online via Facebook, Twitter, and MeetUp.

Charities – HAAM doesn’t exist just as a social club. As Humanists, we care for other life on this planet. Over the past year, we supported lots of causes and organizations that help make this world a better place. Blood donations, health care for the vulnerable trans community, endangered owls, swimming lessons for immigrant children, community patrols in Winnipeg’s inner city, end-of-life choices, safe havens for at-risk youth, and of course, primary education for children in Uganda.

 

Here’s to 2020!

 

Background vector created by katemangostar – www.freepik.com

November 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Gender and Sexual Identity for Dummies

Saturday, November 16th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 8:30 PM

We try our best to understand the latest science and the social and ethical aspects of gender and sexual identity, but the subject remains quite confusing for many of us. Is it genetics, brain chemistry, environment, or something else that makes human sexuality what it is?

We welcome Dr Neil McArthur, Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, to help us sort it all out. Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, November 24th, Original Pancake House, 2220 McGillivray Blvd, 9:30 – 11:00 AM

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.
The location changes every month so that the same people don’t always get stuck having to cross town.

Details here.

Save the Dates! 

Winter Solstice Party December 14th.

Monthly meeting and AGM – January 11th

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – January 19th

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

About our Events

Welcome! Our regular monthly meetings are always open to the public. Come early for dinner, drinks, or just to visit. Our social and (optional) dinner time begins at 5:30. Meeting is at 6:30 followed by the presentation at about 7:00 PM. Late-comers and drop-ins are welcome, so if you can’t make it on time or stay till the end, don’t worry. You can eat during the meeting if you’re late – the buffet is open till 8 PM.

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 the Home page of our website, our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.

Charity of the Month –Trans Health Klinic

In keeping with the theme of this month’s meeting topic, we have chosen the Trans Health Klinic (a program of Klinic Community Health Centre) as our charity.

Klinic provides care to Trans individuals > 16 ½  years of age seeking transitioning care (hormone start and surgery) living in Manitoba, and to all individuals who fall under the Transgender and/or Non-binary umbrella: inclusive of Two-spirit, Agender, Bigender, Genderqueer, Gender fluid, and more.

The program includes medical treatment and surgical referrals (some procedures cannot be performed in Manitoba), education, and both professional and peer counselling and support. Trans Health Klinic also offers education and guidance to other health professionals (e.g. family doctors) who provide primary care to their clients.

The Trans Klinic’s current needs are chest binders for their exchange program, equipment and learning materials for their teaching groups, equipment for pre and post op care, and funding for community education about gender diversity.

Let’s help them out with some of these needs!

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 in the sidebar. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

Respecting one another’s pronouns

Most of us are by now aware that sex is no longer viewed by scientists and medical professionals as strictly binary (i.e. male and female). If you’re interested in learning more about the components of sex and gender, there is some great information available from the World Health Organization.

As awareness of gender diversity increases, more and more people are learning about the importance of respecting each other’s identities. Many workplaces, educational institutions, and community organizations are developing policies around terms of address. In some environments, everyone is being asked to declare their own pronouns, to ensure that everyone is referred to correctly and respectfully and no one is singled out.

In keeping with the Humanist values of respect and inclusiveness, we are proposing to update HAAM’s position statement on human rights to include a statement about respecting gender identity and pronouns.

Notice of proposed amendment to Position Statements

HAAM’s Position Statements on a number of social issues were approved by our members at the AGM in January 2014. They are posted on the website under the About Us tab (along with our Mission Statement and Philosophy). The section on human rights currently reads: “HAAM opposes legislation that seeks to discriminate against people on the basis of gender, race, age, mental or physical disability, religious belief or lack thereof, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We believe that laws and regulations that limit or deny freedoms and rights must have a valid, secular foundation.” The proposed amendment would insert the following sentence after the word ‘identity’:

We respect people’s gender identity and pronouns”.

This revision will require approval from our membership at the AGM in January 2020. All paid members of HAAM are eligible to vote at the AGM. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Expanding our supportive, secular community

For the past year, the Eastman Humanist Community has been organizing breakfast gatherings on the first Sunday of the month in Steinbach.  On two occasions I decided to drive out to join the group and to support their efforts. The breakfast groups are small, ranging from 2 to 12 people.

The drive out to Steinbach was pleasant, lasting 45 minutes from my home to the restaurant. The food was nothing exciting – the same breakfast that you get in Winnipeg. I did enjoy meeting with and learning from people from a smaller community living in a more powerful religious environment. My observation is that EHC members face challenges different from us in larger communities. Being open about non-belief or atheism has both professional and familial consequences that we do not experience in more secular communities. This emphasizes to me the importance of supportive groups such as the EHC.

I intend to continue to join my friends in the EHC for their breakfast gatherings whenever I can. I encourage other HAAM members to consider a pleasant drive to Steinbach on the first Sunday of the month to support the EHC. Please contact EHC at eastmanhumanists.ca/  and they will provide you with the location and meeting time.

– Arthur Prystenski

Partners for Life and Organ Donor Update

HAAM pledged 25 blood donations from our members in 2019, and at the end of October we have 22. Can three more people donate before the New Year?  Come on – we can do this!

If you haven’t donated before, or aren’t familiar with the Partners for Life program, keep reading and click the arrow below for all the info you need.

Do you still have an old organ donor card (maybe like the one in the photo, or on the back of your Manitoba Health card) in your wallet? It’s obsolete. Paper cards have not been issued for at least two years, and the organ donor registry is now entirely online. This ensures that it’s up-to-date and available to any medical professional when it’s needed, anywhere in Manitoba.

The online registry might be a problem for some folks who still aren’t comfortable with computerized forms. If you know someone like this, please let them know that they can call the organ donor registry office by phone (204-787-1897) and speak directly to a staff member who will enter their information manually.

ALL Manitobans are encouraged to sign up for the organ donation registry. Signing up means only that you are giving permission for the use of your organs. Don’t worry about whether or not you think you might qualify. Decisions about suitability are made by health professionals at the time of death or near-death.

 

for instructions on how to sign up for these programs, as well as more information and links to Canadian Blood Services (blood donations) and Sign Up for Life (organ donation).

 

Book of the Month – Do You Believe in Magic?

This book is subtitled Vitamins, Supplements, and All Things Natural: A look behind the curtain. I picked it up last year at a conference because the author, Dr. Paul Offit, was there and was signing copies.  When I got home, I took a long time to get around to actually reading it. But it turned out to be fascinating, for two main reasons – 1) Offit explains the science behind a lot of pseudoscience (i.e. the reasons why it doesn’t work); and 2) because he doesn’t outright condemn all ‘alternative medicine’ as I assumed he would. Instead, he describes the specific ways in which alternative therapies can be harmful, and how in some cases they may actually help:

“Both have their place. The problem comes when mainstream healers dismiss the placebo response as trivial, or when alternative healers offer placebos instead of lifesaving medicines, or charge an exorbitant price for their remedies, or promote therapies as harmless when they’re not, or encourage magical thinking and scientific denialism at a time when we can least afford it.” (p. 255)

You know the book has hit its mark when it inspires purveyors of woo-woo to attack it. The one-star reviews on Amazon are fun to read – here are a few samples: “Offit is a shill for allopathic medicine also called modern medicine (AKA the medical mafia)”; “As soon as the term “alt” medicine appears, you know this will be a work of propaganda.”; and “Lies & half-truths with some clever fabrication thrown in. Author makes money off vaccines but never discloses his conflict of interest.” There are 67 reviews like that. Some reviewers ranted for several paragraphs.

Offit covers topics like acupuncture, mega-vitamins, chronic Lyme disease, laetrile, and more. We know that all of these have been proven ineffective and sometimes dangerous, but if you want to understand why, this is your book. Offit doesn’t use complicated language in his writing; his references to the applicable scientific studies are included in an appendix, so the book is an easy and entertaining read.                                                                                                         – Dorothy Stephens

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.

 Do you have a Health Care Directive?

Do you know who legally gets to make medical decisions for you if you are too ill to speak for yourself?

Do you know the difference between a health care directive and a power of attorney? How about the difference between a patient advocate and a health care proxy?

Is it legal to stop a life-saving treatment after it has already started? And if so, who gets to decide?

If you were seriously ill or injured, would your family know what treatments you would want (or not want)? Would you want them to have to guess? Could they all agree about what to do?

How are requests for Do Not Resuscitate handled in hospital? In the community? (Can I just get a “DNR” tattoo on my chest?)

Which medical treatments are considered ‘heroic measures’?

If I write a health care directive, what am I supposed to do with it after it’s done?

If you can’t answer all these questions, or have never even thought about them, it’s time to learn about Advance Care Planning. Don’t think you’re too young to worry about it – none of us knows what will happen an hour from now. Advance care planning isn’t just for people who are old or dying – it’s a plan for your future health care if you become seriously injured or ill.

On the Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity website, you can download a free complete Advance Care Planning kit, read sample health care directives, and find other useful info. The chapter will be also hosting workshops on ACP’s in the new year. These presentations explain everything in the kit (and more), plus provide an opportunity to ask questions. It may be more than you’ll ever want or need to know… but it will also give you (and your family) peace of mind once you’ve completed the process.

If you’re interested in a workshop, contact the Winnipeg chapter of DWD to be notified of upcoming dates and times.

Kasese

HAAM’s International Outreach

In a world where so much international charity comes with a heavy dose of proselytization, isn’t it special to be able to support an organization whose motto is “With science, we can progress”?

The School

HAAM members have been supporting Kasese Humanist Primary School  in Uganda since 2015.  Many of us have been watching the progress of this school since its inception. An unlikely beacon of rational humanism in the heart of “kill the gays” country, Kasese Humanist Primary School gives us all hope that Uganda can recover from the poisonous influence of deadly American religious intolerance.

As the brainchild of Bwambale Robert Musubaho, KHPS was founded in 2011 by the Kasese United Humanist Association. This unique school, for boys and girls ages 3-14, receives help and support from Humanists in many countries. Its curriculum is science-based, but sports, music, and arts programs are also offered. Our donations support a variety of needs – textbooks, teachers’ salaries, building upkeep, uniforms, student field trips, science lab equipment, food for boarding students, tuition assistance for needy families, and even clinic medicines.

Since opening in 2011, the school has grown to three campuses and over 700 students. As of April 2019, enrollment is

Rukoki campus (Nursery, Primary & Secondary) – 249 students
Kahendero campus (Nursery & Primary) – 182 students
Bizoha Muhokya campus (Nursery & Primary) – 325 students

You can follow the school and some of the students’ activities on their blog , YouTube channel, or Facebook page.

The Students

The school has a Child Sponsorship Program to assist with tuition for needy, bright, disadvantaged, and vulnerable children. Unfortunately, there are many  children who have been orphaned or who come from disadvantaged homes and require sponsors in order to get an education. For us in Canada, it’s hard to imagine the difficulties some of these children face. Kasese School really needs our support to continue its work!

Since 2015, HAAM has been supporting a young student at the Bizoha campus by paying his annual school tuition. We are committed to sponsoring him for the full length of his schooling at KHPS. Every fall, we need to collect enough money to cover his tuition for the coming year. Anything extra goes to the general school fund.

Right: Our sponsored student reading The Day the Dinosaurs Died

 

The Community

Kasese is a town of just over 100,000 people, north of Lake George and at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda. It’s a growing community, in part because of increasing tourism due to its proximity to two national parks. Industries include copper mining and cobalt production. Kasese serves as the headquarters for the district and boasts a hospital, an airport, and a small power station.

The surrounding predominantly religious community is sometimes hostile, but Humanist values are gradually catching on, with three other Humanist schools, two health clinics, and many businesses in the area founded on the Humanist model.

 

 

Donate

Our main fundraising drive for Kasese is annually in the fall, but donations are gratefully accepted at any time during the year. Just use the Donate button in the sidebar on this page (or scroll down if you’re using a mobile device), and include a note letting us know that the donation is for Kasese.

Tax receipts will be issued for donations over $10.

Please give generously.

We can’t fix the whole world, but we can make a difference in the life of these kids. 

 

 

October 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting:

Child Evangelism Fellowship – Coming to a school near you? Or already there?

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

We welcome guest speaker Nathan Prokopowich, who successfully fought to remove the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) from schools in his local division. CEF is a worldwide organization dedicated to proselytizing to children in public schools.

Putting an end to this organization’s dark message can be as easy as informing the school board about exactly what CEF teaches. So please join us for what will be an insightful and informative meeting.

Full event details are here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, October 20th, Salisbury House, 255 St Anne’s Road, 9:30 – 11:00 AM

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.

New people are always welcome. Details here.

 

Save the Dates

Monthly meeting November 16th

HAAM and Eggs Brunch November 24th

Winter Solstice Party December 14th

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Campaign Life Counter-Protest

Sunday, October 6th, Women’s Hospital (on Notre Dame), 2-3 PM

This is a Canada-wide event in response to a national anti-choice “Life Chain” event that day. In Manitoba, the protest is being organized by the Handmaids’ Local group. Visit their Facebook event page for the details.

 

Inquiring Minds: Dialogue on Death

Saturday, October 26th to Saturday, November 2nd, First Unitarian Universalist Church, 603 Wellington Crescent

This is a whole week of presentations beginning with a ‘resource fair’ on the 26th, so check their full event calendar for details. Topics include advance care planning, green burial options, how to talk about death, interfaith perspectives on death, how to plan a memorial service, understanding MAID (medical assistance in dying), and more. Note that some of the sessions require pre-registration.

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

Charity of the Month – Kasese Humanist Primary School

Once a year, in the fall, our charitable donations support the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Kasese, Uganda. We have been sponsoring this little student, Bogere John, since the fall of 2015, so our first priority is to collect enough to pay his annual tuition fee. Anything that we collect above the amount needed to provide for him will be donated to the school itself, where it will go toward books, supplies, uniforms, lunches, and clinic medicines.

Kasese school serves over 700 students on 3 campuses. Bogere John attends the Bizoha campus, a nursery and primary school with about 325 kids. Unfortunately, there are many other children like him, who have been orphaned or come from disadvantaged homes and require sponsors in order to get an education. Kasese School really needs our support to continue its work!

You can follow the school and some of the students’ activities on their blog , YouTube channel, or Facebook page.

Please give generously to help these kids.

In a world where so much international charity comes with a heavy dose of proselytization, isn’t it special to be able to support a school whose motto is “With science, we can progress”?

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

We are part of a worldwide community

Don’t forget that there are associations of Humanists and atheists all over the world, and our numbers are growing. If you’re planning a trip and want to make some new friends, there are lots more non-believers out there who are just a mouse-click or phone call away.

Often you can find groups in other cities just by searching social media sites. But some of our HAAM members also have personal connections with other non-believers across the country and around the globe. So check with your fellow HAAMsters or contact our exec if you’re looking for a group or an individual elsewhere. Networking and sharing will help our community grow!

One of our members shared this experience:

I recently returned from a holiday in Newfoundland. I had never visited Newfoundland before and was thoroughly impressed by the friendliness and hospitality that I experienced. The beauty of the landscape and the unique culture is amazing. Prior to visiting, I sent a message to the website of Atheists of Newfoundland and was able to meet a member of this group for a beer and conversation. I greatly enjoyed my conversation with this person who shared with me his path to Atheism and his experience of living as an Atheist in Newfoundland. It was enlightening and enjoyable listening to him and his experiences. This conversation reinforced my belief of the importance of building a community of Atheists across Canada to share experiences and to offer support. I hope that Atheists from Newfoundland will visit Manitoba and encounter the friendship and camaraderie that I encountered.   

-Arthur Prystenski

Happy Thanksgiving

Non-believers are thankful, too, but we direct our thanks toward the people whose efforts enrich our lives. Several years ago, the American Humanist Association created this image to illustrate that idea. We shared it before, but it’s so good, it’s worth repeating.

.

 

Have you been asked to say ‘grace’ at your Thanksgiving dinner?

If you need a ‘grace’ that’s suitable for everyone in your family (religious or not), the Humanist Association of Canada has some suggestions. Check them out.

Morden Outreach Report

This year, instead of the usual report from our intrepid President and Outreach coordinator, Pat Morrow, we have a personal story from a volunteer who sat in the booth for the first time. This volunteer is a relatively new HAAM member who came from Europe fairly recently and who needs to remain anonymous for professional reasons (i.e. they do not want to be ‘outed’ in the workplace as a non-believer or HAAM member).

You’ll find the report on our Perspectives page. When you read it you’ll see that this outreach was an experience to remember, for a number of reasons. Enjoy!

Book of the Month – The Creator and the Cosmos

The subtitle – How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God – gives away the genre. It’s a Christian apologetics book. This book was a gift from a visitor to our outreach booth at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival in August. The visitor who presented it to me at the booth was certain that I would change my mind about belief if only I would read Chapter 2, and so I promised him that I would do that.

Chapter 2 is titled My Skeptical Inquiry. It’s not very long (only 4 ½ pages). In it, the author describes how, as a child, he became intensely interested in astronomy and physics, and when he grew up he obtained degrees in both fields. All the while he was in awe of nature and continued to wonder who or what could have been responsible for it all. From there, he jumps to the cosmological argument for god: “If the universe arose out of a big bang, it must have had a beginning. If it had a beginning, it must have a Beginner. From that point on, I never doubted God’s existence.”

The chapter continues with Ross explaining that he searched for the truth in several unnamed ‘holy books’ but did not find it until he picked up a Bible. He describes the Bible as “simple, direct, and specific”, and states that in Genesis, he found a “journal-like record of earth’s initial conditions” that was “elegant and scientifically accurate”. I’ll stop quoting the book there. In the rest of the chapter – and the rest of the book – he continues to interpret and manipulate the facts to fit his firmly-held beliefs.

I am not an scientist and will not attempt to review the rest of the book. But if you’re curious, the late Victor Stenger, a particle physicist, wrote an excellent review of a previous edition way back in 1998. You can read Stenger’s critique of the actual science here. Suffice to say that Stenger called it “the latest coat of varnish on the long-decrepit argument from design”. His whole review is fascinating, even if (like me) you know next to nothing about physics or astronomy.

I’ll bring the book to the October meeting and then add it to the HAAM library. Take a look for yourself and see what you think!

-Dorothy Stephens

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.

 

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 

May 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Options in Death Care for Non-Believers 

Saturday, May 11th, Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, 5:30 PM (Note the location!)

We’ll be talking about death care, ceremonies and services, and what’s new in the funeral industry in Canada.

Special guest will be Shane Neufeld of Ethical Death Care. Details here

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, May 26thOriginal Pancake House at The Forks, 9:30 – 11:00 AM 

New people welcome! Details here.

Save the Dates 

Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival in Steinbach – June 14th to 16th 

Summer Solstice Party – June 22ndKildonan Park 

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 

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd  

Steinbach Pride Parade – July 6th  

For more information on these events, visit our Community Events page. 

Charity of the Month – Dying With Dignity Winnipeg Chapter 

Dying With Dignity Canada is the national human-rights charity committed to improving quality of dying, protecting end-of-life rights, and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering.  Most of us are by now familiar with their work in providing support to adults wishing to die on their own terms, advocating for rules governing medical assistance in dying (MAiD) that respect the rights of patients, educating Canadians about advance care planning and legal end-of-life options, and supporting health care practitioners who provide MAiD.

In addition to the national office in Toronto, DWD Canada has chapters in each province (and in larger provinces, major cities) that provide for needs and concerns arising in their area.

The Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity is active in the areas of education, patient advocacy and support, and the witnessing of MAiD applications. We aim to be revenue-neutral, taking in only as much as we spend, but there are costs we need to be reimbursed for by head office. These include printing Health Care Directives and training and event posters, and reimbursement for the cost (gas and meals) of travel outside of Winnipeg for speaking engagements, training, and witnessing of MAiD applications. Our current goal is to obtain funding for a toll-free telephone number so patients can arrange for witnesses for their MAiD applications without our volunteer coordinators exposing their personal phone numbers to the public.

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  

Partners for Life Update 

Summer is coming, and that always means that Canadian Blood Services will be scrambling to keep their supplies stocked up. If you are able to donate over the summer, please help out! If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, or you’ve never donated before, take this 2-minute eligibility quiz. Then follow the links on the quiz page to find out more about blood donations and book your first appointment. 

HAAM is part of the Partners for Life program, which creates incentive for members of participating organizations to donate. We have set an annual target of 25 donations from HAAM members and supporters. There is no prize if we meet it, except for bragging rights and the satisfaction of helping others. Make sure to enroll in Partners for Life if you give blood, so that your donation will be counted towards our annual goal. All the information you need is on the HAAM website (and bonus information about the online organ donor registry is included on the same page).  

As of mid-April, we are at 6 donations, so we have a way to go to reach 25 by the end of the year. Give now! 

Outreach at Local Seniors’ Residence

Outreach doesn’t just happen at our booths at summer festivals, although of course, those are our major opportunities. But the “Ask an Atheist” speaker program is available all year round and available to any group that is interested in learning about atheism and Humanism. Usually this involves high school ethics or world religion classes.

On April 23, Jeffrey Olsson was invited to speak to an audience of seniors at the Portsmouth Retirement Residence, as part of a series of talks they were holding about different religious beliefs. Jeff’s presentation covered atheism, and topics related to the use of critical thinking skills, such as Epistemology (the study of knowledge, or how we know what is true), Faith, Logical Fallacies, and the Scientific Method.

Jeff stressed the importance of everyone taking time to evaluate their own beliefs in a critical light, and to consider if their beliefs are suitable for life in a truly diverse society. He also stressed the importance of judging your own beliefs, while respecting the right for others to hold to their own.

Finally, Jeff’s own personal journey away from faith to non-belief was discussed, and he reflected on the effects that the Canadian Residential School system had on his own faith, the faith of other clergy, and his family.

Jeffrey Olsson is a member and past president of HAAM, and a former Anglican Priest. His book Leaving Faith Behind, about his journey out of the faith, is in our Library.

On the Web – Explore Nonbelief 

Summer’s coming, and for a lot of us, that means a break from routine and a chance to relax and unwind. Maybe you’ll find time to do a bit of reading or watch a few videos. Want to learn more about Humanism and Atheism? If you’re relatively new to the Humanist community, are still questioning religion, or have left faith behind fairly recently, you may have a lot of questions about living as a non-believer.   

You’ll find lots of answers if you look at the Resources menu on HAAM’s website. There are downloadable/printable copies of the brochures we hand out to the public at our Outreach booth, links to information about Humanism and atheism, the names of local and online secular support groups and services, a network of secular organizations, and discussions about religious involvement in Manitoba schools and health care facilities. 

The Exploring Nonbelief page has recently been updated. It contains links to over 50 videos, blogs, podcastsnews and reference sites, and articles about Humanism and atheism. Topics covered include the Bible, counter-apologetics (refuting religious claims)science and evolution, and resources that will inspire you to be a proud and happy Humanist. There is also a list of excellent videos addressing the most common question that non-believers get asked – where we get our morals from. By the time you finish exploring the material on HAAM’s Exploring Nonbelief page, you’ll be well prepared to answer questions about morality – and a lot more besides. Happy reading! 

Book of the Month – Fact or Friction: Where the Known meets the Unknown 

In this collection of 14 essays, Skeptic Magazine editor Michael Shermer examines the personal barriers and biases that plague and propel science, especially when scientists push against the unknown. What do we know and what do we not know? How does science respond to controversy, attack, and uncertainty? When does theory become accepted fact? 

Several personal tales are included, from Shermer’s days as a student and evangelical Christian to his growing interest in science and skepticism. But the book isn’t only a display of his experiences; it’s ammunition we can all use when dealing with misleading or manipulative teachings. 

Topics range from a fascinating discussion of the controversy several years ago over a group of atheists and skeptics attempting to label themselves ‘The Brights‘, to an analysis of the true cause of the mutiny on the Bounty. Shermer discusses the witchcraft hysteria in Europe and the colonies from 1560-1620, and then demonstrates a striking parallel between that and the Satanic cult/false memory mass delusions of the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are also essays on “heresies of science” and “spin-doctoring science”, which are a depressing indication of how the public lacks understanding of what science does and has done. 

The individual articles in this book make it perfect for several short reads, (i.e. ‘bathroom reading’). 

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. 

Have an Idea for a HAAM Event?

Summer hasn’t even started, but we’re already thinking about fall meetings and events. Is there a topic you’d like to learn about, or a speaker you’d like to hear at an upcoming meeting? A social issue, a hot topic, or a book you’d like to discuss at an informal get-together? It doesn’t have to be only about atheism or Humanism. There are lots of other topics and concerns of relevance to Humanists – like separation of religion and government, science, public education, freedom of speech, human rights, environmental stewardship, reproductive rights, and end-of-life choices.

Have you seen a video you think would be great for next year’s Film Fest? Do you know of a community event you think our members might be interested in? An opportunity for outreach? A fun group activity? A secular charity that could use our support?

HAAM members come from every imaginable background. Most of us are former believers who are very familiar with religion, but we come from all denominations of Christianity, as well as other faiths. Then again, some of our members grew up in secular homes and have never been religious at all. So our knowledge level and interests vary widely.

Let us know what interests you. Contact us with your suggestions – or, better yet, come to an event and chat with a member of our executive in person.

Last Chance to enter the Humanist Canada essay contest 

Students! Write an essay on any topic related to Humanism that would be of interest. $8,000 in total prize money to be awarded to the winning essays. 

If you’re not a student, tell your favorite student about this contest!  

Deadline to enter is May 15th. See Humanist Canada for details and rules.  

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:

 

 

 

 

February 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

The Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Saturday, February 16th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

Can science and faith to co-exist peacefully? We welcome scientist Dr. Simon Potter to talk about his experiences.

Click here for details.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, February 24th, Perkins Restaurant, 1277 Henderson Hwy, 9:30 AM

Our monthly informal get-together. All welcome.

Click here for details.

Save the Dates

Monthly meeting – Video Night, Saturday March 9thCanad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 PM. More info TBA.

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives)

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter.

Next workshops in Winnipeg will be held on Saturdays at 10:30 AM –
February 16 at the Fort Garry Library, and April 13 at the Henderson Library.

There will also be a workshop in Steinbach on Saturday March 30 at 1:00 PM.

Click here for details and to register.

For up-to-date information on upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

Charity of the Month

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program

Did you know that burrowing owls do NOT actually burrow? They get their name because they nest in burrows, but they cannot dig the burrows themselves. They rely on animals like badgers, foxes, gophers, and ground squirrels to dig burrows for them.

So what happens when land is cultivated and farmers exterminate ‘pests’ like foxes and gophers? You guessed it… There are fewer than a dozen pairs of burrowing owls left in Manitoba, and fewer than 800 left in all of Canada.

And yet a single family of burrowing owls can eat 1800 rodents and 7000 insects during a summer. Wouldn’t it be better to encourage the owls to flourish?

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program studies these owls, and in 2010, began reintroducing breeding pairs to southwestern Manitoba. The program also offers educational presentations to increase public awareness of the owls and the importance of grassland conservation, and works with landowners who have suitable habitat to encourage protection for the owls.

You can see burrowing owls in ‘person’ at the Assiniboine Park Zoo and Fort Whyte Alive.

Let’s give a hoot about our fellow creatures and help these beneficial little birds get re-established in our grasslands.

  Donations for the Charity of the Month are accepted at any of our events.  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

Election results from our AGM

Meet your new HAAM executive for 2019:

President – Pat Morrow
Secretary – Cheri Frazer
Treasurer – Henry Kreindler

Members at Large are Tammy Blanchette, Norm Goertzen, Tony Governo, Donna Harris, Sherry Lyn Marginet, Arthur Prystenski, Caren Schramm, Dorothy Stephens, and one other who needs to remain anonymous.

Many thanks to Donna Harris for serving as President for the past 6 years! (And also for staying on as a member-at-large.) You’ll find a list of our executive (with photos) here.

Reminder – Humanist Canada Essay Contest

Don’t forget to encourage your favorite teenager to enter this competition. There is $4000 in total prize money. Open to all Canadian high school students. Entry deadline is March 1st. Complete contest details are available on the Humanist Canada website.

 

Partners for Life Report (blood donations)

We pledge 25 donations a year, and in 2018 we came SO close! At year end, we had 24.

Let’s get off to a great start to meet our goal this year! If you haven’t donated recently (or ever), do it now!

Click here for all the information you’ll need to get started. (Everyone is welcome to participate; you don’t have to be a paid HAAM member, just a supporter.)

Support Science – Celebrate Darwin Day

February 12th is Charles Darwin’s 210th birthday, and International Darwin Day – a global celebration of science and humanity. Darwin Day inspires people throughout the world to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. More info, including educational resources, are at DarwinDay.org.

Today, more than ever, we need to stand up for science!

Spread the word! (click image to enlarge)

 

HAAM President interviewed for Canadian Atheist

One of Pat Morrow’s first assignments as our new president was an interview for the  Canadian Atheist website. In addition to discussing his own beliefs and background, Pat took the opportunity to tell readers a little bit about HAAM.

“Everybody has issues and goals that are important to them and they all overlap. What’s important is we harness these passions and all work together. Not just inside our local organizations but all across the country.”

Awesome interview, Pat! Inspirational, positive, and insightful!

Make sure to read the whole interview.

Book of the Month: Why Evolution is True

If you’ve left conservative Christianity (or any other religion, for that matter), you may now accept evolution, but still not really understand how and why it’s true. Or maybe you understand the basics, but have a hard time explaining them and coming up with examples to demonstrate your points when challenged by a creationist. Then this book is for you!  Author Jerry Coyne is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where he specialized in evolutionary genetics – so he knows his stuff. Why Evolution is True provides a succinct summary of the facts supporting the theory of natural selection, and reviewers note that you don’t have to be a scientist to understand it.

Coyne explains the basics of evolution in just under 300 pages. He covers the geological and fossil history that corroborates it; how fossils came to be; missing links and transitional fossils; animal vestiges; embryonic development; bad design; bio-geographic separation; dimorphism; dead genes; genetic drift; sexual selection; and the evolution of the modern-day human. There’s also a great glossary of terms at the back.

Along the way, Coyne also discusses (and refutes) common creationist arguments, such as that `everything happens by chance’, and misinterpretation of dating methods.

Why Evolution is True has been called “one of the best current books on evolutionary theory”. It’s a clear look at a complex subject. You’ll want to have this material in your knowledge base.

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.

Meeting Venue Update (decisions, decisions…) 

We’ll be back at Canad Inns Polo Park for our February and March meetings, since the U of W was booked for only one meeting as a trial of the venue. So what was the verdict?  

On the plus side for the room at the U of W: it’s centrally located and on major bus routes, the meeting room is larger, it’s quiet and private, we can serve food and drinks, members can bring their own food and drinks (which makes attending more affordable), and noise level isn’t an issue.  

On the minus side: parking isn’t as convenient, and the table set-up made it difficult to socialize and mingle.  

On balance, there were more positives than negatives, so we’ve decided to try the U of W again, hopefully for our meetings in April and May. We plan to re-organize the tables to facilitate socializing, and maybe get a pot of coffee going… As with any major decision, we will never be able to please everyone 100%.  

Stay tuned for updates. When meeting dates and locations are confirmed, they’ll be posted on our Events page 

Why doesn’t God make himself Known?

Good question. It was posed online to Peter Enns, who is a member of HAAM’s Steinbach offshoot, the Eastman Humanist Community.

You can read his answer on our Perspectives page. What would your answer be?

 

January 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Options in Death Care for Nonbelievers (and our AGM)

Saturday, January 12th, at the U of W, beginning at 5:00 PM

Have you ever thought much about what you want when you die? Wondered what’s legal? What’s available in Manitoba? Our guest Shane Neufeld has over 20 years in the funeral industry. He has answers, lots more useful information, and stories…

Be sure to read the full event post for important details about the time, location, and dinner.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, January 20th, Denny’s Restaurant, 1750 Sargent Ave, 9:30 AM

Our monthly casual get-together is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.  

Details here.

 

Save the Date 

The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, Saturday February 16th. Details here

Check our Events calendar for latest information.

Latest News

Charity of the Month – Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre 

You have probably never heard of Ndinawe, but it’s been around for about 25 years, helping (mainly) Indigenous kids in Winnipeg’s William Whyte neighborhood. It’s been in the media recently because of its newest program, Tina’s Safe Haven, a 24/7 drop-in space named for Tina Fontaine, who was murdered in 2014 at the age of 15. Her family believe that she might be alive today if a place like this had been available to her.  

Tina’s Safe Haven is only one of several culturally appropriate programs for at-risk youth offered by Ndinawe. They also have

– a transitional living program for 16 and 17 year-olds who need to learn the life skills necessary to live as independent adults;
– a support program for families of youth engaged in risk-taking behaviors (gang involvement, violence, substance abuse);
educational support for teenagers who have been out of school (dropped out, in the Youth Centre, suspended), and who wish to transition back into the school system;
– and a safe house that provides 24/7 shelter and basic necessities for children and youth who are living on the streets, at risk of exploitation, or just need a place to stay. 

In addition, they offer counseling services, train former sex trade workers to become accredited in youth and child care, and provide outreach and community monitoring (focusing on gang activity, high-risk addresses, and sexual exploitation). 

It’s an overwhelming challenge. Let’s help strengthen our community by supporting these vital programs. 

Donations for the Charity of the Month are accepted at any of our events.  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. 

Your HAAM President’s 2018 Message

Greetings everyone! It’s the end of another year, and I have to say it was a busy one.  We continued our outreach efforts, our regular HAAM and Eggs brunches, and our monthly meetings.  Once again, we had some top-notch speakers.  Hearing from Neil Carter by Skype went especially smoothly, thanks to the help of our awesome volunteers.

This group has grown since I first started attending over 10 years ago, and it’s also shifted membership somewhat. We need to continue welcoming younger and increasingly diverse members, as they add so much to the strength of our group.

To that end, it’s time for me to move on, and turn over the title of President to someone else. I’ve had a great run as President, (I won’t list my mis-steps here, but there were a few), but it’s time for fresh blood and fresh ideas.  I’ve appreciated everyone who has helped out over the years, especially all the members of the executive team.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of this group, so if you believe that you’ve gotten anything from this organization, please consider volunteering in any capacity.

In conclusion, I leave with these words of (semi) wisdom:  to continue being a true Humanist, please continue to stand up for love, decency, and inclusion, and don’t give hate any more room to grow. Try to understand others and their points of view, especially in this age of instant messages and social media. Always stay skeptical.  Don’t believe anything until you’re satisfied it’s true. And last, in a less wordy version of the Golden Rule – don’t be a dick.

Peace and happiness to all.                                                                                                        – Donna Harris

New Meeting Venue

Remember that survey about our meeting venue way back in the summer? We received several suggestions for new locations to consider. HAAM’s executive looked at all of them, so thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas.

The survey responses suggested that changing our meeting time from a Saturday evening to a different evening would not improve attendance (and Sunday mornings proved even less popular), so we will continue to meet on Saturday evenings. 

Almost all the venue suggestions were for banquet or bingo halls, legion branches, or community clubs. None of those turned out to be feasible because of high cost and limited availability. On Saturday evenings they are mostly booked for socials, banquets, weddings, and other parties, and the rents are way beyond our budget.  

room 2M70

The most promising recommendations were from the couple of people who suggested that we consider meeting at one of the universities. One respondent works at the U of W and was able to supply additional info about room rentals and support our application, so we’re trying that out for the January meeting.

The U of W has the advantages of being central, on major bus routes, and completely accessible. We can bring our own food and make a little noise without disturbing others. We hope you’ll come out to our January meeting and help us evaluate this new space. We’ll be looking for feedback from those who attend. 

Essay contest!

Humanist Canada just announced an essay contest for high school students, to promote the logical thinking and communication skills valued by humanists.

Write a 7,500 – 15,000 word essay, in either English or French, on any interesting and relevant topic related to Humanism. Submit your entry before 01 March 2019, and you’ll have a chance to win a share of the $4000 in total prize money that’s being awarded (prize for the best essay in each language is $1,000). Entrants need not be Canadian citizens, as long as they attend a Canadian high school and are born after 30 September 1999.

If you’re not personally eligible to enter, please share this contest with your favorite teenager. Let’s encourage our young people to put their writing skills to work, promote Humanism, and win some scholarship money to help with their education. Essays may also be published later in Humanist Canada’s magazine.

Complete contest details are available on the Humanist Canada website.

Blasphemy law update

Great news! Canada’s archaic blasphemy law has finally been repealed. Canada now joins England, Norway, the Netherlands, Malta, Iceland, Denmark, France, and Ireland – all of which have repealed blasphemy laws in the past 10 years.

Bad news! There’s still a good part of the world where you can be imprisoned or even put to death for blasphemy. Look at this map – green (recently repealed); yellow (local restrictions); orange (legal restrictions); red (prison); brown (death penalty).

Click here for a complete and interactive version of the map with more information. It’s great to celebrate progress, but clearly, there’s still a lot more work to be done.

Book of the Month: Ideas that Matter 

This winter, tackle something a little meatier than what you might choose if you were heading to the beach. British philosopher A.C. Grayling writes about complicated ideas with style and eloquence. In Ideas that Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century, Grayling discusses a multitude of concepts (from Absolutism to Zeitgist), that broadly fall into three main categories:  

– Fundamentalism (religious belief not subject to compromise);
– Globalism (the world becoming more interconnected); and
– Bioethics (ethical issues raised by the advance of science and medicine).

Read about altruism, cloning, consumerism, feminism, neo-conservatism, secularism, tolerance, vegetarianism, and many more ‘ideas that matter’. Topics are arranged alphabetically, and each is discussed in just a few pages, so if you keep the book for a few weeks, you could treat it as a sort of intellectual ‘bathroom reader’.   

For each entry, Grayling describes the idea and then offers his own commentary on it. How many of his opinions do you share? How many do you disagree with – and can you explain why? This book will have you examining – and sometimes reconsidering – your current beliefs. 

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 

Year in Review

2018 was another very successful year. Over the past 12 months, our members have:

–  Learned about being ethical eaters, the sex lives of animals, the laws governing assisted dying, religious private schools, evidence for evolution, advance care planning, how apologists view morality, comprehensive sex education, pseudoscience, and what it’s like to be an atheist in a Bible Belt community.

–  Socialized over drinks and Sunday morning brunches, celebrated Darwin’s birthday, attended our annual Film Fest, met Matt Dillahunty on tour, and held parties for the summer and winter solstices.

–  Donated to organizations that counsel victims of sexual abuse, operate a cat spay and neuter program, provide work opportunities for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities, support low-income students, provide baby gear for low-income parents-to-be, teach comprehensive sex education, and provide community policing. We also paid the annual school tuition for our sponsored child in Kasese, Uganda, helped fund a new vehicle for the Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, gave blood, and signed up to be organ donors.

–  Reached out to a wider audience by placing a Christmas message in newspapers and on social media, setting up information booths at summer festivals in Steinbach, Stonewall, and Morden, attending local debates and speeches held by religious apologists, speaking to high school students, advertising on the new Fossil Discovery Centre’s vehicle, and writing an article for a local ethnic community newspaper.

–  Stood up for issues that matter to Humanists. Our members wrote letters and signed petitions encouraging governments and community leaders to tackle climate change, support reproductive rights, refugees, and the LGBT community, ban gay conversion therapy, repeal blasphemy laws, approve advance requests for MAID, adopt inclusive lyrics for O Canada, accept blood donations from gay men, allow a full range of end-of-life options, and end faith-based health care. We encouraged our members to vote for progressive school trustee candidates, and our own celebrations became ‘greener’ as we move to become less wasteful.

–  Supported each other by sharing ideas, advice, personal stories, knowledge of resources like secular therapists and secular help for addictions, and information about religion in public schools and summer camps. We expanded our lending library and extended its reach to include members of the Eastman Humanist Community, and we wished long-time members good health and farewell.

Whew – No wonder it felt busy! If you missed any of these stories, you’ll find them all in our Newsletter Archive.

Now we’re looking forward to another great year. Please support HAAM with your membership fees as well as your participation and input. We need you! With a larger group of supporters and volunteers we can accomplish even more in 2019!

2019 Membership Fees are Now Due

Please join or renew today.

You can pay online using the PayPal link on our website, or by cash or check in person at any event.

Visit the Join Us page for more information.

 

 

 

 

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.

October 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, September 30th, Perkins Southdale Mall, 123 Vermillion Road, 9:30 AM

Everyone’s welcome. Details here.

 

Pseudoscience! 

Saturday, October 13th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM 

Wear your tinfoil hats for an evening walk through pseudoscience, woo, and all things bullsh*t. 

Details here.

 

Save the date 

November 18th   Special guest Neil Carter, who blogs as Godless in Dixie, will join us via Skype from the US Bible belt.  

Our Events calendar will be updated once we finalize the details. 

 

Charity of the Month   

Kasese, Uganda (click to enlarge)

It’s October, so that means our charity is the Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS). Kasese is a town of just over 100,000 people, north of Lake George and at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda. It’s a growing community, in part because of increasing tourism (proximity to two national parks). Industries include copper mining and cobalt production. Kasese serves as the headquarters for the district and boasts a hospital, an airport, and a small power station.

As the brainchild of Bwambale Robert Musubaho, KHPS was founded with the help and support of Humanists in many countries. It’s run by the Kasese United Humanist Association and is open to both boys and girls ages 3-14. Since opening in 2011, the school has grown to three campuses

Rukoki (Nursery, Primary & Secondary), with 249 students
Kahendero (Nursery & Primary), with 181 students
Bizoha Muhokya (Nursery & Primary), with 281 students

Bogere John in September 2018. Look how he’s grown!

The surrounding predominantly-religious community is sometimes hostile, but Humanist values are gradually catching on, with three other Humanist schools, two health clinics, and many businesses in the area founded on the Humanist model.

The school has a Child Sponsorship Program to assist with tuition for needy, bright, disadvantaged, and vulnerable children. HAAM has been supporting a little student, Bogere John, at the Bizoha campus since 2015. We just received his most recent report card, and we’re delighted to see that he earned nearly all A’s. He appears to have caught up after a serious bout of malaria last year caused him to fall a bit behind.

Every fall, we need to collect enough money to cover his tuition for the coming year. Anything extra goes to the general school fund. Donations are required to assist with basic expenses like textbooks and school materials, building upkeep, and teacher salaries.

So we hope you will join us to support Bogere John and the Kasese Humanist Primary School. As the school’s motto says, “with science we can progress”.

Right: Bogere reading The Day the Dinosaurs Died

Please give generously! We can’t fix the whole world, but we can make a difference in the life of this child. 

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

Latest News 

HAAM is supporting science education in Manitoba 

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (in Morden) is getting a new vehicle (a “fossil dig adventure van” with an “exciting Jurassic-world theme look”). This new van will travel throughout the Pembina Valley and the province for dig tours and outreach events. and be seen by tens of thousands of people each year. 

And HAAM’s name will be on it (in one of the yellow circles, shown in photo) as one of their sponsors! This is a great way for us to support scientific research and education, while getting our name out all over the province. It’s totally win-win – CFDC gets a donation towards their new van, and we get the advertising for as long as they drive it. 

Some of our longer-term members may recall that we also sponsored their last van (see the September 2014 newsletter). Watch for the new van once it hits the road! 

Manitoba’s children need your vote!

The next general municipal election will be held in Manitoba on Wednesday 24 October 2018. Are you planning to vote for school trustees in your area? Maybe you weren’t really thinking about it, because you don’t have kids in school, so you don’t follow school division news and don’t know the people who are running.

But did you know that even in Winnipeg, there are currently people sitting on public school boards who are opposed to supporting LGBTQ students? Who want creationism taught in public schools? Who oppose comprehensive sex education? Who try to sneak Christian prayers and teaching into public schools in any way they can, including supporting organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and Child Evangelism Fellowship?

In Winnipeg, these trustees usually don’t get their way because they are outvoted by other members of their boards. That’s why you don’t hear much about them. But they keep trying. If religious groups could just get enough of their members elected… So far they haven’t – yet.

Meanwhile, outside the city, especially in ‘bible-belt’ communities, it can be difficult to find ANYONE running who supports evidence-based learning and fair treatment of all students. But there are some good candidates out there – we just need to find them.

Please! Take a look at who’s running in your division. Try to find out who they are and what they stand for (even if they have been on the board for a while). You may have to google their names, search for them on social media, or ask your friends. And if you know of a good candidate, spread the word. Make the effort – and then VOTE. Quality education benefits everyone in our society – not just families with kids.

Summer Outreach report

August was very busy with two Outreach weekends in a row. August 17-19 marked our first venture to Stonewall Quarry Days, and August 24-26 was busy with our regular trip out to Morden for their Corn and Apple Festival. 

Our dauntless Outreach director, Pat Morrow, has now completed his entertaining and insightful report on those adventures. You can read all about them here.

There are more photos in our Gallery. 

 

 

Partners for Life update 

Have you donated blood recently? We’re heading into the last quarter of 2018 and hoping to meet our pledge of 25 donations from our members. Last year we exceeded it! This year, so far, we are only at 18. 

So go donate blood and save some lives! If you haven’t participated in Partners for Life before (or have never donated blood at all), all the information and links you need are here. 

 

In Memoriam – Jake van Raalte (1928-2018) 

One of our long-time members passed away this summer. Jake and his wife, Miep, were members of HAAM since the late 1990s. Miep served on the executive from approximately 2000 to 2007. She died of cancer in 2009. Jake continued to attend meetings when he could, usually preferring to sit as close to the front as possible so that he could hear and understand the speaker better. He enjoyed attending HAAM meetings for the conversation with other members and listening to the speakers, although he may not always have enjoyed the speakers equally.  

Jake enjoyed looking after their lovely property and was very proud of it. A visit to their home usually meant that we would leave knowing a bit more about all the beautiful flowers he grew. 

Jake at HAAM’s 2013 Winter Solstice party

After Miep died, Jake spent the next few years taking over all her duties and organizing her papers, books, etc. In 2012 Jake called to tell me that he had discovered a bank account he had not been aware of (or had forgotten about), and that he wanted to donate the balance in that account to HAAM. The amount was $1,500. HAAM’s executive was very happy to receive this donation and tried to come up with a significant way of thanking him. That’s when the idea of a Lifetime Membership was born. Jake was the very first member to receive it. 

Jake became ill in the last couple of years before he died and was unable to attend our meetings. He did not recognize me when I went to visit him in September of 2016. In July of this year, Jason van Raalte, Jake’s grandson, called to tell me that Jake was dying. I was able to visit Jake and Jason on the morning of July 14. Jake died later that day. 

Jake’s full obituary can be read here. Our heartfelt condolences go to Jake’s son Mike van Raalte, and grandson Jason.  

-Helen Friesen 

Video of the Month: Hell House 

Hallowe’en is coming up, so if you have never watched George Ratliff’s 2001 documentary Hell House, there’s no better time. This film is almost a ‘classic’ by now, and you might even find it funny – if you don’t find the subject too pathetic and disturbing.  

Hell House is a look at an annual Hallowe’en theater production, staged by the youth group of Trinity Church (Assemblies of God) in Texas, and seen by thousands of visitors annually. The show consists of a series of skits portraying the evils of the world, designed to scare young people into repenting and becoming Christians. The societal evils acted out in the play include everything from homosexuality to Harry Potter books. The play is followed by an emotionally-charged altar call, pleading with members of the audience to accept Jesus as their savior.  

Ratliff didn’t mock his subjects, or judge their mission and motives – but you can. Prepare to be terrified at this horrific manipulation of young minds. 

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 DVD.  

September 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, September 2nd, Smitty’s Garden City, 9:30 AM.

Let’s get together as we start the fall season. Details here.

Sex Education in Manitoba

Saturday, September 8th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 PM

Our guest speaker will be Bre Woligroski, Sexuality and Reproductive Health Facilitator from SERC (Sexuality Education Resource Centre MB). Details here.

 

Charity of the Month 

SERC (Sexuality Education Resource Centre) Manitoba is a community-based, non-profit, pro-choice organization dedicated to promoting sexual health through education. SERC provides inclusive, non-judgmental education about sexuality based on the belief that people have the right to accurate information on all their choices. The centre offers comprehensive and personalized consultations, education, information, and resources for a variety of sexual health topics. 

SERC’s services include 

Community education programs and workshops 
– Community consultations and outreach 
– Safer sex supplies (condom distribution) 
– Training workshops and consultations for service providers 
– Education for newcomers to Canada in multiple languages 
– Culturally based programs for indigenous youth 
– Affirming programs for LGBTTQ* community  
– Confidential email for questions 
– Lending library and online resource library 

To protest the lack of support for sexual health and rights displayed by some of our politicians, we will be making our donation in honor of Conservative MP Ted Falk (Provencher), who has publicly denounced gay rights, transgender rights, and abortion rights. Mr Falk will be notified that his stance on these issues is the inspiration for our donation.

Please donate to support responsible, comprehensive sex education! 

Donations for the Charity of the Month are accepted at any of our events.  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.

Save the dates

HAAM and Eggs Brunch, Sunday September 30th, Perkins Southdale Mall, 9:30 AM  

Monthly meetings – Saturdays at Canad Inns Polo Park from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm 

October 14thTammy Blanchettepseudoscience and alternative medicine 

November 18th – Topic TBA.

Our Events calendar will be updated once we finalize the details for these meetings. 

Latest News 

Website contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of the What’s on our Website contest! 

Adriana Sedlak was the first person to send in the correct answers. She wins a free meal at one of our fall meetings.

Marcia Masse was the first person to send in her contest entry, but unfortunately, she had one wrong answer. She wins the consolation prize of a free drink at a meeting.    

Here are the answers:      

1. In the photo illustrating HAAM’s position on public education, what is the message written on the poster that the protester is holding? (Position Statements) Let’s teach kids to think outside the box, not fill in circles.

2. The third from last item on our list of suggested resources for people wanting to learn about evolution is a series of short YouTube videos. What is the name of this video series? (Exploring Nonbelief) Our Origins Made Easy (video series)

What is the definition of morality as stated on our website? (What is Humanism?) Morality is defined as caring about the welfare and well-being of thinking creatures.

4. What is Question #7 on our list of ‘Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Religion?’ (Brochures) Why are the most prayerful countries the most deprived, and not the most successful?

5. In the Atheist Bible Study, which two modern translations of the Bible were used for the readings? (Bible Study) New Living Translation and New International Version

6. Name two secular self-help organizations you could contact if you were struggling with an addiction. (Help and Advice) Any two of Life Ring, Smart Recovery, Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS), and Secular AA

We hope that this little quiz inspired a few people to take a closer look at all the resources and information on our website. If you didn’t get around to looking, check it out now (no more prizes, though). 

Summer Outreach

August has been very busy with two Outreach weekends in a row. August 17-19 marked our first venture to Stonewall Quarry Days, and August 24-26 was busy with our regular trip out to Morden for their Corn and Apple Festival.

It was an eventful couple of weekends. We linked up non-believers in Bible belt communities with others in their area, engaged in counter-apologetics discussions with pastors, challenged creationists, and survived the theft of two of the tables from our booth.

Our dedicated Outreach coordinator, Pat Morrow, promises to have his full insightful and entertaining report on both these events ready for our next newsletter.

In the meantime, a big thank you to all our dedicated and intrepid Outreach volunteers! It’s always fun and a great learning experience, and we couldn’t do it without you.

 

Venue survey results

Thank you to everyone who responded to the recent survey about the venue for our monthly meetings.  Here’s what we learned from the responses: 

Most of the people who responded are paid HAAM members who attended at least one monthly meeting during the past season. About a third are unsatisfied with our current meeting venue at Canad Inns Polo Park, while only about 1/6 are completely satisfied. 

Over half of our respondents regard food as relatively unimportant at our meetings, although one person did note in a comment that having food or a meal encourages networking and social time. 

Almost half of those who answered would like to meet in a more family/kid friendly location, while the rest regard that as unimportant. Of course, many of our meeting topics are unsuitable or uninteresting for small children, but it would be nice to at least have a space for kids to play if parents need to bring them to a meeting. 

More than one third reported that if we found a more flexible / family-friendly meeting space, they would be more likely to attend. 

Regarding our meeting night (Saturday), there was no big demand to change it. If we did, weeknights could be considered, but Sunday mornings were a definite ‘no’. 

More than a quarter of respondents would find it helpful if our meeting location were on a major street with a bus route.  

To see the full survey results in graph format, click here.

We received 9 suggestions for new meeting places that we could consider, as well as a few other helpful comments, such as a request that we ensure any venue we consider is wheelchair accessible.  

HAAM’s executive will be exploring these suggestions over the coming weeks. In the meantime, our fall meetings will continue to be held at Canad Inns up until November. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!  

If you have any further comments or suggestions, you can always contact us by email (info@haam.ca) or via our contact form. 

Book of the Month

We have a number of books in our library about psychology and neuroscience. The study of how the mind works and why people think and behave the way they do is one of the last frontiers of modern science – there is so much yet to learn. 

Canadian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Norman Doige has spent years studying neuroplasticity, psychotherapy treatment outcomes, schizoid personality disorders, and other phenomena of the mind. In 2007 he wrote The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. This book contains stories of people with mental limitations or brain damage whose lives have been transformed, including blind people learning to see, IQs being raised, aging brains rejuvenated, stroke patients learning to speak, children with cerebral palsy learning to move with grace, and depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated. The publisher claims that this inspiring book will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential. 

The reviews are glowing – both from professionals (“psychiatric literary genre par excellence” – The Globe and Mail; “a remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain” – Oliver Sacks) and from readers (“life changing!”; “this book will empower.”; “this book gives you hope”, etc). 

Does this all sound too good to be true? Are you a bit skeptical? Have a look and decide for yourself! 

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 ‘Back to School’ time again

Do you have questions about religious programming and proselytization in public schools? Every year HAAM gets calls and emails from concerned parents about this issue. 

Make sure you know what the law says about religious instruction and religious clubs in the public school system. All the information you need is here. 

If you still have questions after reading it, contact us.  

August 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Look for our members at these summer festivals in August.  

Make sure to stop by the Outreach booth and say Hi! 

 

 

Stonewall Outreach 

August 17th to 19th, Stonewall Manitoba 

HAAM begins a new Outreach this August at Stonewall Quarry Days.

Come visit us in our booth at Stonewall Quarry Days for a conversation worth having.
Details here.

Morden Outreach 

August 24th to 26th, Morden Manitoba 

This will be our seventh year doing Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival. For those who appreciate that knowledge and understanding will always be better than believing through faith, Morden offers a unique experience.

Come visit us in our booth at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival for a conversation worth having.
Details here.

Then plan to join us for brunch as we begin our fall season. 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, September 2nd, Smitty’s Garden City, 2305 McPhillips Street (in Garden City Shopping Centre) 

This monthly casual get-together will be our first event of the new season. So welcome back! (or just ‘welcome’, if you’re new). Details here.

Fall meeting dates: 

Our monthly meetings are held on Saturdays at Canad Inns Polo Park from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Plans for fall are underway.

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. 

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. 

Latest News 

What’s on our Website? Take a look and enter to win! 

Have you looked at this website lately (or ever)? (Beyond checking an event post or reading this newsletter, that is.) There’s a whole lot more on here than you might realize. It’s full of helpful information and links to resources that might come in handy. 

Here is just some of what you’ll find: 

– Information about HAAM – who we are and what we stand for.  
– Information about Humanism. 
– A searchable archive of past newsletters and articles. 
– Suggested resources for people who have recently left religion or are questioning their beliefs. 
– Links to community organizations, secular charities, and local support groups. 

Win a free dinner! 

Explore our website. Then complete this short quiz.  

Be the first person to email in all the correct answers, and you will win the cost of your dinner at an upcoming HAAM meeting*. All the answers are easily found on our web pages. (Hint: The title of the page containing the answer is shown in brackets after each question.) 

* Maximum value $25. Must be used at one of our fall 2018 meetings (Sept 8, October 13, or November 17).  1) In the photo illustrating HAAM’s position on public education, what is the message written on the poster that the protester is holding? (Position Statements)

2) The third from last item on our list of suggested resources for people wanting to learn about evolution is a series of short YouTube videos. What is the name of this video series? (Exploring Nonbelief)

3) What is the definition of morality as stated on our website? (What is Humanism?)

4) What is Question #7 on our list of ‘Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Religion?’ (Brochures)

5) In the Atheist Bible Study, which two modern translations of the Bible were used for the readings? (Bible Study)

6) Name two secular self-help organizations you could contact if you were struggling with an addiction. (Help and Advice)

Email your answers to info@haam.ca. 

Support our monthly charity program

Our Charity of the Month program will resume in September. Please support it – your contributions will help make a difference in our community (and occasionally across the globe) and show that Humanists care! 

Religious institutions have long claimed most of the credit for charity work, but let’s face it – much of the donated money and volunteer effort they receive goes toward supporting the organizations themselves, rather than assisting those in need. And with the decline of religion and the closures of churches, secular charities are needed to make up for the decrease in legitimate charitable work once done by religion. 

There are lots of secular charities and worthy organizations out there if you look – and we look. Since setting up the Charity of the Month program about 5 years ago, our members have supported over 40 different groups. Many of these are small, local, and less well known than the organizations we associate with big fundraising lotteries, walkathons, and advertising budgets. Most of our charities were started by ordinary people who just wanted to support a cause, meet a need, or right an injustice. 

You don’t even have to attend a HAAM meeting contribute to this program! Donations to the current Charity of the Month may be made using the Donate button on this website (just add a note about what the money is for). You can also browse our list of past charities for a cause you’d like to support and donate directly via that organization’s own website. 

Book of the Month: Can believers change their minds?

One of the most frequent questions that we get asked about our Outreach program is whether the effort is worth it; i.e. does anyone ever change their mind?  

Of course, the main goal of our Outreach program isn’t to ‘deconvert’ believers. Major reasons for setting up the booth are 1) to let closeted atheists know that they are not alone and that there is a supportive community of non-believers out there for them; 2) to promote reason and critical thinking; and 3) to clear up misconceptions about atheism and Humanism, and let believers know that it is possible to be good without a god. 

But yes, we do also engage in discussion, and sometimes debate, with believers. Why bother? Does it ever make a difference, or are we just wasting our time and energy? Aren’t most fundamentalists too committed to their beliefs – or just too stupid – to see reason?  

The answer to that is an emphatic NO. Even staunch fundamentalists can change their minds. All it takes is the right question or comment to spark someone’s curiosity, or plant a seed of doubt, and start them on the path to reason. Of course, change doesn’t happen instantly; and often it occurs, not in the believer participating in the discussion, but in a bystander listening to the conversation.

If you have difficulty believing that this is possible, then you really need to read Seth Andrews‘ book Deconverted – a journey from religion to reason. Seth is the guy who created the Thinking Atheist online community, YouTube channel, and weekly podcasts. He knows what it’s like to grow up in a fundamentalist Christian home, live in a Christian community, attend a private Christian school, and work in a Christian-based business – because he did all of these. This short book, which relates the personal ‘testimony’ of his exit from religiosity in his late 30’s, will vanquish any notions you might have that religious people are too ‘stupid’ to be reasoned out of their irrational beliefs.  

Deconverted is an easy read; Seth writes in the same folksy style that he uses in his speeches and podcasts. (Check out the book trailer.) He clearly explains the triggers that planted the first seeds of his doubt in his mind, and where those led him. If you also left conservative Christianity, then you’ll relate to much of what he describes. If you didn’t, and you have a hard time understanding how people can hold such ridiculous beliefs, then you’ll gain insight from reading his story. 

Bonus: If you enjoy the book, you can hear Seth discussing it, and his experiences, on his podcast here. 

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.  

Share your story

Many of our members were once religious – even very religious. How they ended up leaving all that behind and finding Humanism can be a fascinating (but sometimes difficult and sad) story.

We all have our own story to tell. Sharing our stories with each other helps create community with those who have had similar experiences and fosters understanding from those who had different experiences. It helps us all realize that we are not alone. Telling our stories publicly also helps clear up some of the misconceptions that people have about atheists.

What experiences shape your story?

– Did you grow up in a religious environment (family and/or community)?
– If you were once a ‘true believer’, what triggered your first spark of doubt?
– If you left religion, when and how did you do it?
– What impact (if any) does your lack of belief have on your family relationships and friendships?
– As a non-believer, where do you turn for guidance, support, and comfort?
– What led you to become involved with HAAM?

Some of our members have already told their stories on our website. We would love to add yours to add to those already there. You can remain anonymous if you wish.  (In fact, it is particularly helpful to hear the stories of people who are not ‘out’, because it lets others in the same situation realize that they are not alone. Feel free to alter or omit any identifying details and concentrate on relating your experiences and feelings. You may wish to include an explanation of why you cannot be ‘out’.

Remember, You are Not Alone

Submit your story to info@haam.ca

All enquiries and submissions will be kept strictly confidential unless permission is given for publication.

Last chance to complete our venue survey!

Thanks to everyone who responded to the very brief survey about our meeting venue. We will be reviewing everyone’s responses and suggestions at our next executive meeting.

If you still didn’t get around to completing it, the survey will be open until the long weekend (August 6th).

We need input from as many members as possible!

Click here to respond to the Venue Survey!

May 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values 

Saturday, May 12th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

Our own Pat Morrow will talk about Christian apologetic claims regarding the scientific revolution and slavery. His presentation will demonstrate that progress is not due to any gods, but rather to human effort.  Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Saturday, May 26th, Red Top Inn, 219 St Mary’s Road, 9:30 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together. Everyone’s welcome. Details here.

 

Save the Dates 

June 15-17 – Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival (Steinbach) 

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party 

 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Interbelief Reasoning Dialogue: “What Weaponizes Beliefs?”

Thursday, 3 May, St James Assiniboia Public Library (note change of date)

Presented by the Winnipeg Circle of Reason.

Advance Care Planning – what you need to know

Saturday, May 12th, St Boniface Public Library, 1:30 PM.

Learn more about your rights as a patient, and how to increase the chances of your wishes being respected in a health crisis and/or at the end of life. Registration required. More information here.

Winnipeg Pride Parade 

Sunday, June 3rd, Manitoba Legislative Building.

Rally at 10 AM and parade at 11. 

 

More information and links to all these non-HAAM events are on our Community Events page. 

Charity of the Month  

Just in time for Mothers Day! They say you can’t spoil a baby – but let’s try.  

You Can’t Spoil a Baby has been providing baby supplies to Manitoba families in need since 2011. Its goal is to show families that they are valued by their community by providing them with no-strings-attached gifts to help them care for their baby. 

YCSAB is run 100% by volunteers. The concept is simple:  

Donors can either contribute their once-loved baby items to one of YCSAB’s more than 40 drop-off spots for volunteers to combine into gifts, or follow guidelines provided by YCSAB to make and deliver their own gift using items they collect. Each gift includes items that will help a family through their baby’s first year – a set of newborn to 18 month baby clothes, one ‘big-ticket’ item (like a crib, stroller, or exersaucer), a few other helpful accessories (like feeding, bathing and diapering supplies, blankets, and toys), and a big sibling gift if the family has other children.  

Families who need assistance need to apply for a gift early in pregnancy (the wait list is close to 6 months). Most of the expectant parents who apply do not have friends or family to give them baby items, are single parents or young couples living on Income Assistance, are newcomers to Canada who are starting over, are leaving abusive relationships, or have had a series of tough breaks and need help. In addition to the gift of baby clothes and baby items, YCSAB provides families with an online list of local resources to help with the high costs of raising children. 

YCSAB accepts money as well as gently used baby items that help with the first two years of life. Their highest need items are always sleepers/pajamas in sizes 6-18 months. Used items are encouraged to promote reuse, but they won’t turn away new ones. A list of accepted items can be found on their website. Please check it carefully, as some items must comply with safety regulations. You can bring your donations to our meeting. If you have very large items, or cannot make it to the meeting, let us know and we’ll arrange for pickup and/or transport of your items. 

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 ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Call to Action 

There’s a new petition to the House of Commons urging the government to re-examine the ban against gay men donating blood.  

The current law makes anyone (male or female), who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man within the last year ineligible to donate. Obviously, this is a sensitive issue and there is a lot more to the law than just politics. Blood donation regulations need to be evidence-based, in order to protect us all. That’s why the screening for prospective donors includes questions about drug use, travel history, tattoos, and whether their job involves caring for monkeys.

But when it comes to sexual practices, the law focuses on demographics instead of behaviors – banning ALL gay men, even those in monogamous, long-term relationships, from donating blood. On the other hand, straight people are not excluded from donating regardless of the number of sexual partners they have had – as long as the donor believes that all those partners are also straight. Doesn’t this seem illogical?  

The rationale for the current guidelines and the history behind them are clearly explained on the Canadian Blood Services’ website here and here. In summary, the rules used to be much stricter – a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was in place until 2013. Since then, CBS has gradually been relaxing the standards as more data is obtained. The current one-year ban was initiated in 2016. Of course, we all want to avoid another fiasco like the tainted blood scandal of the 80’s and 90’s that made people sick, cost millions of dollars, and diminished confidence in the safety of Canada’s blood supply. 

But it would make more sense to screen all donors for at-risk practices instead of just banning a whole group of people, and it appears that CBS is gradually moving in that direction. Recently, donors were given a survey asking if they would be willing to answer more detailed questions about their sexual practices as part of donor screening, or whether such intimate questions would discourage them from donating at all.   

The survey question asked: Please state how comfortable you would be answering questions on these topics in order to donate blood or plasma: 

– Saying the number of partners you have had in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you have had ANAL sex with anyone in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you used a condom every time you had sex in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you used the internet or social media (eg Facebook or Tinder) to seek a partner for sexual intercourse in the last 6 months) 
– And several more similar questions 

The answer choices were ‘completely comfortable’, ‘somewhat comfortable’, ‘somewhat uncomfortable’, ‘completely uncomfortable’, and ‘this would stop me from donating’.  

If having to answer these questions deters some people from donating, wouldn’t it stand to reason that most of those who are deterred are those who participate in high-risk behaviors? And wouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s interesting to think about. 

If you support encouraging CBS to focus on behaviors rather than on demographics in their donor screening, please sign the petition. It’s open for signature until July 17th 

Click here to sign the petition. 

And if you ARE currently eligible to donate, please do. HAAM is a member of CBS Partners for Life program. Learn more about it here, and sign up now! 

Latest News 

Your Health Care – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

According to the Health Care Directives Act of Manitoba, a health care directive (HCD) is a legal document that must be respected by your medical team in the event that you can’t speak for yourself. Also, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that all competent adult Canadians have the right to refuse or discontinue treatment.

But did you know that both your HCD and your right to refuse treatment can be ignored by your medical team under certain circumstances? For example, you might have comfort in the fact that you’ve written down and signed your wish not to be resuscitated, in the event that you collapse and someone calls an ambulance. However, what paramedics have told us is that not only will they not take the time to stop and read a HCD when treating a patient in an emergency, but they also can’t respect your request. That’s because they can’t verify your signature, your state of mind, or your competency when you signed it. To be considered valid, a DNR (do not resuscitate) order must be obtained from and signed by your doctor (and even then, there is still some uncertainty about whether it will be followed). And once the patient arrives at the hospital, and let’s say regains consciousness, the patient’s request to refuse treatment could be ignored by staff until a psychiatrist confirms the patient’s competence. So even if it’s your worst fear to wake up in hospital hooked up to machines, that could be exactly what happens in spite of your best efforts to communicate your wishes.

What can I do about this?

So what can you do to prevent such a situation from happening? Well, first of all, do you HAVE a signed HCD in the first place? If not, you can download one for free from End of Life Planning Canada (via DWD Winnipeg chapter), make sure you’ve chosen a proxy who is willing to get LOUD if your wishes are not being respected. Neither of these will likely help with the paramedics, but they will certainly help once you arrive at the hospital. Second, do you have a card in your wallet that states who your proxy is and where to find your HCD? And finally, have you discussed your end-of-life wishes with all of your friends and family? The more backup you have, the safer it will be (legally) for medical staff to respect your proxy’s instructions.

What about MAID?

It is currently not legal to list Medical Assistance in Dying as one of your requests in your health care directive, since your HCD only comes into effect if you can’t communicate, and you can’t have assistance to die unless you’re able to consent when the time comes to administer the drugs. The DWD Canada blog states

“In 2016, an Ipsos Reid poll of 2,530 Canadians found a surprisingly strong level of support for allowing MAID in our HCDs, with no statistically significant regional variations. Approval was high among supporters of the three leading federal parties, especially supporters of the New Democratic Party (84%) and the Liberal Party of Canada (83%). Three out of four Conservative supporters (74%) were in favour, too. 78% of Catholics and 73% of Protestant Christians support allowing Canadians with a grievous and irremediable illness to make advance requests for physician-assisted dying. Sample sizes for people of other faiths weren’t large enough to allow for statistically significant comparisons.

Other poll questions presented different possible scenarios involving advance consent for assisted dying. About eight in 10 (82%) Canadians said they would support physician-assisted dying for patients who have a scheduled assisted death, and were competent at the time of the request, but who lose competence before the request can be carried out (for example, in the case of a patient who falls into a coma just days before the scheduled provision of aid in dying). Seven in 10 (71%) Canadians would support allowing a patient without a diagnosis for a grievous and irremediable illness to make an advance request for physician-assisted dying that would be honoured if certain pre-stated conditions were met.”

Learn more!

If you’d like to be fully informed and complete your HCD, join us for our next workshop on Advance Care Planning, May 12th at the St Boniface Library at 1:30 PM. Become an empowered patient! For more information, and to register (required), contact DWD Winnipeg Chapter.                                                          – Cheri Frazer

Event Review – Debate: Morality 

In April I attended the Feakes vs. Kay morality debate held at Winnipeg’s New Life Sanctuary Church. Darren Kay is a local Humanist writer with an interest in the big questions. John Feakes is the pastor of the aforementioned church. He’s a Young Earth Creationist with a master’s degree in theology from the Columbia Evangelical Seminary (readers are free to look that one up).  

The debate question was “How should we live our lives?”. It asks which is the better framework for forming an ethical morality – Christianity or secularism. 

As far as the calibre of the debate, this was not Wilberforce versus Huxley. Part of the problem was the nature of the question. Feakes was tasked with arguing for the proposition that “Christianity is ethically superior to secularism” whereas Kay was tasked with the negative “Christianity is not ethically superior to secularism”.  Taking the negative put Kay in the situation of having to disprove Feakes’s position and at the same time argue his own. In addition, neither position was clearly defined – whose version of Christianity? and what do we mean by secularism? Feakes did try to define secularism in his rapid-fire slideshow, by displaying every definition of it from many sources.  

For me, the quality of any debate is in its opening statements and initial rebuttals. I found this debate quite formulaic and pre-scripted (or maybe I’ve just watched far too many of them). Feakes opened with the standard creationist shotgun debating technique (AKA the Gish Gallop). Kay did a good job of trying to explain the nature of secular morality, but with the limited time available I think some points were not as clear as they could’ve been, and were therefore missed by the folks who most needed to hear them.  

In formal debate, after the opening arguments come the rebuttals. This is a chance for one to respond to the arguments that were just presented by one’s opponent. Great debaters such as Christopher Hitchens would often do their rebuttals from memory or with just a few notes.  The rebuttal requires debaters to think on their feet, although on occasion, visual aids could be incorporated if one is familiar enough with their opponent’s points to anticipate them. However, in this debate, both sides used fully prepared PowerPoint presentations, which offered the odd spectacle of each of them rebutting arguments that their opponents had not presented. As a result, the rebuttals were disappointing. At some points the evening took on a lecture feel rather than a debate. 

You can find the full video of the evening here on YouTube. It will help those unfamiliar with the moral argument to become better informed, but if you’re looking for the thrust and parry of a traditional debate, this may not be for you.                                                                                                        Pat Morrow  

Library News – Interlibrary loans now available

The Eastman Humanist Community (EHC), based in Steinbach, is growing and now has its own small library. It makes sense to pool our resources – sharing is what Humanists do, right? So HAAM and the EHC have recently reached an agreement to allow inter-library loans between the two groups.

Our own HAAM library is now up to almost 250 items (books and DVD’s), available to all paid members. So check it out!  But if we don’t have the book you are looking for, you are now welcome to check out the EHC’s library as well. If you find something there that you would like to borrow, contact HAAM. We will make arrangements with the EHC to obtain the item for you the next time someone from either group is traveling between Steinbach and Winnipeg.

Book of the Month Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks 

If you’re concerned about the current anti-intellectualism trend that is making people vulnerable to propaganda, advertising, and quackery in medicine, religion, and politics, then you’ll find this book encouraging.  

Ben Goldacre writes in easy to understand language about the importance of learning to think critically when evaluating scientific claims, in order to separate promotional propaganda from reality. He covers research topics like placebos, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it.  

Read about detox baths, ear candling, ‘whole brain learning’, homeopathy, the MMR vaccine scare, cosmetics, vitamin supplements, anti-oxidants, cognitive bias, the misuse of statistics, celebrity endorsements, and more. It’s an entertaining book for anyone interested in the practical uses – and abuses – of science.  

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. 

HAAM President Donna Harris onstage with Matt Dillahunty during his recent visit. What an awesome show!

 

 

April 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Pre-Dillahunty Drinks 

Sunday, April 8th, King’s Head Pub, 120 King Street, 6 PM 

Will you be attending Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism show that evening? (details for that are on our ‘Community Events’ page). 

If so, meet us for drinks first! Details here.

Monthly Meeting – What’s Wrong with Private Schools? 

Saturday, April 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

Guest speaker Steve Lecce, from the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the U of M, will address the issue of public funding for private schools in Manitoba. 

Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, April 29th, Original Pancake House at the Forks, 1 Forks Market Road, 9:30 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together. Details here.

 

Save the Dates 

May 12th (Monthly Meeting) – Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values 

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party 

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

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are 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 

Event information and link to get tickets is here.

Debate: Morality – How Should We Live Our Lives? 

Saturday, 21 April 2018, New Life Sanctuary Church, 618 Muriel Street 

Dig Deep Fundraiser Gala for the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre 

Saturday, 28 April 2018, Morden Manitoba 

More information on these and more upcoming non-HAAM events is on our Community Events page.  

Charity of the MonthPathways to Education 

Pathways to Education is an innovative program that partners with governments, communities, schools, and volunteers to help youth from low-income communities stay in school, graduate, and achieve their full potential.  

In Winnipeg, Pathways to Education operates in the North Point Douglas, Lord Selkirk Park, and William Whyte neighbourhoods (see map), where people of Aboriginal descent make up over 70 per cent of high school families. All students in this catchment area are eligible to participate in the program from grades 9 through 12, regardless of their academic performance or economic circumstance. There is no cost to participants. 

Many kids in this area have the potential to succeed but face barriers to education created by poverty. These include insufficient financial means, lack of positive role models in the community, absence of parental support, or integration into a new country and culture. 

The Pathways program includes financial support (transit and meal vouchers, scholarships and internships); academic support (tutoring and assistance transitioning to post-secondary education); social support (group mentoring and career exploration); and personal support and advocacy. 

An evaluation of the program by an independent consulting firm estimated that society’s return on Pathways is about $24 for every $1 invested, and a total benefit of about $600,000 for every graduate – in addition to the obvious personal and social benefits of breaking the cycle of poverty. So let’s help make this happen! 

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 ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News 

Understanding Evolution from Animal Limbs 

On our recent visit to Grunthal to address students at Green Valley High, one of the young men stated (paraphrasing slightly) “you say we share like 99.8% of our DNA with monkeys.  Well, I’m not a banana.  We share 50% of our DNA with bananas. I’m not a banana”. 

eohippus

I’m glad to report that most of the other students found his statement thoroughly amusing. But really, I don’t truly know how much science these young people are learning in school.  I don’t think I learned very much science from school. I know I did learn some from pop culture, because I really liked animals. I always watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and I never missed Joan Embery from the San Diego Zoo when she appeared on The Tonight Show.  

I distinctly remember a diagram of the history of equine evolution, right from Eohippus (shown) to modern horses. I remember the toe patterns. It always made sense to me. I never questioned that life develops over time; it seemed so… obvious. And I’ve always appreciated the diagrams of arm/limb structure. The number and arrangement of bones is a pattern that runs through all tetrapods – animals with four limbs.  

There are obviously variations, but the same pattern is visible in diverse animal species, including humans (top left), whales (top right), lizards (bottom left), and birds (bottom right). Learn more about these limbs here. 

But nowhere did I see that demonstrated more clearly to me than a recent Facebook post with a simple image of a cross-section of an elephant’s foot. I was shocked at how that looked exactly like a human foot, on tiptoe, encased in a “boot” of flesh. To me, the links between living things are patently obvious. I don’t know about you, but I’m quite happy knowing that I share 50% of my DNA with a banana. – Donna Harris 

Sending Our Get Well Wishes 

One of our founding members has been in hospital recently. Olga Nahirniak has been a HAAM member ‘from the beginning’ (in the mid-1990’s). At that time, the group was named just HAM (Humanist Association of Manitoba).  

Now in her 90’s, Olga continues to receive and read our newsletter every month, although she has not been able to make it out to an event for the last couple of years.  

Helen and John Friesen went to visit her in hospital in early March. Olga was very appreciative of their visit and thanked them several times for coming. They passed on greetings from all our members, and Olga asked them to return the greetings saying she thought about all of us often. She’s such a sweet lady and a remarkable person! 

Olga is back home now. Members who attended the March meeting signed a get-well card to let her know we’re thinking about her. 

Olga is in this photo, taken at the 2013 Summer Solstice party (it’s also in the slide show on the home page with the caption ‘Humanism is Inclusive’). She’s in the front row, at right, seated on her walker, wearing dark pants and a red jacket. We miss you Olga!    

Summer Solstice 2013

Understanding and Completing an Advance Care Plan 

The Winnipeg chapter of Dying with Dignity has a 2-hour workshop on how to fill out your ACP (aka a health care directive or living will). An effective ACP indicates your wishes about your care should something bad happen and you can’t speak for yourself. Many people arrive at hospitals with either no instructions in writing, or with a paragraph written in language too vague for doctors to act upon. Don’t assume that just because your spouse knows your wishes that that’s what will happen in an emergency. Dying With Dignity Canada has many years of experience in helping people express their wishes clearly in an Advance Care Plan. 

The complete DWD Advance Care Plan kit and information booklet is available to anyone to download free. However, based on past presentations and reports from patients, families, and health care professionals, there are lots of questions and many issues that need further elaboration and interpretation – hence the need for this workshop. Topics addressed in the presentation include: 

  • Legal issues around ACP’s, including the difference between an ACP and a Power of Attorney 
  • Patient rights including right to refuse treatment 
  • How to choose a proxy decision maker 
  • How to ensure that your wishes are carried out  
  • Comparing a Living Will prepared by a lawyer to a standard hospital form, and the Manitoba government form 
  • Discussing common but imprecise phrases such as “heroic measures” and “artificial means” 
  • Walking through the ACP kit and the Health Care Directive form in detail 
  • How to complete the form / how to make copies 
  • What to do (and what NOT to do) with your HCD after it’s completed 
  • Resources for those who want further information or guidance 

The next class will be offered once there is sufficient interest expressed. Please RSVP to the Winnipeg Chapter of Dying With Dignity to indicate your interest. You will be contacted later to arrange a suitable date and time. 

Book of the Month – Not the Impossible Faith  

Historian Richard Carrier offers a point-by-point rebuttal of the frequent assertions by apologists that Christianity could not have taken hold in the ancient world unless its claims were true, and that theirs is not just another man-made religion. 

Carrier examines the sociology of the ancient world and demonstrates that Christianity did not require miracles to succeed. The book explains that Christianity’s early converts were the poor and outcast, but that its adaptability allowed it to grow and eventually reach the upper classes. 

Each chapter addresses a different question, such as: who would believe in a crucified god, who would join an intolerant cult, and who would follow an executed criminal? 

This is a fascinating book for those interested in the origins of Christianity. 

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. 

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018 

Farewell to a “brilliant and extraordinary mind”.  (Theresa May)  

*** 

“Have fun out there among the stars.” (Barack Obama)

March 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Film Fest: Shorts Night

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

We’ll be sharing a series of short videos on a variety of topics. Suitable for pre-teens and up.

Click here for details.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, March 18th, Stella’s on Pembina, 1463 Pembina Hwy, 9:30 AM

Everyone’s welcome! Details here.

 

Save the Dates

April 14th (Monthly Meeting) – What’s Wrong with Private Schools?

May 12th (Monthly Meeting) – Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party

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

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are on the 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

Do you have your tickets yet? Lots of HAAM members are going. Don’t be left out!

Click here for details and ticket information.

Debate: Morality – How Should We Live Our Lives?

Saturday, 21 April 2018, New Life Sanctuary Church, 618 Muriel Street

Dig Deep Fundraiser Gala for the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre

Saturday, 28 April 2018, Morden Manitoba

More information on these upcoming non-HAAM events is on our Community Events page.

Charity of the Month

Manitoba doesn’t end at the perimeter highway, so our donations shouldn’t either. After all, we are the Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba – not just Winnipeg. So this month, for a change, we’re venturing outside the city.

Blue Sky Opportunities Inc. is a non-profit organization in Altona, committed to maximizing the independence of adults with intellectual disabilities.

Blue Sky’s vocational program provides training and employment, followed by ongoing workplace support and mentoring for its clients. Their projects include the manufacture of wooden products (pallets, crokinole boards, clothes dryers, custom woodwork, fencing, and furniture); the assembly of combine feeder and elevator chains; blue box and cardboard pickup in the area; lawn care services for local businesses and private homes; and the operation of an e-waste collection site. They also do contract work (such as product assembly, packaging, electrical wire assembly, paper shredding, and rug weaving) for local businesses, and assist with special projects and peak work loads.

Blue Sky also offers non-vocational programming in the areas of communication, physiotherapy, life skills and recreational activities to enhance the quality of life. Their life skills program focuses on activities such as meal preparation, cleaning, laundry and bicycle safety. They currently operate 10 homes in Altona, as well as providing supports for people living in their own home within the community.

Blue Sky Opportunities relies on fundraising to provide the capital needed to support their programs and facilities. They recently completed a new Recycling and Chain Assembly Building (in photo), and donations will be used to pay off the mortgage owing on it.  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 ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

Proselytization in Manitoba High Schools

Manitoba’s anti-bullying legislation is intended to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. Although initially, the most significant social issue prompting the development of the legislation was opposition to Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s) in high schools, the guidelines apply equally to all student groups and clubs.

A government publication titled Safe and Caring Schools: Respect for Diversity Policies outlines the application of this legislation. (The full document can be downloaded here.) It applies to all Manitoba public schools, and publicly-funded private schools. The FAQ’s in Appendix E (page 26) make it clear that

“…students wanting to form a religiously based student-led group would be accorded equality of opportunity to do so. Students should be allowed to form after-school clubs or have activities based on religion, as long as membership is voluntarily open to any student in the school and the activities of the group are conducted in a safe and inclusive manner. The club should be used as a vehicle to discuss issues that have an impact on the members as students. It is important to recognize that such groups are like any other club that is available at a school except they have a religious connection. Therefore, they should be treated the same as any other student-initiated club in the school such as a GSA, chess club, astronomy club, or judo club.” (emphasis ours)

Religious clubs forming

A coalition of youth pastors, known as the Manitoba Youth Workers Network (MYWN), is taking advantage of this opportunity to spread Christianity to public schools. They have collaborated to develop an outreach program aimed at Winnipeg high school students. The way it works is that these youth pastors are training teenage members of their own churches to evangelize directly to their classmates at school. The training is based on the new Alpha Youth Series program, a series of flashy apologetics videos targeting young people. The next step is for these teen evangelists to launch student-led Alpha programs in their own high schools. They believe that “Jesus is calling [them] to reach the city”.

In January 2018, the MYWN completed their first ‘training’ course with 70 teens from churches around Winnipeg, eager to encourage their friends to ‘come to Christ’. There are Alpha programs running in at least three Winnipeg high schools already. Expect more to appear. You might find that your teenager has joined a group like this before you even knew it existed.

What can I do?

Clearly, it’s not enough to raise your children in a secular home and think that by the time they are teens, they won’t be gullible enough to listen to fairy tales.

Teach them critical thinking skills. Encourage them to be skeptical and to ask questions.

Make sure that they learn about other belief systems and world religions.

Teach your kids how to think, not what to think.

Remember, critical thinking skills apply not just to religion, but to miracle cures, conspiracy theories, get-rich-quick schemes, fad diets….

Our Religion in Public Schools page has been updated with this information. Look there to learn about more ways that religion insinuates itself into Manitoba public schools.

Secular Help for Addictions

In addition to requests for the names of secular mental health professionals, we’ve recently had several inquiries about secular addictions counselling and support groups. Here are the names of some organizations with members in the Winnipeg area, supplied by one of our members who works in addictions counselling.

Secular AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) There is an AA group in Winnipeg called ‘Beyond Belief’, which meets weekly in a St Vital church. (They are not affiliated with the church. They only rent the space for their meetings.) They still use the 12-step program, but they take out the references to god and a higher power. There is good recovery at this meeting, which is mostly made up of atheists and non-believers.

O.S. (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) welcomes anyone sincerely seeking sobriety from alcohol addiction, drug addiction and behavioural and/or process addictions. Weekly meetings are held in two Winnipeg locations.

SMART Recovery helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including alcoholism, drug abuse, substance abuse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, and addiction to other substances and activities. The Winnipeg group meets weekly.

LifeRing Secular Recovery an abstinence-based, worldwide network of individuals seeking to live in recovery from addiction to alcohol or to other non-medically indicated drugs. There are no in-person meetings in Winnipeg at present; however, LifeRing offers online meetings, online chat groups, and literature.

You can also contact the Manitoba Addictions Helpline at 1-855-662-6605 or mbaddictionhelp.ca.

The names of these organizations have been added to the Help and Advice page for future reference. The addictions counsellor also supplied our executive with some contact and meeting information for the local groups. Contact us if you would like this information. (All enquiries will be kept strictly confidential.)

‘O Canada’ Should Include All Canadians

The official lyrics for Canada’s national anthem were recently updated (despite opposition from conservatives) to make them more inclusive of women. At least it’s a step in the right direction – but it’s not enough. The new words still exclude two significant segments of the Canadian population.

Results from the 2016 census show that more than one fifth of our citizens were born in a foreign country – so Canada is not their ‘native land’. And on the 2011 census (data on religion is only collected every 10 years), almost one quarter of Canadians reported no religious affiliation. Shouldn’t all Canadians be able to sing their national anthem without feeling like second-class citizens?

Here’s some good news. If you change just a couple more words, you can sing a truly inclusive version of O Canada. “O Canada for Everyone” lyrics can be found on the Secular Connexion Séculière website. The additional changes are in the lines “our home and cherished land”, and “we’ll keep our land glorious and free”. It’s that easy.

Click here to see the complete inclusive lyrics in both official languages.

Book of the Month – Robert Latimer: A Story of Justice and Mercy

Who remembers this photo of Robert Latimer with his seriously disabled daughter Tracy? Their story dominated the news in the mid to late 1990’s, after he ended Tracy’s life rather than subject her to another painful surgery. Was he really guilty of murder, or is ‘mercy killing’ ever justified? And was it necessary for the parole board to treat him with such vindictiveness, years later?

In this book, reporter Gary Bauslaugh, who followed the Latimer case from the beginning, describes the two trials, discusses the conflicting views of Latimer’s sympathizers and detractors, and examines the ethical and legal dilemmas raised by the case. Bauslaugh makes an excellent case for the application of mercy to those caught in horrific circumstances.

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. 

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)  

Publicly Funded Groups Must Respect Human Rights

The January 25th edition of the Steinbach Carillon published a column by Michael Zwaagstra regarding the attestation that applicants for the Federal Summer Jobs Program are required to sign before receiving public money. (The column is behind a paywall.) Mr Zwaagstra is a teacher, a Steinbach city councillor, an evangelical Christian, and a contributor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (a conservative think tank based in Winnipeg). Most of the religious concerns he expressed were alleviated by the federal government’s clarification notice, announced just two days before the column was published, and probably not reviewed in time for the paper’s deadline.

Normally I wouldn’t respond to what the religious right has to say about abortion, or about how someone else’s rights offend them, but the column makes some errors, as well as mentioning HAAM, so I thought I’d offer this response.

Thought Police?

Zwaagstra referred to the attestation as an “ideological purity test”, and stated “it’s one thing to withhold funds based on an activity, it’s another entirely to withhold funds based on a belief”. Since the clarification was released, we can all see this issue is about the former criterion. The actual statement that prospective employers must sign reads as follows: “I attest that… Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.” (P. 21 Sec 4.5 of the Canada Summer Jobs Applicant Guide)

It seems anti-choice groups and the religious right believe that signing the attestation is a violation of their religious freedoms when it clearly is not. No one is telling them what they have to believe. The statement does ask them to affirm the rights of the LGBTQ community and the reproductive rights of women. Mr. Zwaagstra may feel that this is just a euphemism for “unfettered abortion on demand”, but anyone familiar with abortion services in this country knows the expression “abortion on demand” is just rhetoric for the credulous. Just try to get an abortion on demand. (For anyone wondering just what reproductive rights are, the Women’s Legal, Education, and Action Fund has a good description.)

Acknowledgement ≠ Endorsement

Essentially, what we have here is the religious right treating the constitution like their holy books – picking and choosing the bits they like and reinterpreting or discarding the rest. To use an analogy – as Humanists we support freedom of religion; this is a fundamental right we acknowledge without hesitation. This not to say that we support the genital mutilation of young girls* and boys, or the promotion of ignorance like young earth creationism, climate change denialism, opposition to vaccines, and other anti-scientific views supported wholly or in part by religion and religious believers. Nor do we support scaring children with tales of eternal damnation, or prolonging the suffering of those who seek medically assisted death. Support for the right to freedom of religion is not the same as support for religious actions or ideas. Support for women’s rights is not support for abortion.

As I said, in his column Zwaagstra mentions HAAM, and the link to the petition in support of the summer jobs program requirements currently posted on our website. While I am flattered he thinks it’s our petition, it is not. It was developed by Ian Bushfield and the BC Humanist association (which is clearly stated). Zwaagstra goes on to quote Ian: “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.” I fully support Ian’s quote. But Zwaagstra continues with the fallacious assertion that this is a “stepping stone to eliminate all public support for faith-based organizations”. It’s not; there is no hidden HAAM agenda.

Who should qualify for public funds?

Religious organizations should not be allowed (or denied) public money just because they are religious organizations. If Zwaagstra had read a little more of our website, he might understand our position a little better. We support a different charity every month, and one of our selection criteria is that “the charity or service must be secular, or if associated with a religious or faith-based organization, its services must be provided without proselytization of clients.” HAAM has supported Agape Table and Welcome Place. Both organizations have ties with faith-based groups but don’t promote religion or discriminate in the delivery of their services. Yes, Mr Zwaagstra, HAAM has given money to faith-based organizations, so why would we oppose public money going to religious groups for charity purposes? However, religious organizations that exist primarily to proselytize, promote bad ideas, or limit others’ human rights should not be eligible for public money. The difference is in the details.

In Winnipeg we have Siloam Mission, which receives public money in part to help the homeless. Although the organization is faith-based and staffed mostly by Christians, they are all about providing services to the less fortunate. They don’t proselytize or make attending religious services a condition. They accept people as they are – any colour, any place in society, and it doesn’t matter the sexual orientation. Public money would be permissible in this situation.

On the other hand, a Christian organization called Samaritans Purse bills itself as a charity giving presents to needy children around the world. All the while their primary goal is to evangelize to these children; the gifts are just bait. Organizations like this should not get public money. Nor should faith-based groups like ‘pregnancy crisis centres‘ that disseminate misinformation.

What if the situation were reversed?

Zwaagstra goes on to wonder how HAAM would react if a future government made everyone sign an attestation to “the supremacy of God and the rule of law” in order to receive public money. Although we find the phrase “supremacy of God” mentioned in the preamble to the constitution, unlike women’s rights the supremacy of God holds no legal weight. It is not a right, so the analogy doesn’t hold… it doesn’t even make sense.

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But it’s an interesting thought experiment. When this future government announces their new ‘supremacy of God’ attestation, and after the laughter dies down, the question would be “whose god?” Ultimately the idea of the supremacy of a god is an absurd idea, and Mr. Zwaagstra would be quite right. It would be a violation of our charter rights. A court challenge would be incredibly exciting, as the government would have to first pick which god is the right one, and then demonstrate its supremacy. The irony is that this would be a violation of Zwaagstra’s freedom of religion if the god they chose turned out not to be his, and a violation of everyone else’s if it was. (The Canadian Secular Alliance has more about the history and absurdity of the ‘supremacy of God’ clause in our constitution and why it should be removed.)

In the end, the government could have been clearer on what was meant in the attestation, but really this kerfuffle has much to do with the theology of certain sects of Christianity. When you combine a loss of privilege with the theological need to be persecuted and a mission to stop abortion at all costs, one can’t help but go looking for something to be offended about.

Pat Morrow is Vice President of HAAM

*Note that although FGM is illegal in Canada, it is still practiced by some religious sects.

Update

30 January 2018

In addition to sharing the petition started by the BC Humanist Association, HAAM was one of 80 pro-choice and human rights groups from across Canada that signed an open letter in support of the government’s move to require groups seeking funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program to respect human rights.

A lawsuit by an anti-choice group requesting an injunction preventing the attestation from taking effect was dismissed in court for lack of grounds.

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