Humanist community

May 2020 Newsletter

Event Updates

Like so many other organizations, HAAM’s activities have been dramatically disrupted by COVID-19. We will continue to rely on evidence-based information and follow the recommendations made by Shared Health Manitoba before deciding when to resume in-person meetings and events. We encourage you to check this website (haam.ca), our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.

May meeting

There will be no in-person meeting in May. However, we can continue to interact, support each other, and maintain friendships online. If you are not a member of our private Facebook group, and would like to join it, contact us. It is open to anyone in Manitoba who identifies as a Humanist/atheist (i.e. you do not need to be a paid member of HAAM).

Summer Solstice party

This is/was scheduled for Saturday, June 20th. The City of Winnipeg has notified us that all group bookings at city parks are canceled up til the end of June, so we do not expect to go ahead with the picnic unless the health situation improves significantly between now and then. If distancing recommendations are relaxed, it may still be possible to have our party, or it may be rescheduled for later in the summer. Watch for further updates.

Morden Corn and Apple Festival

HAAM has held an Outreach booth at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival every summer since 2013. But sadly, this year’s festival has been canceled. We will miss it; both the fair and the Outreach booth are a lot of fun! … and it looks like there will be no Outreach events this year.

Winnipeg Pride Parade

This has been rescheduled for September 13th. We are looking forward to the celebration and showing our support for Winnipeg’s GSRD (Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diverse) community. HAAM is entered as a walking group, and everyone is welcome to join us – so cross your fingers that by September things will be better.

HAAM and Eggs Brunches

We will resume our regularly monthly brunches only when it is safe to do so.

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

Check out these online events from CFI Canada’s ‘virtual chapter’.

The Centre for Inquiry (Canada) is holding several online presentations in May. These are free but registration is required to participate (via Zoom).

Thursday, May 7th – Discussion: Living without religion (social support)

Saturday, May 9th – Presentation: Conscientious objection in health professionals (i.e. refusing to do one’s job for religious reasons)

Sunday, May 17th – Presentation: Critical thinking about COVID-19

For more information about all these online events, and links to register, visit CFI’s MeetUp page.

Charity of the Month

Our Charity of the Month program will not resume until we are able to hold physical meetings again.

In the meantime, however, if you are able, consider supporting any of the many worthwhile local charities and community organizations that are struggling due to the pandemic. Many of them are being caught short because fundraising events have had to be canceled.

On our Charities page there is a list of charities that HAAM has supported over the past several years. Almost all of them desperately need assistance right now.

Latest News

Words of encouragement from members of our executive

We are all enduring difficult times.  COVID-19 has changed our lives, our jobs, our financial stability, our health, our social activities, our relationships, and many other things.  We are struggling. As an atheist, I am extremely thankful to my religious/non-religious friends and family members who have reached out to me to support me in these difficult times.  I have tried to reciprocate as best that I can.

I believe that we as atheists and Humanists must step up and extend a hand of friendship to people who are different from us. When we are faced with a common enemy, we should set aside out differences. Religion, politics, and other things that separate us must be put aside.  As atheists, let us promote the oneness of humanity and our interdependency.

– Arthur Prystenski

Most of us have been fortunate to have lived in this stable, peaceful country our entire lives. So our current circumstances are essentially uncharted territory. I’ve noticed that this pandemic is bringing out both the worst in people, and the best. With that in mind, these times are showing us peoples’ true colors.

We’ve heard a lot about the worst. Stories about fundamentalist preachers who claimed that their god would protect them, but they still died from the virus. Protestors who wanted to end their state lockdowns because their “freedoms” were being attacked.  People who hoarded toilet paper and hand sanitizer specifically to sell at a profit. Even people who don’t believe that COVID-19 is a real virus, but some Chinese conspiracy transmitted by 5G towers (!)

While these attitudes are indeed appalling, I’m happy to say that they don’t appear to represent the majority of people. Many more people are thinking about the impact of their actions on others. For example, the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District stated emphatically that they won’t re-open schools just because of a government order; their first concern is the welfare of the children in their district.

Closer to home, the Canadian Mint is now making hand sanitizer, which is being distributed to the health care system. Other businesses have answered the call to make PPE such as gowns and masks.  Our federal government has made it fairly easy for those who have been laid off to access emergency funding. (And our Prime Minister even took the time to reassure us that the Easter Bunny was still going to visit.) Locally, there are many stories about neighbours helping neighbours. Volunteer groups are forming to lend a hand wherever they’re needed. More people in my neighbourhood smile and say Hello during our regular walks.  In our local Safeway, we’re beginning to laugh and joke at missing the one-way floor arrows, rather than frowning glumly and giving the other person the stink eye.

In the end, there is much to be thankful for, even now.  The technology that lets us communicate instantly (internet, phones, etc.) has really been a lifesaver (with no divine intervention required, may I add). The advanced medical care that is available for those who need it. The scientists who are now working non-stop to develop a vaccine. And no matter what their original intent, most of these actions are pure Humanist. People are caring about the other people around them.  Doing their part – their best – to help in any way that they can.  Emphatically declaring that money is not their main concern (as opposed to certain politicians). Economy be damned – we’re going to look after everyone around us – especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

We don’t know what the future will be like, post-COVID 19, but it will hopefully result in our society being just a bit better.  More people will realize the importance of science in our lives, and that the advice of experts is worth listening to. Perhaps some religious believers will wonder – just a little – why their god let so many good people die, and start to question their beliefs.  Some anti-vaxxers may finally recognize the importance of a vaccine against our most deadly diseases.  Our governments will give more importance to improving health care funding – in all areas.

I’m very happy to see the outpouring of appreciation for our unsung heroes of all stripes and industries, because we need each other to get by, and everybody’s contribution matters. And really, the only way we’re going to get through this is by helping each other.

– Donna Harris

Interested in being part of reconciliation?

Circles For Reconciliation is a local, grass-roots initiative started by U of M Dean Emeritus, Dr. Raymond Currie. Its aim is to establish trusting, meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples as part of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Dr. Currie worked with local Indigenous contributors to develop a 10-week sharing circle. Each Circle is made up of 10 (or so) participants, half Indigenous, half non-Indigenous. Each session consists of an opening, the reading of a different theme each week, then a discussion of the topic, followed by a closing protocol.  You can read more about the structure of the circles at www.circlesforreconcilation.ca.

Usually, these circles happen face to face – all participants sitting in a group (a circle). However, with the current situation, Circles has gone high-tech! They are now offering several Circles using Zoom meetings. They are particularly looking for Indigenous participants, in part because the Indigenous community only makes up 5% of the Canadian population. If you’re interested at all, just check out their web page for more information.

Anxious about the pandemic?

If the constant news about COVID-19 has you worried, or if being quarantined is causing you stress, and you’re looking for ways to cope that don’t involve talking to an invisible friend in the sky, then psychologist Dr. Darrel Ray, president of Recovering from Religion, may be able help. Dr. Ray recently recorded a 40-minute video with some ‘words of wisdom’. These include advice about constructive ways to deal with the stress, reassurance that you’re not alone, and pointers about future issues to watch for. The video, called Corona Virus Pub, is on YouTube.

Do you have a plan in case of serious illness?

If you’ve never thought too much about preparing an Health Care Directive (HCD), or if you’ve thought about it but procrastinated, the current COVID-19 pandemic may have spurred you to think again and wish you had done it. One feature of this disease is that people can become very ill, very quickly – too quickly to allow time for discussion before a sedative is given and a tube is stuck down their throat. So right now, everyone should have a HCD – or at the very least, have thought about it and discussed their wishes with those close to them. Don’t leave your fate to chance!

The Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity holds workshops to help people learn what they need to know in order to prepare an effective HCD – but of course, those workshops are all on hold due to the pandemic. Fortunately, there are online resources that can help. So now, while a lot of other events are canceled, is a good time to consider your wishes and let your family know what you would want, so they can make decisions for you if you become seriously ill.

Dying With Dignity Canada has a COVID-19 Updates web page. It contains links to important information about the disease itself, how this pandemic is impacting health care decision-making and end-of-life choices, and suggestions for conversations to have about these decisions. DWD also has all their Advance Care Planning (ACP) information available to read and download (free). In addition to the regular ACP booklet for Manitoba, there is a special COVID-19 edition. The special edition is an abbreviated version that allows people to create a simple HCD that can be used in all provinces. It covers the most important issues relevant to the coronavirus (breathing difficulties and ventilators), and covers the basic requirements of a Health Care Directive. If you use the COVID-19 edition to prepare your HCD, it is recommended that you update that later with the full version.

You may also want to check out a new advance care planning guide called Plan Well, created by a physician in Ontario. It has loads of information that can help you to decide what type and level of care is appropriate to your medical condition and personal values – like explanations of what goes on in an ICU, the survival rates of CPR in various circumstances, etc. It’s a great resource, so check it out! Keep in mind, though, that it is not specific to Manitoba.

If you have concerns about what care decisions or requests are appropriate for your circumstances, call your physician’s office to discuss them. Most clinics are doing telephone or virtual appointments. If you have questions about Health Care Directives, contact the Winnipeg chapter of Dying With Dignity.

Abortion Caravan anniversary celebrations

Like just about everything else this spring, the festivities that were being planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the abortion caravan to Parliament Hill have been disrupted due to the pandemic. Most of the physical events that were scheduled in cities across Canada have been canceled. However, you can still expect to see and hear news about this game-changing event in Canadian history, when a group of young women from Vancouver drove to Ottawa, gathering support along the way to protest the restrictive law.

Any time is a good time to stand up and voice your support for the right of a woman to control her own body, but this year, in the first two weeks of May, expect to see it in the news and  on social media. Here is the Facebook event page.

Don’t forget about our library

HAAM’s Library is still OPEN! If you now have time to read (or watch a video), go ahead and send us your request. Pick-up or drop-off can be arranged in the Winnipeg area.

On our Library page, you can search by Title (use the ‘Book Table’), Author, or Subject. Once you find something you’d like to borrow, click the ‘Borrow Book’ button (on the Book Table), or the ‘Click here’ button on the Library page, to request the item.

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

Seen around town

Donna Harris took this photo of the window at her local Safeway store because she appreciated the happy sentiment.

We’re all in this mess together, so it’s nice to see our neighbors sharing messages of hope and support. In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial health officer: “This is our time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.”

 

 

 

April 2020 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Like so many other organizations, HAAM’s upcoming events have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19.

With the health and safety of our members in mind, and following the recommendations of public health authorities, we have decided to cancel both our regular meeting and our HAAM and Eggs brunch in April due to the public health risks associated with COVID-19.

Our March meeting, which was to have featured Dr Simon Potter discussing Identity Politics, had to be canceled at the last minute because it fell during the week in which COVID-19 reached Manitoba. We would like to publicly acknowledge Canad Inns Polo Park for not charging us when we called off the March meeting on short notice. We appreciate their support! We will attempt to reschedule that topic once our meetings resume – either in May or sometime next season.

HAAM will continue to rely on evidence-based information and follow the recommendations made by Shared Health Manitoba before deciding when to resume in-person meetings and events. We encourage you to visit our Home page (haam.ca), our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.

After taking a couple of years off, HAAM is again planning to enter a walking group in the Winnipeg Pride Parade, on May 31st. We are looking forward to the celebration as we show our support for Winnipeg’s GSRD (Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diverse) community. Everyone is welcome to join us.

Our Summer Solstice party was booked for the large picnic shelter at Kildonan Park; however, events are now being canceled by the city. But by mid-June, hopefully we will be on the downside of this health crisis, and it will be safe to go ahead with it. The picnic site is large and open, with plenty of space for us to spread out.

These are the dates to save                                          

Monthly Meeting – Saturday, May 23rd (tentative)

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – TBA (when safe to resume)

Winnipeg Pride Parade – Sunday, May 31st (hopefully)

Summer Solstice Party – Sat, June 20th (fingers crossed)

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

 Charity of the Month

Because our March meeting had to be canceled, we did not collect charity donations as expected. If anyone made an online donation intended for Sunshine House, our treasurer will hang on to it until we resume our monthly meetings. We will then add your online donations to what we collect at our next meeting – whenever that is.

In the meantime, look on our Charity page for a list of the charities we have supported over the past several years. There is a lot of need right now in the city due to job losses and business closures, so please consider helping any of these worthy organizations if you are able.

Latest News

Library update

As of mid-March, our new HAAM librarians are David and Karen Donald, who have taken over from Laura Stephens and Adriana Sedlak. Thanks to Laura and Adriana for taking good care of our library over the last couple of years!

David and Karen attend most of our regular meetings, so they will be able to bring a few books to each meeting for members to peruse (once we resume meetings).

We have well over 200 books and a few DVD’s in the library, so it’s a good idea to search the catalog on our website and find something you’re interested in. On the Library page, you can search by Title (use the ‘Book Table’), Author, or Subject. Once you find something you’d like to borrow, click the ‘Borrow Book’ button (on the Book Table), or the ‘Click here’ button on the Library page, to request the item.

During this period of quarantine, the public libraries are all closed – but our HAAM Library is still OPEN! If you now have time to read (or watch a video), go ahead and send us your request. Pick-up or drop-off can be arranged within the Winnipeg area.

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

Call to Action

As Humanists, we need to support and speak up about what matters to us.

 The Federal government recently introduced amendments to Canada’s law on medical assistance in dying (MAID). The proposed amendments include permitting assisted dying for those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable, and waiving the requirement for final consent for those already approved (Audrey’s Amendment). However, patients with irremediable mental illness will still be excluded, as will mature minors and those who wish to make advance requests.

Dying With Dignity Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians have the right to make their own choices about how they end their lives.

Please tell your Member of Parliament (MP) and your provincial Senators that you support giving Canadians access to their constitutional right to make informed end-of-life choices.

To make your voice heard, visit DyingWithDignity.ca. On that page, you’ll find more information and a link to Take Action. Just open it, add your name and address, and click ‘send’.

Surviving COVID-19

Cooped up in quarantine? Stressed out? Laid off? Working from home? Bored already? There’s enough about coronavirus already in the news, and the facts change from day to day, so we won’t try to duplicate what you’ve already heard. But we have a few suggestions that might help you pass the time and get through the crisis.

We all know what won’t help – thoughts and prayers. So try some of these ideas instead.

1 Fight misinformation

If you’re on social media these days, there are probably times that you wish you weren’t. The posts and comments can make you feel that there is no hope for humanity. But if no one challenges ridiculous, hateful, and harmful ideas, just imagine how much worse things could become.

 

Report and/or refute insane ideas from the truly deluded

Here are just couple of examples of bizarre posts shared to social media in March. (Click images to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Above:

Thanks to our own president Pat Morrow for taking on the ‘alternative therapy’ guy.

 

 

At left:

Fundamentalists are convinced that COVID-19 means the End Times and Rapture are near. Yes, they sincerely believe this.

 

There are lots more posts like this out there. The Guardian recently profiled the reaction of America’s “religious right” to the coronavirus – and it’s downright scary.

Hemant Mehta and his team at Friendly Atheist report all kinds of news of interest to non-believers. Some of the stories they have been covering lately regarding COVID-19 would give the old National Inquirer a run for its money. Think that touching the hand of an evangelist will cure coronavirus? Or that it can be caused by people eating Biblically unclean food? How about the pastor who invited infected people to his church to be healed through prayer? There are new stories like these every day. Check out the Friendly Atheist blog for the latest.

 

 

Get the facts – and share them

Besides the truly bizarre, there is a lot of well-intended and plausible but incorrect information and speculation out there. Is the virus killed or cured by heat or cold? What about teas or essential oils? 5G technology? If you have a runny nose, does that mean it’s only a common cold? All of these claims can be fact-checked – so do it. Respond with the correct information when you see someone sharing sketchy advice or memes with no source attached. Share information only from evidence-based sources.

In March, Buzz-Feed put together a pretty good list of common rumors and hoaxes. So did FactCheck.org and Snopes. CBC News summarized what will – and will not – protect you from the virus. The US Center for Inquiry now has a Coronavirus Resource page.  And the World Health Organization is keeping their Advice for Public page up to date with a list of ‘myth busters’. Of course, there will always be new rumors, so check back to keep up as the situation evolves.

Watch out for your loved ones

It never fails that there are some people in this world who will take advantage in any situation. Scammers have already started to prey on the vulnerable during the pandemic. If you have anyone among your friends or family who is in the early stages of dementia, cognitively impaired in any way, elderly and not computer-savvy, is relatively new to Canada, or who has limited English, please keep an eye on them to ensure that they don’t become a victim.

2 Look after yourself and your family

Keep busy

If you’re stuck at home, either by yourself, or with family and/or kids, it’s important to keep busy. Take advantage of some of the special offers and free resources available during this pandemic. Here are a few:

  • Use educational opportunities from Great Courses Plus (1-month free trial), Scholastic Canada (free 21-day ‘learn at home’ package for kids), Audible (free children’s audiobooks), and Curio.ca (teaching materials).
  • Hold virtual visits with family and friends by using services like Face Time, WhatsApp, Skype, or Zoom.
  • Try to have some fun, to ward off cabin fever. Get outside for a walk and some fresh air. Dig out a puzzle or some board games. If you’re looking for more ideas, USA Today has 100 suggestions.

Talk to your kids

Our children certainly are hearing about coronavirus, either from us or somewhere else. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to tell them about it. There’s certainly no shortage of free advice out there – some of it better than others. Here are some of the more reliable sources:

Take “Humanism 101”

Catch some of the great articles, blogs, debates, and videos produced by atheists and Humanists that you’ve never had time for. We had some great speakers at our Reasonfest conference in 2015, and they’re still up on our YouTube channel, along with a few videos of other meetings and events.

We also have compiled a list of great videos and reads on our Exploring Nonbelief page – Opinions and blogs; Information on specific topics like the Bible, apologetics, evolution, and morality; Perspectives from people who have left religion; Classic debates; and Inspirational videos. Check it out! You’ll find it educational and stimulating, it will help you to feel less alone, and it should keep you busy for a good while.

Keep in touch with your HAAMster friends

You are not alone! We’re still all here – online!  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, check our website for news and updates, and follow us on Meetup so you’ll be notified when events resume.  We also have a private Facebook group that is not generally advertised publicly. It’s a place for Humanists in Manitoba to exchange ideas, discuss issues, explore challenges, make friends, and have some laughs. It’s a proselytizing, preaching, and troll-free zone. If you are interested in joining it, please contact us for the information.

3 Help others in your community

Donate blood

Even though many businesses are closed, it’s business as usual at Canadian Blood Services. Sick or injured people still need blood, and shortages loom as more people cancel donation appointments and stay home. The CBS website has updates and answers if you have questions or concerns about donating blood during this crisis. In general, it IS safe to donate, and your blood is needed. So if you have a bit of extra time on your hands, and you’re healthy, please make an appointment to donate.

HAAM is part of the Partners for Life program, so if you do donate blood, make sure to become part of that. Our goal is for our members to donate at least 25 units of blood this year, and so far we have 7. Everything you need to know about joining our Partners for Life group is on our website.

Support local charities that are feeling the pinch

Food banks, resource centers, and other organizations that serve the needs of disadvantaged people in our communities are seeing donations drop even as people are panic-buying and stocking up necessities for themselves.

Donations at Winnipeg Harvest are down, which has never happened before. While most of us are stockpiling toilet paper and canned goods, these charities serve vulnerable people who do not have enough resources to meet their own needs on a regular basis, let alone to purchase extra for a crisis.

HAAM has featured a number of very worthwhile organizations as our Charity of the Month over the past several years. Any or all of these could use your help now. Check the list on our Charities page and please contribute if you are able.

Assist your neighbors

Do you have everything you need? Do your neighbors? Some of them may be quarantined, or afraid to go out because of pre-existing health issues. Give them a call and see if they need anything. If you’re on social media, ask in your local community group to see if anyone needs someone to run an errand. Or join Help Next Door Manitoba.

Support local businesses and community groups

Small businesses and local arts/music groups are really hurting right now, both financially and emotionally. Many are closing, cutting hours, canceling shows, and laying off staff. As much as possible (especially considering your own circumstances), try to help them. Patronize shops in your area if you can, while maintaining social distance. And if you have purchased tickets to an event that has been canceled, donate the cost of the tickets back to the group for a tax receipt, rather than requesting a refund. Small efforts and gestures like this just might enable some of them to survive.

Update on Manitoba MP’s religious privilege

In our March newsletter, we reported that Provencher MP Ted Falk sent a religious card of condolence to a family in his constituency. HAAM exec member Arthur Prystenski wrote to Mr Falk, using HAAM letterhead, on behalf of the recipient, who feared personal reprisals for sending a personal complaint. Arthur included his own Winnipeg address on the letter, since HAAM does not have a physical mailing address.

Update – Mr Falk (or someone in his office) used the lack of a mailing address within Provencher as an excuse to ignore the point made by the letter. Their response included the following: “Mr. Falk’s constituents are his first priority.  While he receives thousands of emails from people across Canada each year, he is focused on serving residents of Provencher. If Mr. Falk is your Member of Parliament, please ensure you provide your full name and home address in your message.  Emails without this information, or emails which Mr. Falk is copied on, will be treated as an FYI unless otherwise specified.”

Of course, this completely misses the point, which was that people living within the constituency of Provencher are so surrounded by Christian privilege that they are afraid to speak up for themselves. And so it continues…

If there is any further response, we will continue to provide updates.

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

 

Passages: Memories of a former HAAM member

HAAM recently received this letter from one of our members, Janine Guinn. It’s a heartwarming story about our community, the friendships we make within it, and the bonds we form with our fellow HAAMsters.

If you live within driving distance of Winnipeg (HAAM) or Steinbach (Eastman Humanist Community), make the effort to attend local events and meet your fellow Humanists in person. You’ll be glad you did!


I’m not sure if you are aware, but Jan Guinn (a former HAAM member) was my cousin. In fact, we met for the first time at a HAAM meeting in 2010. I will never forget that day because I wore her name tag, thinking someone had just spelled my name wrong. She and Brian arrived late, and I heard her mention her name to someone, and immediately flipped my name tag over from embarrassment. The guest speaker started right away, which gave me time to compose myself, and as soon as it ended, I introduced myself: “Hi – I heard you say you’re Jan Guinn. Well, my name is Janine Guinn and apparently I have your name tag!” It turns out that Jan’s grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers, and it was the start of a lovely friendship.

Unfortunately, Jan passed away in 2013, shortly after she and Brian moved to Kelowna. Brian and I still keep in touch, and on a recent visit he took Greg and me on a hike to see the memorial bench that he had made in Jan’s honour. In case it’s hard to read, the plaque says:

 

“Breathe Deep and Listen”

Jan Guinn

Lovingly Remembered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our story is a testament to HAAM bringing people together. I’m grateful to have met Jan, if only for a few short years, and to have Brian as a member of my extended family.

You are welcome to share the photo in the newsletter if you like, and say hello to the HAAM members from Brian Fairbanks.

Janine Guinn  🙂

Brian sent a photo from that summer party in 2010, which he and Jan hosted at their home in Stonewall.

And a photo of the two couples:

Left to Right, Greg Nykiforuk, Janine Guinn, Jan Guinn, Brian Fairbanks

 

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

December 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Winter Solstice Party

Saturday, December 14th, Norwood Community 87 Walmer Street, 5:30 – 10:00 PM

Join us for some warmth and Yuletide cheer with your fellow HAAMsters. Everyone is welcome!

Make sure to read the ENTIRE EVENT POST so you’ll know what to bring.

 

Save the Dates 

Monthly meeting and AGM – January 11th

Our meeting topic will be Leaving Faith Behind, with guest speaker Jeffrey Olsson, a former Anglican priest and member of the Clergy Project. Details will follow in the January newsletter.

There will be no HAAM and Eggs Brunch in December – next one is January 19th

Spring meeting dates 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.

Latest News

Membership reminder

HAAM operates on a calendar year, which means that all memberships will be coming up for renewal in January. Renew now to avoid the rush (and future reminders)!

If you are not already a paid member, join now and you won’t have to renew until Jan 2021 (offer open to first-time members only).

Memberships can be paid at any time using the secure link on our Join Us page, or in person at any event (in December, that will be at our Solstice party).

Annual fees start as low as $10 a year (for those on limited income), and $50 a year gets you a regular family membership. What other organization can you join for that little? We don’t ask people to tithe 10% of their income, like some other organizations do – just to contribute enough to keep the group going.

Note that memberships must be paid.in order to vote at our AGM in January.

Christmas Folklore for Non-believers

Around this time of year, anyone who has Christian family and/or friends on social media is bound to see at least one of the following tales shared in an article or a meme similar to those below. Their claims have even been published in children’s books, so they must be true, right?

Meme #1 Do candy canes symbolize the purity (white) and blood (red stripes) of Christ? Does their shape (a J, if you turn one upside down) stand for “Jesus”?

Meme #2 Does the popular (and seemingly secular) holiday song “The 12 Days of Christmas” contain hidden references to the tenets of Christianity?

Well, no… candy canes and seasonal songs (and most other Christmas traditions and symbols) have been around for quite a long time; these myths, not so much. They mainly arose around the mid-late 20th century in the minds of some creative apologists, and, not unlike a lot of other misinformation, spread rapidly with the proliferation of the internet. This is unsurprising when you consider that, as Christmas has become an increasingly secular holiday, defenders of the faith are looking for new ways to insert religion back into the celebrations and remain relevant.

The real origins of the candy cane and the 12 Days of Christmas, and the reasons why we know that these tales are not true, make fascinating reading. For example, did you know that the verse “5 golden rings” does not refer to jewelry at all, but to ring-necked birds, such as pheasants? Or that the first machine made to bend peppermint sticks into a cane shape was invented by a Catholic priest?

Read the real stories behind these modern myths on the Snopes website.

Did Candy Canes Originate as Religious Symbols?

Was the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ created as a secret code by persecuted Catholics

TTTTTT

New web page for Kasese School

Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda was our Charity of the Month for November, but we support that school year-round.

We want people to know that there are secular alternatives for international aid, and that they can contribute at any time during the year. So we have added a separate page to our website, summarizing the work that the school does and what HAAM’s donations are used for.

Click here to view our new web page.

 

World Human Rights Day is December 10th

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then it has become the world’s most translated document, available in over 500 languages. That’s something to celebrate!

Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of their basic rights, while others are denied them. We should never take our hard-won freedoms for granted. Stand up for your fellow humans! Spread the word and let your family and friends know that you are celebrating World Human Rights Day.

Book of the Month – Atheist’s Guide to Christmas

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is a compilation of stories about enjoying Christmas as a non-believer, from 42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers. This collaboration was a charity fundraiser, with the full book advance and all royalties going to the UK HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust.

The contributions are organized into sections, including personal stories (“Hark the Herald Villagers Sing”); science (“How to understand Christmas”); advice (“How to stop worrying and enjoy Christmas” and “How to escape from Christmas”); philosophy (“If God existed, would he have a sense of humor?”); arts (“An atheist at the movies”); and more.

Some of the stories are funny, while others are inspirational or memorable, so you’re bound to find something that resonates with you. We don’t need to be Christian to enjoy the Christmas season; there are plenty of other ways to celebrate. Decorate, bake, sing, light up the tree, share gifts, and gather with family and friends.

So to all those who celebrate it (however you celebrate it) – Merry Christmas!

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.

TTTTTT

Whatever you celebrate in December –

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.

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.

 

September 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Stand Up for Science

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

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

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

Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

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

Meet and get to know your fellow HAAMsters.

New people are always welcome. Details here.

Save the Dates

Monthly meetings:

October 5th
November 16th

HAAM and Eggs Brunch:

October 20th
November 24th

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Global Climate Strike

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

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

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

‘Charity’ of the Month – Evidence for Democracy

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

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

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

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

Calls to Action

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

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

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

Vote for Science

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

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

 

Latest News

What do Humanists believe?

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

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

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

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

Passages

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

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

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

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

  I’ll remember her fondly.

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

Venue update (again)

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

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

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

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

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

Book of the Month – The Greatest Show on Earth

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

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

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

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

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

It’s back-to-school time 

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

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

Please contact us if:

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

Morden Outreach

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

August 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

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

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

New people are welcome.   Details here

Morden Outreach   

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

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

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

Details here.

Save the Dates

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

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

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

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

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

Check back periodically for updates.

Charity of the Month 

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

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

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

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

Latest News  

Partners for Life Report 

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

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

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

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

Book of the Month – How to Start Your Own Religion 

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

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

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

Get the Facts about Abortion and Stand Up for Choice 

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

Protesting the movie Unplanned in Cornwall, Ontario

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

Need accurate information? 

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

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

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

Hearing a lot about that new movie? 

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

Got kids asking questions? 

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

Take Action! 

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

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

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

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

Click here to count yourself in as part of the resistance 

July 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, July 21st, Salisbury House Garden City, 787 Leila Avenue, 9:30 – 11:00 AM.

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

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

Click here for event details.

 

Save the Dates 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – August 18th  

Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival – August 23rd to 25th  

Fall meeting dates – September 14th, October 5th, and November 16th 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Steinbach Pride Parade – July 6th  

Links to event details are on our Community Events page. 

Latest News   

Religion still present in Manitoba courtrooms 

Bibles are still routinely being used in Manitoba courtrooms. Should they be? This question was raised by a HAAM member who was recently summoned to appear as a witness. Along with the subpoena, she received an information sheet which includes the following instruction: 

“When you are asked to testify, you will go to the front of the courtroom to be sworn in. The court clerk will ask you to take the Bible in your right hand, state your full name and swear to tell the truth. You must give your name and promise to tell the truth, but you do not have to swear on a Bible if you do not want to.”  

similar document intended for participants in small claims court states:

“You and your witnesses are required to give evidence under oath or affirmation. A Bible is available in the courtroom, or you may affirm to tell the truth without swearing an oath on the Bible. If you or your witnesses wish to make an oath on another sacred object or sacred book, please bring it with you to court.”  

Seriously? Doesn’t this violate the principle of privacy and impartiality? It means that participants in court cases are being identified to spectators (and more importantly, jurors, lawyers, and judges) according to their religious beliefs – or lack thereof. That alone could cause prejudice before the witness even speaks.  

The Winnipeg Free Press published an excellent editorial on this subject back in January, after the RCMP added the option of allowing witnesses to testify while holding an eagle feather rather than a holy book. A nice gesture, and well-meaning, but what’s next? Can someone swear on their lucky rabbit’s foot? Their favorite baseball card? This is not to say that witnesses should not be allowed to bring their favorite holy book, eagle feather, security blanket, or any other object that gives them comfort – but why does the rest of the room need to see it? And what is its relevance to telling the truth?  Is it any less of a crime to lie when testifying if one has not sworn on a holy book? Is there any evidence that people who swear on a holy book or object are more honest than those who don’t? And why should one religion’s holy book be provided by the courts, while members of other religions must provide their own?    

Why is any of this necessary at all? It’s just one more tradition that needs to be consigned to the trash heap of history. Eliminating religious rituals from the courtroom will help keep our justice system impartial and fair for everyone.

Outreach Report – World Religions Class 

On June 12thHeather Murray and Helen Friesen (both from the Eastman Humanist Community) and I visited the Grade 12 World Religions class at Green Valley High School in Grunthal, Manitoba.  HAAM has been invited for the previous 6 years to speak to this class.  The class had previously heard presentations from representatives of various Christian denominations, and Jewish and Islamic faiths. This was the first time that Heather, Helen and I had been involved.   

The class was small, with only 9 students.  It appeared that all students considered themselves to be Christian.  We did a short presentation describing HAAM and the EHC and our personal backgrounds.  We then talked about our paths to atheism or non-belief. This led to a question and answer session in which most of the students participated actively.  I was especially interested in the discussion of sexism in the bible. Some of the students defended some of the more controversial passages, while other students expressed more progressive views.  Some students already had thoughts about the traditional male-dominated leadership that is present in many churches.   

I found this opportunity to engage with young students very worthwhile and would recommend that HAAM and EHC continue to participate in this event.                                                                                –  Arthur (last name withheld) 

Editor’s Note: This speaking engagement was part of HAAM’s ongoing Ask an Atheist program. We’re happy to arrange to have someone to speak to any school or community group and answer questions about atheism and Humanism. See our Outreach page for more information.

 

Book of the Month – What is Humanism?

If you’re a secular parent looking for ways to explain your value system, there aren’t very many books out there to help you, but here’s a good one. A member recently brought to our attention this colorful little (48 pages) book about Humanism by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young. You might recognize Rosen as a well-known children’s author (does “Going on a Bear Hunt” ring a bell?), but here he tackles more serious subject matter in a light-hearted way. When this book was published in 2015, the British Humanist Association crowd-funded a campaign to provide it free to British schools, and by mid-2017, almost 4000 schools had requested a copy 

What is Humanism? How do you live without a god? And other big questions for kids explains Humanist values like empathy, critical thinking, human rights, and social responsibility, in positive terms and without bashing religion. It examines topics traditionally handled by religion, like the meaning of life, ceremonies marking birth and death, the origins of life, where we get our morals from, and what is consciousness. It includes open-ended discussion questions designed to develop critical thinking skills 

The age range for this book of course depends on individual children and circumstances, but it’s likely best suited for late elementary and middle school (about grades 4-8). However, it would also be a great introduction to Humanism for teens and adults who have had limited exposure to perspectives or beliefs outside their own religious communities. 

HAAM does not yet have a copy of this book, but we intend to get one. In the meantime, it’s readily available at the Winnipeg Public Library (13 copies). Summer is a great time to discuss life’s big issues with your kids. Happy reading! 

Outreach Report – Summer in the City

For the first time, the Humanist outreach booth at the Steinbach festival was completely staffed by members of the Eastman Humanist Community, and by all accounts, it was a great success. Volunteers reported that there were some productive conversations and positive reactions from visitors, as well as the usual critics and shocked expressions from passers-by.  

The EHC developed their own signs, pamphlets and banners for the booth. Congratulations to all involved! 

June 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Outreach at Summer in the City 

Friday June 14th – Sunday June 16th, Steinbach  

If you’re out enjoying Steinbach’s Summer in the City Festival this June, be sure to stop at the Humanist outreach booth to chat and offer your support.

Details here.

Summer Solstice Party 

Saturday June 22nd, 5-9 PM, Kildonan Park 

Relax and celebrate the Summer Solstice with your fellow HAAMsters! 

Everyone is welcome!

Make sure to read the full event post so you’ll know what to bring.

Save the Dates 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

July 21st and August 18th  

NEW! We’ve scheduled two brunches over the summer for whoever’s around. (You’re not going to be away for the WHOLE summer, are you? Lucky you, if you are!) Most of us will be in town for at least part of the summer, so why not get together? Catch up on the news or meet a new friend over breakfast.  

As usual, we rotate these brunches around the city so that no one has to drive across town all the time. The July brunch will be in the Garden City area and August one will be in Transcona.  

Mark your calendar now so you won’t forget.  

Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival

August 23rd to 25th  

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Celebrate Pride! Whether we identify as part of the Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diverse (GSRD)* community or not, we can all celebrate human diversity, show our support, and enjoy the party! 

*GSRD is Pride Winnipeg’s new preferred identity acronym for what most of us know as LGBTQ etc. Iincludes everyone without needing to add more and more letters. 

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd  

Morden Pride Parade – June 22nd

Steinbach Pride Parade – July 6th  

Links to the details about these events are on our Community Events page. 

Latest News

June 21st is World Humanist Day! How will you celebrate?  

World Humanist Day had its origins in the 1980’s, when the American Humanist Association created it as both a way to spread awareness and share the positive values of Humanism, and as a day for Humanists to gather and socialize with one another. It is now celebrated internationally. Learn more about World Humanist Day from Humanists International (formerly known as the International Humanist and Ethical Union).  

Let everyone know that you’re proud and happy to be a Humanist! On June 21st, plan to share Humanism with your friends, family, and social media networks.  The What is Humanism? page on HAAM’s website has lots of information about what Humanism is and what Humanists believe, plus short videos and links to other pages for further reading. So share away! 

Prayer at City Hall – Update   

If you’re a long-time HAAM member or newsletter reader, you might remember that back in September 2016, Tony Governo began a legal challenge to Winnipeg City Hall’s longstanding practice of opening council meetings with prayers, which continued even after the Canadian Supreme Court ruled such prayers unconstitutional (see City Flouts Supreme Court Ruling on Prayer) 

It’s been almost 3 years since the last update, but this case is not over. Tony recently reported that the Manitoba Human Rights Commission dismissed his complain, so his next step is a judicial review. He would welcome a pro bono lawyer. If anyone knows of a lawyer who might be able to help, please contact HAAM. 

Coathangers? Never again! 

After being relatively quiet for several decades, the abortion ‘debate’ is rearing its ugly head in Canada, as anti-choice lobbyists are emboldened by recent political gains in the US. There have been clashes between opposing protestors in several major Canadian cities, so don’t for one second think that it can’t or won’t eventually happen in Winnipeg. Get ready to dust off your old protest signs and fight for reproductive rights in Canada yet again. 

Women and agencies affected by these new barriers to health care need our help and support. Here are some suggestions for actions you can take and organizations that could benefit from either donations or volunteers. Every effort helps, even if it’s just a public declaration of solidarity. 

Locally 

– Consider donating to or volunteering at the Women’s Health Clinic, the Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC), or Klinic Community Health Centre, all of which provide impartial, evidence-based pregnancy counselling options, including abortion services or referrals. 

Nationally 

– Support the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (and follow them on social media to stay up to date on current needs and issues). 

– Work to support progressive candidates for the upcoming federal election this fall, and then VOTE! Before choosing a candidate, think about the direction you want our country to take. No politician is perfect, so we need to consider our priorities.  Let’s not turn back the clock on reproductive choice – or any other hard-won progress.

Internationally 

– If you feel moved to help women in the US states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio, so far) with abortion bans, here are some information and links about how to do that.  

– Donate to international aid organizations that support and include abortion services as part of women’s health care and family planning. Two such organizations are Plan Canada and Ipas 

If we don’t defend our hard-won rights, opponents will be eager to take them awayHandwringing won’t accomplish anything, and we all know that prayer won’t either, so we need to do something more practical

Stand up for women’s health care – donate, volunteer, speak out! 

Book of the Month – The World Until Yesterday 

Jared Diamond’s books about human societies are always fascinating and informative. Much of his perspective is personal, gleaned from the decades he has spent working in New Guinea. In The World Until Yesterday – What can we learn from traditional societies?, he offers insights into the lives of some of the last remaining people in the world who are still living in traditional bands and tribes, the way that everyone lived until around 10,000 years ago.  

Is there anything worthwhile to learn from these ‘primitive’ peoples? How do they resolve conflicts, raise children, care for their elderly, solve problems, communicate, work, and look after their health?  Diamond compares those societies to the typical WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and developed) societies we know today. His experience provides him with a wealth of knowledge and personal anecdotes to illustrate his points. 

Jared Diamond’s illustrious career as a professor of geography in California has included studies in physiology, evolutionary biology, and biogeography. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. His awards include the National Medal of Science and a Pulitzer Prize. 

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

 

April 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

The Bear Clan Patrol – Reclaiming Our Streets 

Saturday, April 13th, Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave, 5:30 PM 
(Note Location!) 

The Bear Clan is changing minds, changing people, and changing the world for the better. We hope you’ll join us to learn more about it.

Click here for details about our guest speaker, and the location, food and drink, and parking.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, April 28thThe Park Café (beside the duck pond at Assiniboine Park), 9:30 – 11:00 AM 

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

Details here.

Save the Dates 

Monthly meeting – May 11thOptions in Death Care for Non-Believers (rescheduled from January) 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – May 26th

Summer Solstice Party – June 22ndKildonan Park 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives) 

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter. 

Next workshop will be held Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 AM at the Henderson Library. 

Click here for details and to register. 

Save the Date

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd

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

Charity of the Month – Bear Clan Patrol 

Learning about the vital work done by the Bear Clan Patrol is what motivated us to ask their executive director James Favel to address our group. We’ll be collecting funds at our April meeting to support their efforts. 

The Patrol works at preventing crime and providing a sense of safety, solidarity and belonging to the communities they serve. The concept behind their strategy is simple – community people working with the community to provide personal security in the inner city in a non-threatening, non-violent, non-judgmental and supportive way. 

Be Part of Change

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on our websiteJust include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News  

Strategic Planning with Humanist Canada 

At the end of February, I met with the board members of Humanist Canada to help facilitate their efforts at strategic planning. They recognized that they needed to decide on what their priorities will be for the near future. They decided on several goals, and the steps to get there. 

I personally haven’t had much contact with Humanist Canada. I just remember many years back it being a complicated thing – mainly regarding membership fees. I will admit, they have a bit of work to do, but this is a new board, new leadership, and they have some clear ideas on how to improve and grow the organization. For one thing, they are the only national humanist organization in Canada, and the longest lived. Humanist Canada has been around for 50 years. As the national organization, they can organize campaigns and spread the word about important issues.  

The main activity of Humanist Canada is their Officiant program. They have licensed humanist officiants who perform weddings, funerals, and baby namings. However, this program is limited to Ontario, because Ontario is the only province in Canada which recognizes marriages performed by Humanist officiants. In other provinces, marriages must either be solemnized by a religious representative or a government official (either a marriage commissioner, justice of the peace or similar). In British Columbia and Quebec, governments have refused to recognize Humanist officiants. In other provinces, the bureaucracy simply may have not been asked to answer the question yet. 

Chapters and Affiliates 

The current HC board would like to start increasing their membership and re-vamping their affiliate and chapter program. Established groups like HAAM could become affiliates of HC while maintaining their own autonomy and their own websites. Smaller, less formal groups could become chapters and have their own web page on the HC site.  

Paying a membership fee to be an affiliate of HC would give HAAM access to other resources, such as a webinar series that HC is hoping to launch this year. And that’s one of the issues being debated. What would the benefits be to local groups for becoming HC affiliates? Would affiliated groups get discounts for the webinars, or some number free? Humanist Canada is still deciding. But I would like to recommend that HAAM consider joining HC as an affiliate.  

– Donna Harris 

Library News  New Books 

Past president Jeff Olsson has been cleaning house again and donating his books to HAAM, and as a result, our library continues to grow. His most recent donation includes four books by Carl Sagan, so if you’re a fan, you’re in luck!    

Carl Sagan was an American astronomer and astrophysicist best-known for popularizing science. He published over 600 scientific papers and 20 books, created the hit TV series Cosmos, and wrote the science fiction novel Contact (on which the movie is based). 

The four new additions by Sagan are: 

Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science – A collection of articles that Sagan originally wrote way back in the ‘70s. Topics include intelligent robots, the discovery of extraterrestrial life, pseudo-science, kooks and charlatans, and spirituality. 

Comet – everything you ever wanted to know about comets, beautifully illustrated, and written in language a non-scientist can understand. 

Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective – Sagan’s views about the possibility of life on other planets. He was optimistic that there may be thousands of advanced civilizations in our galaxy, and billions of galaxies. 

Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God – Published posthumously, this is the text of a series of lectures originally given in the ‘80s. This book has been described as a way to balance scientific reality and the natural spiritualism of humankind. 

Add these titles to the six books by Sagan that we already had in our library (Billions and BillionsCosmosDemon-Haunted World, Dragons of EdenPale Blue Dot, and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors), and we now have an impressive collection of his work. 

Our Growing Collection 

There are now over 250 items in our HAAM library. You can see the complete list of 20 recent additions or browse the entire collection on our Library page.  

Have you got any great books at home that other HAAM members might be interested in? We will accept gladly accept gently used books for our library. Just bring them to any meeting or event. 

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

$8,000 in prize money available in Humanist Canada essay contest

Students! Write an essay on any topic related to Humanism that would be of interest.

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

The entry deadline has been extended to May 15th. See Humanist Canada for details and rules.

Winnipeg Free Press sells out to ‘Faith Groups’ 

HAAM past-president Donna Harris recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press in response to an article on their Faith page. The newspaper did not publish her letter – but we will. Here it is:  

Re: Generous Faith Groups fund more religious journalism 

I am extremely disappointed in the Free Press for pandering to local faith groups in order to continue and expand religious journalism. 

First, why faith groups? They don’t represent a sizable proportion of the population. What about the quarter of Winnipeggers who have no religious affiliation? Why isn’t their voice being heard? We may have freedom of religion in our country, but that also means freedom from religion as well. I, personally, do not read the Free Press to learn which congregations did what. 

Considering that religious reporting is largely navel-gazing, I don’t see how this is a step forward in reporting. Claiming “a continuous exchange of ideas and a profitable debate based on real and correctly reported facts”, is the complete antithesis of what religion provides. Honestly, religion is based on our early fears and ignorance. For example, when early people didn’t know what the lights in the sky were, or why people sometimes just dropped dead, they assumed an agency, which became myth, and then god. We didn’t have an answer for many things, so god did it. But we are now light years beyond that type of thinking. Actively relying on religion to find answers to today’s problems doesn’t go any farther than “thoughts and prayers”, and that, sadly, means nothing. 

Instead, we should see far more reporting on skepticism, scientific issues and other real, fact-based topics. Too much space is already devoted to topics that are dubiously supernatural – “woo-woo” if you will – and belong firmly in our superstitious past (horoscopes, anyone?).  

Please be assured that I mean no offense to believers. I know that many faith groups do tremendous service to our society, and those volunteers work very hard. But that’s the point. It’s people helping other people – no god is required. 

Lastly, it breaks my heart because I’ve been a Winnipeg Free Press since the death of the Tribune back in the 80’s, but I’m seriously considering cancelling my subscription.   

Did you miss the March meeting?

It’s way more fun to attend the meeting to enjoy the films with others and discuss them. But if you couldn’t make it, here are the links to the short films that were shown:

 

 

 

 

March 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Super Secret Shorts

Saturday, March 9th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

HAAM’s annual film night, featuring a series of short films on a variety of topics.

But don’t ask what the films will be – it’s top secret.

Click here for details.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, March 24th, Pony Corral Pier 7 (1700 Pembina Hwy), 9:30 AM

Our monthly informal get-together. All welcome.

Click here for details.

Save the Dates

Monthly meetings April 13th and May 11th. Topics TBA.

Summer Solstice Party – June 22nd 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives)

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter.
Next workshops will be held – 
Saturday, March30 at 1:00 PM in Steinbach 
Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 AM in Winnipeg (at the Henderson Library)

Click here for details and to register.

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

Charity of the Month

On the downside of a brutally cold Manitoba winter, we’re all looking forward to summer – sunshine, waterparks, and beaches. But summer can be a dangerous time for kids who don’t know how to swim. Every year, there are drownings at Manitoba lakes – and the victims are likely to be newcomers to Canada.  

Recent immigrants (adults as well as children) are four times more likely than Canadian-born citizens to be unable to swim. There are lots of possible reasons – they may have escaped unrest or war, spent time in refugee camps, come from an area where swimming pools were only available to the very rich, or just never lived near lakes or water.    

Several tragic drowning accidents in the past couple of years have prompted calls for swimming classes for new immigrants. Regular swim classes can be impractical for families struggling to learn English, adapting to a new culture, and living on a tight budget until they get established.  

Enter a new charity created last year to help at-risk Manitoba kids enjoy the water safely. Ready, Set, Swim is a community-based foundation that provides swimming lessons to children ages 6 to 18. It operates on the principle that knowing how to swim is not a luxury – it’s a life-saving skill for everyone! Basic swimming lessons are offered free of charge to newcomers and low-income families. Children are accepted by referral and given a swimsuit, a towel, a swim bag, and shampoo. Bathing suits will be culturally appropriate if necessary, and translators assist both the kids and their parents. There is also a classroom component for the parents to teach them about water safety. 

Let’s help get some needy kids ready for a fun and safe summer!  

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the monthly meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button on the sidebarJust include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Calls to Action

Support “Audrey’s Amendment” to Canada’s Assisted Dying law

Canada’s current law on medical assistance in dying (MAiD) requires that patients must be mentally competent at the time of the procedure, even if they have previously been assessed and approved. That means that someone who applies and is approved, but who chooses not to go ahead with the procedure immediately after approval, may lose the right to receive MAiD if their condition deteriorates and they lose competency.

That’s the situation that Halifax’s Audrey Parker found herself in this past fall. She was dying of metastatic breast cancer, applied for MAiD, and was approved. But she delayed the procedure, hoping to enjoy one more Christmas with her family. In October, however, she learned that the cancer had spread to her brain. Fearing that the growing cancer might soon affect her cognition, she decided to go ahead with MAiD before Christmas rather than risk losing her mental capacity to consent and being forced to die a prolonged and uncomfortable death.

Audrey died with medical assistance on November 1st, but before her death, she went public with her story to protest the unfairness of the legislation. Now people across the country are asking for the federal government to pass “Audrey’s Amendment” to the assisted dying law. It would allow an exception to the consent requirement for people in the category of ‘assessed and approved’. Applicants would still need to be mentally competent to consent at the time of the application and assessments, but if they lose capacity after approval, due to progression of their illness or the medications need for comfort, the procedure could still be carried out.

Please add your voice to those who are asking for this change! Dying With Dignity Canada has drafted a form letter to the federal justice minister – all you have to do is add your name and click ‘send’ (you can also add a personal note if you wish).

 

to read more and sign the letter.

 

Stand up for Access to Reproductive Health Care

Mifegymiso (the abortion pill) has allowed greater accessibility to reproductive rights across Canada – except in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which are the only provinces not providing universal coverage for the medication. In Manitoba, mifegymiso is currently available free of charge only at the Women’s Hospital (HSC) and the Women’s Health Clinic (both in Winnipeg) and at Brandon Regional Health Centre. This creates unnecessary barriers for rural and remote women, a group that already experiences difficulty accessing reproductive health services.

Please add your voice to others asking our provincial government to provide universal coverage for Mifegymiso for all women in Manitoba.

Join this letter-writing campaign. Don’t worry! You do NOT have to write a letter – that’s already been done. All you need to do is download it, add your name, and then send it to the campaign organizers. The signed letters will be forwarded to Cameron Friesen, Manitoba’s Minister of Health, and Rochelle Squires, Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

After downloading the letter, make sure to add your info to both copies of it (one for each cabinet minister). Then just save and send.

 

to download and add your name to the letter.

 

Latest News   

Check out this blog by local Humanists

HAAM’s partner organization based in Steinbach, the Eastman Humanist Community, continues to grow and thrive in the Bible Belt. They hold regular meetings and informal get-togethers, have their own small lending library, and have started a blog with contributions from their members.

In the most recent blog post, EHC president Gary Snider considers two aspects of human evolution – why did we evolve such large brains when other animals did not, and what effect did past changes in climate have on our evolution? In previous posts, Heather Murray evaluated claims commonly made by conspiracy theorists about ‘Big Pharma’; Helen Friesen pondered why so many people long for the ‘good old days’ when they were demonstrably not great at all; and Jordan Kroeker caught up on some of the science education denied to him by his Christian upbringing. Take a look! 

Book of the Month – Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement 

Quiverfull is a conservative Christian movement whose adherents view all children as a gift from god. Its name comes from Psalm 127, verses 3-5: 

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. (NLT) 

Quiverfull followers eschew all forms of birth control, even ‘natural family planning’. In 2009, journalist Kathryn Joyce explored the fascinating world of the families who are part of this movement in her book QuiverfullInside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. Professional reviewers referred to her discussion as ‘echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘frightening’, ‘insightful’, ‘riveting and deeply disturbing’, and ‘a corner of the Christian right that has taken misogyny to sadomasochistic extremes’. Readers who relate to the content or have had personal experience with Quiverfull families use words like ‘nightmare’, ‘abuse’, ‘cult’, ‘brainwash’, and ‘trigger’ in their reviews. Readers who were not previously familiar with the concept use words like ‘yikes’, ‘scary’, and ‘unbelievable’.  

If you have only a superficial understanding of what it’s like to live in a conservative Christian bubble, then this book will open your eyes. It’s a subject worth learning about. Proponents of the Quiverfull movement would love to repeal suffrage and dismantle civil rights laws; the rest of us ignore that at our own peril. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our Library page if you would like to borrow this book.   

Thinking about Summer yet?

Spring is almost upon us, and if you have school-aged kids, that means you’re probably already thinking about what to do with them over the summer. We get questions every spring about children’s summer camps.

Overnight camps

If you’re looking for an overnight summer camp, your choices as a secular parent are pretty limited. Most of what we know was summarized in our June 2018 newsletter. But if you have questions or are looking for more info, please contact HAAM. Some of our members have provided references and anecdotal information, and we can pass that along to you.

Day camps

Now there are way more options, as long as you book early. Many secular organizations host day camps, and they represent a wide variety of interests. Check out the camps offered by the Children’s Museum, the Manitoba Museum, Fort Whyte Alive, the Assiniboine Park Zoo, the Wellness Institute, the YMCA, the U of M (Minu U), the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, the Winnipeg Gymnastics Centre, the Humane Society, Mad Science of Manitoba, Camp Manitou, Oak Hammock March, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Something for everyone, and most of these are educational, too.

Please help HAAM help other families

Lastly, if you have experience (whether positive or negative) with any camp (day or overnight) that might help other secular families, please let us know and we’ll make a note of it in our ‘summer camp info’ file for future reference. All correspondence is confidential.

Video – Religion in Manitoba Public Schools

Back in 1986, Chris Tait was the high school student who bravely challenged the existing practice of daily prayer and Bible readings in Manitoba’s public schools, by remaining seated at his desk and refusing to participate. His court challenge eventually led to the Manitoba Schools Act being amended in 1992, banning mandatory school prayer. Chris is now a lawyer and continues to follow the issue of religion in public schools. In 2012, he was the guest speaker at a HAAM meeting, where he talked about his experiences and about how some schools (especially in ‘Bible Belt’ communities) were still breaking the rules.

We recently came across a video of that meeting, posted to YouTube by past-president Jeff Olsson on his own page. Thanks for saving it, Jeff! It has how been uploaded to the HAAM YouTube channel.

Has the situation improved at all in the last few years? It would be nice to hope that Manitoba schools are becoming more inclusive and impartial, but anecdotal reports usually suggest otherwise. If you have  information about what’s happening now, we’d love to hear from you.

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.

 

 

 

 

December 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Winter Solstice Party 

Saturday, December 15th, Norwood Community Centre, 87 Walmer St 

Door opens at 5:30 – potluck supper at 6:00

Make sure to read the full event post for important information about what to bring.

 

Saturday, January 12th – AGM and monthly meeting (topic TBA)  

Sunday, January 20th – next HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

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

 Latest News 

With the approach of the New Year, it’s membership renewal time.  HAAM operates on a calendar year, meaning that our membership fees come due in January.

NEW members who join HAAM for the first time this fall (between September 1st and December 31st) pay the full annual fee but are considered paid up for 2019.  Everyone else needs to renew. 

Our membership fees are affordable and include a ‘limited income’ option if applicable (and they haven’t gone up in 10 years!). Memberships can be renewed anytime by credit card using the PayPal link on our website, by cheque in the mail, or by cash or cheque at any event.  

What’s the money for? 

HAAM is entirely run by volunteers, but like every organization, we have expenses that need to be met just to keep afloat. They’re pretty minimal. Here’s a brief run-down of what your membership dollars are spent on. 

Rental space – our biggest expense. We need a place to hold our meetings and other events. There’s even a fee to reserve the picnic site for our summer Solstice party.  

Guest speakers – Many of the guest speakers at our meetings don’t cost anything. Others receive a small honorarium, depending on their circumstances. Very occasionally, we book a professional speaker. Regardless of whether the speaker receives any compensation, we always cover the cost of their dinner while attending the meeting. 

Equipment – miscellaneous stuff we need for our meetings and events. Most of these items are one-time expenses (like a video projector), but this past summer we had to replace 2 folding tables that were stolen from our Outreach booth in Stonewall. 

Supplies for social events – like food and condiments for our summer Solstice party 

Community Outreach – fees for booth rentals at summer fairs, printing costs for brochures, business cards, and posters, and an occasional advertisement or donation to a Humanist cause or charity 

Office supplies – stationary, printing, postage 

Administration – fees for maintaining our website, bank, MeetUp, and PayPal accounts 

We count on our members to support HAAM’s continuing work in providing a community for non-believers. A larger membership base also gives us a larger voice in the public sphere.  

We don’t turn people away if they cannot afford a membership – but it’s a pretty good deal. How many organizations can you join for as little as $10 per year? Please support the group that supports you!  

 Note – if you plan to participate in our AGM in January, dues MUST be paid in order to vote. 

Suggestions welcome

Your HAAM executive is busy planning meetings and events for the winter/spring season.

Got any ideas? Is there a topic you’d like to learn about, or a speaker you’d like to hear? An issue you’d like to discuss? Do you know of an opportunity for outreach? A fun group activity?

We welcome our members’ ideas and involvement. Contact us with your suggestions – or just show up at one of our events. We’d be happy to chat with you in person.

 

Ways to celebrate the winter solstice

December is dark, and we can’t change that. So why not embrace the darkness, instead of letting it get you down?

Here are a few suggestions for how to do that (besides attending our Solstice Party, of course):

  1. Curl up by the fire and relax with some mulled wine
  2. Cover a pinecone with peanut butter and hang it on an evergreen tree for the birds
  3. Or decorate a whole tree for the birds if you have one
  4. Take a walk after dark and look up at the stars
  5. Meditate over hot tea and a sugar cookie
  6. Make an old-fashioned orange pomander
  7. Turn off the lights and have a feast by candlelight
  8. Print this picture and color it (click it to enlarge and download)
  9. Make an evergreen wreath
  10. Stay up all night to welcome the return of the sun

 

Book of the Month: I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas 

Bah Humbug! Comedian Lewis Black is sick of all the syrupy yuletide marketing ad nauseam that is shoved down people’s throats after Labor Day. In this short book, he delivers a stinging indictment of the greed and hypocrisy of the ‘holiday season’, with some warmth and humor mixed in to temper the message. 

Black has made a career of talking about subjects that make other people squeamish, and this book is no different. He tackles our obsession with the over-priced, over-hyped, over-sentimentalized, and over-rated holiday season, ripping into traditions like Christmas cards, dinners, toys, advertising, shopping, trees, carols, and gifts. His suggestions to improve this time of year – spend time with your friends, give to others, and quit letting advertisers, retailers, and religious fanatics dictate how to spend the holidays.

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 

Godless in Dixie

Were you unable to attend our November meeting with special guest Neil Carter (Godless in Dixie)? You missed a great conversation! But thanks to Paul Morrow, we got it all on tape. You can catch it on our YouTube channel.

And while you’re on our YouTube Channel, check out some of the videos from previous guest speakers. There’s some great stuff on there.
The ratings winner so far is Richard Carrier’s talk from last summer about the historicity of Jesus, with almost half a million views. But there are also great presentations on religious schools, the ethics of counter-apologetics, blasphemy laws, grieving without religion, the limits to freedom of speech, Humanist values, and more.

Reminder

Make your voice heard!

Don’t forget the Calls to Action from last month’s newsletter.

There are links 3 petitions to sign. Links to all of them are on our Home page.

 

 

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!

EHC-logo
Save the Dates!

HAAM and Eggs Brunches

on hold due to COVID-19

Other Upcoming Events

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

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