Indigenous issues

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.”

 

 

 

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

 

April 2019 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

The Bear Clan Patrol – Reclaiming Our Streets 

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

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

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

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

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

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

Details here.

Save the Dates 

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

HAAM and Eggs Brunch – May 26th

Summer Solstice Party – June 22ndKildonan Park 

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

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Advance Care Plans (Health Care Directives) 

Presented by members of the Dying with Dignity Winnipeg Chapter. 

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

Click here for details and to register. 

Save the Date

Winnipeg Pride Parade – June 2nd

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

Charity of the Month – Bear Clan Patrol 

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

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

Be Part of Change

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

Latest News  

Strategic Planning with Humanist Canada 

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

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

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

Chapters and Affiliates 

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

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

– Donna Harris 

Library News  New Books 

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

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

The four new additions by Sagan are: 

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

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

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

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

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

Our Growing Collection 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winnipeg Free Press sells out to ‘Faith Groups’ 

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

Re: Generous Faith Groups fund more religious journalism 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you miss the March meeting?

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

 

 

 

 

November 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Monthly Meeting – Godless in Dixie 

Saturday, November 17th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM 

Our special guest for the evening (via Skype) will be Neil Carter, a public-school teacher and former evangelical Christian who lives in Mississippi.

Details here.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, November 25th, Original Pancake House, 1445 Portage Avenue, 9:30 AM 

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

Details here.

Winter Solstice Party

Saturday, December 15th, Norwood Community Club, 87 Walmer St, Winnipeg, 6 PM

Save the date!

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

 

Calls to Action 

There are 3 new petitions to sign, all in just the last month!

As Humanists, we need to support and speak up about what matters to us. Our collective voices can make a difference.

Gay Conversion Therapy

A group in Lethbridge has launched a petition to the House of Commons calling for a nation-wide ban on ‘gay conversion therapy’ (the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions).  

This petition seeks to make conversion therapy a criminal offence across Canada.  It is already illegal in Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, the city of Vancouver, and several US states. A nation-wide ban would aid enforcement of provincial/local laws where it is currently illegal, since practitioners tend to operate covertly. This CBC news article has more background information on the issue.  

The movement to ban conversion therapy is gathering steam. Please sign now to add your support for outlawing this dangerous practice. 

The petition is open for signatures until January 18th, 2019. 

Advance Requests for Medical Assistance in Dying

Current legislation requires that Canadians requesting Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) be mentally competent at the time of the actual procedure. A patient who meets the criteria and receives approval, but whose cognition deteriorates after the paperwork is completed, will no longer eligible, and their procedure will be canceled. Advance requests for assisted dying, such as a health care directive asking for MAID to be performed at a later date if certain conditions are met, are presently illegal and will not even be considered.

A growing number of people are claiming that the law is unfair and demanding that their wishes be respected, and some of those affected by the prohibition against advance requests are now speaking out.

Recently, a BC family who lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s Disease launched a petition calling for the House of Commons to amend the Criminal Code to allow advance requests for medically assisted dying.

Please sign now to support personal autonomy in medical decision-making for all Canadians.

This petition is open for signatures until January 30th, 2019.

Forcing patients to transfer for assisted dying

Publicly funded hospitals and long-term care facilities across the country, controlled by faith-based boards, are requiring vulnerable and seriously ill patients to travel to another institution to receive an assisted death. Some will not even allow assessments or interviews about assisted death on their premises. St Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg is one of a number of institutions in Manitoba that restricts access.

Publicly funded institutions should not be allowed to restrict the legal rights of Canadians. Please tell your premier to put an end to this practice.

Charity of the Month The Bear Clan Patrol 

Winnipeg is home to one of the five largest urban Indigenous populations in the world, heavily concentrated in certain inner-city neighborhoods on Treaty 1 territory. The Bear Clan originated in the 1990’s, motivated by the ongoing need to assume the traditional responsibility to provide security to the Aboriginal community. The Bear Clan draws its direction solely from traditional Aboriginal philosophies and practices. 

The Bear Clan Patrol is a community-based solution to crime prevention, providing a sense of safety, solidarity, and belonging to both its members and to the communities they serve. ​This is achieved in a non-violent, non-threatening, non-judgmental and supportive manner primarily through relationship building and reconciliation.  

The Patrol works in harmony with the broader community rather than in conflict with it, and in a relationship that encourages rather than seeking to defeat leadership as it emerges at a local level. Its members believe that it is critical to develop the knowledge and skills of young people, as they will inherit the current conditions. 

The Bear Clan’s mission is to provide restoration and maintenance of harmony within the community by: 

​- promoting and providing safety; 

– conflict resolution; 

– mobile witnessing and crime prevention; 

– maintaining a visible presence on the streets; 

– providing an early response to situations; and 

– providing rides, escorts and referrals.  

Currently there are well over 375 men and women involved with the Patrol on a volunteer basis. ​The Bear Clan has been in the news a number of times lately for the vital work they are doing. The organization continues to grow, recently opening an office on Selkirk Avenue and expanding their territory to include the West Broadway area.  

Please support this incredible organization! Their efforts make this city a better place for all of us. 

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

Latest News 

Não acredita em Deus?

Communities are not always defined by geography. We hear and read so much about the difficulties experienced by non-believers in Bible-belt towns south of Winnipeg. But what if your religious group is bound together by language and culture rather than town limits? There are many ethnic communities in Manitoba whose members are not confined to a single district, town, or neighborhood.

HAAM exec member Tony Governo belongs to one such community – he and his family are Portuguese. Winnipeg’s Portuguese community has over 11,000 members, and they are overwhelmingly (95-97%) Roman Catholic.

In an article he wrote for the local Portuguese newspaper, O Mundial, this past summer (June/July issue), Tony described what it’s like to be a non-believer in a community whose social activities center almost exclusively around the church. Here is his English translation:

Não acredita em Deus? Você não está sozinho

(Do not believe in God? You are not alone)

Our culture, both in Portugal and in the Portuguese community of Manitoba, is deeply immersed in religion, specifically in Catholicism. Just look at our publications and see our “cultural” events. Contrary to popular belief, we are not all believers.

A national survey conducted in 2011, entitled Religious Identities in Portugal: representations, values ​​and practices, indicates that 3.2% of respondents are indifferent, 2.2% are agnostics, and 4.1% are atheists. The Canadian census of 2011 shows that in Manitoba, one in four is irreligious, with 26.5%.

Non-believers can go by any number of labels. Some choose to be identified as atheists, secular humanists, agnostics, skeptics, or free thinkers. They lack belief in any deity, afterlife, judgments, and rewards, or any other idea related to the supernatural. And they are among you; they are your co-workers, friends, or family.
Many Portuguese Catholics were determined and conditioned by their family and not exactly by belief or conviction. For this reason, there are many atheists sitting in the pews.

Leaving the closet as an unbeliever is an act of courage in a remarkably religious community. You should only leave if it is safe to do so. If you are still dependent on your family, it is wiser to stay in the closet. Whether in or out of the closet, know that you are not alone.

We are free not to believe. We are free to question.
If you would like to meet other non-believers with a similar mind, check out the website haam.ca – Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba.

The newspaper printed Tony’s article (click image to enlarge), and in the spirit of supporting freedom of expression and constructive dialogue, the editor also added some of her own ideas about the piece. She also graciously offered to “open up O Mundial to a thoughtful exploration of belief” by inviting other readers to share their views as long as they are “respectful and kind.”

However, since the article ran, no responses have been received – either positive or negative. No protests, no letters to the editor, no emails to HAAM. Makes one wonder what subscribers thought when they read it… No way is Tony the only non-believer in Winnipeg’s entire Portuguese community. Perhaps there is just no one else willing to risk being outed, or to tackle deep subjects. In every community, someone has to be the first to come out.

At least in HAAM, Tony, you know you’re not alone!

 

Book of the Month: Godless 

Since our meeting topic this month will be about adjusting to life after religious deconversion, here’s another perspective you might like to read, from someone who left Christianity some time ago.  The full title of the book – Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists – pretty much describes its content. 

Dan Barker was an evangelical Christian for about 19 years as a youth and young adult. He served as the pastor of a charismatic church and wrote a musical for Sunday School children that is still earning him royalties 40 years later! But he threw that all away in 1984 when he suddenly announced to his family and friends that he had become an atheist. How did that happen? How does someone go from speaking in tongues to becoming the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation? 

Barker explains in this tell-all book. Spoiler alert – speaking in tongues isn’t evidence of god(s) or anything supernatural. The book is an easy and enjoyable read. Barker writes as he speaks, in an unpretentious, even folksy style. If you’re not familiar with him, this 5-minute clip from one of his best-known speeches will give you an idea.  

Godless also contains Barker’s famous Easter Challenge, first issued in 1990. The challenge is simple – reconcile the 4 Gospel accounts of Easter Day into a coherent narrative. No one has been successful (so far), but you can have a little fun reading about it. 

If you are a former believer, you will undoubtedly relate to many of the author’s feelings and experiences, and if you were never a ‘true believer,’ Barker will help you understand the evangelical mindset. Either way, you’ll find this book deeply insightful. 

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

It’s that time of year again…

Every year around this time, someone contacts us about a school or community organization collecting gifts or money for shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. If you are not familiar with this project or the organization that runs it, you can learn all about it on our Religion in Public Schools web page.

Make sure you understand the goals of Operation Christmas Child before deciding to contribute. The take-home point is that it’s primarily an evangelical Christian organization… the shoebox gifts are just a means to proselytize.

October photos

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden now has their new van, with HAAM’s name on the back as one of their sponsoring organizations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tammy and Luc Blanchette donned their tinfoil hats in preparation for Tammy’s presentation on pseudoscience. Great presentation, Tammy!

There’s also a photo from the meeting in our Gallery.

October 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

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

Monthly Meeting – Finding Humanist Thought in Indigenous Beliefs

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

Details here.

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

 

Spooky Night at Six Pines

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

Note that this event is intended for ages 15+.

Make sure to read the event details before attending. 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

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

Newbies Welcome! Details here.

 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Beyond the “Creation vs Evolution” Debate

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

 

 

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

Latest News

Charity of the Month – Kasese Humanist Primary School

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

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

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

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

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

Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the Paypal button on our website. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Help Wanted!

HAAM is looking for a new librarian.

Job Description and Requirements:

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

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

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

Ideas Needed – Help Us Build Community

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

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

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

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

Donna Harris, President

New Reasonfest Videos

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

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

Eric Adriaans – Canada’s Blasphemy Laws and Human Rights

Tracie Harris – Is Religion Good for Families?

P Z Myers – Evolution is More Complicated than you Think

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

Call to Action – Support Fair, Secular Government

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

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

These include:

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

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

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

Please sign the petition.

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

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

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

Book of the Month Just Pretend

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

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

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

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

Charity Checkup

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

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

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

October 2015 Newsletter

Niigaan SinclairIn this issue:

  • We welcome Niigaan Sinclair to our next meeting to discuss aboriginal issues and concerns
  • Photos of River City Reasonfest
  • What do lard and warm socks have in common? Our Charity of the Month needs both items
  • HAAM welcomes the Centre for Inquiry to Manitoba
  • The niqab – yes or no? One of our members weighs in

And more…

October newsletter

July 2015 Newsletter

pride group 2015 - 2In this issue:

  • HAAM members display their Pride and celebrate the Summer Solstice – lots of photos!
  • We will begin reading the New Testament and get together to discuss the historicity of Jesus
  • Was Hitler an atheist?
  • and more news and updates

July newsletter

February 2015 Newsletter

UoM booth Jan15We’re busy – you’re busy.  We’re cold – you’re cold.  But it’s Winnipeg and we’re used to the winter weather, right?  Find out what’s happening with the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba by reading our latest newsletter.  Cheers!

February newsletter

April 2013 Newsletter

bill18 rally_0The April Newsletter! No regular meeting this month! Instead, we’re hosting a Public Discussion on Manitoba Bill 18, the Anti-Bullying legislation. Also in this month’s issue: Why Sage House is a valuable resource. Pat Morrow tells us to be “out” as an atheist. And more! (picture is from the March 28th Bill 18 rally).

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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