The Ontario Humanist Society celebrates five years of service to Ontario Humanists!
Look how far we’ve come! With your help, the next 5 years will be even better!
In that time, we’ve seen:
- Steady growth to over 140 members
- Dynamic and growing ceremonies program
- Currently at 23 officiants in a dozen communities and a number of potential candidates in the works
- Over 500 ceremonies performed in 2013
- Popular Facebook page
We have been vocal supporters of:
We’ve given financial support to deserving organisations, including:
We are a group of Ontario-based Humanists with a passion for social justice, civil and human rights, and environmental action, who have established a provincially-based organization to complement the work of Humanist Canada and local Humanist groups.
If you are concerned with Human and Civil Rights issues in secular society, such as Pro-choice, One School System, Equal Marriage, Gender issues, Dying with Dignity, Environmental justice, Science education, Intellectual Freedom and other progressive issues, we may be able to connect you with other volunteers, speakers and organizations. See our WELCOME page for more information. Here is our OHS Mission Statement.
We invite you to subscribe to our News blog (box at the upper left of this page), and to join our OHS Facebook Group and to ‘like’ our HumanismHelps Facebook Page Send news items to OHS web editor
All are invited to the Humanist Association of Toronto Monthly Speaker Event at OISE, Room 3-311. Peter Jones, representing the For Our Grandchildren Association, will be speaking on the following the topic “We Must Act Now on Climate Change — For Our Grandchildren.”
Humanist Association of Toronto Monthly Speaker Event
Saturday, May 9, 2015
1:30 – 3:00 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor St. west, Room 3-311
Speaker: Peter Jones, lawyer (retired), chairperson For Our Grandchildren
Topic: We Must Act Now on Climate Change – For Our Grandchildren
“I don’t want my grandchildren to see the earth die.” These poignant words introduce the video on the home page of For Our Grandchildren (4RG), a web-based organization whose vision is to connect and empower grandparents and prospective grandparents who are concerned about the potentially disastrous effects of climate change, and to enable them to join a movement to counter and prepare for these effects on behalf of all our children and grandchildren.
4RG offers opportunities for grandparents to learn, comment and to come together with others to discuss initiatives such as contacting their decision-makers with their concerns. The website www.forourgrandchildren.ca features an extensive blog with insightful posts on all aspects of climate change, videos, a monthly newsletter, tips on writing letters to the editor, and posters and other documents for use at events. 4RG is endorsed by honorary members Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki and Bishop Desmond Tutu. If you are concerned about the impending effects of climate change and want to help ensure that there is a world for our grandchildren to inherit, join us for this inspiring and informative presentation and discussion.
The Ontario Humanist Society welcomes yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that “prayer at council meetings infringes on freedom of conscience and religion.” We agree that the state must remain neutral with regards to religious beliefs, or lack thereof, and to begin meetings with a prayer is to show a preference for belief over non-belief. The Supreme Court has, unanimously, decided that non-believers have as much right to freedom from religion as believers have to freedom of religion.
We are glad to see that several councils have reacted to this decision by removing prayers from their meetings and we call upon the councils that vow to continue the practice to try and understand the need for change.
Further information on this story can be found at:
The Humanist Association of Toronto will have its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, April 18th, 11:00-1:00 at OISE (252 Bloor St. W. – map here), Room 5-170.
All HAT members are encouraged to attend. Members who cannot attend can designate a proxy with a form found on the HAT blog/website.
The meeting will include the election of the Steering Committee for 2015-16.
Welcome to Spring 2015! There is plenty of Humanist news to report to you in this issue of the OHS newsletter, including an update from Dying with Dignity and details on our upcoming AGM. We also have a fascinating interview, by Cortney Pasternak, with the creator of the My Stealthy Freedom campaign – well worth a read!
As always, we are thinking forward to our next issue and welcome any suggestions, contributions and new volunteers. Comments and submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to hearing from you!
Masih Alinejad, My Stealthy Freedom
by Cortney Pasternak
My Stealthy Freedom is a Facebook page and online movement that posts photographs of Iranian women without their headscarves.
Founded by Masih Alinejad, a journalist now living in New York, the Facebook page has more than 760,000 likes and has attracted attention from worldwide media. It has also generated much debate over compulsory veiling.
Cortney Pasternak spoke to Masih Alinejad to find out more about her, the movement, and the irony of ‘stealthy freedom’.
OHS AGM – Register Now!
The next OHS Annual General Meeting will be taking place on Sunday, April 12th at the University of Toronto’s Multifaith Centre. All members are welcome to attend and further details are available on the Registration Form.
We have invited Greg Rogers, Executive Director of the John Howard Society in Toronto, to speak to us about his organization, the services they offer to adults in conflict with the law, and some of the challenges they face in their work.
There should also be some time to celebrate OHS 5th anniversary and socialize with your fellow Humanists. We are looking forward to seeing you all there!
Dying With Dignity: Update
by Cortney Pasternak
It has been a busy time for the organization Dying with Dignity in Toronto. In our last newsletter, we interviewed an employee about what they did and how they worked. At that time, the group was awaiting the Supreme Court decision on whether to uphold the ban on doctor-assisted suicide. Since then, it has received notice that the federal government will cancel its charitable status. And later, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the ban on doctor-assisted suicide. So one setback and one success. I ask John Warren, Vice-Chair of Dying with Dignity to clarify and respond to these developments.
Tales From the Field
A Humanist wedding reflects the unique personalities of the couple getting married and allows them to express themselves to their friends and families. As one of our Officiants discovered, this can lead to some less traditional exchanges…
We were standing on the shore of Lake Ontario, on the Toronto Islands overlooking the city. I had just pronounced the couple and out of no where, the bride says “DOES THIS MEAN WE CAN WE HAVE SEX NOW?”
After the laughter subsided a bit, I said, “Well, not exactly now!”.
Although weddings are the most common ceremony performed by OHS Officiants, some of our most rewarding experiences come from performing funeral celebrations of life. Julia shared this story of a recent ceremony she officiated…
From Ontario and Beyond
Rowan Williams: Teach About Non-Belief in School Religious Studies Classes The former Archbishop of Canterbury joins clerics and academics calling for the inclusion of secular beliefs in the new curriculum.
Rise in Number of Irish Humanist Ceremonies More than 100,000 people attended such events last year.
Turkey’s Atheists and Religious Minorities Join Forces to Protest Religious Instruction in Schools Technically a secular republic, critics say that Turkey is becoming a more conservative, Islamic society.
IHEU Launches a New Campaign to end Blasphemy Laws Cases like that of Raif Badawi’s have thrown the spotlight on laws that criminalize free speech.
From the OHS Social Media Files
The OHS Facebook group has grown to over 300 members and encourages posting and discussion of any topic of interest to Humanists. Take a look at some of these recent posts and join in the conversation:
Hamilton Chapter Calls for Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women
Prince Charles Raises Raif Badawi Case with Saudi King
Malawi Sets Legal Minimum Age of Marriage at 18
Comics and Puzzles!
Take a break and enjoy a laugh with comics like this one from bird and moon.Then test your puzzle-solving skills with our Humanist themed brainteasers!
Join your fellow Humanists and our friends from the wider freethought community in the Humanist Association of Ottawa’s Spring Symposium! They will be keeping the Hellenistic tradition of open discussion over drinks alive in 21st century Ottawa!.
Friday, March 27, 2015
James Street Pub
390 Bank St (613) 565-4700, Ottawa, ON
Free to members – non-members $5.
From the HAO announcement:
Topic: Freedom of Speech – How should we respond to the events at Charlie Hebdo, and others like it?
Our special guest, Guy Badeaux (Bado) will be participating in the event, offering his own perspective to the discussion. Mr. Badeaux has been editorial cartoonist at the French-language daily Le Droit in Ottawa since 1981. Recipient of the National Newspaper Award for editorial cartooning in 1991, he is currently treasurer of the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists. He was editor, for 23 years, of Portfolio: The Year’s Best Canadian Editorial Cartoons.
We will be posting an opinion paper to the events of Charlie Hebdo, and how Canadian media has responded, prior to the symposium.
So what is a symposium? It isn’t a structured academic debate, and we will try to ensure that everyone who wants to speak and pose questions will get the chance to do so. We won’t be sticking strictly to any one question, but the event’s guidelines will ensure the discussion will revolve around our topic.
This is an exciting, unique, and intellectually stimulating event you won’t want to miss!
If you have any questions about this project, please contact email@example.com
The Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Humanist Society will take place on April 12, 2015, at the Multi-Faith Centre – Koffler Centre, University of Toronto, at 569 Spadina Ave.
By attending, you will have an opportunity to meet and socialize with your fellow OHS members. And, of course, your board will be pleased to have the opportunity to meet you and connect familiar names to faces and personalities.
Please note that while a failure to register in advance will not necessarily preclude you from attending this event, it is important for us in planning it to hear from you by March 15, 2014.
There will be a vote at the AGM to ratify recent amendments to the bylaws and information about this will be sent out shortly to all who qualify by virtue of having been members for at least six months at the time of the meeting (joined before October 12, 2014).
To register, download the registration form and submit it as soon as possible. Additional details are available on the registration form as well.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Canada’s Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has struck down the ban on doctor assisted dying and has given Parliament a year to draft new legislation that allows consenting adults enduring intolerable suffering to end their lives with medical assistance.
The court notes that the current ban “infringes on all three of the life, liberty and security of person provisions in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms” and “an individual’s response to a grievous and irremediable medical condition is a matter critical to their dignity and autonomy”.
Wanda Morris, of Dying with Dignity
called the ruling “a fantastic victory” and said “We’re deeply heartened by the court’s compassion towards those who suffer unbearably or face the prospect of a horrific death… and today we rejoice with the 84 per cent of Canadians who support the right to compassion and choice at end of life.”
We at the Ontario Humanist Society are in full support of the Supreme Court’s decision and we hope that the resulting legislation will allow all Canadians the opportunity to face the end of their lives with dignity, supported by medical care that respects their choices, and treated with reason and compassion.