Conrad provides the following summary from Glenn's presentation last Sunday. The video of the presentation should be available on our YouTube channel in the next couple days.

Last Sunday, Glen gave a presentation focusing on the contribution that humanist women had made to improve the social structure of our society.  He highlighted the contribution of three women who were members of the BC Humanist Association and gave a thoughtful and comprehensive summary of the lives and contributions of each.  A summary of his presentation – prepared by Glen – is appended to this report.

First of all I highly commend Glen for reminding us of the dedicated women working for social change who have been affiliated with us.  Sometimes we forget or marginalize such contributions but more and more the contributions of women to strengthen the humanist movement are significant.  Sometimes humanist women become active in the political party of their choice or in other organizations dealing with some particular issue such as abortion, housing, or inequality but their humanist affiliation emphasizes the reality that it is men and women who can change things for the better, not some kind of supernatural being using its followers on earth to promote its ends.

Thanks, Glen, a very worthwhile presentation.

Conrad Hadland

BCHA Sunday, September 2, 2012 “WOMEN IN HUMANISM”

A summary of the lives of three former female (and very active) members of the BCHA, prepared and presented by Glenn M. Hardie. The purpose of the presentation was to remind present members of the contributions of previous members to secular and humanist causes in general.


Amelia Caroline Dalgliesh was born in Scotland on September 20, 1905 and emigrated to Ontario at an early age and later to Alberta with her parents. After graduating high school, she settled in Vancouver where she met and married Frank Copithorne around 1954. They had two children, a Robert and Judith. Amy was an agnostic humanist in outlook and in practice. She was a member of BCHA for several years in the early 80s, and although she did not serve on the Board, she was a keen participant in several initiatives mounted by the group.

After marriage, Amy used her maiden name. All went well until she was required to sign a form for probate of a will. The registrar would not accept her maiden name on the form. There then ensued a court case which spread over 9 months. The final outcome was that the law in B.C. was changed to permit females to retain their maiden names if they so wished. Shortly after this, her husband Frank died, leaving Amy as a single parent who had to go to work to support her family; she became employed in a variety of paid positions.

Amy joined the New Democratic Party and ran unsuccessfully as a provincial candidate. She was also involved with the rights of indigenous Aboriginals and assisted in many other social groups. She also with-held a percentage of her income tax one year, equal to the proportion she estimated was being spent on the Canadian Military. After a long, productive, and useful life, Amy Dalgliesh died in Vancouver in 1992.


The daughter of Rose and Abraham Eglin, Russian Jewish refugees, Claire was born in 1918 in Montreal. She had an older brother, Jack. Despite obstacles, she graduated from high school, learned how to drive, and trained as a nurse. She also took a short business course and worked for a family company. She later found fairly consistent employment by specializing in systems of medical records. Her religious education started at age six, when she was physically beaten for attempting to kiss the Torah. That education continued as she dealt with severe anti-Semitic discrimination at almost every point in her life.

Claire’s experiences in the Quebec garment industry triggered her first social interests. Claire found work as an organizer for the Office Workers Union and the Retail Clerks Union, and met and later married an Irish man, Gary Culhane. In 1940, Clare and Garry came under scrutiny of the RCMP in a file which was to expand to several hundred pages over the next 50 years. For most of the war period, Clair and Garry were involved in the labor and trade union movement. She experienced two abortions, but after marrying Gary, had two children, Sandra and Hanna.

In 1958, they decided to try their fortunes in commercial fishing and boat rentals in Cork in southern Ireland. The business was not successful and Claire returned to Canada. After another 10 years in various positions promoting trade unionism and the anti-war cause, around 1967 Claire applied to and was accepted by External Affairs to participate in the establishment of a tuberculosis hospital in Vietnam. Afte 6 months, she returned to Canada in 1968 where she agitated to end the  Vietnam war.

In 1974, Claire was back in Vancouver, where she taught at the Lakeside Regional Correctional Center for Women. The following June, three prisoners took 15  hostages.  The standoff lasted 41 hours and ended with the response team storming the prison and killing one of the hostages. Over the next month, Claire would join in demonstrations in support of prisoners who were staging sit-ins and work strikes over the conditions inside. A group of Vancouver area activists then set up the Prisoners´ Rights Group (PRG). Claire was a founding member.

In 1976, she joined the newly formed Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). It was just establishing itself when the BC Pen erupted in a full scale riot. The CAC was called in at the request of the prisoners to negotiate an end to the 3-day riot. The fear was that if the CAC left the prison, the police stationed outside would move in and take the prison by force. Damage to the building amounted to $1.6 million.

Claire was a woman of action; she staged many sit-ins at the wardens’ offices; picketed outside the gates and on Parliament Hill; hosted a cable TV show called Instead of Prisons; responded to every article about prison written by the press; wrote articles of her own, and spoke extensively on the subject of prisons as social control. She was especially critical of the BC Penitentiary and in 1979, wrote a book titled “Barred from Prison” about it. In 1990, one of her final major public acts was to take sides with the aboriginals at the OKA Reservation. She died in April 1996.


Pat was born on a farm in Acadia Valley, Sask., in 1927. Her mother was an Anglican; her father was free-thinker from Iowa. Pat attributed her own agnostic views to the influence of her father. Pat dropped school at the end of grade 11, due to an administrative ruling. However, she later completed grade 12, winning the Governor General’s Gold Medal and an IODE scholarship. She also got a  scholarship which enabled her to go to Calgary Normal School.

Pat subsequently earned a B.Ed. with a major in history from the University of Alberta, an M.A. in sociology and anthropology from the University of Calgary, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Queensland, Australia. She also headed the Educational Foundations Department at the University of Regina.

In 1946, Pat returned to the Lonely Trail one-room school to teach several grades of children. About this time, she met Jack Westcott, a former policeman, whom she married aged 21 in his Anglican church. Jack had firm ideas about “women’s place” in the world, and also wanted Pat to quit teaching in order to take up farming, but she refused. They had a son Tommy.

By 1956, Pat realized that she needed a life plan. She continued to teach grades 7 & 8 in Acadia, but in 1960, she moved to a better teaching job in Calgary. She won a Canada Council Master Teacher Award, permitting a move to a bigger school, teaching history and English. In 1964, she cashed in her pension to pursue a Masters degree in Sociology.

Pat became more in demand as a public speaker, and was fully occupied in developing new courses at the University. She gave her first scholarly paper on “The Sociology of Education.” She was promoted to faculty status and appointed to committees concerning faculty tenure and promotions. In 1968 she decided on two major things: to take a leave of absence to accept an offer to go to Yale University and to obtain a “no-fault” divorce decree from Jack Westcott.

Her first impressions of Yale were positive, as she did meet some remarkable people and made some good friends, but these were quickly dispelled in the prevailing atmosphere of blatant sexism and oppression of females. Pat again encountered the Unitarians whom she had met in 1965, including Sandy Hutcheon, who had been recently widowed; his 2 sons were away from home. He was employed by the provincial government. He and Pat married.

Around 1973, Pat was gave an address to the Western District Unitarian Conference, in which she explained what the expression “God is Dead” really meant. To the humanist, “it means that we can begin to direct our intelligence to human problems.” She expounded on the shortcomings of multiculturalism and tribalism, two topics which became a central theme in later essays. During recuperation from a fractured pelvis, she used some of the time to finish the manuscript for her book “A Sociology of Canadian Education” which became a classic in its field.

Pat landed a position with the University of Brisbane and they applied to immigrate to Australia; Sandy secured work with the Queensland State government. Pat set to work on her PhD, proposing an inter-disciplinary thesis for educational research. She presented a paper to the Humanist Association of Queensland titled “The Failure of Humanism” which she stressed the need for more community efforts by free thinkers; it caused quite a stir, locally and nationally.

The Hutcheon’s decided to return to Canada after Pat received a job offer as Associate Professor in education from the University of BC in 1976. Her position at UBC was to be temporary, until a visiting American professor arrived to take over her position, when she would be let go. The Dean appealed on her behalf because she was well-qualified but to no avail. Pat decided to retire.

Pat then assisted Sandy with some of his projects and dealt with routine family affairs. She re-connected with the Unitarian movement in Vancouver and became involved in settling Vietnamese “boat people” in the city. Later, she was appointed BC director of the Vanier Institute for the Family and initiated studies on day-care and nursery schools in BC, as well as the effect of violence in the media, in partnership with Al Cox, a BCHA member.

Part of the Hutcheon’s later lives was spent in the company of an outdoors hiking group; like us, they met every week. Sadly, Sandy’s health declined, and he died after a series of strokes in 2001. One of Pat’s last honors was the Distinguished Service Award of the American Humanist Association, received in 2001. One of her last projects was as one of the drafters of the new Humanist Manifesto III issued in 2003 by the American Humanist Association. She died in a hospice in Vancouver in 2010, surrounded by family.


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