Latest Updates

Help us continue in 2018

We need your help in 2018 to keep the BC Humanist Association afloat.

This last year we've seen tremendous growth in our movement. We started 2017 with 1000 email supporters, now we have 2000. In the same period, we increased our membership by almost 50%. We’ve worked with people and groups from Kimberley to Prince George to Courtenay.

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Human rights & blasphemy laws - Nov 20, 2017 Newsletter

The bill to repeal Canada's blasphemy law has passed the House of Commons justice committee and is on track to become law by the end of this year or early next. While all parties agreed to repeal section 296 (the explicit blasphemy law) of the Criminal Code, MPs decided to amend rather than repeal section 176.

This latter section prohibits disrupting a religious service. Many conservative religious groups lobbied hard to keep it and that effort proved successful as MPs on the committee cited those letters as the reason for their change of heart.

This just shows how much more work we still have to do.

But we're getting there. Last week, I was able to present our petition with over 1000 signatures to add nonreligion to the BC Human Rights Code to the government in person. That meeting went well and you can read our full submission online.

In the meantime, help us continue to build our movement by sharing our updates with any friends or colleagues who might be interested.

Each email we send goes out to more and more supporters. When we launched our new website two years ago, our newsletter went out to 500 people. Today we can reach nearly 2000.

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1000 for protecting nonreligious rights

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its response to the Government of BC's consultation on re-establishing the province's Human Rights Commission. As part of that brief, we pointed to the 1000 people who've signed our petition calling for "nonreligion" to be made a protected class in the Human Rights Code.

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Justice Committee supports repealing blasphemy law

On November 8, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights finished its study of a bill to amend Canada's Criminal Code. In its clause-by-clause examination, the committee unanimously agreed to maintain the repeal of section 296, Canada's blasphemy law. However, the committee decided not to repeal Section 176, which criminalizes disturbing a religious worship, and instead amended its language.

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Speaking out for nonreligious rights - Nov 14, 2017 Newsletter

It's a busy week for our efforts to promote human rights and challenge religious privilege.

This afternoon, I'm meeting with Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon as part of the Government of BC's consultations on its new Human Rights Commission.

I'm going to present him with a copy of our petition to add "nonreligion" as a protected class to the Human Rights Act. Right now that petition has 947 signatures but I want to have 1000.

Will you add your name if you haven't already?

Once you've signed, please email the petition to your friends, or share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Last week, meanwhile, we submitted a brief to the House of Commons Heritage Committee's study on systemic racism and religious discrimination. In that brief, we raised a litany of concerns around religious privilege and the importance of protecting the rights of the nonreligious in Canada.

All of this is made possible by your support. We're approaching the end of the year, so if you haven't recently, please donate to help us continue this work into 2018.

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Recognize discrimination against nonreligious

The BC Humanist Association submitted a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage today as part of its study of Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination.

In its brief, the BCHA highlights how religious privilege continues to marginalize the nonreligious and members of minority faith communities in Canada. It explores how the nonreligious in immigrant and indigenous communities are often unseen when the identities of diverse groups of people are reduced to the majority faith of the country they came from. Finally, it provides commentary on debates over terminology that have arisen in the context of this committee.

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Secular Remembrance - Nov 6, 2017 Newsletter

November 11 is a chance for us to reflect on the cost of global conflicts. As British Historian Dan Snow wrote in 2014:

There is no greater sacrifice than giving one’s life for one’s fellow citizens, and, correspondingly, there is no greater responsibility we have as voters than to send our armed forces into harm’s way on our behalf.

The importance of remembering those sacrifices is tainted when some organizers choose to put religion front and centre in official Remembrance Day ceremonies. Snow pushes back against that infringement of secularism in his op-ed, and we've done the same over the past two  years.

We'll continue to work to support secular and inclusive Remembrance ceremonies, as well as raising awareness of other civilian casualties and the importance of peace through our partnership with the Peace Poppies memorial.

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Ktunaxa ruling poses challenges for secularists

This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a freedom of religion case launched by the Ktunaxa Nation that sought to block development of a year-round ski resort in the East Kootenays.

The Ktunaxa believe that Grizzly Bear Spirit inhabits Qat’muk, the Jumbo Mountain region where Glacier Resorts sought to build their resort. Construction of permanent structures on the mountain would drive the spirit away. In this way, the Ktunaxa, like many other indigenous spiritualities, see the land itself as sacred or as part of the divine. This is in contrast to Western religions that typically separate the spiritual and physical realms. As such, the Ktunaxa argued that allowing development on the sacred land would destroy the focus of their worship and render their religious views moot. You can’t pray or worship what is no longer there.

This case was one of the first tests of religious freedom claims by an Indigenous group in Canada. The Ktunaxa lost at trial and the BC Court of Appeal, with both courts dismissing the freedom of religion claims and stating that the government had fulfilled its constitutional requirements to consult with the Nation.

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Secularists call for repeal of blasphemy laws at justice committee

On Monday, October 30, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights met to continue its discussions over the bill to amend the criminal code.

The BC Humanist Association submitted our brief to the committee last week. In it, we set out why we support the government's decision to repeal sections 296 and 176 which prohibit blasphemous libel and disrupting a religious service respectively.

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Peace Ceremony - Newsletter

On Saturday, November 11, we will once again be co-hosting Let Peace Be Their Memorial at Seaforth Peace Park in Vancouver.

The event commemorates refugees and other civilian victims of war, who aren't normally included in traditional ceremonies.

The event starts at 2:30 PM and you can find more details on our website.

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