For the past two years I lived in the UK. I met some amazing people there and saw firsthand what a professional Humanist organization, like the British Humanist Association with its 40 000 supporters, can accomplish. But I am glad to be back home in Vancouver and I have been heartened by the warm welcome BCHA members have given me since I returned as your executive director in August. Thank you so much for your support.
Those experiences and your backing have redoubled my determination to make the British Columbia Humanist Association the leading voice for secular and progressive values in Canada. That’s why I’ve been working hard with the board and our volunteers to make that vision a reality.
In just the past few months we:
- launched a new campaign-focused website to enable a data-driven growth strategy;
- submitted a strong response to consultations on physician-assisted dying and have written to politicians and spoken at rallies in support of Canadian’s right to choose how and when they die;
- raised $1000 to support Humanist groups at BC universities;
- launched the Humanist Action campaign that enables Humanists to contribute to their community;
- joined the International Campaign Against Blasphemy Laws and campaigned against restrictions on religious criticism in Canada and abroad; and
- pressed the federal government to act to help secular bloggers in Bangladesh as they continue to be murdered in the streets, in their workplaces and in their homes.
Because of these achievements, our exposure has grown significantly and I’m hearing more and more from Humanists and atheists in towns and cities across BC. Last week I heard from a secular Bangladeshi living in northern BC. He wrote to me because he’s glad to see us standing up for secularists in his home country. His friends and family are still there and they have to keep a low profile or their lives will be at risk. Letters like his show just how important our work is and why we must continue to provide a community and a voice for the non-religious.
We have to build on our success over the past year and take our campaigns to the next level. That’s why in 2016 we’re going to be taking our secular message to the halls of government and to the courts where we can effect real change.
In January, we’re going to be launching the next phase of our Secular Schools campaign. We’ll be pressuring the Abbotsford School District to finally end the distribution of Gideon Bibles to public school students. If we have to, we’ll send atheist books to every student or we’ll take the district to the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Then our lawyers are ready to help us intervene in the next challenge to a proposed law school at Trinity Western University. Recognizing this law school will legitimize discrimination against atheists and non-Christians. Finally, we’re set to sue the Government of BC for equal rights for Humanists to perform marriages.
While we have secured very generous pro-bono support from Vancouver’s legal community for much of this work, it will still require a lot of our time to research the arguments and to make our case in the public sphere. We’re going to need a travel budget to be there in person in Victoria, in Abbotsford and in the courts. We’re going to need a marketing budget to publicize our message. And this is on top of continuing to build Humanist communities in Vancouver, on the Island, on the Sunshine Coast, in the Interior and on campuses across the province.
Simply put: We need your support now more than ever because we’re doing more than ever before.
You know what we’re up against. Our competition is organized and well-funded. We operate on a shoestring budget and I only work part-time from home. Yet every single time that someone has stood against human rights, they have eventually lost. With a bigger budget, we can hurry that change. This is why I’ve set an ambitious goal to raise at least $5000 before the end of the year.
Please, this year will you donate $250 or more to support our work?
Even better, consider setting up a monthly donation of $50. Regular donations ensure we have a reliable income stream and can focus on fulfilling our mission rather than fundraising. All donations to the BCHA are tax-deductible. And if you’ve already given what you can afford, consider telling a friend about Humanism and the BCHA.
We’re facing our busiest year yet but with your help we can put the secular and Humanist values of reason, compassion and hope on the agenda of politicians and policymakers across the province.