Latest Updates

Personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility - Apr 30, 2018 Newsletter

The fourth Humanist fundamental contains a lot, so I'm going to break it down into a few parts. It begins:

Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognizes our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world.

As previously stated, Humanism seeks the greatest possible freedom for every individual compatible with the rights of others. This new clause puts an onus on each individual, however, to also work toward the betterment of society - and also the environment.

In this way, Humanism rejects hyper-individualistic ideologies that would say every person is an island. Rather, we recognize that without any supernatural element to intervene, it's up to each of us to try to make the world a better place for all.

We must be advocates for the values we support - ethics, science, democracy and human rights (which we've set out over the past few weeks).

Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents.

We further recognize that the principles we've been discussing are not immutable, capital-T Truths given to us from on high but rather agreed points that describe a common worldview. Even within that, there's plenty of room for disagreement (as anyone who's attended a Humanist meeting can attest!) and our worldview is continually evolving. One need only to look at how many different declarations and manifestos there have been over the years to see how difficult it can be to describe an undogmatic worldview.

It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.

Finally, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we recognize the right of children to a good education. For us, this means that each person has the right to learn to think for themselves and the state should not provide, or fund, faith-based education.

Taken together, this principle underscores our efforts to build communities that can affect social change, our work on Human Rights and our Secular Schools campaign.

Read more

Cannabis legalization: Two steps forward and one step back?

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming legislation introduced by the Government of British Columbia today to regulate the sale and consumption of recreational cannabis but is expressing concerns at how some regulations may rely on pseudoscientific tests which put the civil liberties of British Columbians at risk.

The BC Government introduced the Cannabis Distribution Act, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act and changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, which together will regulate the sale, supply and possession of legalized cannabis and create rules around drug-affected driving. These bills follow the ongoing debate in Parliament over Bills C-45 and C-46, which legalize and regulate cannabis. Both federal bills are currently at committee hearings in the Senate.

Read more

Justice Minister rejects Humanist petition

The BC Humanist Association is expressing concerns about comments by the Minister of Justice made following a petition by another Humanist group.

In September 2017, Doug Thomas of Secular Connexion Séculière launched a parliamentary e-petition calling on the government to hold a parliamentary committee to investigate “systemic discrimination against non-believers in Canadian laws and regulations.” The petition received 531 signatures by January 12, 2018 and was presented to the House of Commons on March 1.

Read more

Humanism supports democracy and human rights - Apr 23, 2018 Newsletter

The third Humanist fundamental is:

Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.

In addition to speaking out for the rights of atheists and Humanists, we have spoken out in favour of LGBTQ+ equality, the rights of sex workers and more generally in support of the proposed Human Rights Commission.

Our democratic commitment extends throughout our governing structure. In a few weeks, we'll be holding our Annual General Meeting (details below) when members elect new directors to our board. We've further recently launched a new members' site to allow our members to submit policy suggestions and to host Humanist events in their community. It's also why we held a debate on BC's upcoming referendum on proportional representation at our Sunday meeting yesterday (look for the podcast later this week if you missed it).

Read more

Can we die?

By Jocelyn Downie, Dalhousie University and Jennifer Chandler, University of Ottawa

More than 2,000 people have died with the help of a doctor since Canada’s new medical assistance in dying law, Bill C-14, received royal assent on June 17, 2016.

This legislation has, however, come under sustained criticism for its ambiguity. When it was first introduced, concerns were immediately expressed about the eligibility criterion that “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable.”

This phrase “reasonably foreseeable” was deemed by many to be unfamiliar and unclear for physicians and their regulators. It has led to confusion and a variety of interpretations among providers and assessors of medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

Read more

Human is rational - Apr 16, 2018 Newsletter

Last week I shared the first of our fundamentals of Humanism and how it is expressed in our work. Here's the second fundamental.

2. Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.

Importantly, Humanism recognizes that reason isn't an end in itself but rather a means to improve human welfare. This reflects back on the first principle that humanism is ethical.

This past weekend was the second March for Science. I spoke at last year's event as part of this commitment to science and human values. We have also spoken out against creationism and pseudoscience, supported efforts for clinical trial transparency and the importance of science in public policy.

Read more

A university president apologizes for academia’s role in residential schools

Banner: Barney Williams Jr, a residential school survivor, hugs Santa Ono, president of the University of British Columbia, during the opening of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at Vancouver, on April 9. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms

By Santa Ono, University of British Columbia

Earlier this month, I stood before hundreds of people gathered at the University of British Columbia and publicly apologized for the role my university played in perpetuating the Canada’s Indian residential school system, which caused harm to Indigenous people for more than a century.

Many survivors of residential schools were in the audience. As president of UBC, I was privileged to extend this apology to them along with an explanation to my university colleagues as to why the apology was necessary. My remarks were followed by those of two former residential school students and other Indigenous community respondents.

The Indian residential schools operated for more than a century as a partnership between the Canadian government and major Christian churches, with the last school closing only in 1996. For much of that time, Indigenous children were forcibly removed to schools that sought to break their ties to their families, communities and culture.

Read more

Humanism is ethical - Apr 9, 2018 Newsletter

Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists and gave rise to science itself.

As part of our mission to promote and educate about Humanism, each week over the next seven weeks, I want to share one of our fundamentals of Humanism and how those values are expressed in our work.

1. Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.

At its core, Humanism is a naturalistic moral framework. Our values for the worth, dignity and autonomy of each individual motivate us to support people's reproductive rights and their right to die with dignity. There's also an element of compassion for all humanity that motivates our commitment to human rights.

This is what has driven our campaigns in support of Dying With Dignity and for a renewed Human Rights Commission in BC. That duty of care is also expressed in our charitable efforts, such as our blood drives, shoreline cleanups and work with food banks.

What do Humanist ethics mean in your life?

Read more

New ways to be part of the BCHA! - April 3, 2018 Newsletter

We list the third principle of Humanism as:

Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.

As part of that aim, we've constantly tried to find ways to increase democratic engagement within our organization.

Since the BCHA was founded in 1984, we've democratically elected our Board of Directors from our membership and sought feedback and involvement from our members and supporters.

Today, I'm excited to invite unveil a new project we've been working on to make it even easier for members to contribute.

Our new members-only site - members.bchumanist.ca - will allow people who have current membership to:

  • Create events for other Humanists
  • Submit new policy ideas
  • Share ideas about organizing local groups

To access the site, first make sure your membership is current, and then you will need to create an account with our system. To do this, simply visit the members' site and enter your email address under "Create an account."

In time, we'll roll out more functionality to this site to allow members across BC to further engage with one another.

Read more

Island Health open to continued funding of faith-based care beds

Religious groups, including those who refuse to provide medical assistance in dying, are eligible for public funding to provide new long-term care beds in the Comox Valley.

Vancouver Island Health Authority has been looking to expand the number of care beds in Comox Valley for the past two years. On March 9, Island Health released a request for proposal (RFP) for companies to bid on 120 new beds. The RFP is open to all non-profit, for-profit, faith-based and secular providers.

Read more



Created with NationBuilder Creative Commons License