Humanist Holidays – Dec 23 is Human Light

Here is a short list of various days and events which have been developed by humanists around the world.  The IHEU endorses World Humanist Day (21 June), Darwin Day (12 February), Human Rights Day (10 December) and HumanLight (23 December) as official days of Humanist celebration, though none are yet a public holiday.

Humanists may also recognize other dates, such as
HYPATIA DAY, March 15 A pagan, and probably an atheist, Hypatia of Alexandria was a woman of remarkable intellect who advanced mathematics and the science of astronomy in her time. Her death at the hands of a christian mob in March 415ce has been described as marking the end of classical antiquity.
“All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.”  —attributed to Hypatia, unverified
EARTH DAY,  April 22
PI DAY, March 14
Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (or 3/14 in the U.S. month/day date format), since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day.[2]
Pi Approximation Day is observed on July 22 (or 22/7 in the day/month date format), since the fraction 227 is a common approximation of π.

But for something truly encompassing, see
CARL SAGAN’s COSMIC CALENDAR  (illustrations at this link)
Cosmic Calendar is a scale in which the 13.8 billion year lifetime of the universe is mapped onto a single year. At this scale the Big Bang took place on January 1 at midnight, and the current time is mapped to December 31 at midnight.  At this scale, there are 434 years per second, 1.57 million years per hour, and 37.7 million years per day. The concept was popularized by Carl Sagan in his book The Dragons of Eden and on his television series Cosmos as a way to conceptualize the vast amounts of time in the history of the universe.


Nelson Mandela Multifaith Tribute Dec 13

Nelson Mandela
Multi-Faith Community Tribute
With the Canadian Council of South Africans
11 am – 12 noon, Fri Dec 13
U of T Multi-Faith Centre, 569 Spadina Ave

A multi-faith service will be held by the Canadian Council of South Africans at 11 am on Fri day morning at the Multi-Faith Centre. Along with the Consul General of South Africa, Tselane Mokuena and local MP Oliva Chow the following faith leaders will be speaking:

- Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, President of Vishnu Mandir
- Rabbi Avraham Plotkin, Chabad Lubavitch of Markham
- The Rev’d. Dr. Bhante Saranapala
- Imam Hamid Slimi, Canadian Council of Imams
- Most Rev’d. Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

2. Following the Multi-Faith Tribute, a civil ceremony will be held with the Lt. Governor, David C. Onley the Priemer Kathleen Wynne and the President of the University, Prof. Meric Gertler in the afternoon. A limited number of tickets are available.

A Celebration of the Life of Nelson Mandela
Friday, December 13, 2013
2:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Convocation Hall
Doors open at 1:00 p.m.
Ticket holders must be seated by 2:00 p.m.

A limited number of tickets will be available at:
St. George Campus
The Nona Macdonald Visitors Centre
25 King’s College Circle
Wednesday – Thursday (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Friday (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)


Write for Rights 2013 | Amnesty International Canada

Write for Rights 2013 | Amnesty International Canada

Amnesty International invites you to join us on International Human Rights Day for the world’s largest letter-writing event

Every year on December 10th, activists in more than 80 countries gather on their own or in large and small events to press governments to respond to a human rights concern on selected high-priority cases. We also write letters of hope and solidarity directly to prisoners or people experiencing human rights violations.

(choose cases from link above)


SFP: Reviving Public Science in Canada, Nov 29, 5:30, MedSci

Critical Condition: Reviving Public Science in Canadawill take place on Nov. 29, 2013, from 5:30-7:30. 
JR McLeod Auditorium, MedSCi

Come to an event celebrating the life of three scientific organizations that died and one that was resuscitated, and help us brainstorm about ways to revive public science in Canada.

Dr. Paul Cappon, the former President of the Canadian Council of Learning (2004-2012) will talk about the Council’s birth and untimely death. The Council studied and fostered ways in which Canadians were learning in school, at home, in the workplace and in their community, throughout their life cycle.

Dr. Robert Page, former Chair of the
National Round Table on Environment & Economy (1988-2013), will discuss the life and death of the Roundtable and its valuable contributions to our understanding of the links between the environment and the economy – now more needed than ever! It researched and advocated a low carbon economy and argued that Canada was well positioned to achieve this goal. However, its advice was not appreciated, which led to its demise.

Dr. Peter Ross, former senior research with the Ocean Pollution Research Program will talk about "Ocean pollution science in Canada: Navigating without a compass” – the outcome of terminating a program within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that led to many important regulations and controls improving commercial and traditional seafoods by lowering levels of various chemicals in marine wildlife. It improved the health of several fish and marine mammal populations. Sadly, the program itself died in 2013.

Dr. Diane Orihel, founder of Save ELA, will discuss the death of the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area and its miraculous resuscitation through Ontario – find out why it is still in critical condition on life support, unable to rise from its bed of suffering. During its healthy life, the ELA influenced public policy in water management in Canada, the USA and Europe.

The talks will be followed by a Q and A period, and we will then brainstorm together what can be done to Revive Public Science in Canada.

This event is organized by Scientists for the Right to Know, the University of Toronto Faculty Association, the Graduate Students’ Union of the University of Toronto, the York University Faculty Association and Save ELA.

Admission is free.
Please come and circulate the information as widely as possible among your networks.

Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada: Indigenopous Rights

Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada


Urge Canada to help safeguard the human rights of Indigenous peoples affected by resource development projects at home and abroad.  Indigenous peoples have the right to make their own decisions about how and when their lands and resources will be used and developed.

This right of free, prior and informed consent or FPIC provides a vital safeguard for distinctive cultures and ways of life that have long been marginalized and discriminated against.
The right of FPIC is set out in numerous provisions of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in countless rulings and statements from international human rights bodies. The standard has been adopted by the International Financial Corporation – the arm of the World Bank responsible for private sector investment -  and endorsed by leading sectors of global industry.
However, the government of Canada acts as though the right doesn’t even exist. This is a significant problem for the realization and protection of human rights because Canada is at the center of a global push to exploit the resources of Indigenous peoples' lands.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan is intended to support an estimated 600 new large-scale resource development projects across Canada in the next decade, many of which will impact the lands and territories of Indigenous peoples. At the same time, through trade agreements and direct support to corporations, the federal government is promoting rapid expansion of mining, oil and gas, and other extractive industries around the world – including in countries like Colombia and Guatemala where there is widespread and brutal violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples.


Cases | Amnesty International Canada: Write for Rights, Dec 10

Cases | Amnesty International Canada

Write with hundreds of thousands of human rights supporters

On December 10, let the letter-writing marathon begin! Amnesty supporters in 80 countries around the world will be participating in what has become the world’s biggest letter-writing event. Together our collective action on these priority cases will put massive pressure on governments to respond positively to our plea to improve human rights.
Each year Amnesty selects human rights cases for Write for Rights. Follow the links below to read case details, download printable case sheets for your letter writing, and take action. Letter-writing tips, event resources, slideshows and more are located on the resources page.


HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat. Nov 9, 1:30pm "Natural Burial"

HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat. Nov 9, 1:30pm "Natural Burial"
Date: Saturday, November 9, 2013
Time: 1:30 – 3 pm
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor west, Room tbd
Topic: “Natural Burial: A ‘New’ Old Concept of Burial”
Speaker: Bob Hope, a member of the Natural Burial Association
Natural Burial is a “new” old concept of burial. In 2008, Victoria BC was the first city in Canada to offer it as a choice and interest has been growing since.
Natural burial methods are designed to return the body to the earth without inhibiting the natural process of decomposition, leading to a sustainable burial process with little environmental impact.  Different from conventional cemeteries, a natural burial site (also known as a woodland cemetery) is managed for the benefit of wildlife and is planted to encourage a diverse range of flora and fauna.  In this way, natural burial grounds actively contribute to the protection and creation of forests and parklands.
Bob Hope is an Owen Sound, Ontario resident and member of the Natural Burial Association, a Canadian non-profit organization. Bob has studied the issues of conventional burial and cremation as well as the benefits of natural burial when  compared to other forms of interment or cremation. This presentation concludes that it is time for Natural Burial to become an important alternative choice for environmentally conscious citizens.

The F Word Exhibition | Hart House

The F Word Exhibition | Hart House
Details: The F Word: Images of Forgiveness is a thought provoking collection of arresting images and personal narratives exploring forgiveness in the face of atrocity. First launched in London in 2004, it has since been displayed in over 300 venues worldwide. Drawing together voices from the international community the exhibition examines forgiveness as a healing process, a journey out of victimhood. The F Word centres on stories of redemption, forgiveness, compassion and social action told by victims of crime. It is unforgettable, transformative and utterly compelling.

When: Fri., Sept. 20 to Wed., Oct. 16, 2013
: Hart House, main hall

Oct 26: Judy Rebick, Humanist of the Year, HAT at OISE

Judy Rebick: Humanist of the Year. Sat Oct 26, 1:30pm, OISE
Saturday, October 26, 2013
1:30 – 3 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor St West, Room 5-250

Judy Rebick, photo courtesy of David Smiley
“An Afternoon with Judy Rebick”
Judy Rebick, Writer, Activist, Feminist, will accept her HAT Humanist of the Year 2012 Award. Join us for an informal conversation with Judy, exploring her commitment to social justice and equity for all.
Judy Rebick is a well-known social justice activist, writer, educator and speaker. One of Canada’s best known feminists, Judy is the former President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and was a spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics during the fight to legalize abortion.  During the 1980s she co-chaired the Ontario Coalition for Employment Equity and was involved in organizing for employment equity at the federal and provincial levels.
She is an author.  Her latest books are Occupy This! and Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political. Judy recently stepped down after eight years as the CAW Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University.  She  is the founding publisher of and is currently on CBC Radio Q’s media panel. During the 1990s, Judy was the host of a national TV show on CBC Newsworld.