Ontario pledges $12M for post-secondary mental health projects | Star

Ontario pledges $12M for post-secondary mental health projects | Toronto Star

The Ontario government has pledged $12 million over two years to fund mental health projects for students on college and university campuses.
“Our most important responsibility is to ensure the safety and well-being of our students … but we know a staggering 70 per cent of mental health and addiction problems begin when people are young,” said MPP Reza Moridi, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities. He made the announcement Friday, World Mental Health Day, at the University of Toronto.
The move extends the province’s Mental Health Innovation Fund, which has sponsored 20 projects since being launched in 2012, from training of campus staff to recognize the signs of stress, to websites that steer students to help.
In seeking proposals from colleges and universities, Moridi said the ministry will favour projects that serve First Nations and M├ętis students, students with addictions and students arriving at higher learning from high school. “We’re particularly pleased at the focus on aboriginal students, because the majority of aboriginal students in post-secondary go to colleges,” said Rob Savage, spokesperson for Colleges Ontario.
The province has spent $9 million a year since 2012 on mental health support on campus, of which $6 million a year goes to projects suggested by post-secondary institutions and community partners.
The U of T has launched a project with York University and Ryerson that provides support for students who are hospitalized for mental health issues and then face a return to campus.
“Too often these students were released and came back to school with no help — sometimes we would not even know why they had gone — and now, we can go to the hospital and begin to connect them with supports from academic program counseling to maybe a refund, which they might not have thought of,” said Lucy Fromowitz, the U of T’s assistant vice-president of student life..
Obviously stresses on students can be overwhelming, and crippling stigmas still exists about mental health issues, but there is a groundswell of initiatives driven by students to provide support,” said U of T student Kaleem Hawa, who is on a campus committee looking into student mental health.
The government also funds a free 24-hour helpline for post-secondary students called Good2Talk, which serves some 1,000 students a month, said Moridi.


Bob Rae, "Ring of Fire", Wed. Nov 12, Saul Goldstein Memorial Lecture - Woodsworth College

Annual Saul Goldstein Memorial Lecture - Woodsworth College - University of Toronto

On November 12th, 2014 Bob Rae will be discussing proposed mining projects in Ontario's far north - dubbed the Ring of Fire.  Mr. Rae is the chief negotiator for native groups in the area.
The Ring of Fire encompasses a 5,000-square-kilometre crescent of vast deposits of chromite, nickel, copper, zinc and gold thought to be worth as much as $50-billion during the commodity boom, according to a recent Globe & Mail article.

These projects have the potential to drive economic development in Ontario and could be an economic shift for First Nations in the area.  However, Mr. Rae cautions that the money from this massive proposed mineral project can't be counted on to fix northern community's woes. The Ontario Government is keen for these projects to go ahead.

Rae claims that the Ring of Fire is not the magic solution to poverty, because we need to get people ready for jobs and for work first, "we've got to create the conditions under which people are able to participate in the workforce." Lately there has been some indication that due to falling commodity prices, the projects may not move ahead as fast as the Government of Ontario would like.

Bob Rae will speak about all of these issues at the upcoming Annual Saul Goldstein Lecture, hosted by Woodsworth College.

Event details:
Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Time: 4 - 6pm
Venue: Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, 119 St. George St.
Reception follows lecture, all are welcome to this FREE public lecture
You can register for this event here!


Streetwalk with the homeless -- Oct 16

Street Walk with the Homeless
4:45 pm – 7:45 pm Thurs Oct 16
Meet at the Multi-Faith Centre, 569 Spadina Ave

Explore Toronto’s streets from a perspective that is not mentioned in any travel guide! Our guide, a former homeless person, will take us downtown Toronto visiting key sites.

The walk is an excellent opportunity to learn about the complexities of poverty and homelessness from a first-hand perspective. How are issues like mental illness, government policy, addiction, family, and community contributing to a person's experience of poverty? How can you offer leadership to address these issues? The aim of this alternative city tour is not to crave for sensation, but to raise understanding how there can be a place for everyone in society.


Tufts Puts ‘Humanist’ Chaplain On Its Own Payroll, First In America

Tufts Puts ‘Humanist’ Chaplain On Its Own Payroll, First In America

Ends five-year campaign by ‘freethought’ advocates to get their own spiritual adviser

In the midst of a hiring spell this summer for its University
Chaplaincy, Tufts University added its first non-religious chaplain: a
“humanist in residence.”

That’s not what makes the position at Tufts unique, though. It’s the first university-funded humanist chaplain in the country.

The appointment of Walker Bristol, a Harvard Divinity School master’s student who only graduated from Tufts in May, ends a five-year campaign by the Tufts Freethought Society to add a humanist chaplain. Bristol himself was a leader in the society.

The new hires all have connections to Harvard Divinity School and similar interfaith backgrounds, as noted in Tufts’ announcement last week.

The chaplaincy poached Zachary Cole from Harvard’s Humanist Community
for its outreach specialist. New Muslim chaplain Celene Ibrahim-Lizzio
taught at Episcopal Divinity School and lectures on interfaith relations
and “gender and sexuality studies.” Chanta Bhan, the new Protestant
chaplain, leads a “multicultural consulting firm.” The chaplaincy already has Catholic and Jewish chaplains and a Buddhist chaplain intern.

But in contrast to the other hires, Bristol’s position is only a
two-year pilot “designed to assess the desires for and benefits of
designated chaplaincy support” for non-religious groups, Tufts said.

The role of the humanist chaplain is to “serve any students who are
atheist or agnostic or humanist, but also who are not traditionally
religious, or are searching, or are spiritual but not religious, really
anyone who does not fall into the normal traditional boundary lines we
draw when we think of religion,” Bristol said in an interview with The College Fix.

Humanism differs from most established religions because there is no
unifying dogma or a set of regulations, according to Bristol, who
studied religion and philosophy at Tufts.

It comprises “a wide stance for atheists or people who don’t identify
with organized religion to affirm that they have values and moral
commitments towards serving humanity with what we have at our disposal
here on earth … rather than elsewhere and kind of living in the present
in that sense,” Bristol said of humanism.

Bristol said he’s available to “anyone who is looking for someone to
talk to very generally about their spiritual and ethical commitments and
their moral problems they are having in their day to day life.”

The university was previously hesitant to add a non-religious position to the chaplaincy, Bristol said.

“Originally there was a lot more distance both on the part of the
student body, the administration and just outside the university to the
idea of having a humanist chaplain” when he was a student, Bristol said,
“because people generally just didn’t really understand what the need
for it was, or didn’t really understand what humanism was and why it
would be useful.”

“Now that the position has been established and that I’m meeting with
students … people are really starting to see how this is really helpful
and useful to the rest of the community,” Bristol said.

Yale University, Stanford University, Columbia University, Harvard
University, Rutgers University and American University all have humanist
chaplains, according to Humanist Chaplaincies, but those positions are all funded externally.

Rev. Greg McGonigle, the top chaplain at Tufts and a Unitarian Universalist, said in an interview with Religion News Service that the humanist “trial position … may yield research useful to other universities and be a model they may choose to try.”

He defended the university-funded position by noting that “many of
history’s proudest moments of social justice and liberation … have
involved people’s religions, values, and worldviews.”

McGonigle did not respond to a request for comment by The College Fix.

Tufts Just Hired the First University-Funded Humanist Leader in the Nation (US)

Tufts Just Hired the First University-Funded Humanist Leader in the Nation 

The six universities
in the U.S. that have Humanist Chaplains all have something in common
(besides being pretty damn good schools): Those positions are all paid
for by the respective Humanist communities. The schools themselves don’t
offer any financial help.

That’s about to change now that Tufts
University has ponied up the cash to sponsor the first Humanist staff
position on campus — the first of its kind anywhere in the country. Walker Bristol, a former leader of the campus’ freethought group, will serve as “Humanist in Residence.” He will assist University Chaplain Greg McGonigle by offering
“religious and philosophical leadership for the University… by
providing primary leadership, organization, advising, and support for
the Humanist community.”

Humanism Revisited - Economic Times

Humanism Revisited - Economic Times

interesting take...

By Mukul Sharma

In Ancient Wisdom, Modern World, the Dalai Lama clearlydifferentiates
spirituality and spiritual from religiosity and religious. He says,
"Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human
spirit — such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness,
contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony — which bring
happiness to both self and others."
He concludes by observing that there is no reason why an individual
should not develop such qualities without recourse to any religious
belief. Twenty-first century secular humanists who define their movement
as a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasises the value and
agency of human beings and generally prefers critical thinking over
established faith, couldn't have said it better.

For them too, the overarching feeling is a sense of awe, wonder and mystery — being inspired by the natural world or human achievement, along with the belief that one's inner resources provide the ability to rise above everyday experience.

Under the circumstances, doctrinal imperatives become unnecessary. But humanism has also come underscathing criticism by 20th-century intellectuals who considered it to be either sentimental "slop" or overly feminine and wanted to go back to a more manly society.

Yet, all the humanist credo maintains is that the ultimate goal is human flourishing: making life better for allhumans and, as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other living beings. The Dalai Lama, Jainism or Buddhists — all say the same thing.

Religion without a church? Humanism almost qualifies | Andrew Brown | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Religion without a church? Humanism almost qualifies | Andrew Brown | Comment is free | theguardian.com

But there remains the question of whether humanism is in fact a
religion, or something more like a religion than it is like any other
sort of social movement. This is complicated because of the way in which
“religion” has become a toxic brand. But if we go back to the science, I
think the answer is clearly that it is. Emile Durkheim,
who pretty much founded the scientific study of religion, defined it as
“a unified set of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that
is to say, things set apart and surrounded by prohibitions – beliefs
and practices that unite its adherents in a single moral community
called a church”.

So, can you have religions without a church?
Humanism almost qualifies. It sacralises humanity, claiming for us a
significance that is not to be derived from either biology or physics.
Organised humanism clearly has unified beliefs and practices. It even
has the world’s most lugubrious and sentimental hymn: John Lennon’s
Imagine. Like all modern religions it has universalist aspirations,
claiming to explain the lives of non-believers better than they can do
so themselves. It can inspire heroism and self-sacrifice, but also be
used to legitimise intolerance – see Sam Harris and his friends.

the real question is how it can fit into a world of competing
universalist religions. This is hard, and lots of humanists will not
think it worth the effort. Bringing sacred values such as human rights
and democracy into dialogue threatens their sacredness, and even when
they survive the process it is hard to give up the privilege of being
their authoritative interpreter.

But there are some humanists who take dialogue seriously. I talked to Babu Goginieni,
now the international director of the movement, who was relaxed about
theology: “The enemies of humanism are not only on the religious side,”
he said. “I think the government has no business taking up any side.
Atheism is not important. I happen to be an atheist, but that’s not the
point – what is important is freedom and human values, and a way of
living with others and with nature. Once we have concluded there is no
God, we move on.”


My Weekend at the World Humanist Congress, Oxford, UK - Cathy Dunphy

My Weekend at the World Humanist Congress, Oxford, UK

The World Humanist Congress 2014 brought together humanists from across the world to discuss freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. The conference was held at the University of Oxford, whose motto “Veritas Liberabit, Bonitas Regnabit”  (the truth will set you free, goodness will reign), could have been a secondary theme to the event.

Delegates and speakers came from every corner of the planet, with a common goal of strengthening thinking, reason, and respecting freedom of thought and expression.  Much was said regarding the various threats that exist in our world that we must be aware of in order to combat a back sliding of universal human rights.   When I was a chaplain student working in social justice causes, I could not have stated these valuesmore clearly, more precisely, or more sincerely then was expressed last
weekend in Oxford.

There were speakers such as Gualai Ismail (@Gualai_Ismail) founder of Aware Girls, author
Taslima Nasreen (@taslimanasreen), Bangladeshi blogger, Asif Mohiuddin (@IAMAsifM) and so many more.  They all exhibited their individual strengths, while consistently echoing the values and goals of humanism.

It was truly a privilege to speak at this Congress.  I also had an opportunity to connect with Richard Dawkins about his role in helping to found the Clergy Project, and to thank him publicly for his efforts, articulating just how large of an impact his efforts have had on my life and other members of the Project.
I must thank Andrew Copson, the Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association for the tremendous job of operating this Congress, Sonja Eggericks, President of the IHEU for her leadership of the International Humanist and Ethical Union which represents the values of humanism on
the world stage, and the tremendous humanists with whom I gratefully shared this weekend.
Catherine Dunphy is the Associate Humanist Chaplain, at the University of Toronto, a  founding member of the Clergy Project, and its former acting Executive  Director.  She was trained as a Roman Catholic Chaplain and is currentlywriting a book about the founding of the Clergy Project, and her
experience of losing her faith.


Humanism in spotlight Richard Dawkins at IHEU Congress

Humanism in spotlight (From Oxford Mail)
Scientist and prominent advocate of atheism Professor Richard Dawkins spoke at a humanist congress yesterday.
Humanism is the belief that values and ethics come from rational thought – and not from supernatural beings.
Prof Dawkins gave a talk entitled The Greatest Show on Earth, outlining the key points behind the scientific theory of evolution. The New College fellow is the vice president of the British Humanist Association and an alumni of Balliol College.
The talk was held in Blackwell’s bookshop as part of the World Humanist Congress 2014.


Uganda anti-gay law declared 'null and void' by constitutional court

Uganda anti-gay law declared 'null and void' by constitutional court | World news | theguardian.com

A panel of five judges ruled on Friday that the speaker of parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite at least three objections that not enough MPs were in attendance.
"The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was quorum," the court said in its ruling. "We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally."

While celebrating the ruling, activists warned that homosexuality remains a criminal offence in the east African country under colonial-era laws. The fiercely controversial statute represented a dramatic toughening of the penalties. It banned the "promotion of homosexuality" and enabled life sentences to be imposed for various same-sex acts, including touching in public or living in a same-sex marriage...

Homophobia is widespread in the socially conservative country, where American evangelical Christian groups have been accused of fuelling prejudice. The legislation was seen as a political ploy by Museveni to shore up support before elections in 2016, which will be his 30th year in power. The court's intervention allows him to blame others for its defeat while also placating western donors, who were reluctant to punish a military ally.

Outspoken anti-gay preacher Martin Ssempa had suggested that the petition was being pushed to mend Uganda's international reputation before Museveni travels to Washington next week to meet Obama at a
landmark US-Africa summit. "There are efforts … to drum up a legal precedent to try to show [Washington] that, 'Hey, we are not that bad on homosexuality,'"


Can you have religion without God? : Lifestyles

Can you have religion without God? : Lifestyles

(also see AEU.org)

The Ethical Society of St. Louis was founded in 1886. (Our original home was Sheldon Memorial Hall, named for the first Leader, Walter Sheldon.)It’s one of a couple dozen Ethical Societies around the country. Ethical Societies were dreamed up by 19th-century freethinkers who noticed that most religions seemed to share basic ethical ideals such as kindness, justice, and charity. Where religions seemed to differ and often caused conflicts was in their conceptions of God (or gods) andtheir beliefs about the afterlife.

Ethical Societies were created as communities that practiced religious humanism. “Religious
humanism” may sound like an oxymoron to people who consider religions only as systems of supernatural beliefs. But we believe that religions were created by people to serve human needs — including meaningfulness, ethical guidelines, and motivation to live ethically.

Religious communities also fulfill social needs for people of all ages, help organize social-justice activity, and provide ways to celebrate and mourn and mark important times together. Ethical Societies do all these things, while leaving supernatural questions about the existence or nature of gods or an afterlife to the conscience of individual members. Many of our members don’t believe in a god or an afterlife, but some do,and some others “don’t know and don’t worry about it.”

The name for the worldview shared at the Ethical Society is Ethical Humanism. You will likely get as many definitions of Ethical Humanism as there are Ethical Humanists, but our basic shared beliefs are that every person  has a potential for goodness, that every person deserves to be treated  with fairness and kindness, and that human beings are responsible for caring for each other and for solving our problems.

Ethical Humanism asserts that suffering and cruelty are the result not of  supernatural devils or sin or bad luck, but rather natural events or  human errors and bad choices. Therefore, it is up to human beings to  reduce suffering and cruelty by increasing our understanding of nature  and of ourselves and by learning how to motivate people to do more kind acts and less harmful acts.

We meet on Sundays because that tends to be the most convenient day for most people. Our Sunday meetings (called “platforms” for historical reasons) usually consist of children and adults speaking about their ethical values, a wide variety of music, a central address by the Leader or a visiting speaker on a topic related to ethical living and social justice, and the kind of pass-the-basket-and-announcement-period familiar to most churchgoers. Our platforms look and sound a lot like many religious meetings, exceptthat they don’t include prayer or worship.

So what kinds of people become members of the Ethical Society, and why?

All sorts of reasons, of course, but the most common are young families looking to instill positive ethical values in their children, people who have left their traditional religion behind but still want to be part of a community of shared values, and people of all ages looking to find peers and friends who share their concerns and hopes for humanity.

Lately, polls have found that a large and growing number of people say that they have no religion — some polls find that this group is as large as 20 percent of all Americans.

Yet a lot of these people have values and beliefs that traditionally have been called religious — high
ethical principles, a conviction that there is more to life than merely getting by economically, a feeling of connection with the human family as a whole and the natural world that we’re a part of. These are the folks we’re trying to reach out to at the Ethical Society, to let them know that there’s a place for them.


June 21: Today is World Humanist Day

June 21: Today is World Humanist Day

World Humanist Day is a Humanist holiday celebrated annually around
the world on the June solstice, which usually falls on June 21st.
According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the
day is a way of spreading awareness of Humanism as a philosophical life
stance and means to effect change in the world. It is also seen as a
time for Humanists to gather socially and promote the positive values of

The holiday developed during the 1980s as several chapters of the
American Humanist Association (AHA) began to celebrate it. At the time,
the date on which it was celebrated varied from chapter to chapter, with
selections such as the founding date of the IHEU, or other significant
dates. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, the AHA and IHEU passed
resolutions declaring World Humanist Day to be on the summer solstice.

The manner in which World Humanist Day is celebrated varies
considerably among local Humanist groups, reflecting the individuality
and non-dogmatism of Humanism as a whole. Whilst the event might be a
simple gathering, such as a dinner or picnic, with ample time for both
socialising and reflection, the method of celebration is down to the
individual Humanists. Some groups actually develop intricate social
rituals, music, and proceedings which highlight the metaphoric symbolism
of the solstice and the light (knowledge) which brings us out of
darkness (ignorance).

World Humanist Day has not yet become a fully celebrated holiday in
all Humanist organizations, although many of them are beginning to
recognize it and plan events and activities around the holiday.
International Humanist and Ethical Union lists several different ways
that national and local Humanist groups celebrate World Humanist Day.
For example, the Dutch Humanist Association broadcast short films about
World Humanist Day on Dutch TV in 2012. The Humanist Association of
Ireland held poetry readings in the park to celebrate the day. The
Humanists of Florida Association has recommended groups hold
Introduction to Humanism classes on World Humanist Day.


Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In All UK Public Schools

Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In All UK Public Schools

In what's being heralded as a secular triumph, the UK government has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all existing and future academies and free schools.
The new clauses, which arrived with very little fanfare last week, state that the....."requirement for every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school."
So, if an academy or free school teaches creationism as scientifically valid, it's breaking the funding agreement to provide a "broad and balanced curriculum."
In the UK, state-funded academies are basically equivalent to charter schools in the United States, and are primarily comprised of high schools. Free schools, which were introduced in 2010, are non-profit
making, independent, state-funded schools which are not controlled by a local authority, but are subject to the School Admissions Code. Free schools make it possible for parents, teachers, charities, and business to set up their own schools.
In addition to the new clauses, the UK government clarified the meaning of creationism, reminding everyone that it's a minority view even within the Church of England and the Catholic Church.

The answer is actually yes. And in fact, the Roman Catholic Church has recognized Darwinian evolution for the past 60 years. It openly rejects Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism saying that it "pretends to be science." But the Church’s unique take on the theory, what it calls theistic evolution, still shows that Catholics have largely missed the point.


Back in 2012, the UK government banned all future free schools from teaching creationism as science, requiring them to teach natural selection. At the time, however, it didn't extend those requirement to academies, nor did the changes apply to existing free schools. The new verbiage changes this, precluding all public-funded schools — present or future — from teaching creationism as evidence-based theory.
The new church academies clauses require that "pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching 'creationism' as scientific fact." And by "creationism" they mean:
[A]ny doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution. The parties acknowledge that creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican] [Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community. It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the
scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory.
And in regards to protecting religious beliefs, the clauses acknowledge that the funding agreement does......not prevent discussion of beliefs about the origins of the Earth and living things, such as creationism, in Religious Education, as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory.
The British Humanist Association, which has been advocating for the change since 2011 via its "Teach Evolution, Not Creationism" campaign, is celebrating the move.
"[We] believe that... the objectives of the campaign are largely met," noted BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal in a statement.

"We congratulate the Government on its robust stance on this issue." He added: "However, there are other ongoing areas of concern, for example the large number of state financed creationist nurseries, or the inadequate inspection of private creationist schools, and continued vigilance is needed in the state-funded sector. We will continue to work for reform in the remaining areas, but are pleased that the vast
majority of issues are now dealt with."
This move by the UK government stands in stark contrast to what's happening in the United States. In Missouri, for example, a proposed bill would require schools to "alert" parents when evolution is taught.


U of T Pride Pub Celebrates World Pride 2014 | Sexual & Gender Diversity Office

U of T Pride Pub Celebrates World Pride 2014 | Sexual & Gender Diversity Office

U of T Pride Pub Celebrates World Pride

Friday June 20th, 4 p.m. – 1 a.m., Hart House Quad

The University of Toronto kicks off World Pride in Toronto with an
expanded program for its annual U of T Pride Pub. This year’s event
brings together students, staff, faculty, alumna and community members
to make new connections and celebrate our long and proud history of
LGBTQ involvement at U of T.

Beginning at 4 p.m. on June 20th, the U of T Pride Pub will see the
return of the popular Community Fair, featuring notable LGBTQ community
leaders and organizations. Hart House will have the BBQ flaming with a
delicious menu throughout the event.na and community members to make new
connections and celebrate our long and proud history of LGBTQ
involvement at U of T.

For those looking to start Pride on the dance floor, DJ Cosmic Cat
and DJ Craig Dominic will hit the stage at 8:00 pm and will keep the
music going until long after the stars come out. This year’s event will
feature a special performance from the Spectrum Project that will
include homage to dance forms that found a home in the queer community.

Global LGBTQ Human Rights: In Conversation
A Special U of T Pride Pub Pre-event

Friday June 20th, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Hart House East Common Room

In recognition of U of T hosting the World Pride Human Rights
Conference 2014, the U of T Pride Pub will present a special pre-event
featuring conference highlights for the U of T community.

Starting at 3:00 pm, the pre-event “Global LGBTQ Human Rights: In
Conversation” will feature Brenda Cossman, Director of the Mark S.
Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies and Conference Co-Chair in
conversation with Maurice Tomlinson (Jamaica/Canada), Yahia Zaidi
“We are honoured to welcome the world to the University
of Toronto for a global dialogue about LGBTQ human rights at the World
Pride Human Rights Conference 2014. The U of T Pride Pub is the perfect
place to preview some of the issues we’ll be exploring at the
conference, including how Canadians can be effective allies in the
larger global movement, “said Brenda Cossman.
President Meric Gertler and Professor Angela Hildyard,
Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, will provide welcoming
addresses and reflect on the importance of this historic conference
being held at U of T. All members of the U of T community are encouraged
to attend. Registration is required for this event. Please register early.


Desmond Tutu: Opposition to pipelines is a moral choice

Desmond Tutu: Opposition to pipelines is a moral choice

This is why I have become more outspoken in support of citizen-led
strategies that will force governments and corporations to move away
from our dependence upon fossil fuels and towards safer and cleaner
energies that can protect people and our planet.

I stand in solidarity with communities across Canada and the United States that are
opposing the proposed oil sands pipelines. The struggle of citizens
against the pipelines puts them on the front lines of one of the most
important struggles in North America today: stopping the reckless
expansion of the oil sands.


University of Toronto Family Care Office event: Talking to your child about sexual orientation. May 14

University of Toronto Family Care Office

Date: Wednesday, May 14

Time: 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

NEW Location: Bahen Centre, 40 St. George St., Room 2139

Join us for a conversation about the many ways we talk about sexual
orientation with our kids, how you can create a more inclusive and
welcoming environment for your child to learn both personally and about
the diversity of lived experience in their communities and their city.

Open to parents with kids of all ages, this workshop aims to offer
guidance and facilitate peer learning on how to communicate about sexual
orientation in ways that match your own valaues and support your child
regardless of their experience.

  • Understanding sexual orientation (definitions, terms)
  • When and how to talk to your children
  • Responding to questions and comments inside the family and from the various communities you and your child are part of
Facilitator: Cory Silverberg is a sexuality
educator, author, and trainer. He received his Masters of Education
from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and trains across
North America on topics including access and inclusion, sexuality and
disability, and gender inclusion in sex education. He is currently
writing a series of three inclusive books for children about sexuality
for Seven Stories Press.  The first, What Makes a Baby, was released in May 2013 and will be available for purchase at the session.

This event is sponsored by the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office and The Family Care Office.

Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT): Change of Location! HAT Annual General Meeting Ma...

Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT): Change of Location! HAt Annual General Meeting Ma...: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Date: Saturday, May 3 Time: 11:00am to 1:00pm


569 Spadina Avenue, 2nd Floor
at Willcocks Avenue, 250m south of Harbord Street

TTC access: via the 510 Spadina Streetcar
Parking: SW corner of Classic Ave. & Huron St. (150m away)

Agenda Items include:

•    presentation of the Humanist of the Year Award
•    discussion of future projects
•    election of Steering Committee members for 2014

Refreshments will be served.

Losing my religion: Clergy who no longer believe gather online | Religion News Service

Catherine Dunphy came to seminary in her mid-20s, full of passion to work in the service of the Catholic Church. By the time she left, for many reasons, she had lost her faith. Photo courtesy of Catherine Dunphy    
Losing my religion: Clergy who no longer believe gather online | Religion News Service

Catherine Dunphy came to seminary in her mid-20s, full of passion to
work in the service of the Catholic Church. By the time she left, for
many reasons, she had lost her faith.
“I had this struggle where I thought, ‘I don’t believe this anymore,’” “I had this struggle where I thought, ‘I don’t believe this
anymore,’” said Dunphy, now 40 and living near Toronto. “I felt I had no
space to move or breathe. I felt like an outcast.”

Now, 10 years later, she is part of a new online project aimed at
helping others like herself who are isolated by doubt in a sea of
believers. Called Rational Doubt: The Clergy Project Blog, it debuts this week on Patheos, an online host of religion and spirituality blogs.

Rational Doubt is an extension of The Clergy Project,
a private online community of clergy who, for a range of reasons, no
longer believe in God. Started three years ago, the initiative has grown
from just a handful of anonymous members who supported each other on
online forums and discussions to a current roster of more than 550
priests, ministers, nuns, rabbis and even a few imams.

The blog’s goal is lofty: to engage and support clergy and laypeople
who are not members of The Clergy Project but who doubt or reject
religion and feel they cannot confide in friends, family and colleagues.
Clergy Project members — all former clergy who no longer believe in God
— will write posts, answer questions and engage in discussions about
religion, nonbelief and the journey between the two.

“There are a lot of nonbelieving clergy, and the fact that they can’t
come out is having a negative effect on their lives,” said Linda
LaScola, a founder of The Clergy Project and editor of Rational Doubt.

People should not have to suffer that way.”

And they do seem to suffer. LaScola, a qualitative researcher, studied nonbelieving clergy with Daniel Dennett, a Tufts University professor. The two researchers found signs of depression, stress and debilitating anxiety.

After publishing their work, they helped found The Clergy Project with Richard Dawkins, the atheist and evolutionary biologist, and Dan Barker, a former minister who is now a secular activist.

“I hope the blog will provide encouragement and support to people who
are in the same predicament as the people in The Clergy Project,”
Dennett said. “I think there are a lot of them out there.”


Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada

Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada

TheCanadian government is expected to make a decision on the Northern  Gateway Pipeline proposal in the coming months. Despite a lengthy review process, the federal government has still not adequately addressed the rights of First Nations who would be affected by the pipeline.

In 2011, 61 First Nations in British Columbia whose traditional territories would be crossed by the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, or who depend on downstream or coastal waters, issued a declaration  opposing the oil sands pipeline. They called the pipeline a “grave  threat” to their cultures and to future generations.

The federal government must listen to these and other First Nations and agree that the pipeline will not go ahead without their consent. 
4 reasons why the Northern Gateway pipeline must not be approved against the wishes of affected First Nations:
  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to make their own decisions about how and when their lands will be used.
  2. Canadian courts have clearly said that the failure to negotiate treaties or other resolution of longstanding land and resource disputes should not give governments the power to “run roughshod” over Indigenous peoples’ rights.
  3. International human rights standards, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of  Indigenous Peoples, require the highest standard of precaution in all decisions potentially affecting Indigenous peoples’ relationship with their lands and territories.
  4. When there is potential for serious harm – whether because of the scale and nature of the project or because of the harms that have already been inflicted on Indigenous peoples – the standard of precaution required is that decisions should be made with Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent
Amnesty International is urging the federal government to listen to these First Nations and agree that the project should not proceed against their wishes. Take action now


OHRC launch new Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

The Ontario Human Rights Commission
Invites you to the launch of our new Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

Date: Monday, April 14, 2014
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Place: The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Ballroom
            519 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9

People who are transgender, or who otherwise don’t conform to gender stereotypes, come from all walks of life.
trans people are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society.
They routinely experience prejudice, discrimination, harassment, hatred and even violence
The OHRC’s new policy promotes understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights.
Join us to learn about how to prevent and deal with discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
This policy can help:
  • trans people, organizations and advocates
  • employers
  • housing providers
  • service providers
  • unions and other vocational associations.
To attend, please respond by email to rsvp@ohrc.on.ca by April 7, 2014.
If you would like to respond by telephone, call Alicia Carr at 416-314-4526.
If you need any Human Rights Code-related accommodations such as sign language interpretation,
real-time captioning or materials in an electronic format,
please let us know by email to rsvp@ohrc.on.ca, or call Alicia Carr 416-314-4526.

International Day for the Elimination of Racism Awards Thursday, March 20, 2014

International Day for the Elimination of Racism Awards
Thursday, March 20, 2014
12:45pm to 2:00pm
OISE Library
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
252 Bloor St W (St. George Subway, Bedford entrance)

Official 2014 U of T IDERD Award Ceremony & Screening of the  video "Other[ed.]: What is decolonizing education in the post-secondary setting?"


Events Listing | Toronto Seed Library - Hart House March 20

Events Listing | Toronto Seed Library

-March 20 Dig In!’s 4th Annual Spring ShinDIG!
Hart House at UofT
When? Thursday, March 20  From 12-3pm
What? An annual discussion, networking, and social
event for the gardening community, featuring a screening of “Growing
Cities” – a film about urban farming in America


Gail McCabe to appear on Zoomer TV March 17

Gail McCabe to appear on Zoomer TV March 17

Gail McCabe, spokesperson for the Ontario Humanist Society and the Humanist Association of Toronto, will appear on The Zoomer, as part of a panel debating the concept of the “Afterlife.” The show includes interviews and panel discussions focusing on topics of interest to Zoomers (the 50+ set). The program is hosted by Conrad Black and Denise Donlon.

The show airs on a weekly basis on Mondays at 9:00 pm. Gail will appear on the March 17th edition

The taping of the Zoomer show on March 12th will take place at 64 Jefferson Avenue in Liberty Village (3 blocks east of Dufferin south of King Street). You are all invited to attend and to join the audience for a cocktail and canape get-together at 3:30 or 3:45 pm that day.

From Zoomer TV:
Despite a rise in secularism, 70% of Canadians (63% of Zoomers 55+) believe in life after death. The question of what happens to us after corporeal death is a hot topic with a glut of media detailing near death experiences as well as contact with guardian angels in times of duress. But what is behind this new compulsion to believe?

And how does this belief differ from traditional belief systems? However comforting it might be, some traditionalists criticize “new agers” for adopting a convenient spirituality that isn’t subject to an omniscient authority figure.

But, even the Vatican is taking heed, appointing Fr. Renzo Lavator as its “angelologist”. He says angels are “back in fashion” thanks to New Age religions but forget old images of cherubic, harp-playing winged beings. Today’s angel is merely a shard of light, not so much seen as felt.

Still, exactly what happens after we expire is hotly debated among true believers, new age spiritualists, agnostics and atheists. And, if the afterlife does exist, it’s not clear what those on the other side are trying to tell us, if anything at all.

Wherever we stand on the belief-o-meter, one thing’s for certain: death and what happens after can have a profound impact on how we live our lives today.

Child marriage a human rights violation, advocates say | Toronto Star

Child marriage a human rights violation, advocates say | Toronto Star

The issue of child marriage is part of a new Amnesty International campaign, launched ahead of International Women’s Day
on Saturday. In it, the human rights group calls on governments to
secure sexual and reproductive rights, saying the health and safety of
women and girls is under threat.
“It is unbelievable that in the 21st century some countries are condoning child marriage and marital rape while others are outlawing abortion, sex outside marriage and same-sex sexual activity,” Salil Shetty, the group’s secretary general, said in a statement.
“As an ethical issue, as a human rights issue, those of us who want to
see a better world need to deeply care about what is happening to young
children, adolescent girls, who lack choice and voice, and what happens
to them,” Nataraj says. “If we want to respect our own humanity, I think
we really need to be concerned about what is happening, and the scale
at which it is happening.”


UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon pledges support for international campaign to fight FGM - video | Society | theguardian.com

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon pledges support for international campaign to fight FGM - video | Society | theguardian.com

In a meeting with 17-year-old campaigner Fahma Mohamed from Integrate
Bristol and editors from the Guardian, the UN secretary general, Ban
Ki-moon, praises the power of journalism to bring about change, and
promises to do all he can to help roll out the successful UK model


International Women's Day, 8 March - Statement from Ban Ki Moon

International Women's Day, 8 March

 Ban Ki Moon:

"Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.
Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all."

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
This year’s theme, “Equality for women is progress for all”  emphasizes how gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development. It also stresses the vital role of women as agents of development.


March 8 is International Women's Day. Science For Peace presents a Free event March 9.

event page: 
Science for Peace panel discussion
entitled “International Women’s Day (2014) – Revisiting Violence Against Women:
Focus Turkey” to be held on Sunday, March 9, 2014, at Bahen Centre, 40
St. George Street
 , Room 1170 between 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. The panelists
are Professors: Aysan Sev’er, Sedef Arat Koc, Idil Atak, and (4th TBA).  Prof.
Mustafa Koc will kindly moderate the event. 
When it comes to gender equality, the World Economic Forum ranks Turkey 127th amongst 136 countries. In the last 3 years, more than 500 women have been murdered due to male jealousy and intolerance for women’s self-determination. This number continues to rise and leaves no hope for the girls of the next generation.
In 2006 the Turkish Government pledged to protect women and in 2010 created their National Action Plan for Combating Domestic Violence Against Women. Women are still unable to get the help that they deserve, while the legal institutions
continue to favor their murderers.
The panel will give their views on the implications of practices in gender equality
and violence against women.

Women Still Walk Two Steps Behind in Arab World - Inter Press Service/ UN status of women

Women protest in Tunis to demand protection of their rights. Credit: Giuliana Sgrena/IPS
Women protest in Tunis to demand protection of their rights. Credit:

Women Still Walk Two Steps Behind in Arab World - Inter Press Service

 [Interesting analysis from the UN]

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 6 2014 (IPS) -
In much of the Arab world, women’s participation in the labour force is
the lowest in the world, according to the United Nations, while women
in politics are a rare breed both in the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps one of the few exceptions is Algeria, says Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of U.N. Women.

"There is no doubt that culture and religion play some role, but the fact
remains that over the past 30 years, and particularly in the last
decade, we have seen the rising tide of very conservative forces in the
region." -- Sanam Anderlini

The North African nation has reached the critical mass of some 30
percent of women parliamentarians, while Saudi Arabia has broken new
ground by welcoming women to the Shura council.

Still, with a regional average of female parliamentarians just above
12 percent, the Arab world remains far behind the already low global
average of 20 percent, according to U.N figures. Asked whether this was due to cultural or religious factors, Puri told IPS, “It is not easy to pinpoint a single cause for the low level
of women’s participation in the labour force and in politics in the Arab
world, and more generally, around the world.”
She said there is no doubt that entrenched gender stereotypes and
social norms that condone discrimination against women play a negative
role, but other factors also need to be taken into account.
These include, for example, access to and quality of education,
opportunities to reconcile professional or political life with family
responsibilities, the overall structure of the labour market, and
prevalence of violence against women.
When representatives of women’s organisations meet in New York next
week, one of the many issues before the U.N. Commission on the Status of
Women (CSW) will be the low level of women’s participation in the
labour force and in political and social life worldwide.
The CSW, scheduled to hold its annual sessions Mar. 10-21, is the
primary inter-governmental policy-making body on gender equality and
advancement of women. This year’s session will focus on challenges and achievements in the
implementation of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
specifically for women and girls.
Sanam Anderlini, co-founder of the International Civil Society Action
Network (ICAN) and a senior fellow at the Center for International
Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told IPS:
“We should steer clear of assuming that the low levels of participation
in public spaces – political and economic – are ‘entrenched ‘cultural or
religious values.
“There is no doubt that culture and religion play some role, but the
fact remains that over the past 30 years, and particularly in the last
decade, we have seen the rising tide of very conservative forces in the
region – largely supported by regional governments themselves – that are
promoting a regressive agenda towards women.”  Let’s not forget that Egypt had a feminist movement in the 19th century, she added.

Puri listed several factors that negatively affect outcomes for women and girls.

These, she pointed out, include family codes and parallel traditional
legal and justice systems that deny women property and inheritance
rights, access to productive resources, sanction polygamy and early and
child marriages, and put women at a disadvantage in marriage and

At the same time, it is essential to tackle negative
misinterpretations of religion or culture that not only condone but
perpetuate myths about inherent inequality between men and women and
justify gender-based discrimination.
“As we at UN Women have pointed out, along with many faith-based and
other organisations, equality between women and men was propounded
centuries ago in the Arab region,” Puri said.
At the same time, governments along with all stakeholders, including
civil society, need to put in place an enabling environment in order to
increase women’s participation in all spheres of life, said Puri
Anderlini told IPS that in the Arab world – like any other part of
the world – there are always different cultural forces at play
simultaneously: conservative and progressive. But in the Arab world, the conservative forces are seeking to erase or discredit the gains made in the past.
“They like to associate ‘women’s rights’ with immorality and
westernisation. It is a clear political agenda that is being fomented
and we must not fall for the notion that it is ‘cultural’ or
religious’,” said Anderlini, who was appointed last year to the Working
Group on Gender and Inclusion of the Sustainable Development Network for
the U.N.’s post-2015 economic agenda.
She also said Islam calls for equal rights to education for women and
men – to equal pay, to women’s rights to inheritance and participation
in public life.
“What’s being spread are extreme interpretations of Islam that may be
rooted in countries like Saudi Arabia but are newer to Egypt, Tunisia
or Lebanon,” she warned. Asked how women’s participation can be advanced in the Arab region,
Puri told IPS, “As elsewhere, achieving the advancement of women’s
participation in the political, economic and social spheres in the Arab
States requires interventions at multiple levels.”
First, a reform of state constitutions and laws as well as of
traditional legal and justice systems and the creation of a conducive
policy environment based on international women’s rights norms and
instruments, such as the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 1995 Beijing Platform for
Action, needs to be in place.
This environment should not only allow, but also encourage women to participate in the work force and in public life.

HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat March 22, “Toxic Trespass”

Ontario Humanist Society « HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat March 22, “Toxic Trespass”

Humanist Association of Toronto Monthly Speaker Meeting
Saturday, March 22, 2014
1:30 – 3:00 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 4-414
Speaker: Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg
Topic: Toxic Trespass – a film about health and the
Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg is an executive producer of the award-winning NFB film Toxic Trespass, an investigation into the effects of the chemical soup around us. Filmmaker Barri Cohen starts with her
10-year-old daughter, whose blood carries carcinogens like benzene and DDT. Then Cohen heads out to Windsor and Sarnia, Canadian toxic hotspots with clusters of deadly diseases such as respiratory illnesses, leukemia and brain tumours. She journeys into toxic nightmares all too common in industrialized countries and meets passionate activists working for change and doctors and scientists who see evidence of links between environmental pollution and health problems. And she learns how quickly barriers can go up when anyone asks questions about these links. A moving and empowering documentary, Toxic Trespass is essential viewing for anyone concerned about the effects of pollutants on our health – and our very DNA. Join us as Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg leads us through a screening
of the film followed by discussion and Q&A.