The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

HAT BOOK GROUP: Sunday Sept 18, 11am OISE

HAT BOOK READING GROUP is on Summer Hiatus.
The next book discussion will be on Sunday, September 18th, Sunday from 11:00 am to 12:30 at OISE
Title: The Solitude of Emperors by Davidar, David. 2007,  246 p.
65 copies in Library
Suffocating in the small-town world of his parents, Vijay is desperate to escape to the raw energy of Bombay in the early 1990s. His big chance arrives unexpectedly when the family servant, Raju, is recruited by a right-wing organization. As a result of an article he writes about the increasing power of sectarian politicians, Vijay gets a job in a small Bombay publication, The Indian Secularist.

There he meets Rustom Sorabjee — the inspirational founder of the magazine who opens Vijay’s eyes to the damage caused to the nation by the mixing of religion and politics. As discord surrounding the local shrine comes to a head, Vijay tries to alert the authorities to the dangers, but his intervention will have consequences he could never have foreseen. The Solitude of Emperors is a stunningly perceptive novel about modern India, what drives fundamentalist beliefs, and what makes someone driven, bold, or mad enough to make a stand.
For info, contact: Jody Perrin @ 416-925-3395

HAT FORUM, Sat. July 30, 11am - 1PM OISE

HAT FORUM:  Sat. July 30, 11am - 1pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
TOPIC: Question: In the changing and overlapping relationships between atheisms, humanisms and secularisms, where do we (as individuals and as a HAT group) wish to position ourselves?

1) Some definition are useful: atheism, humanism, secularism and life-stance (bring your definitions if you can and see some definitions on the HAT website)
2) Does atheism lead to a humanist life stance?
3) Does secularism lead to a humanist life-stance?
4) Can we actualize our commitment to free thought and understanding and welcome any who choose to adopt a humanist life-stance?
(These persons may be atheist but they also might be agnostic, free-thinking, feminist, pan-theist or even secular religious.)

HAT FORUM Sat, July 23, 11am - 1pm, OISE

HAT FORUM:  Saturday, July 23, 2011, 11am - 1pm
O.I.S.E. 252 Bloor Street W, Rm 10-200
Facilitator:  Bill Kennedy
Topic: The riddle of personalities.

1. Their source?
2. Their changeability?
3. Their incompatibility?
4. Their connection to temperament?
5. Their connection to character?

HAT Forum: Saturday July 16, OISE 252 Bloor Street West. Room TBD

HAT Forum: Saturday July 16, OISE 252 Bloor Street West. Room TBD
Time: 11am to 1pm
Facilitator: Alex Benedek

In its socially beneficial context, Intentional Community is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a socially acceptable common vision.

Link to for more information on the topic of socially beneficial communities.

The most informative internet site that describes “perverse” criminal communities such as youth gangs, motorcycle gangs, ethnic mafias and a variety of legally borderline secret societies is  Sociologically speaking they are also “intentional communities”.

When do communities turn “perverse” and what can society do about it?

ROM: Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World

Royal Ontario Museum | Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World
New exhibit coming to the ROM which also promises to:
"...reveal the truth behind the 2012 'end of days' legend"  

Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World transports visitors to this advanced Mesoamerican culture, including its social organization, ritual activities and ceremonies, predictions around the end of the world and the mysterious collapse of the Classic Maya culture in the 9th century.
Visitors will also learn about the complex calendar, elaborate writing system, and sophisticated architecture and urban centres developed by the Maya. Imagine daily life at a royal court and explore the rulers' connections to their environment, the divine, the cosmos and the passage of time, and the Maya people.
The exhibition features nearly 250 artifacts, including sculptures, ceramics, masks and other precious works, many of which were associated with Maya temples and palaces. Mainly dating to the Maya Classic Period (250 to 900 AD), many of the objects have never before been seen in Canada and are recognized as among the most important archaeological finds ever discovered.
To complement its historically significant artifacts, the exhibition will feature audio-visual components and touchable models for the whole family. Exciting and informative Maya-inspired programs will further engage and inform visitors.

HAT FORUM Sat July 9, 11am - 1pm "Economic Dependency"

HAT FORUM: Sat July 9,  OISE 252 Bloor Street W, Room TBD
TIME:  11am - 1pm Are Government Social Assistance Programs to Aboriginal and Welfare Moderator:  Marilyn Miller
Topic:  Groups, Provincial Transfer Payments, Corporate Bailouts and Foreign Aid Creating Economic Dependency Traps for Recipients?

Moderator:  Marilyn Miller
Calvin Helin, a native American author, lawyer, and international businessman has analyzed economic dependency patterns across native, ethnic, social class, business, and national and international government entities published in two recent books, The Dance of Dependency, 2008, and The Economic Dependency Trap:  Breaking Free to Self Reliance, 2011. 

 “The dependency mindset has become deeply ingrained in generations of cultures that have been dependent on welfare, such as inner-city African Americans, Latinos, and poor southern whites and the people of western Ireland as well as East Germany’s formerly communist population and people through the African continent.”

 “The fallout, in terms of social pathology and dysfunctional attitudes throughout the world, is surprisingly similar to that experienced by indigenous people exposed to enforced dependency as a result of government policy.” “In regard to the indigenous people of North America, welfare has spawned an artificial environment that has led to a dependency mindset over many generations” in contrast to their earlier culture of self-reliance and interdependent family and tribal cooperation.

  1. If a dependency mindset can result under conditions of external social economic support, can this also be a problem for adult children raised in middle-class and wealthy families “affluenza”?
  1. Is there a greater problem facing modern society that welfare reliance has become the preferred lifestyle for many families socialized into this way of life?
  1. Since more money  given to people on social assistance does not break the poverty cycle, in large part due to reinforced dependency, would the same amount of money invested in sending welfare recipients to college, university, and trade schools  to acquire marketable skills, confidence and self respect be more successful?

City Poised to Kill Support for Local Food | Toronto Environmental Alliance

City Poised to Kill Support for Local Food | Toronto Environmental Alliance

Toronto: Late this morning a City of Toronto committee refused to adopt a policy that would direct City staff to buy local food, when appropriate, instead of imported food that may come from thousands of miles away. The policy will now go to City Council in two weeks time for debate.

“While the rest of the world is moving towards supporting local food, Canada’s largest city is poised to kill its support,” said Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) which has been advocating for local food for over 4 years. “Here in Ontario, all the political parties at Queen’s Park support a ‘buy local food’ policy. Do we really want to be the city that says no to fresh, local food and yes to food that is jet-lagged?”

The City of Toronto spends about $11 million a year purchasing food for city-run daycares, shelters and seniors’ homes. Back in 2008, City Council agreed to a 50% “buy local food” target. Since then, staff have been working on ways to meet this target and figuring out what the Province can do to change regulations that work against supporting local food.

“It makes no sense why Councillors would vote against supporting local food,” said Hartmann “Why would anyone vote against a policy that aims to get fresh, local food to people in city-run daycares and seniors’ homes? And why would anyone vote against a policy that helps local farmers and the environment without costing Toronto taxpayers more?”

Hartmann said that TEA will be working with its members and all those that support local food in Toronto to get Council to adopt the policy that supports local food. “Today’s decision sends the wrong signal to our farming neighbours and to food processors here in Toronto who use local food,” said Hartmann. “By voting against the policy, they are effectively saying fresher and in-season cheaper local food is not welcome in Toronto.”

Friday prayer service at school necessary for Muslim students: board

Friday prayer service at school necessary for Muslim students: board Kristin Rushowy
The Toronto public board should have held public consultations before allowing a school cafeteria to be the site of Friday afternoon prayer services for Muslim students, says an education professor.

'These things should have been debated,' said Sarfaroz Niyozov of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. 'These question of how far or how much schools should be accommodating — the parameters of accommodation — needs to be discussed.'

One Hindu group has said it will protest outside Valley Park Middle School starting this fall until the practice is abolished. Niyozov said there may also be differing views among Muslims themselves as to how to handle Friday prayers. “This raises questions that policy-makers, scholars and those responsible for (the school board) should be taking into consideration before even making a decision.”

Toronto’s public school board says it was approached by a group of parents at Valley Park school, at Don Mills Rd. and Overlea Blvd., about allowing students to take part in Friday prayers at the school, bringing in an imam, instead of them trekking to a nearby mosque.

Board spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the sheer number of students leaving the school — some 300 to 400 out of 1,200 — was a factor in the decision, as well as the amount of class time they lost making the trip. Safety was also a concern...
Critics have raised questions not just about religious services in a public school, but also about how boys and girls are separated at Valley Park during the service — with girls in the back, behind a divider — or that girls who are menstruating sit on the sidelines and not take part.

Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky was not available for comment, but just last year the ministry implemented an inclusive policy, based on the Ontario Human Rights Code. Jim Spyropoulos, the board’s superintendent of inclusive schools, said each school will come up with its own solution to best fit student needs.

As for religious practices that raise questions of gender equity, he said 'because prayer is not conducted under the auspices of the board, we don’t have the right to tell people how to pray.'
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.