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 FORUM, Sat. Oct 1, 11:30am, OISE Room 2-227

HAT Forum, Sat. Oct 1, 11:30am - 1pm LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, ROOM 2-227 FACILITATOR: Gary Higgins TOPIC: Palestine as a sovereign state The UN & the EU are stressing the immediate resumption of peace talks, and within the coming year this should be concluded. How likely is this to be done? Abbas stresses the need to stop, and dismantle Jewish settlements on the West Bank Netanyahu says it has nothing to do with continued settlement, Israel's real need is for a guaranteed peace How likely is this? It's been suggested the exercise of making this proposal for statehood, [even though likely to be voted down by the US ] would be a beneficial exercise for the Palestinians Possible questions: 1. What to do about hamas militants continuing to launch rockets on Israeli settlements? would Israel retaliatie vs Palestine, as a sovereign nation? What would be the response by other Arab countries and alliances in the region? 2. Could Palestine police itself ? Thus far it has failed to reign in the more militant parts of Hamas 3. How would palestine statehood affect Israeli settlements on the west bank 4. What are the chances of Israel going back to the proposed '67 peace accords as suggested, as demanded by Abbas

Human Rights Logo Unveiled in New York - Cinema for peace news

Human Rights Logo Unveiled

The first ever logo for human rights was unveiled Friday night, at an event in New York hosted by the global charity organization, Cinema for Peace. The logo aims to become a universally recognized symbol for the promotion and implementation of human rights around the world. It comes at an important time, as millions of citizens in the Middle East and around the world are struggling against oppressive regimes and myriad human rights violations.

In a presentation introducing the logo for the first time, news anchor Ann Curry explained the concept of the logo, stating, "If symbols are a way to communicate what we value most, it is time for a symbol for human rights." The new design, which brings to mind both a human hand and a bird in flight, was created by Serbian designer Predrag Stakic. Stakic's logo was the winner of an online contest, and was chosen from overwhelming pool of 15,000 entries which were submitted by designers in 190 countries.

The field of entries was narrowed down to 10 finalists by a panel of judges that included some of the world's most important leaders and human rights defenders. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Jimmy Carter, Muhammed Yunus, Mikhail Gorbachev and Shirin Ebadi, as well as Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Cambodian human rights activist Somaly Mam, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Columbian musician Juanes and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanathem Pillay all voted for the new human rights logo, which they hope will some day be a globally understood symbol of hope. When asked about the project, and its impressive jury, Human Rights Logo supporter and CEO of United Internet Media, Matthias Ehrlich said, "The jury reflects the diversity of the world, with people representing nearly every continent. Most importantly, they are people who are engaged in the human rights movement, meaning that the movement itself is choosing its symbol."

In a video message to those gathered at the presentation, Burmese opposition politician and human rights icon, Aung San Suu Kyi said, "I look forward to the time when this logo will be seen all over the world, from the smallest towns to the biggest cities. I hope that little children and babies will see it and it will be a sign of happiness, peace and security to them."

After the unveiling of the logo, Cinema for Peace and United Internet Media (parent company of hosted a dinner reception at Gustavino's restaurant. Guests included Robert De Niro and his daughter Dreena De Niro who served as a co-host, alongside world leaders and activists such as German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, One Campaign president Michael Elliott, Ugandan children's activist Angelina Atyam, human rights leader Caroline Gomes, and opera singer Jessye Norman, who wowed the crowd at the presentation with a rendition of "Amazing Grace".

Also in attendance were Leila and Manoubia Bouazizi, sister and mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who inspired the Arab Spring by committing suicide by self-immolation in January of 2011. The assembled audience was moved as the pair spoke of his life and the repercussions of his death. Through a translator, his sister Leila Bouazizi expressed solidarity with the revolutions taking place across the Arab world, and called upon human rights leaders to stand with those who had sacrificed themselves for freedom, justice and dignity - the ideals of the Arab Spring.

As citizens around the world protest and make sacrifices for the ideals Leila Bouazizi spoke of, they will have one new tool in their arsenal, a symbol that demands human rights for everyone, in every language.

HAT MONTHLY MEETING, Sat. Oct 15, Dr. K. Sohail

HAT MONTHLY MEETING Saturday, October 15, 2011, 1:30 - 3pm OISE, 252 Bloor St. West Speaker: Dr. K. Sohail, “The Next Stage Of Human Evolution” Dr. K. Sohail, author, humanist and psychotherapist, has been sharing his humanist philosophy in his writings and his lectures for the last three decades. He is a passionate and popular speaker, and we look forward to this return engagement In the 21st century humanity is at a crossroads. Human beings have a choice to commit collective suicide by nuclear weapons or grow to the next stage of human evolution. Animals have evolved through natural selection but humanity will evolve because of human selection and the choices human beings will make individually and collectively. Let us hope human beings choose the path of peace and harmony rather than violence and war. All are welcome to discuss - no admission fee.

HAT FORUM Sat. Sept 24, 11am OISE: Is Canada moving to the Right?

TOPIC: Is Canada moving to the right? FACILITATOR: Cecilia Rayo LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, 11am - 1pm -What kind of social, economic and environmental factors do you think are pushing Canada to the right side of the political spectrum? -If the economic distance between the wealthy and the poor continues widening, where do you think this could lead us? -Globalization and economic growth has created bonding economic connections among countries, what could Canada have done to prevent been dragged into the economic turmoil? All are welcome to discuss this question.

Rally Supporting Gay/Straight Alliances Attracts Attention and Support

Rally Supporting Gay/Straight Alliances Attracts Attention and Support

Rick Mercer Comes Out In Support Of GSA's
TORONTO, ONTARIO - The Canadian Secular Alliance rally at Queen's Park this Sunday to support gay/straight alliances in publicly funded Catholic schools has received endorsements from comedians Rick Mercer, Gavin Crawford, and Elvira Kurt.
"This rally is about supporting the rights of students," says spokesperson Kevin Smith. "It is not anti-religious." Some groups were discouraged from attending after making statements deriding religious groups.
A broad spectrum of guest speakers will discuss related issues, including ending tax privileges afforded to separate school systems in Ontario, and provincial educational equity policies that favour religious dogma.
"In addition to the violation of human rights, the province cannot afford over $500 million every year to fund a separate school system for a single religious group," Smith says.
The rally takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at Queen's Park on Sunday, September 18.

Room for HAT monthly Meeting, Sat Sept 17, 1:30 is 4- 414

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Sept 17, An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana
TOPIC: An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana
DATE: September 17, 1:30 pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, ROOM 4-414

Mehdi Zabet is a student studying philosophy at U of T, president of the University of Toronto Secular Student Alliance. He spent the summer teaching in a small village in remote Ghana, Africa. This is normally the domain of Christian missionaries. This lecture will discuss his experience doing this, some of the conclusions he came to, and just as important, some of his unanswered questions.

UN honours three humanist poets – Tagore, Neruda and Césaire

UN honours three humanist poets – Tagore, Neruda and Césaired
13 September 2011 –
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today launched a programme honouring Rabindrânâth Tagore, Pablo Neruda and Aimé Césaire, three poets who, each in his own way, carried high the standard of humanist values.

Beyond their different geographic, social and political contexts, Tagore, a Bengali poet at the time that India was under British rule, Chile’s Neruda and Césaire – from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe – showed a commitment to speaking for the voiceless.

“By challenging relations based on domination and submission – whether they concern colonialism, fascism or racism – their message attains a universal dimension,” UNESCO said at a forum opened by Director-General Irina Bokova at its headquarters in Paris.

Launched in the wake of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures of 2010, the programme aims to promote translations, publications, and creations connected to the three writers, facilitating the dissemination and adaptation of their message. A tribute to Tagore was organized with Bangladesh’s and India’s permanent delegations to UNESCO as part of the 150th anniversary of his birth, with song, dance and poetry readings.

A UNESCO work – Rabindrânâth Tagore, Pablo Neruda, Aimé Césaire for a reconciled universal – pays tribute to this universal oeuvre. Published in English, French and Spanish, the illustrated book examines the legacy of the three authors and their messages from a comparative perspective.

Alexandre Brassard, Ph.D: Which Ontario Candidate Will Dare Address Separate School Funding?

Alexandre Brassard, Ph.D: Which Ontario Candidate Will Dare Address Separate School Funding?
"....Section 93 of the 1867 Constitution Act protects Catholic School Boards, but nothing is stopping Ontario from initiating a bilateral amendment with Ottawa. The procedure is legitimate and straightforward. It's already been done in Quebec, as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador. Clearly, the obstacles are political, not legal. In Ontario, the separate schools issue was controversial in 1985 and 2007, and the three major parties now support the status quo.

The Conservative Party is a traditional ally of religious groups, and it would risk alienating this electoral base if it promoted secularism. John Tory thought he had found a fair solution during the last election, promising to fund schools of every religion. But the proposal sparked an outcry and contributed to his electoral defeat. His successor, Tim Hudak, has learned his lesson -- he now scrupulously avoids the subject.

Ever since Mitchell Hepburn sat in the premier's office, the Liberals have usually been able to count on the Catholic vote. So it's no surprise that they too support the current system. The McGuinty government has developed an excellent equity and inclusion policy for schools, but it has not dared to impose it on uncooperative schools. As for Andrea Horwath, she is also reluctant to make waves, perhaps because the Catholic teachers' union supports the NDP.

The religious segregation of our children is expensive, regressive and unfair. It's high time we secularize Ontarios French and English schools. Politicians will take great pains to avoid the subject, so it's up to us to make it an issue during this election campaign..."

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Sept 17, An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana

TOPIC:  An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana
DATE: September 17, 1:30 pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West

Mehdi Zabet is a student studying philosophy at U of T, president of the University of Toronto Secular Student Alliance. He spent the summer teaching in a small village in remote Ghana, Africa. This is normally the domain of Christian missionaries. This lecture will discuss his experience doing this, some of the conclusions he came to, and just as important, some of his unanswered questions.
For example, we as secular humanists like to think we are critical thinkers, and have no need for religion. Yet, in a very impoverished and uneducated place like Ghana, religion is part and parcel of their reality. It is the most fundamental thing that unites their family and tribal culture. We may feel it’s sad, because we know it’s a bunch of gibberish. However, Ghanians, esp. in rural areas, don’t just go to church on Sunday, they LIVE this. Their entire existence revolves around religion.
Religion is not the singular problem. It is part of a complicated set of world issues and solutions: Mehdi believes that to get to a solution that will make the earth self sustaining, we need a comprehensive look at religion which we don’t have yet. You are invited to this interesting presentation, and a discussion to follow.

Free admission, all welcome. Any questions, contact

JAMES “The Amazing” RANDI Talk and Reception | CFI event Sept 27

JAMES “The Amazing” RANDI Talk and Reception | Centre for Inquiry
(Posted by request from CFI)

James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world's most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.

Randi has pursued "psychic" spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water "with a memory", and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over public's eyes in the name of the supernatural. He is the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim Flam!, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. His lectures ( and television appearances (Johnny Carson, Penn and Teller's Bullshit) have delighted and vexed audiences around the world.

Hear "The Amazing One" talk on his unique perspective on science, magic, and how even the smartest among us can easily be fooled, and support CFI Canada. An open reception (refreshments provided) will follow in the foyer area directly adjacent to the Courtyard Hall, where the talk is held.
Tuesday, September 27th 2011 at 7:00 pm, Courtyard Marriott
Tickets are only available through online purchase HERE.
Tickets WILL NOT be sold at the door. $25 General Public (+ticketing fee) $20 CFI Canada Members (+ticketing fee)

Sex ed opponents claim victory in Ontario

Sex ed opponents claim victory in Ontario
The decision by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to back away from a controversial new sex education curriculum for the province's schools has been greeted with relief by some interest groups and concern by others.
"It's become pretty obvious to us that we should give this a serious rethink," McGuinty told reporters Thursday.
"We by no means are gloating," said Rev. Ekron Malcolm, director of the Institute for Canadian Values, "but we give God the glory. It's a victory for the Canadian children."
The new sex education curriculum that had been planned for Ontario grade schools will not be introduced when the 2010-11 school year begins, McGuinty announced.
Religious groups objected to the revised curriculum and raised a voluble campaign against it earlier this week. They promised a huge demonstration on the front lawn of Queen's Park to protest the sex education changes. "It is unconscionable to teach eight-year-old children same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity," said Charles McVety, head of the Canada Christian College.

Secular Coalition Calls for Defunding of Catholic Boards, End to Discrimination Against Gays in Publicly Funded Schools

Coalition Calls for Defunding of Catholic Boards, End to Discrimination Against Gays in Publicly Funded Schools

The Canadian Secular Alliance and its allies are hosting a rally in front of the Legislature at Queen's Park on September 18 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. to demand:

• The end of the over $500 million taxpayer subsidization for the promotion of the Roman Catholic religion. Public funding for the expensive duplicate school system must be eliminated to provide one secular publicly funded school system.
• The protection of equality rights for all students—including gay students—by ending the constitutional privilege afforded Roman Catholics to overrule legislation and the courts in favour of religious dogma.

"Equality for all students means ending privileged access to public schools for favoured religious services," says CSA President Greg Oliver.
Speakers represent a cross section of the religious and non-religious.

Alert to HAT members: HAT library moving out of CFI on Berkeley

CFI is moving from it's bigger space on St George to a small unit at 2 College. The move is soon, in October. As CFI no longer have space to store their books, our HAT library of 550 books, or our piano, we must find a location for the books and piano quickly. We have a list of the books, some of which are Humanist titles, but many are (by now) outdated science and history textbooks and other items which are no longer of commercial or academic interest. We have contacted the Toronto Public Library and the University of Toronto Library, but have not received any interest. The Steering Committee therefore asks: . 1) If anyone can donate a large dry, accessible space to house 550 books, please let our library, Maria Kochan, know immediately. 2) If you donated a book to the HAT library, and wish to retrieve it, you may do so by contacting Maria Kochan, the librarian, before Oct 1, at: Kochan, Maria - 3) If you would like to arrange to look at the books, and either buy one at a low fee or discuss an arrangement, please contact Maria before Oct 1. 4) After Oct 1, we will (probably) add our books to the CFI sale, and receive a portion of the proceeds. Maria has contacted several schools to ask if anyone can use the piano (apartment size), which needs extensive repair and work. We have not yet heard positively from anyone, but may still do so. If you can move/house/fix the piano, please let Maria know. Thank-you! HAT steering committee.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI, on TVO's Big Ideas, 5pm Sept 4

AYAAN HIRSI ALI, TVO's Big Ideas, 5pm Sept 4. Somali-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali delivers the 2010 Donner Canadian Foundation Lecture. Her lecture, based on her book Nomad: From Islam to America, is followed by a lengthy Q & A. | Books | Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In her powerful new memoir, the #1 bestselling author of Infidel tells the stirring story of her search for a new life as she tries to reconcile her Islamic past with her passionate adherence to democracy and Western values. A unique blend of personal narrative and reportage, moving,  wryly funny at times, Nomad gives us an inside view of her battle for equality in the face of considerable odds.

Ayaan captured the world's attention with Infidel, the eye-opening memoir of her childhood in Africa and Saudi Arabia, and her escape to Holland en route to a forced marriage in Canada. Nomad is the story of what happened after the Dutch director with whom she made a documentary about the domestic abuse of Muslim women was murdered by a radical Islamist and death threats forced her into hiding; of her bid to start a new life in America; of her renewed contact with her family on her father's death; and of her attempts to live by her adopted principles. With deep understanding, and through vivid anecdotes, and observations of people, cultures, and the political debacles that are engulfing the world, she takes us with her on an illuminating, unforgettable journey.
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.