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 Dec 1, 11am, OISE: "Quiet and Introspection"

HAT SATURDAY FORUM DATE: Sat. Dec 1, 11am - 1pm, LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West Room 4-418 TOPIC: "Quiet and Introspection in a Noisy World" FACILTATIOR: Deb Jenkins. All are welcome. The topic was sparked by the TED Talk: The Power of Introverts

Avaaz - Hours to stop Uganda's horrific anti-gay law

 [this action was forwarded by HAT members]
Avaaz - Hours to stop Uganda's horrific anti-gay la
We've helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill's progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching.

Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. LGBT Ugandans are regularly harassed and beaten, and just last year gay rights activist David Kato (pictured above) was brutally murdered in his own home. Now they are threatened by this draconian law which could impose life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations, and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.

Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil -- missing millions of aid money has embroiled the Parliament in scandal. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill, calling it a "Christmas gift" to Ugandans.

President Museveni backed away from this bill before, after international pressure threatened Uganda's support. Let's build a million strong petition to stop the gay death penalty bill again, and save lives. We only have hours -- sign below, then tell friends and family:
Last time, our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community -- now they need us more than ever.

Contribute to a Rationalist Orphanage in India - software, games, and donations requested

Swami Manavatavadi gave a presentation to the HAT Monthly Meeting in November, about his work with children in India.  Swami is a rationalist who runs a religion-free school for disadvantaged children.  He has visited Toronto and Ottawa before, and met many members of HAT. You can read about him on the IHEU website, below.  To aid in his work, here is an appeal for software and other donations for his school.  As Swami's resources are very limited, he is also looking for a suitcase to carry the software home.  Those who wish to donate may find information below.
[By this notice, HAT is not endorsing your donation, but simply providing  information, and you are encouraged to contact Swami Manatavadi at the phone/email below, for more information.  He can also refer you to other Humanist members in Canada who know him.]

Humanist orphanage in India seeks donations of laptop computers, USB (stick) drives, digital cameras, digital games for children and/or cash donations
Swami Manavatavadi, the founder of Kids' Kingdom Un-Orphanage in Kurukshetra, India, is presently visiting the Greater Toronto area. It would be a great idea to donate your no longer needed laptop computers, USB (stick) drives, digital cameras and digital games for children to him which he can take home with him. The children at the orphanage would benefit greatly from becoming computer literate which would further their opportunities later in life. Swamiji is leaving on December 12, so time limited.  To get some information about the work of Swamiji go to: and

You can drop off any no longer needed digital games for children, USB (stick) drives, laptop computer and/or digital camera (with a digital memory card and charger for the battery) in good working order together with all the electrical cords, battery chargers, etc. that go with them and a carrying bag, if you have one for it, at the address where Swamiji is staying in Toronto. E-mail: or Call land tel. #: 416-798-2082  or  cell: 416-897-8372 to arrange day and time of drop off.
A light but strong suitcase is also needed in which to take the donated items to India.
Very important: Please make sure that you permanently delete all PERSONAL files and information from the camera digital memory card, USB (stick) drive and laptop HD. If you have Windows Word make sure to ALSO empty the waste bin afterwards! Please leave software programs intact.

For information on how to donate the computers, how to label your donation, and how to donate funds via Western Union, please see this link:

CONTRIBUTIONS TO Shri Sadhvi Asha Manav
Swami Manavatavadi also is extending a very warm invitation "to come to us as volunteers to work with us. It is a great pleasure for the children and enhances their morale whenever there is a guest visiting them."

HAT BOOK GROUP, Sat Dec 1, 2:30-4pm

DATE:  Saturday December 1st  from 2:30-4:00  at OISE room 10-200
The Better Mother by Lee, Jen Sookfong.
Year/Format: 2011, Book, 350 p. 0 holds / 40 copies at the Public Library.
Summary: From a master of family dynamics comes this vivid tale of two misfits who find each other while stumbling toward their own true identities. In 1958, eight-year-old Danny Lim has been sent to buy cigarettes for his father, when he realizes that he has lost the money. Frantic, he rushes through Vancouver's Chinatown and behind a nightclub, where he sees Miss Val, a long-time burlesque dancer. Danny is enraptured with her sequined garters and silk robe, and Val, touched by his fascination, gives him a pack of cigarettes and her silk belt. Years later, Danny spends his days working as a wedding photographer and his nights cruising Stanley Park, far away from the home where his parents and sister live. He realizes that the key to understanding himself and his family lies in his connection to Miss Val, and he is determined to find her. Before she became the Siamese Kitten, a major player on the North American circuit, Miss Val was Valerie Nealy, a feisty girl growing up in a rundown house beside the Fraser River. But to find the stardom she thought she wanted, she had to make a series of seemingly irrevocable decisions. Set mostly during an unseasonably hot summer in Vancouver in 1982 when HIV/AIDS was spreading rapidly, The Better Mother brims with undeniable tragedy, but resounds with the power of friendship, change and truth. It will cement Jen Sookfong Lee's reputation as one of this country's finest young novelists

HAT FORUM, Sat Nov 24, 11am - 1pm OISE

Hat Forum, Saturday, 24 November 2012   11am - 1pom
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W,   Room 2-198
Facilitator: Arif Uddin
Topic: Culture & Health : What's the Connection

Can "culture" explain the high and low rates of diabetes among diverse countries? For our purpose we will define culture as everything that is not due to human biology.

Since our genes haven't changed in the last few decades, then our culture has to be the responsible for shaping the size and direction of health issues such as diabetes (type 2), a disease of affluence.

Many of us in North America believe America has the highest rate of diabetes among the  well-off countries that are affluent enough to eat all they want without using virtually any physical effort. But the highest rates of diabetes are in the five countries that are in the Arabian Peninsula. (International Diabetes Foundation, Diabetes Atlas)

Are there aspects of culture that correlate with the health symptoms of societies? In other words, if a culture fosters basic human needs/desires such as curiosity and sports participation, will it also lead to a healthier society such as one with lower diabetes rates?

Write for Rights with Amnesty International on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th

Write for Rights with Amnesty International on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th
Prepare yourself to save a life on December 10th 

Narges Mohammadi
is detained in Iran for defending women's rights. See her letter-writing action.

It's time to get ready to Write for Rights!
We've shown that together we can save lives, and you can once again be a part of our massive, life-saving effort on December 10, as Amnesty International mobilizes its full world-wide membership to take action.

Be a part of Write for Rights 2012 by SIGNING UP NOW.

You can choose to write one or several letters, sign an online petition, or organize a Write for Rights event with your friends, family or colleagues - one of hundreds of events we anticipate across Canada, and one of thousands taking place around the world on International Human Rights Day.

Last year Amnesty International supporters in 80 countries wrote over 1 million letters on International Human Rights Day!  

We know that the influence of letters or a huge petition tips the balance and persuades a government leader to do the right thing. We know that our efforts get results.

Will it be YOUR letter that tips the balance and saves a life? 

Each letter-writing case featured this year also allows you to write a letter of solidarity and bring hope to people who can feel hopeless.

Sign-up to write on your own | Sign-up to organize a letter-writing event with friends, at your school, at your office

If you are unable to join us, please consider buying

HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat Dec 8, 1:30pm OISE "Canadian Security and the New Middle East"

SAT  Dec 8, 2012,  1:30-3pm
LOCATION:  OISE 252 Bloor Street West,  Room 4-422

Speaker: John Thompson, “Canadian Security and the New Middle East”

John Thompson, author, Other People's Wars: Overseas Terrorism in Canada, is Editor/Publisher of The Mackenzie Institute, a think tank that focuses on terrorism, political extremism, warfare, and organized crime. He is "concerned with the social and political stability of Canada." John has spent 22 years with the Mackenzie Institute, 5 with the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies and 13 years with the Canadian Forces (in the ranks as a gunner and commissioned with the Queen's York Rangers). John often appears as a television contributor on terrorism and military issues. He is an extremely skilled communicator -- 7,500 media interviews, 500 plus columns, studies, papers, and contributions to books.

HAT FORUM Sat Nov 17, OISE 11am- 1pm

HAT Forum, Saturday, November 17, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, ROOM 2-198
TOPIC: What Money Can't, or Shouldn't, Buy 
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Are there things that should not be allowed to be bought and sold? Why or why not? What spheres of life do we want to keep separate from the economic realm? Does a notion of civic duty or civic virtue suffer if its expression becomes a marketable commodity?

Some examples for consideration: sex; citizenship; childrens' study habits; exemption from jury duty; prepared wedding toasts; voting; authorization to store waste. (This list is not exhaustive.)

This Forum was inspired by a program on The Agenda with Steve Peikin, featuring Michael Sandel, author of The Moral Limits of Markets. The program aired on October 24th and is available online at

Evolution Made Clear for Kids in "Pepper’s Special Wings"

Evolution Made Clear for Kids in "Pepper’s Special Wings"
 Mary Anne Farah is an Oakville Humanist and member of HPHC
In order to give parents a fun and effective tool when teaching young children evolution and the science behind it, author Mary Anne Farah has written Pepper’s Special Wings, a children’s ebook that uses the Peppered Moth species, a recent example of natural selection, as its inspiration.
Mary Anne Farah
“Children have the right to know the truth about how life evolves and species change,” says Farah. “The well-documented story of how the Peppered Moth species eventually changed due to pollution darkening the plants where they congregated was perfect for a children’s book. The new survival advantage for moths with darker wings is an easy example to explain to children with no need to use words that may not have yet been learned, such as species, population, predation and camouflage.”
The story of Pepper the moth covers more than just evolution, however. While Pepper’s Special Wings relates to small children about how Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection works, children will also identify with Pepper’s struggles with the recurring childhood themes of self-esteem, self-image, bullying and being teased.
“Children will see that sometimes being different is what makes them amazing!” Farah said.
The book is a hit with the kids who have read it. “I like the story. It shows how the moth that was teased for being different made something big and became not different,” said Rami M., 7, from Pennsylvania. "I love the pictures and colours,” said Jasmine L, 7, from Ontario. “I like how Pepper was lucky and that she had babies.”
Pepper's Special Wings Page 22
The book also contains questions and points of discussion parents can use to talk about the topics in the book with their children.
“Mary Anne did a lovely job of explaining accurately how a species can adapt the way it looks as a result of changes in the environment, as well as informing readers about camouflage, predation and natural selection,” Parent Education Manager Nikki Taylor said of the book. “This was done sensitively and in a way that would not feel threatening for most children. I found this book to be very informative and age-appropriate.”
Pepper’s Special Wings is being launched in conjunction with a new website from the American Humanist Association, The press release with details can be found here.
The ebook is available at and other major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The ISBN number for Pepper’s Special Wings is 978-0-931779-28-2.
Humanist Press is the publishing house of the American Humanist Association, providing material for the humanist/freethought/atheist market since 1995. The American Humanist Association ( advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists and atheists in the United States. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, its work is extended through more than 150 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

Is it True? Uncovering the Heart of Each of the World’s Religions: Nov 14, ATHEISM

OHS: Is it True? Uncovering the Heart of Each of the World’s Religions
UTSSA is sponsoring the info session on Atheism this week. If you are in Toronto, please go and support them.

A Lecture and Discussion Series.

Oct. 24: Islam (Amjad Tarsin, Muslim Chaplain, U of T) *past*
Oct. 31: Christianity (Kyle Hackmann, Grace Toronto Church)
Nov. 7: Judaism (Yishaya Rose, Chaplain, Chabad House, U of T)
Nov. 14: Atheism (Professor Larry Moran, U of T, Secular Alliance)

From 5:30pm-7pm with a light dinner in Room 52 University College

Sponsors: Muslim Students Association, Secular Alliance, Multi-Faith Centre, Power to Change

HAT MONTHY MEETING! Sat Nov 10, 1:30-3:00 PM

DATE: Saturday, November 10, 2012
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West

TIME:  1:30 – 3:00 pm, Room 5-230
Speaker: Swami Manavatavadi

Swami Manavatavadi is an international Rationalist who will give an illustrated presentation on his work in India teaching children about rationalism.

Swami Manavatavadi visited Toronto in the spring of 1998 and gave a fascinating look at a Humanist movement in an Indian cultural context. He is looking forward to renewing acquaintances and meeting more recent members of HAT.

Swami Manavatavadi is leader of the International School of Humanitarian Thoughts and Practice in Kurukshetra, India. As a youth, after a long period of travel and searching, he arrived at a confirmed enlightenment that a supernatural being is a mere human concept,  either to discipline folks by induction of fear or a tactful weapon created by cunning people to fool the masses.

HAT FORUM, Sat Nov 10, 11am OISE: Electoral Change

DATE: SAT NOV 10, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
TOPIC: Why Electoral Change

The winner often needs only 40% of the votes cast. Since even on a good day only 50% of eligible voters actually vote, most eligible voters did not vote for the winner.

Also, if a party wins votes in only one group of ridings, it get seats, while another party may get the same number of seats scattered over the country but get no seats.

Several alternatives exist:
First, seats selected by proportion of total number of cross country votes.
Second, uniting two ridings into one with each of the two top vote getters winning a seat.
Third, uniting two ridings into one in such a way that one female and one male candidate gets a seat.


Hello All
We are very pleased to say that we WILL be holding our Monthly Meeting on November 10, 1pm. 
Although we had to cancel, due to the unavailabity of our scheduled speaker,  we are going to be able to host an International Rationalist,  Swami Manatavadi, who will give an illustrated presentation on his work in India teaching children about Rationalism. 

More details soon!

HAT FORUM email list

Moses says:

The HAT Forum now has an email list for any Forum-related discussions. To join, send an email to

HAT FORUM Sat Nov 3, 11am OISE "Bullies"

DATE:  Sat Nov 3, 2012
TIME:  11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor St West, room 2-198
TOPIC: What lies behind the bully’s rage?

1.   What is this thing: a “bully’s rage”?
    2.  What forms does a bully’s behavior take?
    3.  What satisfaction may a bully achieve?
4.  From your own encounter with bully behavior (as a bully yourself, as a               witness, either approving and supporting or disapproving, or as the target of a bully), what lies behind a bully’s rage?

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.