|This article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2011)|
Logo of Humanist Canada employing the Happy Human
|Motto||Promoting the separation of religion from public policy and fostering the development of reason, compassion and critical thinking for all Canadians through secular education and community support.|
|Affiliations||International Humanist and Ethical Union|
Humanist Canada (also known as the Humanist Association of Canada, or HAC) is a national not-for-profit charitable organization promoting the separation of religion from public policy and fostering the development of reason, compassion and critical thinking for all Canadians through secular education and community support. Founded in 1968 as a small lobby group, Humanist Canada is an associate member organization of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. The official symbol of the organization is a modified Happy Human; a white Happy Human against a red maple leaf.
Humanist Canada has its roots in the former Humanist Fellowship of Montreal. This fellowship was an organization of humanists that was founded in 1954 by Drs. R. K. Mishra, Ernest Poser, and Maria Jutta Cahn. Lord Bertrand Russell and Dr. Brock Chisholm were its first patrons.
Humanist Canada's first president was Dr. Henry Morgentaler, an active crusader for women's right to reproductive choice, in 1968.
In 1996, Humanist Canada was granted the authority by the Registrar General to certify humanist officiants to solemnize marriages in Ontario. The organization has several officiants who perform non-religious ceremonies including marriages, funerals, memorials and baby namings.
Humanist Canada's Humanist of the Year award has been received by prominent Canadians such as June Callwood, founder of Casey House, the world's first hospice for people with HIV/AIDS (2007, posthumous), and professor of bioethics and cognitive evolution Dr. Christopher diCarlo (2008).
Stance and activities
The organization's stated vision is: "A world where reason and compassion guide public policy and beliefs are respected provided that they are compatible with the rights of others", and its mission is: "To actively promote the separation of religion from public policy and foster the development of reason, compassion and critical thinking for all Canadians through secular education and community support."
Outreach includes donations to charitable organizations and causes that advance scientific, academic, medical, and human rights efforts to improve the human condition. Recipients include Casey House ($5000 donation in 2007) and the Royal Ontario Museum's "Darwin: the Evolution Revolution" exhibit ($50,000 in 2008).
Governance and management
Board of Directors
- President: Simon Parcher
- Vice President: Dale Jackaman
- Secretary: Steve Zabarylo
- Treasurer: John Monroe
- Director Region 3: Kevin Saldanha
- Director Region 5: John Monroe
- Director Region 6:
- Dr. Henry Morgentaler (president emeritus), Holocaust survivor, women's reproductive rights activist, humanitarian, and Order of Canada member.
- Dr. Robert Buckman (president emeritus), author of several books on improving patient care and morale; a media figure, his television programs included Magic or Medicine? and Human Wildlife, and has acted with the Monty Python comedy troupe.
- Dr Christopher diCarlo, Canadian professor of bioethics and critical thinking and an outspoken activist for freethought, humanism, and secularism.
- Halton-Peel Humanist Community
- Humanist Association of Manitoba
- Thunder Bay Humanists
- Central Ontario Humanist Association
- Kingston Humanist Association