Humanist Canada

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Humanist Canada
Formation 1968
Type Not-for-profit
Legal status Charity
Headquarters Ottawa, ON
Region served
Eric Thomas
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. Bertrand Russell (Lord 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[edit]

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[edit]

Board of Directors - as of September 2017

  • President: Eric Thomas
  • Vice President: Lloyd H. Robertson
  • Secretary: Michel Virard
  • Treasurer: Martin Frith
  • Director: Ruth Henrich
  • Director: Bruce Godwin
  • Director: Celia Scott

Notable members[edit]

  • 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.




External links[edit]