So are atheists being censored in Vancouver?

Last week I meant to add a note that the Centre for Inquiry Canada has issued a press release about the fact that Pattison Outdoor Advertising had rejected their fairly inoffensive new billboard campaign in Vancouver.

A pretty slick ad that’s pretty hard to find fault with.

Continue reading So are atheists being censored in Vancouver?

Support our Light the Night Walk

Grant LaFleche, writing for the St. Catherine’s Standard, wrote a column yesterday calling on atheists to be more charitable.

It’s a common trope that atheists and Humanists don’t give as much (or frequently) as the religious. Lacking formal structures and congregations, there’s less of a culture of philanthropy, both in terms of regular tithes or even to secular charities.

However, these trends are changing.

The Foundation Beyond Belief is working with freethought groups across North America to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. As of this morning they have raised nearly $305,000 toward their goal of $500,000 – which will be matched by the Stiefel Foundation for a total gift of $1 million to fight blood cancer.

Here in Vancouver, the BC Humanist Association’s team has raised over $3,500 between our 15 team members (comprised of BCHA, Vancouver Skeptics, and UBC Freethinkers members).

Our walk is this Saturday, so if you can spare a few dollars, why not chip into my campaign. Remember that every dollar you donate is being matched and Canadian donations over $25 are eligible for a tax-receipt.

Every gift, big and small, is appreciated and helps highlight the compassion and charity we all have.

Radio Freethinker on Tuesday

Just a quick post tonight.

On Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be on CITR’s Radio Freethinker show talking about all the latest news from the BC Humanists.

The show runs for a full hour, so if you have ideas for what I should talk about, drop them below (obviously soon so that I can be somewhat prepared).

The show will be available as a podcast afterwards and I’ll link to it here when it’s online.

Vancouver’s Freethought Movement Grows

Today was a very good day.

This morning the trend of increasingly successful BCHA meetings continued, with just over thirty humanists gathering at the Oakridge Seniors’ Centre for a discussion on Neuroscience and Memory. Four-year-old Addysen was perhaps one of the youngest attendees to one of our meetings yet – although I think she was too advanced for the discussion and preferred to go to the Lego Store.

Afterwards, I headed to New Westminster for a new Skeptics in the Pub meetup, organized by Peter Naugler. This event was organized on about a week or two notice, yet still brought out another thirty skeptics (with very little overlap from the BCHA meeting) due to the convenient location.

Peter didn’t realize how successful this event would be, otherwise he would have called ahead to ensure that The Met Pub had adequate staff. Still, the one waitress that was working was quite efficient and patient with our large and loud group that descended on her Sunday afternoon without warning.

It was fantastic getting to meet so many new people and I got a number of new ideas for programs and events to try to reach broader and wider audiences in the future. It’s going to be an exciting summer!

Vancouver Secular Parenting Meetup

While I don’t have kids of my own (yet), I see the need for a larger secular parenting support within the freethought/humanist movement.

This is why I’m excited to be working with some great parents to start a secular parenting meetup group in Vancouver through the BC Humanists.

The group will kick-off after our Sunday, June 17th meeting (Father’s Day), at which we will be discussing Dave McGowan’s Parenting Beyond Belief. The meeting is from 10am-noon at Oakridge Seniors’ Centre. Following the discussion, we will move to the nearby Columbia Park (42nd Ave and Columbia Street) for a barbecue and picnic.

This informal meeting will help gauge the interest in this type of group and allow us to determine what kind of programming to put on later.

With luck, we can hopefully set up a freethinker summer camp next year and maybe I will get to polish off my DiscoverE science presentation skills.

New Abortion Caravan Counter-Protest in photos

On May 29, 2012, anti-choicers led by the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform launched their “New Abortion Caravan” in Vancouver. Their goal is to drive their graphic anti-abortion trucks across the country, descending on Ottawa for Canada Day.

After word of this was picked up by the pro-choice community, a counter-protest was hastily thrown together, but managed to attract a similar sized crowd to the pro-lifers. We ended up out-lasting the pro-lifers, both in terms of energy and time on the Art Gallery steps.

Cars were generally supportive of us, with a number honking in support of women’s rights.

Take a look through the photos below for more.

Continue reading New Abortion Caravan Counter-Protest in photos

Quacks invade Richmond City Council

Richmond’s city council recently approved a motion to ban genetically-modified crops from being planted in their municipality. Richmond is likely the largest municipality in BC to pass such a ban and is one of the few with a large area of agricultural land. The motion was largely symbolic, as crop seeds are regulated federally.

Last night, the council held further hearings on the issue and by the reports from a couple skeptics who attended, the presenters were predominantly misinformed and anti-GMO. Two people spoke against the motion (in favour of GMOs), out of more than twenty. One of the pro-science advocates was a farmer, but by the reports it sounds like their pleas for rationalism fell on councillors that had already made up their mind.

Most of the anti-GMO crowd conflated their disgust at some of the extreme and unethical business practices of Monsanto with genetic engineering technology, which unfortunately disposes of all the advantages offered.

I don’t have much more to add to this story. It would have been nice to have had more warning that this issue was coming up but given the recent disarray of Centre for Inquiry Vancouver, the local skeptic movement has lost much of its organizational ability. While I strongly believe that skepticism is a vital branch of Humanism, to date the BC Humanist Association has not had much involvement in these types of campaigns. Furthermore, moving into this realm would be an expansion of our mandate, which may water down our core mandate – i.e. trying to be all things to all people.

Niki Ashton’s Vancouver visit #ndpldr

I should have posted about this ahead of time, but here’s a video I took of Niki Ashton on Tuesday evening when she spoke at the Lion’s Pub in Vancouver. Besides this stump speech, Niki spent most of the evening very casually talking to people (very literally) young and old. Along with the youth for Niki contingent was a 94-year old veteran who was very supportive of her campaign.

I’ll have some thoughts on the leadership race and my preferences soon. I got a call from NDP HQ today that voter packages are heading out next week.

Updates from the BC Humanists

I just thought I’d give a quick update of how things are going with the BC Humanists here in Vancouver.

First, we’ve finalized the date and location of our new book club. We’ll be meeting the first Tuesday of each month at Our Town Cafe at Broadway and Kingsway in Vancouver. The discussion starts at 7:00PM and our first book will be Hitch-22 on February 7th. RSVP to the meetup group here.

Next, we have agreed to give two scholarships to students or low-income BCHA members to go to the Northwest Freethought Alliance Conference in Renton, WA featuring Richard Dawkins. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the scholarships or interested in applying, just fill out the form here.

We will also be helping to sponsor the Imagine No Religion 2 Conference in Kamloops. This was a very successful conference last year and this year the speaker’s line up is headed by astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss. If you register for both conferences you can save 15%.

We have also created a tentative schedule for our Spring Series of Sunday morning meetings which includes speakers on Secular Meditation, Canada’s Race History, Darwin Day, and Occupy Vancouver.

Between March 15 and 17, Secular Student Alliance speaker and award-winning journalist Ted Cox will be doing a whirlwind tour of the Lower Mainland, speaking for the UBC Freethinkers, the BC Humanists, and SFU Skeptics (in that order). Details are still being finalized for his tour.

Finally, we’re also going to be advertising aggressively online and streamlining our fundraising so that we can keep this pace up well into the future.

It should be a good start to 2012!