A couple of great events are coming up this month...
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June 2023 Newsletter

                           Paris, Ontario Children's Library PRIDE June 2023

Member Profile 
Ruth Henrich

It all started with marriage. The journey to Humanist Canada for Ruth Henrich began with a visit to the  South Bruce Peninsula municipal offices inquiring about serving the community with a non-religious alternative for a marriage ceremony by appointing marriage commissions. After advocating locally for a year and a half, the municipality decided marriage commissioners were a good idea. They called to inform them that training would occur on a day in the next few weeks. Troubled that there was no vetting or application process, Ruth felt that people with religious right leanings and zealots would apply, and that is what happened. Out of principle, Ruth decided that the process lacked integrity without a vetting process and declined to become a marriage commissioner. 

During that year and a half, Ruth discovered the Grey-Bruce Humanists. She met Terri Hope, a member of the Ontario Humanist Society (OHS) and Humanist Canada. Terri mentored Ruth during her waiting period to take the Officiant training and after OHS appointed her.

While being a member of OHS, Ruth also joined Humanist Canada. 2014 she applied to the officiant program and completed the training in 2015. Ruth joined the Ceremonies Committee in 2016, was invited to become a member of the Board of Directors in 2017, and became the Executive Director of Humanist Canada in 2021 to help transition to a governance Board.

During her time with Humanist Canada, many changes have occurred. There has been considerable growth in the amount and quality of offerings to the membership; webinars, courses, newsletter, and the addition of the Chaplaincy Program. HC hired staff to manage aspects, and volunteers brought their expertise and commitment to improve and change the course of the organization.

Of course, Ruth’s most significant influence has been the improvements to the Officiant Program. When Ruth took her officiant training, it was conducted over a weekend (Saturday and half of Sunday), and she received three pieces of paper. She desired a curriculum that taught what it meant to be an officiant. The changes to the officiant program have been years in the making, with several iterations, each building on the successes gained. In 2020, a team of officiants and our program director revamped the entire training program. We now have a fulsome officiant training program that trains our officiants as ambassadors of Humanist Canada. The Officiant Program is a comprehensive six weeks of training emphasizing the quality, consistency, and representation of officiants with Humanist values. Ruth is incredibly proud of her part in the officiant program.

“Humanist Canada is Canada’s best-kept secret.”

Ruth feels this organization has done a fabulous job with the limited budget available. Technology has enabled Humanist Canada to expand and connect with members and other organizations so we can dovetail our initiatives and the joining of voices to work together to accomplish things in the public realm.

Ruth envisions Humanist Canada playing a more prominent role throughout our nation:

  • To make connections so Humanists can find Humanists at the local level through community building
  • To foster the separation of church and state, and collaborate with other groups to achieve these goals
  • To lobby for changes in legislation where religious language and fervour exist and secularize our laws
  • To accept Humanist Canada in all provinces and territories so we may appoint officiants across Canada.

Humanist Canada has a significant role in Canadian society, but we need more people and money.

Even though she has stepped down from her Executive Director role, she will still be actively involved in volunteering with the Officiant training program for a few years and the Morgentaler Committee, where huge strides can be made for women's reproductive health in Canada. 

Ruth is thrilled that Bettianne Hedges has joined Humanist Canada as the next Executive Director. Bettianne is indeed the person the organization needs to take it to the next level and beyond, and she is leaving it in good hands.  As Interviewed by Jill Fletcher-Douglas. 

Update:  On June 4, 2023, Ruth Henrich was awarded the first Humanist Canada Medal of Merit.

From Bettianne...  It is not often that one gets the opportunity to spend their day working on tasks that directly further their own values. I am very fortunate. I am grateful to have Ruth Henrich as a guide as I begin to find my way in this role - not just in administrative details but in gaining a deeper understanding of the needs of our members and the Humanist community. I look forward to speaking to all of you and please do not hesitate to reach out.    Bettianne Hedges, Executive Director

National Indigenous History Month

in Canada and welcomes this opportunity to learn about the unique cultures, traditions, and experiences of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. We honour the stories, achievements, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, who have lived on this land since time immemorial and whose presence continues to impact the evolving Canada.


BAHACON 2023 Premier Conference, Atheism, Humanism, Skeptic & Freethinking

With a lineup of 12 well-known speakers, this is an event you won’t want to miss. In addition, Sarnia/Point Edward, being located where Lake Huron meets the St. Clair River, is known for clear blue waters, beautiful sandy beaches, and countless attractions. Only steps away from our beautiful conference venue, you will find the picturesque Blue Water Bridges, our local casino, sandy beaches, and a number of restaurants and boutique stores. We encourage you to take advantage of the exceptional rate for an extended stay at our host hotel.

Join Humanist Canada's President Martin Frith and Executive Director, Bettianne Hedges for BAHACON.


What to do about LGBTQ+ Rights?

Essay submission from Humanist Canada member and volunteer, Laurie Pfaff 

Write an article for the newsletter, they say. June is Pride month, so write about LGBTQ+ and Humanists. Well, I know what LGBTQ+ stands for and I am a newly minted member of Humanist Canada, so I confidently think;- that task should be easy. But I find now that I am feeling UN-easy and I think you should be concerned too.

From the outset, I will state that LGBTQ+ in this article refers to people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer, as well as Questioning, 2 Spirit, Intersexual, Pansexual, and Asexual. It is hard to keep up with the initialisms as our understanding of sexual identity and gender expression becomes more inclusive. But, as a humanist, I would say, this is okay.  

Although I think I have been a lifelong humanist, I am a new member and I wanted to see exactly what Humanist Canada would officially say about supporting LGBTQ+ people and their rights.  In the values section of our website, it states “Human dignity must be afforded to persons of every ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, physical capability, or belief.” and that “We are also accountable for our actions and have a duty to the well-being of others.” So, it appears to be clear that not only must we personally, treat LGBTQ+ people with respect but we should also support their rights in society at large.  If we have a duty to their well-being, we must ensure that laws to protect their rights are enacted and maintained.  Now we are getting close to the part that makes me UN-easy.

Part of our mission statement is “To promote and protect the separation of religion from public policy”.  From the time that I could think about such things, I thought that one of Canada’s founding principles was the separation of church and state. I remember my parents instructing me about the importance of this principle. Well, it seems that I was incorrect.  Do you know that the very first line of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution Act of 1982 is “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:”?  I didn’t know that until I heard a pastor use that line to support his denial of laws that protect LGBTQ+ rights!

On Facebook, I see discussions, sometimes heated, about people marching in Pride parades flagrantly displaying their “agenda”. On the radio, I hear about Catholic Schools that refuse to fly pride flags in June. In local papers, I read about religious groups who want to take over school boards and ban books like My Two Dads that promote acceptance of different family make-ups. On the TV sports news, I see that a professional baseball pitcher is sharing anti-LGBTQ+ posts on social media. However, I always thought that, yes, people have different opinions and they complain when their biases aren’t supported. Still, the law always comes down on the side of protecting the human rights of people who identify as LGBTQ+.  Here is the UN-easy part;-  I can no longer be complacent that the law will always do this.  Some people, particularly on the religious right, want to change our laws.  They are a small minority for now but they are organizing to try and get as many like-minded people as possible elected into all levels of government and even if not elected, they are changing discussion points and likely contributing to the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment shared in social media and reported in mainstream media.

I suggest that you read the Niagara 2020 Declaration. Listen to the CBC radio Helluva Story - Churches at War, in which journalist Jonathan Montpetit discovered the plan to have Canada’s rights for LGBTQ+ rolled back.  Learn what the term reconstructionist Christianity means.  We are good people who live in a good country but we can’t sit back and expect it to stay that way.  We have to get actively involved, speak up, and accept our duty to help maintain the rights and well-being of minorities such as LBGTQ+.


Sunday June 28, 2023 3 PM PT & 6:00 PM ET-  The Rise of Humanist Chaplains is a live panel discussion featuring Humanist Canada Chaplains Marie-Claire Khadij and Sirshti Hukku. The event is co-sponsored by Humanist Canada and is free but registration is required. Donations are welcome and go directly to support this event.


Every Wednesday

       6 - 7 pm EST


Members Connect. If you are a Humanist Canada member, join us to connect with fellow humanists, catch up on the latest news, share your concerns and accomplishments, or tell us what’s on your mind. If you are a new member, stop by to say hello, learn more about our work, and make new friends!

Our weekly gatherings occur every Wednesday, 6.00 – 7.00 pm EST, on Zoom.

* This event is for current Humanist Canada members. Log into your account to register. If you are not currently a member please click here.


Do you know of any Humanist-themed books, films, or songs that we should add to our virtual library?  Please let us know. 


Humanist International's World Humanist Congress 2023: Building better democracies through humanist values.

The Conference will take place in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark on Friday August 4 to Sunday 6 2023. It's an opportunity to strengthen international humanist collaboration after almost a decade since the last gathering of a large international humanist congress.

Registration is now open. Click here


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