Our Group – Present and Future
We tried something different this month, asking everyone how they saw the Grey Bruce Humanists, and to suggest what might make it even better. There were so many wonderful ideas. We really do have a creative, perceptive, and thoughtful group.
We basically brainstormed, recording everyone’s thoughts and suggestions:
- Open 2021 with an explanation of Humanism. What is Humanism, historically and in the present? (This will take place January 10!) What are the principles of Humanism?
- More on the environment- (The Victoria, BC Humanists have a committee devoted to this issue)
- A more formal organization? Dues, a governing board, formal membership, etc.) very few of us encouraged this idea.
- Liaise with, and incorporate information, from Amnesty International.
- Liaise more closely with our local Indigenous neighbours
- Continue to liaise with Dying with Dignity. Continue to focus on MAiD.
- Participate in the 16 days of activism, mainly aimed at violence against women.
- Link further to Humanist Canada, especially their newsletter
- Do more promotion: a new logo, t-shirts, sweatshirts; consider asking the Sun Times and Rrampt to write an article about our organization.
- Encourage everyone to read Barack Obama’s book The Promised Land
- Another book recommendation- Tanya Talaga’s Seven Truths
- Remain locally focused
- Consider the age of our members- should we be asking younger members to suggest topics that would attract people in their 30’s 40’s, etc.?
- Take a narrower focus in 2021- perhaps with a ‘theme’.
- Focus on topics where religion, and religious groups, have been discriminatory (ex. Dignified Death, Abortion, Gay and Lesbian Rights
- Housing, homelessness, affordability, addictions – these are local realities
- Conduct an on-line attitude survey of the members who wish to remain on our list, but do not typically attend meetings.
- Ask Chris di Carlo, (Critical Thinking) Jesse Wilkinson (Rrampt Magazine) and Joachim Oestertag (Patriarchy) to speak.
- Liaise with other local agencies and services who already offer some of the local needs we may wish to address.
We sincerely hope that some of you will want to consider one or more of these ideas, perhaps come to a Zoom planning committee meeting, (a few meetings a year), or help arrange a great potential speaker.
Thought and Ideas from our Grey/Bruce Humanist participants.
Protective Mothers in Family Court By Esther Gieringer
The Link Between our Climate Crisis and Violence Against Women and Girls By Joachim Ostertag
On the morning of November 8, we had the privilege of viewing and participating in a presentation by Dr. Donna Stewart, on the subject of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)( also referred to as doctor assisted death).The public interest and legal proceedings began in the 1990s with Sue Rodrigues, and later, Kay Carter in 2011. It was valuable to learn that 85% of Canadians are now in favour of MAiD. (If you would like a more detailed synopsis, please let me know.)
MAiD currently requires voluntary informed consent, the capacity to make decisions about MAiD, have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, have intolerable suffering, and a reasonably foreseeable natural death. One must be over 18, eligible for Canadian government health insurance and be aware of all options. There is a mandatory 10 day “reflection period” after approval, however, the 10 days can be shortened by the doctors or nurse practitioners if the person is likely to die or lose capacity before that time, or is likely to become unable to give the required consent at the time of MAiD provision in an institution or at home.
Some doctors had not been in favour of MAiD, however Donna suggested that some are beginning to change their minds. For doctors and nurse practitioners, there is a Conscientious Objection clause which states that they are not required to assess or perform MAiD if they morally object, but must refer the patient to a willing practitioner. The Ontario MAiD Care Coordination Service phone number is 1-866-286-4023 and patients may use this.
Parliament is now debating Bill C-7 which will remove the MAiD requirement for a reasonably foreseeable natural death. In 2021, the concept of mature minors, mental disorder as the sole reason for the request and Advance Directives will be reviewed in Canada. Advance Requests would allow someone who does not currently qualify for MAiD, to indicate, that given specific end of life criteria, she or he would like to have the procedure. (When I cannot speak for myself…..) If we would wish this, we should write in support of this when public comments are requested next year. However, at the present time we should inform in writing our families, doctors and power of attorney person of our preferred end-of-life wishes.
The presentation was followed by an excellent Q and A, full of personal stories of loved ones qualifying, as well as current members. We talked a fair bit about Chapman House, the hospice in Owen Sound, seen by one of our members, as a caring, competent facility that we are lucky to have here.
The problem is that they will not allow MAiD, due to religious objections of board members and some staff. If you agree, as some of us do, that this is unacceptable in a public service, please let me know. Perhaps we can form a committee to approach the board of Chapman House regarding their religious policy.
If you wish to see the letter that was sent, please con
Our group was fortunate to welcome Jason Johnston, teacher of Indigenous culture, to a Grey Bruce Humanist Zoom, on the evening of September 9th.
Jason focused on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), an Indigenous approach to experiencing the world, based on direct involvement with the environment. This knowledge evolved to ensure survival, and involved the best practices of sustainable hunting, fishing and plant agriculture.
TEK is wholistic, meaning it focuses on interconnections, the ‘quality’ of the ecology, not monetary value. Indigenous people recognize that nature is inherently balanced, and seek to keep it that way. They have used ‘storytelling’ to pass the wisdom from generation to generation, over thousands of years.
Western Science is reductionist, breaking down a complex system into its individual parts. Living with, and learning from plants and the natural world over the millennia ensured survival.
Another way of explaining the difference is that the First Nations valued Experiential Learning over Experimental Learning. Unfortunately, the way we currently use our environment is unsustainable. Jason explained that the two systems can work together to create a healthy future for humans and the planet.
Big thanks to Jason for an informative, and important presentation, and for answering our many questions. Miigwuetch Jason.
Grey Bruce Humanist members have access to Jason’s presentation. Please send an email to email@example.com if you don’t have the link or need the link resent to you.
Luck, Chance and the Meaning of Everything
Jeffrey Rosenthal, an award winner Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Toronto, and author of much praised books, Knock on Wood, and Struck by Lightning, will be speaking to us about “Luck, Chance, And the Meaning of Everything”!!
We had such a successful presentation and Q and A on the morning of Sunday, October 18. Thank you, Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, for informing and entertaining us! people like me didn’t realize that statistics could be so fascinating and relevant. During these Covid days, presentations like this are SO welcome.
Jill Umbach of the United Way’s Poverty Task Force.
Canada is at a critical juncture where emergency COVID-19 benefits wind-down or reshaped into an ongoing basic income that enables everyone to be part of a better, new normal. There are a variety of briefs and community voices being presented to the government – most recently to the Senate. Some of the Canadian issues of a Universal Basic Income are:
- We know that we live in a rich country and we can fund programs that are good for the economy and the community.
- We know that Basic Income is not a panacea for people living in poverty. Lives are too complex for a single solution.
- We know that it does not solve the problem of affordable housing, quality accessible childcare or gender inequality in the workplace.
- We know that a Basic Income+ would be a supplement to other programs that serve to meet basic needs.
- We know that it will not address sexism, racism etc. across our society but that it will move us toward more equity and equality.
- We know that 56% of women in Canada work in 5Cs jobs: caring, clerical, catering, cashiering and cleaning.
- We know that women are 2 times more likely to lose their job or have their hours reduced under COVID19.
- We know that many women are now working triple shifts – homeschooling children, unpaid house work and paid at home work.
- We know that Basic Income+ needs to be a liveable income and be tied with the cost of living.
- We know that Basic Income+ could enable women’s economic independence, offer greater choices, more flexibility, childcare affordability, more bargaining power in employment and access to better housing & neighbourhoods, improved health and wellbeing. (Evelyn Forget, 18 June 2020 – Tamarack webinar: Basic Income & Gender Inequality)
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has given some people a taste of what they could gain if a universal basic income program were implemented. CERB was designed to keep people at home. As we reopen our community and country, we need to design a system that will increase people’s ability to fully participate in our society.
Explore reading on Basic Income in Canada:
- Introductory Reading on Basic Income
- Ontario Basic Income Network: Take Action
- Basic Income Canada Network: Local Networks
- Basic Income – Some Policy Options For Canada
- Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience Report
Explore reading on Basic Income and Women:
- What Could the Basic Income Guarantee do for Women’s Rights?
- Oxfam’s Survey on Women and Increased Unpaid Care Work
- A Feminist Approach to Ending Poverty After COVID-19
- Basic Income and Gender Equality by Sheila Regehr
- Access to a Basic Income: Exploring a Matricentric Feminist Approach to Poverty Alleviation for Mothers in Ontario
Our first discussion group on Zoom occurred on the evening of Tuesday, June 23. Our topic was racism, in particular racism aimed at our Indigenous people. Our guest was Trish Nadjiwon Meekins, counsellor at the Nikaanaganaa Counselling and Learning Centre in Owen Sound.
Trish talked about the realities of the residential schools. The RCMP at that time helped to keep the children from their parents. The Indian Act of 1876 made it illegal to practice their ceremonies. Their sacred artifacts were placed in museums, but most have now been repatriated. The goal was assimilation, a blending of First Nations people with the predominant White culture.
Originally the Indigenous community lived in what is now Brooke, and got along well with the Owen Sound community. The Saugeen and Neyaashiinigmiing from Cape Crocker were formerly one nation.
Systemic racism was ever-present. Consider something like not calling the Chiefs by their titles- They are not Tecumseh, Nawash and Pontiac. They were Chief Brant, Chief Tecumseh Chief Nawash and Chief Pontiac. There were horrific events like “Starlight Tours” where men were taken outside the city in winter by the police, and left in the freezing cold without shoes or coats. Many died from the cold as you would imagine. Some made it back. What about the recent murders of Indigenous people and the disappearances of women and girls? What can be done about all of this racism and cruelty?
Some suggestions for what can be done!!!
- A meeting with the Chief of Police regarding these issues.
- Cross cultural training for the police forces, taught by an Indigenous person.
- White people can be an ally.
- Meetups between police and members of the Indigenous community.
- Governments addressing the poverty and poor conditions on some reserves.
Actions designed to raise the standard of living.
Education: teaching young people the truths in this history. Addressing racism with age-appropriate children. [5 and up?]
Books for children which could be read at home and in schools.
Patronize Ningwakwe Books, a publisher of First Nations literature.
Books by Thomas King
So much was discussed and learned at this session. We emerged with the importance of being allies and the hope of finding ways to WORK TOGETHER.
A huge thank you to Trish for leading this discussion, a great start in working together. If you want more information about Trish, her Learning Centre and her other services, you can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or her website at https://trishmeekins.com/.
Owen Sound area