This journey of Humanism will focus solely on the birth and story of the Secular Humanists of Calgary and its transition into the new Alberta Humanist Association.
Where is all began
The story begins with Atheist Republic (AR), which has hundreds of consulates (meetup groups) across the world. AR had a Facebook page for Calgary, Alberta, but didn't have a meetup community. When Jonathan Parks arrived in Calgary in late July of 2019 he was tasked with setting up an official meetup group.
Not all Atheists are Humanists
As we continued on through the fall of that year a local atheist community that was partnered with AR was expressing anti-trans posts on their Facebook page. The comment section of that post was filled with messages from hurt members, some of whom were trans expressing their pain disappointment and shock. The response from the board of this society was confrontational, very insulting, insensitive, and clearly uneducated.
After unresolved communication from the president of this Atheist Society, we decided to discontinue our partnership and part ways with them. This didn't jive well with some of the leadership at this atheist community so they decided to contact Atheist Republic (AR) to demand an apology from our local leadership team. The consulate ambassador from AR contacted us with the expectation that we would do just that. We decided to exercise our ethics and part ways with them too. As a result, Secular Humanists of Calgary was born on Feb 1st of 2020.
We soon realized this was a great decision since we quickly picked up former members of this calgary atheist group who also experienced racism and other forms of hate and bigotry.
It is very important to know that not all Atheists are Humanists.
Birth of the Secular Humanists of Calgary
Over the last couple of decades, Calgary and Alberta itself, has seen many unofficial humanists, atheist, and "secular" focused communities come and go, however, it wasn't until Feb 2020 when Calgary, Alberta got its first official Secular Humanist organization.
As the Secular Humanists of Calgary, we desire to be Calgary and Alberta's voice for the non-religious and the secular. We promote progressive values, secularism, humanism, reason, education, and equality for secularists, humanists, atheists, and freethinkers. We work to end religious privilege and discrimination based on religion and belief.
We stand up for a rational approach to public ethical issues and call for evidence to form the basis of public debate rather than irrational beliefs, bigotry, or religious dogmas. It is our desire to partner with other secular humanists, from all walks of life that share in these values and principles, that uphold equality for all, and the separation of religion and government.
The beginning of March marked the start of our in-person meetups for the new Secular Humanists of Calgary. To kick us off we met for a games night social event at the Hexagon in Kensington Board Game and Cafe. Sadly, however, Covid-19 crippled the planet in a worldwide pandemic. This naturally canceled all in-person meetups.
July 2020 - June 2021
Skeptalks Virtual Pub Launched
It took us some time to find our footing and connect with potential new members, but in July of that year, we launched Skeptalks in the Pub, our once a month virtual pub nite. Our virtual pub nites continued on until June 2021 for summer break and will continue with an in-person event when covid health measures are lifted.
The Need for Provincial Secular Action
Although Alberta has had numerous secular activists, there wasn't a united provincial voice defending the rights of the non-religious. Alberta has always been known as a bible belt of Canada that enjoyed a long and rich history of religious privilege with very few challenging It. The need for such an organization in this province has always been there. In February of 2021, Jonathan reached out to numerous non-religious secular activists across the province in the hopes of establishing a provincial secular organization. A few activists partnered together and work behind the scenes began.
The forming of the Alberta Secular Association and a change in direction for the Secular Humanists of Calgary.
By August the name Alberta Secular Association was chosen and a partnership with B.C Humanists Association was formed to help mentor the provincial organization to its feet. Work on the website www.secularalberta.com began and 3.5 issues were chosen to be our first three secular campaigns. 1. One Public School System for Alberta. 2. Ending Municipal Prayers 3. Provincial Ban on Conversion Therapy and .5 Non-religious Reject UCP's Draft Curriculum. The launch date for this new provincial organization was scheduled for Oct 1st, 2021.
It was intended that the Alberta Secular Association would work as a standalone provincial organization and would reach out to both religious and non-religious Albertans for the purposes of secular education and advocacy. It would also campaign and lobby the government to end religious privilege. It would not function as a voice for the non-religious alone but for all secularists religious or not.
The Secular Humanists of Calgary would transition into the Alberta Humanist Association and would be a united provincial voice for the non-religious. It would function as a partner with the Alberta Secular Association.
Taking an honest look at the whole picture
By the first of September the new website was launched and with that came an invitation and trip to speak at the Albertans for Quality Education rally on the Alberta Legislature grounds.
However after much contemplation and chats with those who were helping behind the scenes a decision was made to merge the Secular Humanists of Calgary with the Alberta Secular Association into one provincial non-religious organization for a few reasons:
1. Time: Both the Secular Humanists of Calgary and the Alberta Secular Association have two small groups of volunteers working behind the scenes with limited time, along with Jonathan the founder and executive director working both organizations nearly full time. This includes being the spokesperson for both organizations, running both organization's media pages, emails and updating both organization's websites. There was a huge demand on time and energy which was getting harder for Jonathan to manage.
2. Cost: Although the Secular Humanists of Calgary is already established with memberships and non-profit status and bank account, the Alberta Secular Association does not, and all expenses were being covered by our founder.
3. Duplication: Many of the activities in one organization were being duplicated in the other since secularism is a huge part of humanism.
The decision to merge the two organizations was an easy one. This merger will prevent burnout, would help us be responsible with time, money and other resources as well as ensuring the non-religious have a strong voice in this province where non currently exists, merging the two organizations is the best possible outcome for all non-religious Albertans and the success of our secular advocacy.
October 2021 - Feb 2022
Birthing the Alberta Humanist Association
From October 2021 - Feb 2022 we will be transitioning into the Alberta Humanist Association (AHA). The AHA will be Albertas voice for the non-religious and will advocate for the separation of religious and state by campaigning for secularism and educating the province.
During this transition the Alberta Secular Association website will no longer exist and the Secular Humanists of Calgary website will redirect visitors to this site.
The Alberta Secular Association facebook page will be closed and the Secular Humanists of Calgary Facebook Page will transition into the Alberta Humanist Association.
We are excited for this transition and we hope that you are too. All Albertans deserve to live in a fair and equal society where there's no room for privileged groups.
Together We Can Make Secularism Normal In The 21st Century