Tag Archives: books

Event: Webinar Book Series: Unveiled by Yasmine Mohammed

Sunday May 17, 2020 – 3 pm EST

Register for the Event

Unveiled

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With Yasmine Mohammed

Canadian human rights activist, Yasmine Mohammed, advocates for the rights of women living within Islamic majority countries, as well as those who struggle under religious fundamentalism.

Her book, Unveiled, is a memoir/polemic that recalls her experiences growing up in a fundamentalist Islamic household and her arranged marriage to a member of Al-Qaeda. In it, she sheds light on the religious trauma that so many women still today are unable to discuss.

Yasmine Mohammed is an activist, writer, college instructor and the founder of Free Hearts Free Minds, an organization that provides psychological support for freethinkers living within Muslim majority countries, where the State-sanctioned punishment for leaving Islam is death.

To learn more about Free Hearts Free Minds visit www.freeheartsfreeminds.com.

References and Resources

  1. https://centerforinquiry.org/speakers/mohammed_yasmine/

Book Review: There is No Difference by Peter Best

According to the back cover of his book and his website, Peter Best is “a lawyer who has practiced law in Sudbury, Ontario for 43 years. Raised in nearby Espanola, favored with lifelong personal and professional relationships with indigenous Canadians, he brings a personal, literary and historical perspective to the greatest social crisis experienced by Canada today- the perilous state of its original peoples.”

What is the book? The long-form version of the title probably acts as the best summary of its contents: There Is No Difference: An Argument for the Abolition of the Indian Reserve System and Special Race-based Laws and Entitlements for Canada’s Indians. In a regular book review, we might investigate the overt arguments and contents of the book. Certainly the title contains enough potential for drama and controversy to whet almost any intellectual appetite. But that’s not what we’re going to do here. What we’re going to do, instead is feature, an underlying theme presented by Mr. Best.

On page three, he writes that when he was growing up in Espanola, “there was a sense that old religious and ethnic prejudices were hollowing out and being overcome, and that increasing social unity and equality was happening.” It is the first of many hints (and outright declarations) of an underlying theme of humanism to be found in the book. This is what we will consider.

How many books are currently published with an overt declaration of humanism or humanist values? More specifically, how many books are written about contemporary issues wherein humanist-based positions are asserted, explained, referenced and documented? These aren’t questions with precise answers. These are startled observations of an avid reader. I haven’t seen humanism asserted and affirmed so clearly and frequently in a long time. Water for the thirsty.

On page seven, Best writes…”the humanist assumptions were ones that emanated from the confident, busy, properous people we were then. They seemed to be shared by everyone, right to the political and economic top of the country. They highlighted what a civilized, progressive, ‘ideals in action’ society Canada was becoming.

The book is written as a series of essays which, across 700+ pages, delves the matter outlined in the title in pains-taking detail. Frequently Best grapples head-on with various ideologies and asserts arguments and positions contrary to those from Canadian intellectual and political “elites” (Best’s term). The book is thoroughly referenced and widely sourced. The overall theme is that “somewhere along the way, liberal, humanist aspirations once common to our entire country have ceded to various forms of petty and chauvinistic ideological tribalisms and, with respect to our Indian peoples, to actual racial tribalism.”

And then again, Best asserts that he believes “that the vast majority of Canadians profoundly disagree with this trend towards further legal and social racial apartness between Indian and non-Indian Canadians. They want our humanist values – with their emphasis on equality and the rights of the individual over the rights of any racial group – respected, maintained and promulgated in all areas of society….why this rejection of 200 years of enlightenment thinking?

The point to be made is not that all of Best’s arguments represent a clear, consistent and authoritative humanist approach to the topic. It seems highly unlikely, not to mention undesirable, that a singular humanist outlook should be asserted on any substantive matter. Nor should this article be read as an endorsement of every argument Best makes. Instead, Best is here approved on the basis of making an attempt to present a considered humanist-principled perspective on a hot and fraught topic.

Best makes an argument about his chosen subject that may be stated about any number of contemporary issues: “this issue is being driven and dictated by…a minority elitist theory of democracy, where on an issue of this importance the majority is being asked for and being offered no say.

Peter Best has asserted his version of a humanist-informed opinion. More humanists need to step forward to assert similarly cogent humanist perspectives on whatever contemporary issue seems to require the attention.

Freddy Redfin: The Story of Huntley Creek

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Carp, Ontario is a village in the Township of Huntley lying in the western-most ward of Ottawa. As of 2012, the human population was estimated to be approximately 2000. The village sits on the edge of a geological fault running through the Carp River Valley know as the Carp Escarpment or Carp Ridge. Carp has been an Eastern Ontario centre for agricultural activities since the 1800s, perhaps best featured in contemporary events as the annual Carp Agricultural Fair. Close by the Diefenbunker, another well known local museum attraction, huddles underground – a persistent reminder of postwar fears of nuclear war. It is a bunker the politicians had planned to retreat to in the event of a devastating nuclear attack.

A group of Carp residents are concerned about a different kind of devastation – a devastation that is entirely local and entirely preventable. They are appealing the city’s decision to allow a Concrete Batching Plant at 2596 Carp Road. The group objects to the rezoning because they believe that the city has ignored a number of municipal and provincial planning regulations as well as the welfare of its citizens. The group’s main concerns regarding the placement of a concrete batching plant at this location are: significant increases in heavy truck traffic; significant air pollution and increase in hazardous airborne substances; contamination of groundwater; contamination of Huntley Creek and degradation of the surrounding area; detrimental impacts to homeowners who live adjacent to this site; detrimental impacts to the heritage cemetery that sits directly across the street and has done so for 160 years (well actually, long before there even was a street to be named).

Freddie Redfin the Story of Huntley Creek” is the result of a few of the local residents in Carp to take responsibility to try to prevent the devastation of a precious local eco-system. It is a children’s book written by local Carp, Ontario resident and author Dan Mayo and illustrated by local artist Jana Rothwell to highlight this struggle.

In Huntley Creek, every spring, a spectacle of nature is seen as hundreds of redfins migrate back to their spawning ground. This creek has born witness to the redfins annual migratory spawning for millennia, long before Canada existed! The carcinogenic dust from the plant will settle into these clean waters and contaminate it with heavy metals and silica. This pollution will necessarily flow downstream and poison the redfins, their offspring and an enormous diversity of wildlife, including many threatened and endangered species that live in or rely on the creek and spring waters.

These waters are the spawning grounds for the River Redhorse, known locally as redfins due to their red-colored fins. The redfins come to Huntley Creek because of Bradley Falls, a large spring-fed waterfall that cascades into the creek creating a pool of clean, cool oxygenated water and riffle rapids. These specific conditions are essential for the redfins’ to spawn!

The redfins are a heritage fish in Carp, Ontario and have lived in Huntley Creek long before Canada or the City of Ottawa existed as legal entities. In fact, the Town of Carp owes its name to the redfin fish. When early French settlers first discovered the river that was to be named the Carp River, they marveled at the thousands upon thousands of redhorses and related suckers to be seen during their annual migration. These fish were called “carpes à cochon” by the French, though the fish they were witnessing weren’t carp at all, but redfins. In the end the name stuck, and the town of Carp was named for the river it was built next to. None of this would have happened without Huntley Creek, however, because this creek is the only reason these fish make the migration up the Carp River.

Canadian governments and officials, at all levels, ought to respond to the demands and concerns of local residents who know and love their communities and Eco-systems. Placement of a polluting industry next to a pristine creek and natural springs will result in devastation of that local system. The City of Ottawa’s decision to allow heavy industry has failed to respect and act on the wealth of local knowledge and heritage. The local residents – whether counted as 2000 humans or the far greater number of non-human residents – will be the ones whose habitat is devastated. Perhaps, like with the building of the Diefenbunker, the politicians think the best way to contemplate devastation is to hide from it.

To help protect Huntley Creek, consider a donation:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-carp039s-water-supply-save-huntley-creek