Tag Archives: human rights

Events: Separation of Church and State In Education

In our January 2021 Call for Submissions, we asked for articles in consideration of “Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021“. In Canada, two leading humanist organizations, Humanist Canada and Ontario Humanist Society appear to have left the gates with clear demonstrations that the separation of church and state in the publicly-funded education system is among their top priorities. Each has upcoming events focused on this ongoing issue.

HumanistFreedoms.ca was founded in support of one Ontario citizen’s attempts to protect his human rights while trying to oppose Ontario’s existing system of public funding of Catholic school systems. Read more about Dr. Richard Thain’s legal battle in our featured article.


A One School System In Ontario

With Alvin Tedjo and Leonard Baak

February 21, 2021 3:00 pm EST Register Today

Humanist Canada

The Ontario government currently funds four overlapping school systems: English public, English Catholic, French public, and French Catholic. In Quebec, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Labrador, religiously segregated school systems have been eliminated. Ontario is now the only province that funds the religious schools of the Catholic faith exclusively.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation have urged the Ontario government to end funding of the province’s Catholic schools and move toward one secular school system for each official language.

Join us for a conversation about the one school system initiative:

How did the Ontario school system come to be the way it is? What are the social, financial, environmental, and educational consequences of the current organization of our school system? How would the transition to a single school system be implemented? How would it impact teachers and parents? What are the financial benefits of merging the public and catholic school boards across Ontario? What is the current political situation with respect to moving towards a single secular school system for each official language?

Alvin Tedjo

Alvin Tedjo was a leadership candidate in the 2020 Ontario Liberal Party election to replace Kathleen Wynne. He was the first-ever Liberal candidate to propose merging the public and catholic school boards across Ontario in order to improve the quality of education for all students, regardless of their religion. Alvin’s proposal was supported by two public polls during the leadership election that saw a majority of Ontarians agree with him. He also proposed introducing a basic income and expanding child care.

Alvin has previously served as Vice President of the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare. He is the founder of Canadians for Paternity Leave, a coalition that successfully pressured the federal government to increase paternity leave for Canadians. Alan was Director of Government Relations at Sheridan College and Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. He currently works as a senior manager at Ryerson University.

Alvin is the father of three young children. He lives in Mississauga with his wife Rebecca, a registered nurse.

Leonard Baak

Leonard Baak is President of One School System.

Leonard was born and raised in Nova Scotia. In 1986, he moved to Ontario to attend university and has worked as a software developer in Ottawa since 1991.

Appalled at what he saw as “the discrimination and waste in our school system”, Leonard and two other equally dissatisfied parents, incorporated OneSchoolSystem.org in 2004 to lobby for change.

Leonard is a married father of two university-aged kids.

Register Today : OntarioSchool SystemWebinar



Separation of Religion and State

Support of a Single Public School System

The mission of the Ontario Humanist Society (OHS) is to practise and to foster humanism at the Provincial level by providing focus, service and a sense of ethical identity to humanists and humanist associations across Ontario in a manner consistent with humanist principles, practice and core values as stated in the Humanist Manifestos, Amsterdam Declaration and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ontario Humanist Society presents the first virtual speaker program in their showcase of 2021 events.

Via: ZOOM Meeting

Date: Tuesday February 23, 2021

Time: 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

The Ontario provincial government is currently the only province funding religious schools of the Catholic faith exclusively. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation have urged the government to move toward one secular school system for each official language. This discussion will include a short history, major issues, current state, and how we can better serve our children and society as a whole.

Our moderator and speaker, Zain Ghadially, is a passionate Ontario public school educator who focuses a lot of his own time on discussion, debate, and ethics.

Join in on the conversation…

Register to Attend

References and Resources

  1. https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYrfuqtrjgrEtKeHipLbEVMnL8T8cR6QWSh
  2. https://www.ontariohumanists.ca/
  3. https://www.humanistcanada.ca/webinar-series-2021-a-one-school-system-in-ontario/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

UNODC 2020 Report on Trafficking in Persons

In our January 2021 Call for Submissions, we asked for your submissions on topics relating to humanism, including a request for articles on the theme of Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021. As a website devoted to providing information about the fundamental links between humanism and human rights & freedoms, we cannot ignore the worst deprivations of human dignity during our aspirations for the highest of human freedoms.

On February 2, 2021 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released the fifth edition of its Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. The report covers 148 countries and provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at global, regional and national levels, based primarily on trafficking cases detected between 2016 and 2019. As UNODC has been systematically collecting data on trafficking in persons for more than a decade, trend information is presented for a broad range of indicators.

Divided into six sections (Global Overview, Socio-Economic Factors and Risks of the COVID-19 Recession, Children – Easy to Target, Trafficking for Forced Labour, Traffickers use of Internet and Regional Overview) and pushing 200-pages, the report provides a sobering perspective on one of humanity’s oldest and most odious problems.

Traffickers see their victims as commodities without regard for human dignity and rights. They sell fellow human beings for a price that can range from tens of US dollars to tens of thousands, with large criminal organizations making the highest incomes.

The report is produced every two years. The 2020 edition covers data from the world’s largest database on trafficking victims, compiling figures from official sources across 148 countries. It also analyses 489 court cases from 71 different countries, providing qualitative information on the perpetrators and the characteristics of the crimes.

The article below the infographic is a related press release that had been embargoed until February 3, 2021.


Share of children among trafficking victims increases, boys five times; COVID-19 seen worsening overall trend in human trafficking, says UNODC Report

Vienna 2 February 2021 – The number of children among detected trafficking victims has tripled in the past 15 years, while the share of boys has increased five times. Girls are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation, while boys are used for forced labour, according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today.

In 2018 about 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries. However, given the hidden nature of this crime, the actual number of victims trafficked is far higher. The Report shows traffickers particularly target the most vulnerable, such as migrants and people without jobs. The COVID-19-induced recession is likely to expose more people to the risk of trafficking.

“Millions of women, children and men worldwide are out of work, out of school and without social support in the continuing COVID-19 crisis, leaving them at greater risk of human trafficking. We need targeted action to stop criminal traffickers from taking advantage of the pandemic to exploit the vulnerable,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada.

“The UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020, coupled with the technical assistance UNODC provides through its global programmes and field network, aims to inform governments’ anti-trafficking responses, end impunity, and support victims as part of integrated efforts to build forward from the pandemic.”

Profile of the Victims

Female victims continue to be the primary targets for trafficking in persons. For every 10 victims detected globally in 2018, about five were adult women and two were young girls. Around 20 per cent of human trafficking victims were adult men and 15 per cent were young boys.

Over the last 15 years, the number of detected victims has increased, while their profile has changed. The share of adult women among the detected victims fell from more than 70 per cent to less than 50 per cent in 2018, while the share of children detected has increased, from around 10 per cent to over 30 per cent. In the same period, the share of adult men has nearly doubled, from around 10 per cent to 20 per cent in 2018.

Overall, 50 per cent of detected victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, 38 per cent were exploited for forced labour, six per cent were subjected to forced criminal activity, while one per cent were coerced into begging and smaller numbers into forced marriages, organ removal, and other purposes.

Victims’ profiles differ according to the form of exploitation. In 2018, most women and girls detected were trafficked for sexual exploitation, whereas men and boys were mainly trafficked for forced labour.

The share of detected victims trafficked for forced labour has steadily increased for more than a decade. Victims are exploited across a wide range of economic sectors, particularly in those where work is undertaken in isolated circumstances including agriculture, construction, fishing, mining, and domestic work.

Profile of the Offenders

Globally, most persons prosecuted and convicted of trafficking in persons continue to be male, with around 64 and 62 per cent respectively. Offenders can be members of organized crime groups, which traffic the great majority of victims, to individuals operating on their own or in small groups on an opportunistic basis.

Traffickers see their victims as commodities without regard for human dignity and rights. They sell fellow human beings for a price that can range from tens of US dollars to tens of thousands, with large criminal organizations making the highest incomes.

Traffickers have integrated technology into their business model at every stage of the process, from recruiting to exploiting victims. Many children are approached by traffickers on social media and they are an easy target in their search for acceptance, attention, or friendship. UNODC has identified two types of strategies: “hunting” involving a trafficker actively pursuing a victim, typically on social media; and “fishing”, when perpetrators post job advertisements and wait for potential victims to respond. The internet allows traffickers to live stream the exploitation of their victims, which enables the simultaneous abuse of one victim by many consumers around the globe.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/tip/2021/GLOTiP_2020_15jan_web.pdf

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Profile: Andrew West

According to his website, Andrew West is a lawyer in the Ottawa area with specialization in Environmental Law and dispute resolution. He’s also the Green Party of Ontario’s Attorney General Critic. Currently, West has his sights set on leading the Green Party of Canada.

Following a career in the television industry working mostly as a sole proprietor/independent contractor, West attended Ryerson University (B.A. (Hons) in Politics and Governance) and University of Ottawa (Faculty of Law). West has volunteered for several NGO’s including a committee chair role for Amnesty International’s annual fundraiser, “Taste for Justice” – raising money to help stop violence against women.

West has run for office as a Green Party candidate in four election since 2014, most recently in a provincial by-election in Orleans (February 2020). When asked during a candidate debate whether education should be considered an essential service, West stated

“I think education is the most important thing we can do in this province.rather than making cuts and slashing…proper investment back in to the most important resource we have, our children.” The format of the debate did not provide adequate time for West to immediately elaborate on how investing back into children’s education might be achieved. Later, however, he stated that helping to create appropriate funding would be “to merge the public and Catholic school boards.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education is one of the province’s biggest Ministries. This massive ministry happens to house one of Canada’s greatest human rights embarrassments, the ongoing privileging of the Catholic religion via public-funding of Catholic school boards.

There are many individuals and organizations in Ontario who oppose the ongoing public privileging of the Catholic religion. Andrew West appears to be one of the few politicians willing to talk about ways and reasons to bring the Ministry of Education’s spending into line with principles of equal human rights.

Candidates for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada must raise $10,000.00 as part of their leadership campaign by the first week of June.  While it appears that the Party has a system to track credit for generating donations, the money does not go to an individual candidate, but to the Party. As of May 28, 2020 West does not yet appear to have reached the mile-marking of having his portrait appear as a candidate. Whether he progresses or not, advances in human rights will rely upon politicians like Andrew West who develop and communicate policy that is consistent with a common and shared humanity.

At www.humanistfreedoms.com we do not endorse any specific political party nor any candidate. However, from time to time, political parties and/or individual politicians take positions on issues that deserve to be recognized and analyzed. We are particularly interested in issues related to defending human rights and our common humanity. If think that a position taken by an individual politician or a political party deserves to be covered – contact us.

Event: Webinar Book Series: Unveiled by Yasmine Mohammed

Sunday May 17, 2020 – 3 pm EST

Register for the Event

Unveiled

book cover_edited.png

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/

Virtual Book Launch: The Abortion Caravan

Join humanists across Canada as we come together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Caravan. This one hour conversation with author Karin Wells is the first in a serices of events honouring the incredible legacy of the 1970 Abortion Caravan. Representatives from Canada’s national sexual and reproductive health organizations, including Action Canada, the National Abortion Federation, and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, will also join us to share their work. 

As we reflect on the legacy of the Caravan in 2020, some of the original caravaners will join us to discuss the anniversary theme of “Then and Now.” What issues would a 2020 Abortion Caravan work to tackle? How has access to sexual and reproductive health services changed in the last 50 years? Where do we go from here? This hour long conversation and launch of Karin Wells’ new book The Abortion Caravan: When Women Shut Down the Government in the Battle for the Right to Choose is open to all. 

When May 4th, 2020 7:00 PM   through   8:00 PM

Thanks for joining us for  A Virtual Conversation with Karin Wells on the Abortion Caravan.

The video and other resources are now available for viewing and download. We ran out of time for questions, but answers to the Q&A are on the event page. 

Don’t forget to get the book! It can be bought from your local bookstore – ask them to order it  – or directly from Second Story Press.  We’ll be adding more content to the campaign page. Sign up for our newsletter to keep in touch.

Further Reading

  1. Prasad, Sandeep and Doctoroff, Jill. Canada is Still Falling Short on Abortion Rights. Toronto Star, Tuesday May 12, 2020.
  2. https://www.actioncanadashr.org/resources/reports-analysis/2020-05-12-1970-abortion-caravan-celebrating-50-years

Featured image courtesy of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights