On April 12, 2018, a group of determined and passionate people gathered on the steps of Canada’s Parliament Hill to protest one of Canada’s most persistent and consistently defended forms of systemic faithism – the public funding of religious schools and school boards in Canada. The speakers represented a coalition of individuals and organizations under the umbrella name International Campaign for One Secular School System For All.
It is a fitting tribute to Canada’s respect for the freedom of expression that a gathering of people opposed to a facet of Canadian society and governance was allowed to occur on the steps of Canada’s Parliament – after all, parliament is a term indicating civilized discussion of how a society will manage itself.
This website began coverage of systemic faithism as one area of public discourse which will often rapidly incur tactics of silencing by formal and informal groups. Even our modest articles, produced as they are outside of mainstream journalism, have received resentful, name-calling comments.
The rally was covered in that mainstream media by The Toronto Star’s Education Reporter, Andrea Gordon. Gordon notes that a variety of factors are galvanizing opposition to separate schools in Ontario.
Following is a list of speakers from the rally.
MC: Sheila Ayala
President of Secular Ontario
Homa is a political/social activist in Canada and runs the:
- International Campaign against Sharia Court in Canada which was instrumental in amending the Arbitration Act of 1981 in 2005 and reformed Family Law.
- The International Campaign to close down Iranian Embassies.
- The Campaigns to stop polygamy, honor killings and forced marriages,
- The International Campaign for One Secular School System for all
- Homa is also the Spokesperson of Women’s liberation in Canada
- She is the coordinator of the Cultural Bridges Association
- In the Year of 2005 Homa received the annual Toronto Humanist of the Year award,
- And in 2006 she received the Humanist of The Year Award from the Humanist Association of Canada
- Homa has also been recognized as woman of the year by Gazette Des Femmes in the year 2005.
- In 2010 Centre for Inquiry Canada named an award in her name: “Homa Arjomand Award for Secular Advocacy”.
Peter Moller is a retired professional engineer. A long-time humanist, he is now a director of the Ontario Humanist Society. Peter is a licensed officiant with the Society.
Michel Virard is a retired professional engineer. Together with like-minded parents, he helped set up a new type of kindergarten which is still in operation 38 years later. For most of the nineties, Michel was a director with the Quebec Skeptics. In 2005, he co-founded the Association humaniste du Québec (AHQ), which is devoted to spreading critical thinking. In 2014, he joined the Board of Humanist Canada (HC).
Simon Parcher Canadian Humanist Publications
Simon Parcher is a Past President of the Humanist Association of Ottawa and Humanist Canada. He is currently President of Canadian Humanist Publications, publisher of Humanist Perspectives Magazine.
Soheila is a women’s right and political activist in the following campaigns:
- An advocator for the International Campaign against Sharia Court in Canada,
- A lead person in campaign against stoning-Canada,
- Spokesperson for campaign to stop executions in Iran and the campaign to Free political prisoners in Iran( Canada branch)
Dr Richard Thain
So firmly believes that publicly funded separate schooling is a human rights concern, that he recently sponsored a two-week bill board campaign in Toronto, supporting Reva Laundau’s group, OPEN “One Public Education Now” The purpose of his ads was to garner support for OPEN’s constitutional challenge – The plaintiffs are in place — a teacher and a parent — who have been discriminated against on the basis of religion. Politicians can ignore letters and phone calls from constituents and try to hide from this issue, but it is more difficult to ignore a lawsuit.
Interestingly, this was Dr Thain’s second ad campaign. In 2014, he wished to publicize his opposition to public funding of religious schools via ads timed to coincide with the opening of The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. The ads for the Winnipeg Transit buses were denied at the last moment, being told, “We consider this matter closed.” Well, Richard does not consider this matter closed! He has retained the Winnipeg law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP to represent him in his Charter challenge against City of Winnipeg/Winnipeg Transit/Pattison Outdoor Advertising for denying his fundamental freedom of expression. Stay tuned!
J.P. Westlund is a business analyst and former stonemason who has been volunteering at the Humanist Association of Ottawa for five years. He currently serves as the group’s president.
Andrew is a lawyer in Ottawa and the Attorney General Critic for the Green Party of Ontario. Andrew attended law school after graduating with honours from the Politics and Governance program at Ryerson University. He started working at a young age for his family-owned construction business. Andrew then spent over 10 years in the television industry where he worked mostly as a sole proprietor/ independent contractor.