Removing Christian prayers from SK public schools

Christianity, the predominant religion in Canada, is undoubtedly woven into the fabric of Canadian society. The presence of religion is not limited to places of worship; it can be found in many
schools, social services, charitable organizations, and even our government. We observe religious holidays throughout the year and many family traditions and celebrations are rooted in religion.
Religion is part of our social environment and generally goes without notice in day-to- day life. This acceptance makes it difficult for individuals to notice and object to practices of religious worship that
infringe on human rights in Canada. It is especially difficult to object to religious practices with long-standing traditions. The omnipresence of religion and acceptance of religious tradition makes effecting positive change seem like an insurmountable challenge. With perseverance, respectful discussion, and thoughtful action, it can be possible to bring about change that upholds the rights of all. One woman’s effort to replace a religion-specific prayer with a moment of silence in a Saskatchewan public elementary school is one such example.

Dusti Hennenfent is a grain farmer just outside Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where she lives with her family. Hennenfent and her husband have two school-aged children who attend Lindale Elementary School in Moose Jaw. One morning in the fall of 2015, Hennenfent arrived at the school during Lindale’s daily broadcast over the school public address system. It was at this moment that she realized prayer
was part of the morning routine at Lindale School.

click to read more


Another Pediatric Death by World View

[excerpted from an article by Clay Jones at Science-Based Medicine]

On March 18th, 2012, physicians at Alberta Children’s Hospital made the always-difficult decision to remove 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan from life support after five days under their care. Carrying the diagnosis of brain death, there was sadly no life to support at that point. The events that led to his tragic death are currently the focus of an ongoing trial where Ezekiel’s parents stand charged with “failing to provide the necessaries of life.” If convicted, they face up to five years in prison as well as loss of custody of their remaining children.

The charges against the Stephan family are based on concerns that they failed to seek appropriate medical care while he suffered from bacterial meningitis, a deadly infection involving the brain and spinal cord, for several days. Revelations from court testimony so far have revealed that the Ezekiel’s parents chose instead to treat him at home with various herbal remedies. This isn’t surprising considering that Ezekiel is also unvaccinated and his grandfather operates a notorious herbal supplement company which sells cures for bipolar disorder and autism.

So far the jury has heard from a nurse family friend who visited the home a few days before Ezekiel died and who recommended that they bring him to a doctor for possible meningitis. Instead he was brought to a local naturopathy clinic and received an herbal concoction meant to “boost the immune system.” Only once the poor child had stopped breathing did the family call 911, but it was too late. Testimony from Alberta Children’s Hospital pediatricians revealed that he was likely already brain dead by the time he arrived by emergency transport.

So who is to blame for Ezekiel’s suffering and death? Certainly his parents, and their warped anti-medicine world view, should be held accountable. But this tragic case also raises serious concerns about a system which licenses practitioners of pseudomedicine and allows them to practice their dangerous nonsense on vulnerable children. Adding to the controversy, Ezekiel’s parents are now claiming that a conspiracy between the Crown and the pharmaceutical industry may be at work.


Further Inquiry


Anti- AntiVaccination: The battle continues

#dropjenny: Tell ABC that Jenny McCarthy’s pseudoscience is not welcome on The View (@theviewtv)

Update 1: Ottawa public health reports a case of measles in an unimmunized child – the first since January 2011:

“The risk to the public is very limited,” said Dr. Lindy Samson, Chief of Infectious Diseases at CHEO. “Immunization is the best protection from measles. Everyone should ensure that their vaccines are up to date.”

The reported incidence of measles in Ottawa is very low as most of the population has been vaccinated. Despite the rarity of this disease in Ottawa, it is very important for all residents to keep their vaccinations up to date.

Update 2: Toronto public health weighs in, and provides an enlightening infographic.

In 1998 Andrew Wakefield published a fraudulent paper linking autism to the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. What followed was a growing movement of scared parents who began avoiding getting their kids vaccinated for fear that they would become autistic. For years scientists could not repeat the results found by Wakefield. Finally in 2004, Wakefield was found to have a conflict of interest in favour of finding a link between the vaccine and autism. In May of 2010, Andrew Wakefield was found guilty by the General Medical Council and was struck of the medical register and banned from practicing medicine. The rumour campaign against vaccines was picked up by Jenny McCarthy, an actress with no scientific or medical background. She became the mouthpiece for the supposed controversy, despite the fact that there was no scientific basis for any of the claims she made. Despite this, her fame allowed her greater publicity. She used her son’s supposed autism to gain sympathy, and to tug at the heartstrings of worried parents everywhere.

Hordes of new parents opted against vaccines. Not just the MMR, but others as well. Parents began sending pox pops to one another, and holding chicken pox parties. Adults who had previously had their vaccines, opted against getting their regular boosters. Since that time, the western world has seen a re-emergence of various diseases that before this time had been on their way to extinction: whooping cough, measles, mumps, and many more.  When confronted about their choice, many will answer:

“It’s my kids/my health, I’m not hurting anyone else”

But, the truth they don’t want to face is that it’s not themselves, or at least not just themselves, they are hurting. They are also hurting people whose immune systems have been compromised. People who have autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s or colitis, like lupus, diseases like HIV and AIDs, people on chemo or who have had an organ transplant, the elderly, and children. These are the people who will not only get sick, but are those most likely to suffer serious consequences like disability, even death as a result. They are the people who rely on group immunity: who for one reason or another could not get the vaccine. People who, even if they were vaccinated, may not have enough of an immune response to fight off the illness.

In February of 2013, the Ottawa Cancer Foundation invited Jenny McCarthy to paticipate in their “Bust A Move” fundraising drive.  The Ottawa Skeptics launched their #dropjenny campaign on twitter and social media, and as a result, the OCF cancelled McCarthy’s appearance.

Now,  ABC TV is looking to have Jenny McCarthy replace one of the hosts of the VIEW, which would give Jenny  a new platform from which to spout her dangerous anti-science and anti-medicine ideas.  It’s time to restart the #DropJenny campaign on twitter and help encourage ABC to reconsider their decision to give her a spot on their popular daytime TV show.

Help defend science, medicine, and reason, and those who cannot defend themselves. Tell @ABC @theviewtv to #DropJenny!

You can also sign a petition started by Voices for Vaccines here.

(More on the Ottawa #dropjenny campaign at Scribbles and Rants.)

Whether speaking out against troublesome legislation or providing educational programs across the country, CFI’s valuable work needs your generous support. Please click here to donate or join as a friend of the Centre for Inquiry – Canada.


Kids for Inquiry

Kids for Inquiry is CFI Okanagan’s group for kids ages 7-12 who want to learn about cool science stuff! KFI is now using the fantastic website.


Kids will learn cool science stuff and also engage in hands-on projects:


How accurate is a sundial that you make yourself? Why is it not more accurate?

How does a homemade battery work? How long can it light an LED?

What do owls eat? Can you find evidence in a regurgitated pellet?

Would you like to extract some of your own DNA cells?

What’s going on in your brain when you meditate?

Which household liquids are the most and least dense?

What chemical reactions are going on when you bake bread?

Can you power a model car by converting potential energy to kinetic energy?




As kids learn skills and perform experiments, they can upload photos or videos to the website and show off their work! (And earn cool patches — from Astronomer to Zoologist — along the way.) To find out more about DIY, go here.


Science is all around us: It’s in the lab, it’s outside in nature, it’s in the kitchen, it’s in the playroom, it’s inside your body.

With KFI, kids can learn about science and kids can do science!

Upcoming Event: Space Travel: What’s Possible? What’s Not? April 18