2018 Canadian Atheist Awards – Results

The 2018 Canadian Atheist awards were a roaring success – far better than I’d even hoped for. This post is just a summary of the nominees and winners for quick future reference, and a few observations about how it all went down.

[Canadian Atheist 2018 Awards]

This was the inaugural Canadian Atheist awards. It wasn’t something meant to be taken too seriously – there were no actual prizes of any kind (the award statuette is just a 3D render I slapped together in an hour or two in Blender), and the selection was done entirely by one person (me, Indi) using my own criteria and judgment.

[Image of a gold Canadian Atheist logo statuette.]

The (wholly imaginary) 2018 Canadian Atheist award statuette.

My intention and hope was just to bring recognition to the stories and people that had a positive impact in secular, humanist, atheist, or freethought activism over the past year. These are rough times for movement atheism, with so many of our big names leading people off to the right and into bigotry and intolerance. There are still plenty of quality people making sensible arguments and standing up to the rising tide of hate, but too often they are simply drowned out by the cacophony of the haters. These awards are my small way of elevating deserving names just a little higher out of the much, hopefully making it easier for people to discover them.

There were 3 awards in the 2018 Canadian Atheist awards:

Art, entertainment, or culture story of the year

The 2018 Art, entertainment, or culture story of the year was awarded to the work of art, entertainment, or culture – film, literature, music, theatre, etc. – that had the most positive impact among Canadian atheists in 2017. The winning work did not necessarily need to be “Canadian content”, but it helped.

The winner and nominees were:

[Canadian Atheist 2018 award - Art, entertainment, or culture story of the year]

[Poster for the play "Unholy".]

Unholy

Honourable mentions were:

It was entirely unintentional, but it turned out there was a wonderful diversity in art form among the winner, nominees, and honourable mention. We got a stage play, a book, a song, a film, and a comedy show.

Story of the year

The 2018 Story of the year was awarded to the news or cultural story that captured the most interest or had the most impact among Canadian atheists in 2017.

Because this award was for a storyin itself, and not any telling of that story – so not a particular piece written by particular journalists – there is no actual recipient of the award.

The winner and nominees were:

[Canadian Atheist 2018 award - Story of the year]

[Photo of M-103 protesters]

M-103 protesters

Honourable mentions were:

If there was a trend in the stories nominated, it would have to be – tragically – islamophobia. 4⁄6 of the nominees – including the winner – and 1⁄2 of the honourable mentions centred around islamophobia. (It can be argued that the Omar Khadr backlash had little to do with islamophobia and more to do with a savage, bloodthirsty, irrational need for retributive “justice” in defiance of facts and reality. But it was blatantly clear to anyone who followed the story that the reason there was such a visceral response had to do with the fact that Islam was involved.)

But there was another trend – one much subtler and more difficult to quantify: things are getting better. The improvement is small, slow, and easy to miss. But it’s there if you look. Of the 6 nominees, only 2 are purely negative – both of the Québec stories: Bill 62 and the mosque shooting. The rest, as well as both honourable mentions, all involved negative activities or backlashes, but the inciting incident was mostly positive: Omar Khadr finally got justice as the government acknowledged the human rights abuses against him; the Theodore decision was a brilliant legal conclusion that pulls the rug out from under the way Catholic school boards have been abusing their privilege; the TWU law school case began when provincial law societies across Canada stood up for LGBT Canadians; the PDSB fiasco began from an attempt to accommodate the rights of Muslim students (and although they bungled it horribly at first, their final decision – the one that was protested so dramatically by bigots – was admirably correct); the blasphemy law repeal bill, even watered down, is still wonderful news; and M-103 at its core was simply government recognition of systemic racism, and doing something to study it and take action against it. That all these things triggered such widespread and nasty response is troubling… but they happened. Those angry protests by the bigots were just the spiteful and bitter cries of the losers… we won in all those cases (except that the Theodore and TWU decisions are still going through appeals, and the blasphemy bill isn’t quite passed yet but almost certainly will be). And we even won a first, tentative victory in the Québec Bill 62 case, as the face-covering law is currently suspended pending a court case.

It would be easy to look at the horrific responses to all these stories and get disheartened. Seeing past the response to the underlying truth that we’re actually winning… slowly, small step by small step… is much harder, but I think it is not only more worthwhile, it is more correct. The angry, hateful response we’re seeing now is because we’re winning – Canada is very slowly, bit-by-bit, becoming a truly better place.

Person of the year

The 2018 Person of the year was awarded to the person who had greatest positive impact in Canadian secularism, humanism, atheism and freethought in 2017. The winner did not necessarily need to be Canadian, but it helped.

The winner and nominees were:

[Canadian Atheist 2018 award - Person of the year]

[Cartoon-like illustration of Eiynah, by Eiynah, used as her pseudonymous avatar.]

Eiynah

  • * WINNER: Eiynah
  • Joyce Arthur
  • Evan Balgord
  • Daphne Bramham
  • Beverley McLachlin
  • Julie Payette

Honourable mentions were:

  • Michael Janz

The Person of the year award was the only controversial award (thus far). Within hours, people were complaining in the comments and on social media about the choice. Fuck them. I stand by my choice.

For all the complaining, there was plenty of support for the winner. And small wonder; Eiynah certainly deserved the award.

And to the future…

I think it’s pretty certain that there are going to be 2019 Canadian Atheist awards. These awards were fun to put together, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

I think we needed this. Our movement has had a couple of really rough years, and we still have a hell of a fight ahead of us as we try to expunge the racists, rape deniers, islamophoboes, and shitlords from our ranks. And expunge them we must; some people have walked away from the movement because of all the assholes who have made themselves comfortable in it – and it’s understandable why they would walk away – but we cannot surrender atheism wholesale to the shitlords. We started this movement for a good reason, and that reason is still valid. We’re paying the price now for our early naïveté in opening our arms to anyone who wanted to be part of the movement without being too discerning in who we welcomed. We shouldn’t have let them in in the first place… but now they’re here, and we can’t ignore them, and we can’t surrender the movement to them. So they’ve got to go. This part’s not going to be easy, but cleaning up a shitty mess has never been an easy job.

So I think we needed these awards. We need more positivity in the movement. We need more recognition for the people who are sticking by it and slogging through this tough period. We just need a break once in a while where we can have fun, celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and enjoy each other. It’s a small thing, but I think these awards can help.

So there will almost certainly be a 2019 Canadian Atheist awards. And it’s never too early to suggest nominees and new categories.

Thanks to everyone who supported these awards. Every little thank you and encouragement boost really did help. Congratulations to all the nominees and the winners.

Here’s to next year!

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