The inaugural Canadian Atheist awards were a hit last year, and I’m not above capitalizing on success. So here we go with the 2019 Canadian Atheist awards!
A word of note to newcomers: The Canadian Atheist awards is not a formal award. Quite the opposite. There are no prizes, monetary or otherwise, involved. Not even prestige, because, honestly, who really cares about any of this, right? See that pretty statuette on the side? It’s as real as God is. (Actually, it might even be more real than God, because at least the statuette exists in Blender.)
And the categories, nominations, and judging are all entirely subjective, and all done by just one person: me, Indi, managing editor of Canadian Atheist. I do take suggestions, requests, and bribes (although no-one actually bribed me this year, sad face). But ultimately, the final decisions are entirely my own, and all just whims I had while slightly high.
So don’t take any of it too seriously. It’s just a fun way to reflect on the past year, and to give recognition to those who probably deserve much more.
That’s why there are no “negative” awards, like for “asshole of the year”. While the Canadian Atheist awards may not have any real value, and they’re just for fun, I’d still like them to at least be seen as giving recognition to people who really and truly deserve it. The awards are bullshit, but the winners are not. Everyone who wins or is nominated truly deserves a standing ovation. They are all outstanding people.
By the way, I mentioned this last year then forgot about it (which gives you another clue to the level of seriousness involved here), but I’d really like a catchy name for the Canadian Atheist awards. Like “the Oscars” or “the Junos” or “the Woodys”. No, not “the Indis”; that name’s already taken by the backup dancers in my vanity swing revival music project. I’d prefer the name of a famous historical Canadian atheist. Bonus points if it’s vaguely innuendous.
Before we begin, let’s take a moment to remember last year’s winners:
- In the category of art, entertainment, or culture story of the year… Unholy, by Diane Flacks.
- In the category of story of the year… M-103.
- In the category of person of the year… Eiynah.
I have chosen not to re-nominate any of last year’s nominees or winners for this year’s awards, despite several of them being worthy. I wanted to avoid the scenario of the awards becoming a repetitive showing of the same small group of people over and over year after year. Part of the reason for the awards’ existence is to shine a spotlight on people who haven’t gotten a lot of recognition, so it makes sense to spread the light around as much as possible. 2018 nominees and winners may be eligible again in 2020 – I haven’t decided yet.
And now… the 2019 Canadian Atheist awards.
As I did last year, I’m taking a cue from real awards. I’m going to drop the nominations today and then let that buzz stew for a while, to give you time place bets with your bookie or make up “Team ___” T-shirts to back your fave. The winners will be announced starting , one category per day. There will be a final wrap-up post with all the results on .
Here are the nominees by category for the 2019 Canadian Atheist awards….
Art, entertainment, or culture story of the year
This award goes to any work of art, entertainment, or culture – film, music, literature, etc. – that stood out to Canadian atheists in 2018. If I can name a single artist responsible for the work, I will.
And the nominees, listed in alphabetical order by artist’s name, are…
- “Mythical Riddles” – James Fry (song)
- Hõt Dõg Water – Douglas Bevans (performance)
- “In Sure and Certain Hope” – Jim Fanning (poem)
Story of the year
This award is for the news or cultural story that captured the most interest or had the most impact among Canadian atheists in 2017. Because the award goes to an abstract story, there won’t be any specific recipients. Where practical, I’ve included a link related to the particular story to help remind of some of the context.
And the nominees, listed alphabetically by title, are…
Bill C-51 was an omnibus bill that, among other things, removed “zombie laws” from the Criminal Code – laws that have been struck down or almost certainly would be if they were ever used. The laws targeted by C-51 included laws against duelling, publishing crime comics, “pretending to practice witchcraft”, and “alarming the Queen”… but one that was of the greatest interest to Canadian atheists was §296: the blasphemy law. After an excruciatingly long legislative process, C-51 finally passed in December.
It started with a couple of tweets by Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Global Affairs Canada, expressing “grave concern” over the then-recent arrests of feminist activists in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia responded by going batshit insane. They cancelled student visas. They made outlandish and bizarre counter-demands, like that we release political prisoners like Jordan Peterson (who was on a book tour at the time). They even made a vaguely threatening tweet with an image of a plane flying at the CN tower. And then things got worse.
In 2016, Cornerstone Christian Academy released a handbook for students that included – for no apparent reason – some anti-LGBTQ Bible verses, so in January 2017, the Battle River School Division sent them an email telling them to remove them. The school resisted, complaining about the BRSD “censoring the Bible”, but ultimately begrudgingly agreed to comply… but then John Carpay got involved, and everything exploded.
In February, board members of the Halton Catholic District School Board voted to stop giving charity money raised to organizations that didn’t adhere to Catholic principles on abortion, contraception, or medical assistance in dying… y’know, organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society and SickKids. It was an ignorant move by a group of god-besotted bureaucrats, that, at first, everyone grumbled about but rushed to fall in line with, because there were millions of badly needed dollars on the line. But then the kids stepped up and something incredible happened.
In 2016, after a decade-long battle, an amazing court ruling came out of Saskatchewan, stating that it was a violation of the Charter for the government to fund non-Catholic kids in Catholic schools. Throughout 2017, we watched Premier Brad Wall and separate school supports frantically doing everything they could to stave off the results of that decision, up to and including invoking the notwithstanding clause. But things got really interesting in 2018.
It was one of the most interesting Supreme Court cases ever – a two-fer heard together, the most interveners ever, and plenty of drama even before the hearing – and it finally came to a mostly satisfying conclusion in June. Mostly satisfying. But it may have long-reaching implications.
Person of the year
This award goes to the person who had greatest positive impact in Canadian secularism, humanism, atheism and freethought in 2017. The recipient won’t necessarily be Canadian, or atheist, but being Canadian and atheist will certainly help their chances.
And the nominees, listed alphabetically, are…
- Paul Ens, for the Paulogia YouTube show, and his efforts to expose Canadian creationists.
- Bernie Farber, for his work combating hate in Canada, and founding the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
- Jen Gunter, for her continuing efforts to combat pseudoscience in the health and wellness industry.
- Malclom Rowe, for his decision on how to apply the Charter to the rights of nonbelievers in the Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University and Law Society of Upper Canada v Trinity Western University decision(s).
- Paula Simons, for taking her outspoken humanism all the way to the Senate.
- Gretta Vosper, for standing up against discrimination against atheists in Canada’s most progressive Christian denomination.
Stay tuned for the winners!
As mentioned above, the winners will be announced starting , one category each day.
While you wait in rapt suspense, feel free to speculate, prophesy, and gamble on the winners… or just share your guesses in the comments.
And of course, congratulations to all the nominees!