Building Canada’s professional atheist class

Nearly every atheist and Humanist group in Canada is run entirely by volunteers.

The national organizations, Humanist Canada and Centre for Inquiry Canada, each have a single staff member (or contractor). As far as I know I’m the only employee of a regional organization. Atheist Republic (based in Vancouver) might have an employee (or a small team) and maybe there’s someone working for any of the Quebec associations.

Beyond that, the only people paid to be atheists (so to speak) are probably working for some of the cultural groups like Secular Jewish or Unitarian congregations across the country.

The point is, there’s barely a handful of people actually paid to advance secularism in the country.

Now, the BC Humanist Association is set to add three additional people to our payroll this summer.

We’ve just announced that we’re hiring two campaigns assistants and a programs assistant to work with us for 8 weeks. The jobs are funded through the Government of Canada’s Canada Summer Jobs Program, and are restricted to people aged 15-30.

We’ve already proven the impact of having someone who can dedicate their full time attention to this cause, as the BCHA has chalked up numerous wins and has posted some record growth numbers recently.

With the support of two more people working on our campaigns, we’re eager to dig into the prayers said at the BC legislature, uncover more on faith schools that receive provincial funding and look at the tax exemptions given to religious groups. Our dedicated programs team member will help develop new events to grow our membership and reach new audiences.

All of that will allow myself and our board members to undertake some big picture thinking about the future of the BCHA, including developing new ways to engage our members in that direction.

Of course, we’d love to be able to maintain a growing staff longer term, but for that we’ll need more stable funding. This is where you come in.

Consider joining the BC Humanists (or your local or a national group) and donating to support the continued growth and professionalization of this movement. Membership in the BCHA is now only $10 and we’re hoping to seriously expand our membership to better represent what must be at least a million Humanists in our province.

And, if you or anyone you know, would be interested in working with us, please check out the job descriptions and consider applying before June 14.



Ian Bushfield is the executive director of the BC Humanist Association. He has a background in physics and non-profit management and grew up in Alberta.

2 thoughts on “Building Canada’s professional atheist class

  1. At this moment, in our stewardship of planet Earth, the paid secular people we need most are our elected political leaders.

    The shifting of our economy away from harmful industries requires exceptional leadership. The necessity of promoting global family planning practices has to convince even the most dogmatic oppositions. Just think about the Christian and Muslim leaderships now in place in many African countries.

    All the articles necessary to understand the immanent need to limit family size have already been written. What is needed today are political leaders who are able to inspire families, worldwide, to adapt.

    Of course this has already happened in Canada. This is more of a foreign mission, or in a smaller case, an immigrant issue.

    • I don’t disagree but we also need a strong civil society to hold those elected leaders to account or other interests will inevitably override our voices. Trudeau started with promise and did deliver on some secular and Humanist goals – repealing the blasphemy law and action on climate change. But he’s also continued to sell arms to the Saudis, bought a pipeline and generally continued the closed shop approach to politics that disillusioned so many progressives under the Harper years. So yes to electing those who espouse secular & progressive values but let’s also help develop future leaders and hold those elected leaders to account with a strong Humanist movement.

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