Rites of Passage

In the mid-nineties, HAO member, Simon Parcher proposed that the HAO apply for a licence from the Government of Ontario to perform marriages. In order to do that, HAO had to become registered, so on 10 June, 1994, the association officially became incorporated. However, as it turned out, once HAO's application was accepted by the Ministry, the Government preferred to hand the licence over to the Humanist Association of Canada, so that the whole province could be covered. Potential officiants now undergo a training program established by Simon.

Nobody has to be licenced to perform a funeral ceremony, but until the HAO turned its attention to the rites of passage, there was no template to help Humanists conduct services celebrating the meaningful life of a deceased humanist. Whereas in the past the HAO had just said a sad good-bye to departed members, now they could bury their own without having to resort to the irrationality of traditional religion. The first funeral carried out under this new humanist program was officiated in March 1995 by Diane Schmolka, and the first wedding was performed in August 1996 by Simon Parcher. Later, naming ceremonies in lieu of christenings were added to the list of services.

Often at the Annual General Meeting of the HAO, an Undoctrination Ceremony is performed. This is where a member officially denounces religion and swears to embrace rationality. The certificate the member receives is not a legal document, although it could be used in a court of law to demonstrate someone's core beliefs. Some members partake in this ceremony for fun, but for others it serves as a need to close the door on their former beliefs.

The certificate comes with a guarantee:

If this certificate results in your eternal damnation, we will cheerfully void this certificate. (offer valid through infinite space and eternal time)