Sun Jan 21: Tell Me the Old, Old Story

Our gathering this coming Sunday will as usual be at 10:30am, in the 2nd floor room of Koffler House, 569 Spadina Ave.

The Gospel narrative of Christianity is very enticing. Christianity and indeed all Abrahamic religions have stories that embrace the believer. In contrast, the scientific, rationalist narrative, despite having the matrix for an incredibly interesting story, lacks an embracing narrative. The consequences and implications of this reality, and possible remedies will be discussed by our feature speaker, Don Cullen.

Don Cullen is an historic figure in Toronto’s arts community having founded the Bohemian Embassy in Yorkville in the 1960s. The Bohemian Embassy was a coffee house and cultural hub for Toronto’s arts community. It premiered 30 productions in 6 years, showcasing folk music artists including Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Ian & Sylvia, and the trio Sharon, Lois & Bram. The entertainment at the Bohemian Embassy also included a once a week reading series with appearances from Margaret Atwood, Al Purdy, and Gwendolyn MacEwen.

Don Cullen was the head/contributing writer for over 200 TV shows, many of them comedy variety sketches and performed as an actor in over 800 TV shows. He worked for the Wayne and Shuster comedy show and also performed in the New York Broadway comedy stage revue Beyond the Fringe. Don also has had a long career with CBC radio, having performed 1500 times and written a 1000 radio shows. In the 1970’s and 80’s, Don was the Artistic Co-director of the Leacock Festival of Humour in Orillia, ON. We are so enthused to have Don Cullen be our featured speaker!

Our musical performers will be Emilyn Stam and John Williams. Emilyn Stam is a Toronto-based fiddler, pianist and accordionist who creates, performs, records and teaches in folk, trad, and neo-trad styles from Europe and Canada.

She has 4 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominations, (The Shoeless, Eh?!, Lemon Bucket Orkestra) and 2 Juno Award Nominations (Lemon Bucket Orkestra). Emilyn performed in both seasons of the TV show Galala (UNIS TV), as a member of the house band (synths, organ, piano, accordion, violin), co-arranger and co-composer. For more on our musical performer, please check out her website

Invisible Adaptation – Sun Jan 14

Our gathering this coming Sunday will as usual be at 10:30am, in the Koffler Building, 569 Spadina Ave., 2nd floor.

Our featured speaker will be Brett Matthews. In 2012 Brett started a not-for-profit social enterprise, My Oral Village. He will discuss the learning path that led to its formation and that drives it today. From our Western vantage point, nearly a quarter of human species are almost invisible. Brett has spent much of his career learning from this population. They are subsistence farmers, mostly offline, living in oral cultures (in contrast to modern literate cultures). But they never ignore the modern world around them. In fact they sacrifice much trying to enter it or – failing that – crafting lives adapted to our alien ways.

Our musical performer will be Cassie Norton.

As usual, you can RSVP on Meetup, at

Sun Jan 7: Science, Pseudoscience and Truth

This coming Sunday we will be back to our normal gatherings in the Koffler House, 569 Spadina Ave., 10:30am.

Dan Cooperstock will talk about a subject dear to his heart, and very consistent with our core value “Reality is known through reason” – the difference between science and pseudoscience. He will define terms, explain how the scientific method is applied in medical research, and discuss problems about truth and proof that come up. He will give his take on “alternative medicine”, and also touch on paranormal phenomena and ESP, the anti-vaccine movement, and mental phenomena like confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance that make us susceptible to believing untruths.

Dan is a member of the Toronto Oasis leadership team, a non-theist Quaker, and a software entrepreneur, writing and selling software for charities and churches. His initial university training was in Math and Philosophy – concentrating on logic – which certainly fits with his insistence on rationality.

Our musician this week will be Erik Bleich. Erik is a northwestern Ontario ex-pat living in Toronto, and one of our favorite Oasis musicians!  He gives us everything from street lit lullabies to manic, rambling romps. It’s his vision of folk music for the Internet Age!

You can RSVP for this event on the Meetup page at

Sun Dec 17: Refugee Support; Thu Dec 21 Winter Solstice Party!

Our gathering on Sunday December 17 will be at 10:30am in our usual 2nd floor room in the Koffler House, 569 Spadina Ave.

We are honoured to welcome Eusebio Garcia, the refugee settlement worker for the Toronto Quaker Meeting to speak with us this week.

Eusebio works on the front lines, assisting refugees in many stages of the process of settling in Canada. He will speak to Oasis about the nature of this process, and some of the problems refugees face in Canada, sharing a first-hand perspective and personal experiences.

And on the Oasis Stage!

Lady Son (aka Yeti Ajasin) has been described as one of the most arresting voices on the Canadian music scene, often drawing comparisons to music legend Celia Cruz.  Lady Son redefines Afro-Latin grooves for the 21st century. Though Canadian-born of Italian-Nigerian-Jewish heritage, Lady Son’s deep love and appreciation for Latin rhythms has its roots in Cuba. Her debut CD, Semillas, explored her dual passion for Nuyorican-style salsa and Guajiro culture and earned her a New Music Award for Best World Album.

You can RSVP on the Meetup page at

And Thursday December 21st at 7pm please join us at Side Bar, 147 Danforth Ave., for a Winter Solstice Party! (Ask the host or hostess for Oasis Toronto.)

Brighten up this festive season with a  secular solstice celebration of the longest night of the year! This will be a casual evening of dining, chatting, games and give aways. Also a great opportunity to check out the Danforth’s newest food/drink offering (So new their website isn’t up yet. The menu will be posted in the Meetup page’s comments section).

The pub is located within easy walking distance of Broadview subway station and we encourage you to take transit or uber/taxi. The Danforth Music Hall next door is having a concert that night so immediately adjacent parking will be limited.

You can RSVP for this on Meetup at



Solo Travel – Sustainable Travel with Janice Waugh

As usual our gathering this coming Sunday December 10th at 10:30am will be in the Koffler Centre, 569 Spadina Ave., 2nd floor.

This week our speaker is Janice Waugh who will be talking to us about solo travel and sustainable travel, which is amazing since she wrote the book on it!

A love of travel, personal loss, and an empty nest all conspired for Janice Waugh to begin Solo Traveler in 2009. Resonating with thousands of readers, it quickly went from personal to public and the Solo Traveler Project began. The online publication receives 100,000 readers monthly and the Facebook community has 225,000 active travelers sharing information daily. Janice speaks widely on travel and travel publishing. She has spoken at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the World Travel Market in London, TBEX and the Social Travel Summit in Europe.

There is a World of Options to Overtourism
Tourism can be an answer to some social problems but it is a cause of others. 2017 was declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the UN World Tourism Council. Overtourism is a major focus of the initiative and is getting more attention in the news and is being addressed at tourism conferences. The problem of overtourism requires the attention of both Destination Marketing Organizations and travelers. As a person who has never met a destination she didn’t like, Janice will share the background to the problem and some traveler solutions.

Our talented and charming musicians this week are Stephanie Baptist and Rick Miller.  Rick and Stephanie have been partners on and off stage since meeting as Shakespearean lovers in Montreal in 1995. Now living in Toronto, Miller is one of Canada’s best-known touring stage performers, and Baptist is a respected sexual health educator. They have both been guest speakers at Toronto Oasis, and are honoured to be invited back as musicians. Rick and Stephanie have a long history of playing music as a duo, and with their 10-piece party band, TRAINWRECK. For more info, please visit, or

And don’t forget your food bank donations!  We will be collecting cash or non-perishable food items throughout the month of December.  Those who donate will be entered in a draw for a gift basket.

Environmental Stewardship – an Aboriginal Perspective

Our next Gathering is Sunday December 3rd, as usual at 10:30am in the Koffler building, 569 Spadina Ave., 2nd floor.

This week at Oasis we are thrilled to have Danny Beaton sharing with us his life and work, with a focus on environmental stewardship from an Aboriginal perspective.

Danny Beaton is a Turtle Clan Mohawk of Grand River Six Nations Territory. Using a diversity of media – including photography, music, film, writing and speaking – Danny has spent the past three decades engaged in Native activism for Mother Earth.

And on the Oasis Stage: Willow Rutherford!

Willow Rutherford is an accordion balladeer of folk, jazz, Celtic and traditional standards, with deep roots in the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver indie music scenes.

Each Sunday Gathering in December we will be accepting food bank donations (cash or non-perishable food).

Tales of the Ancient: Qur’anic Stories and Mesopotamian Myths

This Sunday November 26th at 10:30am, we will be meeting in our usual 2nd floor room in the Koffler Building, 569 Spadina Ave.

Anyone who has read the stories from Mesopotamian mythology will notice striking parallels between them and the stories in the Old Testament and the Qur’an, especially the story of creation. This begs the question: were the three major monotheistic religions influenced by ancient Mesopotamian myths? Will exploring the ancient texts from Mesopotamia explain the origin of the stories in the Qur’an? Mohammed Jaber will bring to us a detailed comparison between the ancient tablets from Mesopotamia with the Islamic central text and propose a theory for the origins of the main stories in the Qur’an.

Mohammed Jaber is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto majoring in Psychology and minoring in Classical Studies and Philosophy. He discovered a passion for the study of classical antiquity while taking a course on Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythologies in his second year at university. Ever since, he’s been interested in researching the origin of modern religions and their link to ancient mythology.

Our musicians this week will be Cassie Norton and Tristan Murphy.

Mobility Matters – Oasis Building Wheelchairs in Nicaragua

We are back in our usual accessible 2nd floor room at Koffler House, 569 Spadina Ave. this week, Sunday November 19th, as usual at 10:30am.

Our speaker will be Michelle Morgan from the Oasis Humanitarian Relief.

Michelle Morgan from Kansas City Oasis and executive director of Oasis Humanitarian Relief will be speaking with us about Mobility Matters Humanitarian Outreach, the Oasis Network charity that takes small teams of people to the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua to assemble and distribute free wheelchairs to those with the greatest need.

Michelle Morgan is a former evangelical Christian leader and it was during her years in ministry she discovered her passion for international humanitarian work. Prior to leaving the church in April 2015, Michelle was in the process of relocating to Nicaragua as a full-time missionary. However, after 16 years of devout faith and service, Michelle Morgan came to realize there wasn’t adequate support for her long-held religious beliefs. Despite this, Michelle was determined to continue her international humanitarian work and out of that determination, Oasis Humanitarian Relief and Mobility Matters were born.

Today Michelle and her husband, James Morgan, both members of The Clergy Project (an organization “For current and former religious professionals without supernatural beliefs”), regularly attend Kansas City Oasis where they organize Community Groups and Michelle serves as occasional emcee. Michelle also serves on the Oasis Network Board of Directors and is the executive director of Oasis Humanitarian Relief.

And on the Oasis stage, Kathryn Merriam.

Kathryn’s music weaves between storytelling and soundscapes, exploring the intersections between folk song tradition and mystical music.

Creating Communities and Spaces for Everyone

Our speaker this week is Adil Dhalla from the Centre for Social Innovation.

As the Executive Director at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Adil Dhalla has been learning how to foster an enabling and healthy culture for thousands of social innovators that access CSI’s space and services every day. Paramount to his work is understanding the conditions by which we create spaces that are diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible because without everyone being at the table, we will continue to make the same mistakes and exist in a society that privileges the few. In his talk, he will share the work CSI is doing in this area and his learnings around topics like power, privilege and courageous conversations.

Adil Dhalla is a civic entrepreneur and community organizer who is driven to co-create new and inclusive economies. He is the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), which is a not-for- profit organization that provides space, services and programs to  over 2,000 social mission organizations annually. In addition to his role at CSI, he Chairs the Board for the award-winning StopGap Foundation, which focuses on improving physical accessibility in communities and he also co-founded and continues to chair Camp Reset, a not-for- profit and acclaimed summer camp for adults that is uniquely addressing issues around mental health and loneliness for adults through play and digital detoxing.

Adil was recently named a BALLE Fellow, awarded to local economy leaders who are creating the new economy. He is the first Muslim to ever receive the honour.

Our musical guests will be Emilyn Stam and John David Williams, who play folk music from North America, West and Eastern Europe, old jazz, improvisations and their own compositions.

As usual we will meet in Koffler House, 569 Spadina Ave., at 10:30am, though we are in the 1st floor room this week. And you can RSVP at

Sun. Nov. 5, 10:30am: Grief Without Belief: How Do Atheists Deal With Death?

This week, Ali Rizvi will speak to the question:

What does atheism have to offer as a substitute for the emotional comfort religion offers believers in facing their own death, or that of their loved ones?

Ali is the award-winning author of the book, The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason (St. Martin’s Press, 2016). Ali grew up in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, as part of a progressive Muslim family, before he moved permanently to Canada in his twenties. As a physician, he trained in pathology (with fellowship in oncologic pathology) at SUNY Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and also holds a master of science degree in biochemistry from McMaster University. In 2011, he switched his career to medical communications so he could focus more on his writing. Ali is an avid and vocal advocate for secularism, science, and reform, particularly in the Muslim community. He has been featured on CNN, in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vox, The Huffington Post, CBC, BBC, the New York Post, and a range of other major media outlets. The Atheist Muslim won the 2016 Morris D. Forkosch Award for Best Book from the Center for Inquiry.

Our musicians will be Cassie Norton, Eric Bleich and Tristan Murphy.

As always, we meet in the Koffler Building, 569 Spadina Ave., and we’re back in our normal 2nd floor room. You can RSVP on our Meetup site at