May 2018 Calgary

Our theme for this years conference is ACTIVISM! After listening to engaging speakers and panel discussions we'll help put you in touch with organizations, groups and grassroot movements to help you get more active, along with the opportunity for guided letter writing campaigns after specific topics. Let's work together towards a more secular and inclusive Alberta!

TOPICS FOR 2018 include:

*Schedule is subject to change without prior notice.  


9am - 10am
Weekend and Saturday registration

 Stephen Carter - Politics and Secularism

11am - Joshua Whitehead - Residential Schooling and the Inter-generational Consequences for LGBTQ+ within First Nations

Noon - 1pm lunch break 

1pm - 3pm
Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) -
Bradley Peter, David Amies and
Linda McKay-Panos

Guided Letter Campaigns for both MAID and School funding issues

3pm - 5pm
Catholic and Public School Funding in Alberta  David King - OurIDEA, Luke Fevin - APUPIL
Michael Janz - School Trustee


9am - 10:00am Sunday registration

9:15am - (for those interested)
Screening, Gord Downie's ''The Secret Path''

10am - Esther Palmer - Leaving behind Fundamentalist Religions (A survivor of Bountiful)

 11am - Miranda Jimmy -Residential Schooling and Reconciliation Efforts

Noon - 1pm lunch break

1pm- Karen Lumley Kerr and Maria De Leeuw
''We've got secular work to do!'' 
From women's rights to GSAs - Secular issues that need our attention

2pm - Alishba Zarmeen - Feminism in Muslim Majority countries

3:30pm- Ali A. Rizvi - Muslim Enlightenment; Activism taking place in the Muslim world, including updates on secular bloggers like Raif Badawi. 

Ali is the award-winning author of the book, The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason (St. Martin's Press, 2016) and co-host of the podcast Secular Jihadists for a Muslim Enlightenment. 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. He is a trained oncologic pathologist, 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 enlightenment, 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.

David King is a Canadian politician and public education policy activist. He is a former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta during which time he was Legislative Secretary to (then) Premier Peter Lougheed (1971–1976), Minister of Education (1979–1986), and Minister of Technology, Research, and Telecommunications (1986). As a Member of the Legislative Assembly, King introduced a Bill to repeal the Sexual Sterilization Act stating that the "Act violates fundamental human rights".

From February, 1990 until July, 2010 he served as Executive Director of the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta.

David is now active with the Green Party of B.C., serving on the Provincial Council.



Pakistani feminist and firebrand secular activist, Alishba Zarmeen doesn't mince words. Coming from a modest background in Karachi, Pakistan, she came to North America after winning several international scholarships, including the prestigious United World College scholarship for secondary school.

Alishba became an avidly vocal atheist activist in college, and her anti-theism has won her both loyal followers and determined enemies, landing her on Pakistan's blasphemy lists . A fiery public speaker always up for a good argument, Alishba is unrelentingly passionate and determined to change the world.


The National Post, CBC and other political commentators have described Stephen Carter as a “political mastermind.”

He led Alison Redford’s successful race for the Progressive Conservative Association leadership bid in Alberta, as well as her campaign for premier of the province. Stephen also served as Chief of Staff to the Premier for 6 months.

He was the political strategist in Naheed Nenshi’s successful 2010 campaign for mayor of Calgary. His roots in politics include serving as media liaison and strategies to Joe Clark.

Stephen is also a highly regarded political pundit who appears regularly on CBC and other networks; and recently he has received accolades for the irreverent podcast, The Strategists, which was regularly one of the top news and political podcasts in Canada & recently voted Calgary podcast of the year.

Miranda Jimmy is a passionate Edmontonian and member of Thunderchild First Nation. She is a community connector and fierce defender of truth. Miranda is committed to the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship and finds ways each day to demonstrate to others what this looks like. Miranda’s professional life has focused on contributing to her community in a variety of ways. She has made a career in the not-for-profit and public sectors and currently is the Indigenous Arts Consultant for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

In 2016, Miranda was an Avenue Magazine Top 40 under 40, being recognized for her work with RISE – Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton, an inclusive group promoting reconciliation in actions and words. Since 2015, RISE has been able to engage more than 50,000 people in reconciliation efforts through social media, public events, interactive programming, and a self-published quarterly magazine.

Most of the time, Miranda can be found online sharing her thoughts on twitter @TheMirandaJimmy and on her blog at MirandaJimmy.com


Linda McKay-Panos is the Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. She taught Language Arts and Social Studies with the Calgary Board of Education for 7 years before returning to university to obtain a Law Degree. She practiced law for a time, before joining the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in 1992 as a Research Associate. Linda is a sessional instructor in the Faculties of Arts and Law at the University of Calgary. Linda received her Bachelor of Education, Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees from the University of Calgary. Linda is the Past President of the Alberta Association for Multicultural Education and the Past President of the Public Legal Education Network of Alberta. Linda is the author of several publications dealing with civil liberties, access to information, human rights, discrimination, equality and related topics. Linda received the 2001 Suzanne Mah Award, an Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and was selected in 2017 to be celebrated by YW's she who dares Canada 150 Project for her work in human rights in Alberta.

Joshua Whitehead is a Two-Spirit/ Oji-Cree/nehiyaw member of
Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1) in Manitowapow. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Calgary where he focuses on Indigenous Literatures and Cultures in the English Department.

Joshua is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks) and the forthcoming
 Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press)

David Amies
Physicians' Advisory Council, Dying With Dignity Canada


Michael Janz has been an Edmonton Public School Trustee since 2010, serving as Chair from 2015-2017.  Beyond his work as Trustee, Michael is a father of a future EPSB student and has been proud to serve our community in several other capacities:  Manager with Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters Edmonton, Former Marketing Director for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues,  Masters in Education Policy Studies from the University of Alberta, 
Avenue Magazine 2012 “Top 40 Under 40", 
Served as President of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, Six year Trustee, Edmonton Public Library Board

Michael will be joining us on the School Panel. 



Esther Palmer - Ex-Bountiful Member

Esther Palmer was born into the Fundamental Mormon Polygamist Community of Bountiful, one of 47 children fathered by the same man. At age 16 she was married to a man who already had a wife and between them had 19 children.  At age 45, in May of 2012, she finally left.  

Esther is educated as a midwife who also has a degree in Nursing. She advocates for women's reproductive health and fights for justice for women who are trapped inside these types of groups. She organized “SafetyNet in the Kootenays” helping those who leave Bountiful to navigate the world beyond the FLDS closed community.


Bradley Peter is a biologist from Edmonton. After watching his grandmother suffer a prolonged death in 2009 due to a terminal illness, Bradley became involved with the Right to Die movement. In 2012, Bradley helped create the Edmonton Chapter of Dying with Dignity, which conducts education on patient rights and advocates for the introduction of legislation on medically assisted dying, and sits on the National Board for the group. Bradley brings a passion for evidence-based medicine and critical thinking to this issue and believes nobody should have to experience unwanted suffering at the end of life.


Luke Fevin is a passionate atheist, secularist, politico & media contributor from Alberta.  He is a strong advocate for Public Education and for secular rights.  Luke has been involved in numerous secular education & rights initiatives from prayer, sex-ed, Gideon Bibles, Op Xmas Child to lobbying for LGBTQ friendly, anti-bullying, GSA & washroom policies in Public AND Catholic schools & districts - as well as wider separation of church and state issues such as prayer at city council meetings & faith versus rights in the medical system.

He sits on the board of The Society of Edmonton Atheists, is co-founder of the APUPIL group (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning) & assists with a number of provincial & national secular groups & initiatives. His key focus is the disestablishment of the Separate Catholic school system.

Luke can be found on social media through his hilariously witty alias, According2Luke.


Your host for the weekend is Karen Lumley Kerr, co-founder of the AB Secular Conference.   This mother of three spends her time doing volunteer work for activist and non-profit groups, and is the current President of the Society of Edmonton Atheists.

At age 16, as part of sexual education programs, she spoke to high school kids about her choice to have an abortion. She continues fighting for women's reproductive rights today.  Recently she helped remove anti-choice groups from schools in St. Albert, while championing for comprehensive evidence-based sex education.   

Karen will be speaking to us about secular activism issues including women's reproductive rights and comprehensive sex education in schools. 


Maria De Leeuw is a vocal activist in the secular community in Alberta.  A stay-at-home mom, she is also a part-time student . 

In 2014 Maria helped set up an Alberta wide support group for feminists.  They meet monthly to discuss how they can help end systemic racism, sexism and bigotry in society while looking for activist opportunities. 

She also volunteers her time at the local high school, as a support for the Gay Straight Alliance group there.   Maria will be sharing that experience with us. 

Unfortunately, Maryam is no longer able to join us.

Maryam Malekpour is a mechanical engineer residing in Vancouver. She left her home, family and entire life in Iran suddenly in 2012 after she discovered that the Iranian authorities were planning to arrest her for her campaigning efforts to spread awareness about the situation of her imprisoned brother, Saeed Malekpour, in the international media.   A freelance web programmer and Canadian resident who was in Iran on a visit from British Columbia, Saeed was kidnapped off the streets in Tehran on October 4, 2008 by plainclothes forces. Interrogators working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps's "cyber army" subjected him to severe physical and psychological torture until he agreed to confess to falsified charges, including moderating several pornographic websites. After his forced confessions were aired on Iranian state-run media channels, Saeed released a letter from prison declaring that his confessions were forced, and detailed the tortures he endured.

2016 - Edmonton

2015 - Red Deer