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What is a Humanist Chaplain?

Chaplains generally work within an institutional setting to offer ready access to support the personal needs of individuals, especially under trying circumstances. Traditionally, chaplaincy has been the domain of religious practitioners, but Humanist Chaplains promote spiritual, emotional health, and ethical decision-marking in a manner that is grounded in compassion, secular philosophy, and rational thought. Humanist Chaplains can work for institutions as employees, contractors, or volunteers, but they are not renumerated by clients. They must also be able to provide care and support to all, regardless of faith.

Where do Chaplains work?

Chaplains serve amongst people, within institutions where people may be more likely to need extra emotional support, such as hospitals, prisons, and in the military. They also serve in universities and schools, or even within corporations.

Humanist Canada currently has a Chaplain at theUniversity of TorontoKwantlen Polytechnic University and University of Ottawa.

We also have a Chaplain volunteering as a Community Spiritual Care Practitioner at Vancouver General Hospital.

In May 2022, the first military Humanist Chaplain was appointed to the Canadian Armed Forces. The military is seeking to expand diversity in their Royal Canadian Chaplain Service, and Humanist Canada is working to extend the reach of humanism, so we are always looking for more chaplains interested in a military career. You can find more information about military chaplains and about this career opportunity on the .

Correctional Services Canada also provides chaplaincy services to offenders in institutions through the Bridges of Canada organization. We don’t yet have a humanist chaplain supporting offender populations and aim to expand into this domain soon.

Who is already an accredited Humanist Chaplain?

You can find out more about Humanist Canada’s accredited chaplains here.

What does a Chaplain do?

Chaplains are available to listen and to help individuals contend with life’s struggles as well as to celebrate life’s joys, such as significant milestones and events. Chaplains often engage with their respective institutional population (soldiers, patients, prison inmates, students, employees) spontaneously in their own environment and are also available to respond in times of crisis. Furthermore, by developing rituals and encouraging healthy interactions, they strengthen an institution by enhancing morale and fostering a sense of shared purpose. They also play a crucial role in advocating on behalf of vulnerable individuals.

Why does Humanist Canada have a chaplain program?

Humanist Canada established its Chaplaincy Accreditation Program in 2021 to enable non-religious chaplains to serve people across Canadian institutions, to better reflect Canada’s diverse and increasingly secular population.

Who can be a Humanist Chaplain?

Humanist Canada requires its accredited Humanist Chaplains to possess a relevant graduate degree or certificate, in line with what is required by most other accreditation bodies (traditionally faith groups). Humanist Chaplains also require an institutional affiliation, as they are not renumerated by their clients. Since many institutions may not yet be aware of Humanist Chaplains or the benefits they can offer, Humanist Canada will assist in raising awareness within Canadian institutions and will advocate for interested candidates.

How can I become an accredited Humanist Chaplain?

The Humanist Canada Chaplaincy Committee has established a process for interested and qualified individuals to gain accreditation. You can find details here.

Can I speak with a Humanist Chaplain?

If you are a member of Humanist Canada in good standing and you need someone to speak with, our own organization’s Humanist Chaplain, Martin Frith, will make himself available to meet remotely. Click here to book at chat with Martin.

Do you have more questions about Humanist Chaplains?

Email us at and we can grow our list of FAQs.

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