Toronto's City Hall

By Steve V.
All Are Welcome Group, Windsor, Ontario

Secular Ontario Alcoholics Anonymous Roundup (SOAAR) was the “brainchild” of a few AA agnostic members last spring. They sent out a message to the local groups asking if they wanted to submit a bid for the 2018 International Conference of Secular AA (ICSAA) – which was ultimately granted to Toronto – or a one day regional roundup. The response was basically that people wanted to have both! A Bid Committee was formed for ICSAA and at the same time the idea for a one day roundup was worked on too.

That’s how SOAAR came into being.

The SOAAR Committee held its first meeting in Toronto at the beginning of 2017 where most of the committee members were selected for the various positions. Lots of different AA Agnostic/Atheist/Freethinker members helped come up with the event location at the United Steel Workers Hall at 25 Cecil St. in the College/Spadina area close to Kensington Market. Other members contacted and secured a caterer so, in fact, many members (committee and non-committee) have participated in the development of this event thus far.

The Committee came up with a Mission statement that states, “The mission of SOAAR (Secular Ontario Alcoholics Anonymous Roundup) is to bring people together to share and celebrate sobriety with friends, family and other AA members. It’s a casual recovery-based event where we can all gather to share our experience, strength and hope in a fun, friendly and inclusive environment”.

The event will take place on Saturday September 16, 2017 from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and will include a variety of speakers, workshops, three meals, and a Talent and Art show. There will be lots of fun and fellowship and it will be a day where all AA members and secular AA members in particular can gather and celebrate sobriety and the diversity of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Registration is currently $25.00 and that covers all three meals and the day’s events. Registration will increase to $35.00 June the 1st so register now. Another important reason to register now is that the committee has incurred some expenses such as hefty deposits for both the Hall and caterer so registering now not only saves yourself $10, it also helps the committee.

Although the program has yet to be finalized, here’s some of the amazing events and activities we have planned for the day. Joe C., a well known agnostic AA member and author will be your Master of Ceremonies for the day. Dave J. and Bill K., two members of Windsor, Ontario AA since the 1970s will be speaking and sharing their experience within AA, and how much it’s changed and how much they have enjoyed seeing the birth of secular AA in Canada. Kevin H. and Evonne S. will be part of a panel discussing “Many paths to Serenity” and there will be a couple of fascinating workshops, one on How to start an Agnostic AA meeting and the other on Tools of Recovery. We know many AA members who have tried and/or want to know how to start a meeting and get through the hurdles that present themselves so this is a “must see” workshop! Tools of Recovery, especially without a God or Higher Power in one’s sobriety, will be powerful for all we’re sure.

An Art Show/Sale and Talent Show by the many talented members of AA will be something to look forward to and we’re told that a Red Seal Certified Chef is in charge of catering this event so you know that food will be awesome and for $25, how can you possibly go wrong? Lots of highly acclaimed authors will be in attendance selling their books and literature. Authors like Joe C. (Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life and host of Rebellion Dogs Radio), Roger C. (A History of Agnostics in AA and Do Tell! Stories by Atheists and Agnostics in AA) and Bob K. (Key Players in AA History) just to name a few.

It’s time to soar!

We, the 2017 SOAAR Committee, believe we have come up with a terrific day for all of you to enjoy with your friends and family. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday September 16 in Toronto and we anticipate it will be a tremendous day for all!

Live and Let Live

Click here!

And we have a flyer for you!

We have that flyer so that you can share the information about SOAAR with others, including members of your home group. It’s an event that is not only historic in terms of secular AA in Canada, but also one that is meant to be an inspiration for all who attend.

Just click on the image to get a PDF of the flyer.

22 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Great news about the event to be held in Toronto on September 16. I have just registered to attend.

    If I/we of the Rochester NY Freethinkers can help in any way let me know.

    • Steve V. says:

      Thanks Tim!

      I’m the Chair for the Volunteer Committee so we need people to help out the day of the event – greeters, set-up, clean-up etc. so I’ll put you down to volunteer to help. Look forward to meeting you September 16th!

      • Tim says:


        I will be announcing the event tonight at our Rochester NY Freethinker meeting and suggest that I will happily fill my car with others who wish to attend.
        We will come up the night before so we can be early to help set up.
        You certainly will have lots of folks with lots of time sober eager to participate. If thirty years sober means anything, it certainly means I can help set up and clean up.
        My name is Tim and I am glad to know that I am alcoholic.

  2. Steve V. says:

    Thanks for publishing this piece about this event Roger! The first Secular AA event as far as I know ever in Canada – it’s going to be a terrific day! Also thanks for mentioning our group’s 1 year celebration on May the 20th. We expect a good turnout for that and with some of the obstacles we had to face, some didn’t think we would last a year. As our group name says – literally all are welcome to attend our weekly meeting and especially to our 1 year celebration.


  3. Marnin M says:

    I wish an agnostic event would be held in Florida.

    At age 82 with almost 47 years of “secular” sobriety under my belt attending such an event(perhaps as a speaker) is on my bucket list.

    Wish I lived in Toronto or even California to attend these events.

    Marnin M (Hobe Sound, Florida)

  4. Don M says:


    I would love to volunteer to talk or be involved in a workshop.

    I noticed that the contact page on the SOAAR website is till empty. If you could send me contact info, I would appreciate it.

    Don M (Broader Path Group Odessa, ON)

  5. Thomas B. says:

    Indeed, Steve & Roger — thanks . . .

    I am looking forward to soaring with SOAAR in September — I just registered, paying the registration fee plus a small donation.

    As well, Steve, I am looking forward to joining Roger to help you celebrate the first year anniversary of the “All Are Welcome” AA group in Windsor.

  6. Bob K. says:

    I have just registered.

    I think it’s important for all of us who support the overall cause to put our money where our lack of soul is. Although I plan to attend the event, life comes with surprises. I want my $25. to be there, whether I am there or not. It’s only $25.

    AA people tend to be poor at making commitments. Let’s make this small financial commitment so that the load is shared, and not thrust onto those who are toiling diligently to make this a successful event.

    • Jo-Anne Kennedy says:

      Thanks Bob, I recently sent you an email but haven’t heard back. Maybe you didn’t get it?

      • Bob K. says:

        Ah. I see I replied, but to Roger’s reply, and only to Roger. I’m in on the book selling.

  7. Peter G. says:

    Payed but not sure if I am registered or not.

  8. Joe C says:

    It’s going to be fun; I hope neighboring and driving-distance States will come – New York, PA, Michigan, How ’bout you, Chicago? I can be there from Toronto in 8 hours. If anyone wants to make a weekend of it, there’s lots to do in Toronto Friday and Sunday, too and some of the other locals and I would be happy to play tour guide.

    Warm wishes to all,

    Joe C

  9. Alyssa (soda) says:

    Cool. Looks like FUN!! 🙂

  10. SoupGirl513 says:

    It seems to me this is not AA but has the name AA in it. Aren’t there Traditions in AA that support unity? I’m not religious nor does a supreme being interest me. I have however, recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body 1/4 century now, thanks to this simple program. Saying you are secular AA is stating you are allied with a specific sect.

    • Steve V. says:

      Nope, not allied with anyone or anything. “Secular” simply means non-religious. Although you and some other AA members may not agree but when one talks of a “God”, “Higher Power”, “surrendering and praying to that higher power” there are many who consider that to be “religious”. Secular or Agnostic AA has been around (at least formally) since the 70’s and is for AA members who prefer AA without the “religiosity”. AA is inclusive, never exclusive and is for all who seek sobriety regardless of beliefs or lack of beliefs.

    • Roger says:

      By the way, secular AA meetings “endeavour to maintain a tradition of free expression, and to conduct a meeting where alcoholics may feel free to express any doubts or disbeliefs they may have, and to share their own personal form of spiritual experience, their search for it, or their rejection of it. In keeping with AA tradition, we do not endorse or oppose any form of religion or atheism. Our only wish is to ensure suffering alcoholics that they can find sobriety in AA without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs, or having to deny their own.”

      And guess what? They don’t end with the Lord’s Prayer.

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