Episode 77: International Conference of Secular AA

Carol M., the Host City Chair for the International Conference of Secular AA was my guest for this week’s podcast. Our conversation included such topics as the history of the conference, how the planning is coming along, what to expect, information about the cost, and when and how to register. All of these details can also be found on the conference website, secularaa.com

A little history

This will be the third international conference for secular AAs. The conference was started by Dorothy H. and Pam W. The two women became friends at the We Agnostics meeting in Hollywood, and after learning about other agnostic AA groups from around the world, they thought it would be fun to have a gathering to bring all these people together, and from that simple idea, the conference was born. For more of this history, listen to our podcast Pam W and the History of WAAFT IAAC. 

The first conference was held in Santa Monica, California in November 2014, and was known as the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Convention or WAFT IAAC.

At the business meeting in Santa Monica, the conference agreed to change its name to We Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers International AA Convention or WAAFT IAAC, and that conference was held in Austin, Texas in November 2016.

Those who attended the business meeting in Austin voted on yet another name change, and today the conference is known as the International Conference of Secular AA or ICSAA.

When and Where

Friday, August 24- Sunday August 26, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario at the Toronto Downtown Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel

Hotel and registration 

The third biennial International Conference of Secular AA will be held August 24-26, 2018 at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. 

Conference attendees will receive a reduced rate of $220 Canadian, which based on current exchange rates is $170 American. This rate is good from Tuesday, August 21 through Tuesday, August 28, which is nice for people who would like to spend some extra time exploring Toronto before and after the conference. 

The total registration for all three days is $130 Canadian, which includes a $5.00 fee for recording the speakers, workshops, and panels. 

You can register for the conference and reserve your room at the convention website.

Conference Agenda 

The conference theme will be “Inclusion and Diversity”, and although the agenda is still being assembled, you can expect workshops, panels, speakers and marathon AA meetings. The hotel is providing enough space that it’s possible to hold as many as six workshops at one time. Carol will return for another podcast in the Spring to provide an additional update as the agenda becomes more formalized. In the meantime, if you have ideas for workshops, panels or speakers, you can contact Carol at her email hostcitychair@secularaa.net.


There is a need for volunteers. One thing that will be different this year is that we will be recording the conference ourselves rather than hiring an outside firm. This will make it possible to provide recordings of the conference to everyone for a fee of $5.00 compared to the hundreds of dollars it would cost to purchase the audio if the conference were recorded by an outside vendor. Also, by recording ourselves, we will own the recordings and be free to do with them as we wish.

The Conference will need volunteers to record speakers, workshops, and panels. It can be done pretty easily, even a cell phone can record fairly well. If you have any experience with audio recording, please email Carol at hostcitychair@secularaa.net

Entering Canada 

If you don’t have a passport, please don’t delay getting one. You must have a passport to enter Canada, and if you are coming from outside of the United States, you will also need an Electronic Travel Authorization.

If you have been arrested for DUI or other offenses, you may have difficulty entering the country if the offense was within the past five years. You can get around this by applying for a temporary resident permit. If you’ve had multiple DUIs, the Canadian border personnel will most likely consider you rehabilitated if more than ten years have passed since your last conviction. Please visit the Canadian Immigration Service for more information. 

See you in Toronto! 

It can sometimes feel a little lonely to exist as an atheist, agnostic or freethinker in AA, and if that’s the case for you, then you won’t want to miss this conference. Meeting secular AAs from around the world will be an experience that you will remember and cherish for many years.