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Acfas celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023.

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In 1923, the Association French Canadian for the Advancement of Sciences (Acfas) is founded. Throughout its existence, it has dedicated itself to the promotion and dissemination of research and scientific knowledge in the Canadian Francophonie. She has also campaigned for the adoption of public policies based on science.

On May 22, 1994, journalist Marc Bourgault interviewed, as part of the radio program Aujourd'hui la science,the author Yves Gingras who had just publishedFor the Advancement of Sciences : a history of Acfas.

Yves Gingras recalls the context of the creation of this association.

Journalist Marc Bourgault interviews author Yves Gingras on the creation of Acfas.

In the 1920s, there were complaints that the education system in French Canada – notably classical schools and colleges – placed too little emphasis on the study of science.

It was to correct this gap that Acfas was founded on June 15, 1923.

His goal?

Increase the importance given to science education in French Canada, stimulate scientific careers, promote French as a scientific language and disseminate scientific knowledge within society.

Professors of botany and biology from the University of Montreal, Brother Marie-Victorin and Louis-Janvier Dalbis, as well as the radiologist of Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Montreal, Léo Pariseau, are the main instigators of this initiative.

In 1933, Acfas held its first annual congress, organized by the ethnologist and botanist Jacques Rousseau.

Acfas, recalls Yves Gingras, is open to the world. American, British and French scientists, for example, attend its annual congresses.

Acfas actively participates, particularly in its early days, in the emergence of a modern French Canada and Quebec.

One ​​of the goals of Acfas is to attract young French Canadians towards scientific careers.

At the beginning, we were thinking mainly of boys, but the effort later extended to young girls.

< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Science-reality, November 9, 1963

This is what this extract from the 'show 20 ans express broadcast on November 9, 1963.

We see young students registering for the Acfas congress held that year at Laval University in Quebec.

Journalist Gilles Constantineau takes the opportunity to question them on various subjects, such as the role that sciences should play in French Canada, the notion of scientific spirit and whether it is desirable for women to embrace scientific careers.

We see that, on this last subject, mentalities have evolved a lot in 60 years.

We can say that there was a characteristic. It seems that academics have tried to come out of their silos, their ivory towers… and to get more involved in social debates.

A quote from Liliane Besner

< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Science-reality, May 22, 1983

This comment, science journalist Liliane Besner makes to the host of the showScience-reality,Donald Dodier, on May 29, 1983, after attending the annual Acfas conference held at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières.

This meeting was different, says Liliane Besner.

We have noted a desire to better align scientific research and industries.

In addition, non-scientists, such as union leaders and politicians, were invited to participate in the event, underlines the journalist.

Another shift to note is that Acfas intends to play a political role, in particular to combat the budgetary cuts imposed by governments and which harm scientific development.

Acfas maintained this militant position when it believed that public policies based on science were threatened in Canada.

Téléjournal/Midi, May 9, 2011

May 9 2011, the host of Téléjournal/Midi,Anne-Marie Dussault, interviews the president of Acfas, Pierre Noreau, at the start of the association's congress held at Bishop and Sherbrooke universities.

The lawyer confirms to Anne-Marie Dussault that he is worried about the Canadian political context.

A week earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party won a majority in the House of Commons in the Canadian federal election.

However, this government, in 2010, announced the abolition of the obligation to respond to the detailed questionnaire for the national census in 2011.

Acfas therefore denounced the Harper government's decision and demanded that it change its mind.

Pierre Noreau explains the association's position to Anne-Marie Dussault: this decision by the Harper government is based on an ideological vision and restricted science.

He notes that the federal government has chosen to no longer properly inform itself about its own population and, by extension, about its needs.

Pierre Noreau mentions in passing that the congress will discuss scientific questions which should have an effect on public policies.

He mentions, for example, on the menu, the impact of climate change on flooding or the threat of obesity.

Topics that are so much in the news in 2023, when Acfas will hold its 90th Congress from May 8 to 12.

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