'Science has so much to contribute': March for Science hits Waterloo
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Saturday, April 22, 2017 6:45PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 22, 2017 7:28PM EDT
Even though it was Earth Day, it wasn’t the environment that had people protesting in the streets of Waterloo.
Well, it wasn’t just the environment.
Hundreds of people met at Waterloo Public Square and then marched through the uptown and university areas as part of the March of Science – a global rally in support of scientists everywhere.
“I am very concerned about what has happened to scientists being gagged, to the public not having the privilege of listening to their advice and their expertise,” said Barbara Schumacher, one of the many people who took part in the Waterloo event.
A former medical director at the University of Waterloo, Schumacher said that she is not normally given to public protest. What spurred her to action this time, she said, were her concerns that scientific evidence is increasingly being left out of policymaking decisions.
“I have grandchildren, and I want the world to have the benefit of scientific knowledge,” she said.
Most people at the rally described their presence as being a show of support for science and scientists, as opposed to taking a stand against any particular politician – such as U.S. President Donald Trump, who has proposed significant cuts to the American government’s involvement in scientific research.
Still, it wasn’t hard to find people whose messages seemed to run in opposition to Trump’s rhetoric, even if they never mentioned his name specifically.
“We’re always going to have important debates and we’re always going to have different opinions, but it’s important to recognize that doesn’t mean different facts,” said Anne Wilson, a psychology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University
“We don’t get to make up our own facts.”
Before the march began, attendees heard from Bob Lemieux, the dean of science at the University of Waterloo.
Wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the word “science”, Lemieux said that he was excited by the public show of support for science – something he said he had never seen before.
Speaking to CTV News, Lemieux said that scientists are “often not very good” at advocating for themselves and the importance of what they do, and he hoped events like Saturday’s would help turn the tide.
“There is always a challenge for policymakers and decision-makers to understand the challenge of funding science at an appropriate level,” he said.
Waterloo’s March for Science was one of 18 organized in Canada, and one of more than 500 taking place around the world.
With reporting by Leena Latafat