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Acfas Centenary in UdeM

Acfas Centenary in UdeM

It is no coincidence that Acfas chose the University of Montreal to host 90 universitiese Conference and celebration of its centenary. “Speaking in the Marie-Victorian language of plants, Acfas root is UdeM. And its first fruit too!” sums up Yves Gingras, professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal, PhD in history and sociology of science from UdeM and author For the Advancement of Science: A History of Acfas (1923-1993). A look back at the origins of this association whose legacy is still alive and well throughout Francophone.

“In the 1920s, Montreal became an economic center. That’s why the city got its own university,” explains Yves Gingras.

Thus, UdeM emancipated himself from Laval University in May 1919. In the first half of the 1920s, seven colleges were established, in addition to the original three. Several professors were appointed, including Brother Marie Victorin who, on the basis of his vast experience and without a college degree, became the first professor of botany at the entirely new Faculty of Sciences.

“There was a lot of dynamism around Brother Marie-Victorin,” says Yves Gingras. “At the time, he was the only resounding spokesperson for the defense of science in Quebec. Through his promotional efforts, the botanist is fighting the ignorance of French Canadians and expressing himself in the public sphere. On the value of science as an engine of economic and social progress.

Between 1921 and 1923, these new professors also created scientific societies, such as the Canadian Society of Natural History, launched by Marie Victor, and the Biological Society, established by Professor Louis-Janvier Dalbes. Quickly, the idea of ​​bringing them together to found an association whose role would be to promote scientific culture in the French language arose. Who better than Marie Victorine to lead this project?

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Create a blanket

In the spring of 1923 Brother Marie Victorin wrote a letter to the President of UdeM University Peet, for being invited to chair a lunch on June 15 to lay the foundations for the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science, “Yves Gingras tells us. This is how the small scientific community in Montreal came together to form the Acfas, which brought together 11 barely literate societies: biology, medicine, physics, engineering , chemistry, natural history, mathematics, astronomy, history, political economy and philosophy.” “Acfas is a Montreal innovation, a collective work of UdeM,” notes Mr. Gingras.

Radiologist and professor of medicine Leo Pariso was named Acfas’ first president, “because it seems like it was his idea,” according to Ives Gingras. Brother Marie Victorin was his first secretary and held this position for 10 years. Since the first meeting of the new council, in January 1924, the idea of ​​establishing relations with the Quebec region has been mentioned. The Secretary-General of the University of Montreal, Edouard Monpetite, is responsible for building a bridge with Université Laval.

From 1924 to 1933, Akvas organized nearly 250 public conferences. “In its first ten years, the Acfas was essentially a classic college lecturing machine to attract students to university,” notes Yves Gingras.

The first Akvas conference

From November 2 to 4, 1933, the first Acfas conference was held at the UdeM, at the initiative of Jacques Rousseau, botanist, ethnologist and student of Marie Victorin. He also succeeded him as the secretary of the Acfas and remained there for 16 years. Jacques Rousseau was Marie Victor’s right-hand man. He had Acfas at arm’s length,” tells Yves Gingras.

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At the dawn of that first great gathering, Brother Marie Victorin signed a text duty: “This is the first attempt to bring together, and to bring together, not only, because we are rooted in our habit, beautiful projects and hopes on paper, but the achievements in the scientific field after a coordinated movement going back ten years. This meeting presents 133 papers on current topics: the method Scientific in social studies, arsenic chemotherapy for syphilis or even television and apetibi plants.

Just like the contemporary Acfas conferences, the former is associated with a general youth activity. The Science Fair in Botany is therefore organized by Cercle des jeunes naturalistes at Collège Mont-Saint-Louis in parallel with conferences and other scientific activities at the UdeM. “The show was a huge success,” says Yves Gingras. Newspapers reported 100,000 visitors and topped the front page of Should. This was really Marie-Victorine’s idea: to involve young people in the activities of Akvas. ”

The 90th ACVAS Conference at the University of Montreal

One hundred years after its founding, Acfas will retain its ninetye Conference from May 8 to 12 at the University of Montreal, HEC Montreal and Polytechnic Montreal. The meeting will be held on the theme “100 years of knowledge for a sustainable world”.

Acfas presents the most important interdisciplinary conferences on knowledge and research in la Francophonie, attended every year by thousands of people from all disciplines who share their work and make connections.

90e It will be the biggest conference we will have”, asserts Jean-Pierre Perrault, Acfas President, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sherbrooke and a graduate in Biochemistry from UdeM. With the development of the virtual conference presentation in recent years, he adds, “We will see an explosion in the number of conferences, the number of activities and international impact.”

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In 2022, the Acfas conference organized at Université Laval attracted participants from more than 50 countries.