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On Earth Day, hundreds rally in Victoria’s March for Science

The text on seven-year-old Henry Wignall’s sign — Science Matters — summed up the sentiment colourfully conveyed at Saturday’s March for Science. The youngster was one of hundreds who attended the Centennial Square rally and march to the B.C.
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From left: Dante Antinuk, 13; Henry Wignall, 7; Lucas Wignall (face hidden), 12; Angela Wignall; Kiana Antinuk, 9; and Kira Antinuk at the March for Science in Victoria on Saturday.

The text on seven-year-old Henry Wignall’s sign — Science Matters — summed up the sentiment colourfully conveyed at Saturday’s March for Science.

The youngster was one of hundreds who attended the Centennial Square rally and march to the B.C. legislature, one of hundreds of such events held around the world on Earth Day.

Henry attended the event with brother Lucas, 12, and mother Angela Wignall, a nurse with Island Health.

They were accompanied by Wignall’s friend Kira Antinuk, also a nurse, and her children. Kiana, 9, hoisted a Science Inspires Me sign, while Dante, 13, used his passion for Star Wars to speak his mind. His sign read I Find Your Lack of Facts Disturbing, a play on a line uttered by Darth Vader, to issue a plea for scientific freedom and evidence-based politics.

“A big part of my life in terms of medical background and volunteer work is protecting human rights and children’s bodily integrity,” Antinuk said.

“I hope my children will be able to grow up in a world where they, too, will be inspired by tough questions and be able to investigate and find the answers.”

The rallies, inspired by the Women’s March on Washington in January, took place in about 500 cities, including about 18 in Canada. In London, physicists, astronomers, biologists and celebrities gathered for a march past the city’s most celebrated research institutions. In Spain, hundreds assembled in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville.

Organizers of the U.S. events portrayed the march as political but not partisan, promoting the understanding of science as well as defending it from various attacks, including proposed U.S. government budget cuts under President Donald Trump.

Speakers at the Victoria event included University of Victoria researcher Patrick von Aderkas, oceanographer Jay Cullen, B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and NDP MLA Carole James.

Noting he has been a scientist for 40 years, von Aderkas said he never thought he’d someday be “hitting the pavement” to call for support for his profession, but felt he had no choice.

“Some say that scientists shouldn’t march, that science is an objective activity that should not enter the fray, that it should not sully itself with the mud of politics,” said von Aderkas, wearing a white lab coat.

“Some say that scientists should stick to what they know best, which is doing research, and that they shouldn’t care how or where the chips fall. I say we cannot stand by when our work is misrepresented, when data is cherry-picked, when outright lies and abuse are heaped on our profession.”

mreid@timescolonist.com

— With files from CP and AP