Questions proposed by citizens in 2022-2023

Although the Fonds de recherche du Québec publishes this content, they are not the authors.

Discrimination, inclusion, immigration

Human race or human races?

Why do people insist on the distinction of skin colour as the basis for different human races?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am extremely bothered whenever someone asks about my race, because I consider that there is only one race. And that is the human race. Not like animals, where you can distinguish their races.

Christian Bizimana

Email :


What are the benefits and challenges of using Minecraft Education for teaching and learning mathematics?

Minecraft Education is a digital platform that inspires learning through play and is increasingly used in Québec schools for the teaching and learning of various subjects. I am interested in the added value of using this platform for teaching and learning mathematics in primary and secondary schools. From my experiences in the school system, I have observed that this software captures the attention of students and motivates them to engage in the proposed tasks. But, beyond academic motivation, I would like to know the real effects (benefits and challenges) on mathematics learning. More specifically, I would like to validate its pedagogical potential and explore its didactic potential in different areas of mathematics, such as arithmetic, geometry, algebra, probability, etc. My interest in Minecraft Education also extends to the development of numerical skills, ludicization, cognitive engagement, and the place of creativity in a mathematical context.

By participating in a research project on the topic, I would like to debunk the idea that children are just “playing Minecraft”. According to my experience, they can achieve meaningful and lasting learning by working on mathematical concepts related to the Québec Education Program (QEP). This could potentially reassure parents and teachers about this different way of learning mathematics. Indeed, while there is already an enthusiasm for Minecraft Education in schools, this would help convince more teachers to use this platform in the classroom.

How did you become interested in this topic?

For the past few years, I have seen my children enthusiastically playing Minecraft and have become aware that this platform is being used in the classroom. I used to be a math teacher and now I am a digital pedagogy development specialist for RÉCIT, so I am very interested in Minecraft. I honed my knowledge of the software and its pedagogical uses by following the training on the Microsoft Educator Center platform and obtained three badges linked to this training, the highest of which is Minecraft Mentor. I am one of the few French speakers in North America to have obtained this certification. As a mathematics teacher, I provided pedagogical activities for my Secondary 1 students. In my role at RÉCIT, I have led dozens of training sessions and webinars on the subject, I have coached educational advisors and teachers, I have designed an online training course, and I coordinated a province-wide development group to co-construct Minecraft tasks related to mathematics. I am very interested in collaborating on a research project to support my actions in the education community with the help of the expertise of a mathematics education researcher.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Regular or special education: which one best promotes social integration and school perseverance of "high functioning" autistic students?

The inclusion of children with special needs in the regular school system is, in my opinion, unequal from one class, one school and one school service center to another. Each student with autism has his or her own particularities, and some also have learning disabilities or ADD/ADHD. As parents, we (very) often have to fight with the school system to ensure that our child’s needs are met. We are encouraged to include them in regular classes to promote normalization, socialization, inclusion and diversity within the classroom, but teachers are often poorly trained, equipped and supported in this. Many seem to find the workload too great. Many children do not receive support from a special education technician because they do not “check all the boxes” in the government forms that give access to this service.

Thus, the question arises as to whether these students with autism are benefiting from the regular school system: have comparisons been made over the long term, up to the end of high school, regarding their pursuit of post-secondary education, employment prospects, overall functioning, and social integration?

Parents (and regular schools) often have the preconceived notion that a special class will be ostracizing or will not meet the skills and needs of a “high functioning” student with autism.

Long-term, comparative studies, qualitative interviews, and recommendations for better practices in the regular (and special?) classroom would be helpful to parents, school practitioners, and most importantly, to children with autism.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I have two special needs children, one of whom is a young boy with autism (as well as ADHD and dyspraxia) in elementary cycle 2.

We don’t have all the information we need to judge whether he would be better off in a special class, not knowing enough about the experiences of children who have been in special classes in elementary school. Are his chances of integration into society better in regular classes? Would he be happier and more successful in a class adapted to his needs?

In health as in education, without evidence, nothing changes. I would therefore like to see a research team look into the experiences of students with autism; this would also provide tools for parents who are rarely heard when they make requests for their children.

From a professional point of view, I work in mental health communication and I keep up to date with the research on this subject. I have also been learning about neurodiversity for the past few years and have found many interesting insights.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

What are the educational options for oral disease prevention in children with special needs, knowing the difficulty of providing treatment in this situation?

The topic involves paediatric dentistry and the need for prevention/education in the face of the difficulty of providing dental treatment to children with special needs.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I work in the dental field, and this is a recurring topic.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

What are the impacts of regular museum visits for children compared to occasional outings?

I would like to know the impact of frequent visits to one or more museums on children compared to occasional school trips, which we are already used to. What difference does it make when educational experiences are provided in a museum setting? Do children feel better about school after frequent museum visits? Do children learn better in the museum? How do children feel about frequent visits versus occasional visits? Are students more engaged or motivated when they return to the classroom? Do teachers connect better with children when they go to museums with them?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I have been a day camp counsellor in the Magog area for the past few summers and we don’t have many opportunities to go on cultural outings with the children in the summer. However, when I was in elementary school, I did go to museums with my parents or with my class. I heard about a project that is being implemented this year in a school that consists of repeatedly visiting a single museum over a long period of time. If I remember correctly, it was a proposal put forward by the school principal and a Grade 1 teacher who are aware of the impact that regular visits to a cultural institution can have on the well-being of young people. However, the school already makes occasional visits during the year, so I wonder what the difference will be between the occasional visits that are already in place and the school-museum project.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Environment (ecosystems, pollution, fauna, flora)

Could a dehumidification system modelled on those we have at home be used on a large scale to provide drinking water for regions experiencing drought? 

How did you become interested in this topic? 

When I had my environmental company, I pitched this idea to some colleagues, because I think that it could help desert areas or underdeveloped countries to have easier access to water. Furthermore, the water in the air does not contain parasites. Contamination of drinking water is often a problem in developing countries. A dehumidification system would make it possible to harvest this uncontaminated water. However, I wonder if playing with humidity on a large scale would contribute to significant changes in the environment.

Sandra Côté

Is there a way to continue to use gasoline-powered cars, but reduce their CO2 emissions?

The majority of cars on the road are still gasoline-powered. Mass production of electric cars does not seem possible in the short term because of the extraction of the different metals needed for the production of batteries. Hydrogen does not seem to want to take off, at least in Québec. In my city, there is only one hydrogen station for 650,000 inhabitants, and once it was closed for two weeks! Many of us still want to have a car because public transportation is inefficient or too long.

So it seems to me that we need to work with what we have now and not wait until 2030 or 2050 when we stop producing gasoline-powered vehicles, if we manage to do so of course. This is why I would like to design a relatively portable CO2 filtration system to limit this gas in our atmosphere until a more ecological solution is found. This system could be voluntarily added to existing cars, without major modification. If we can filter out 25%, 50%, 75% or 95% of the CO2, that makes that much less in the atmosphere. Depending on filtration performance, the various levels of government could make this device mandatory in the short term, to meet global greenhouse gas reduction targets.

For CO2 filtration, we should experiment with different materials that may be more efficient than plants at filtering CO2. Ideally, replacing or cleaning the filters should be simple to avoid overuse of products. The system needs to be compact enough to fit in a car trunk or the exterior of the car (on a bike rack for example).

How did you become interested in this topic?

Over the years, new vehicles have become less and less polluting, in general. But the number of vehicles on the planet is increasing, so it’s a losing battle. We need to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by a vehicle at the source, as much as possible. I don’t think we’re ready to give up our personal vehicles unless there is a major revolution in our cities and our habits.

Martin Boucher

Wants to keep their email confidential.

Is it possible to find a use for so-called toxic rhubarb leaves?

I am wondering about so-called “toxic” rhubarb leaves. As an eco-friendly initiative, it would be interesting to know what generates the toxicity and I would like to see if it is possible to create value from the leaves. Would it be realistic to use them as an organic herbicide or insecticide?

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

How can we combine the experiential knowledge of dowsers with scientific knowledge to detect the presence of groundwater?

Finding water seems easy for some people and impossible for others, which makes the question all the more intriguing. In the past, dowsers were recognized for their abilities and used in villages. How can we use the experiential knowledge of dowsers? A better understanding of the mechanisms involved along with the transmission of knowledge would help many people to locate the presence of groundwater simply and easily in a context of climate change. What is the science behind this process?

How did you become interested in this topic?

Several members of my family, including myself, have been dowsers for generations.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

How can people from water rich places, such as Canada and Quebec, help people/communities in water scarce regions?

Water is the essence of all aspects of our lives, from quenching our thirst, growing food or flushing toilets, to wearing clothes, using smart phones or driving cars. We consume water at every step of the way for survival, comfort, leisure or profit and yet, freshwater sources are not infinite and in fact they are diminishing at an unprecedented rate due to over extraction, over consumption and pollution. With the climate crisis causing a change in weather patterns, with increasing temperatures, more frequent droughts and floods, groundwater does not have time be replenished. Freshwater is becoming scarce and increasingly unavailable, especially in arid regions. According to the United Nations World Water Development Report in 2020 as much as 52% of the global population will face water scarcity by 2050.

Canada and Quebec are water-rich and most of the time we do not think or worry about water. In fact, in Quebec we use water as a source of energy through hydropower. However, in other parts of the world, people have a very limited access to water. For example, on average Canadians consume 335 litres of water per day, which is quite a lot in comparison with, for example, 47 litres daily consumed in Africa. What preoccupies me is how can we manage our water sources in a way that can be beneficial to others, for example to people in regions where water sources are limited or unavailable? Could we, as Canadians, as Quebecers do something about the water crisis in other parts of the world? How can we create more balanced water distribution and global water equality?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am a visual artist driven by a desire to contribute to imaginative solutions that can improve living conditions and create a more acute awareness of the global water situation. For five years I worked collaboratively with scientists on a project that explored novel methods of collecting water from fog. Fog is especially pertinent in arid regions of the world, where there is very little precipitation and/or access to groundwater is unavailable and where fog becomes the only source of water for plants, animals and people. In costal areas with cold ocean surface currents, including the west coasts of the Americas and Africa, fog is abundant and for millennia, animals, plants and people have used fog-trapping technologies in various capacities. However, only in recent decades, scientific research has made technological advancements in an effort to increase efficiency of this process. Our art and science project concentrated on addressing problems of clogging and drainage that impede efficiency of current systems, and based on its findings three large-scale art installations and a prototype of a porous sail were created. In the process of collaborating with scientists I became aware of the importance of art’s contribution to scientific research and the necessity of bringing scientific research to communities in need.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Which fuel is safer for freight vehicles: hydrogen (H2) or low carbon footprint fuels? 

The use of H2 for road freight transportation is being considered as a way to fight climate change. This fuel has a wide explosive range and requires low ignition energy. Population density is expected to increase, in part due to rising oceans caused by climate change, as well as natural population growth. In this context, we can expect more road collisions that could release this H2. How would the population safety risk compare to a scenario where road transportation uses 100% biofuel or synthetic fuel with the same properties as fossil diesel, but with low carbon intensity? Will the use of H2 in road transportation cause a major safety issue that will require dedicated road corridors or a switch to 100% biofuel/low-carbon synthetic fuel? This would waste resources that we know are limited.

How did you become interested in this topic?

As a chemical engineer, I worked for more than 25 years in an oil refinery and then 10 years in SO2/CO2 capture and climate change regulations for the same company. In recent years, I have developed a strong interest in the development of energy systems that are less carbon intensive than fossil fuels in order to combat climate change.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Is it possible to extract plastic particles or PFAS suspended in water using their electrostatic properties?

Plain language description: Make a centrifugal extractor for plastics/polymers/PFAS. Create electrostatic fields in a back-and-forth motion around a defined volume in an aqueous medium to understand how plastics/polymers/PFAS behave and see if there is a way to align/concentrate them and then find ways to extract them from the aqueous medium.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I came up with this idea by combining information from different sources and the electrostatic properties of plastics, certain polymers and possibly PFAS:

  1. An experiment on condensing matter by shaking dice to line them up perfectly via a back-and-forth rotation, seen on the show Génial! broadcast on Radio-Québec;
  2. Neptune Balls that trap plastic particles, heard on the show Pénélope broadcast on ICI Radio-Canada Première Chaîne;
  3. Using the electrostatic behaviour of plastics/polymers/PFAS. I thought that there might be a way to concentrate the plastics in water bodies in order to recover them more easily.

Frédéric Nadeau

Email :

Is it possible that large wind farms emit low frequency sounds that travel great distances and can be bothersome to some residents?

I would like to learn more about the low frequency sounds emitted by wind turbines and their propagation in the environment and the possibility that these sounds could be bothersome to some people. It seems that there are very few specific scientific studies on this issue and that in these times of increasing wind farm projects and expansion of existing wind farms, decision-makers lack unbiased information to base their decisions on, but have to make do with the information provided by the promoters themselves…

How did you become interested in this topic?

For some years now, my wife and I have been bothered by strange sounds, similar to vibrations, repetitive, but variable, almost ever-present during certain months. I noticed that these sounds did not emanate from my property and that they could be heard for several kilometers. I also noticed that the intensity of these sounds increased on windy days, especially in winter, and stopped when there was no wind (which does not happen very often) or during big storms with winds of 100 km/h. When the sounds are present, they cannot be blocked in any way, they are more easily heard inside the house, and even better if you wear earplugs! After some research it seems obvious that these are low frequency sounds… What could be the source? All the characteristics of the sound point to the wind farm about 15 km away. This wind farm is already the largest in Canada and will double its production in the coming years…

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

What solutions can woodlot owners put in place to increase the resilience of their trees to climate change (e.g. water stress, increased disease, insect pests, etc.)?

As a woodlot owner, I am interested in the impacts of climate change on forests (fauna and flora) and resilience to these changes.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Can we evaluate the possibilities for the reuse and recycling of non-recycled plastics that are currently thrown away (plastic bags)?

Characterize the physical/chemical possibilities of low-density polyethylene (LDPE#4) with a view to its reuse as a substitute material (paving stones, structural components, additives, etc.). Evaluate the mechanical properties when subjected to aging and environmental constraints.

How did you become interested in this topic?

In 2012, my daughter put together a science fair exhibit on a project to recycle plastic bags into paving stones in Niger and some other African countries. These bags were already considered a real scourge in 2006. It is unfortunate that since that time, it seems that nothing more useful and viable has been done than to collect them and send them to pollute the poorest countries.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

What is the best method to grow polyculture forests using local native seeds and saplings?

I feel that there is an issue in the carbon offset market. No efforts are being made on a local level, and I have little confidence in carbon offsetting. My idea to bring offsetting to my community has gained momentum and I will be planting my first batch of native trees in October with the goal of building a polyculture forest. I am looking to conduct scientific data collection for all my new forest parcels to help determine the best method for planting polyculture forests.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am launching Canopée, a local carbon offset cooperative. We will propagate and plant forests in the local area. It is important for Canopée to use current best practices in forestry management. It is important to conduct appropriate data collection for each new forest parcel we build to better understand their development. We plan to have many parcels scattered across the country. This will provide an important source of information for research in the years to come.

Alexandria Schmitz

Email :

In the context of global warming, how could the assisted migration of plant species contribute to carbon fixation?

There appears to be an interest in assisted migration, primarily for biodiversity or timber production reasons. A different aspect that interests me is the potential gain in carbon sequestration. Nature-based solutions are less costly for addressing climate change. One such solution is planting trees. In Québec and elsewhere, the benefits of tree planting seem to be increasingly recognized. In fact, the Canadian government has announced a program to plant 2 billion trees by 2031. Where will these trees be planted and where will the seeds come from?

I would like to explore the contribution of assisted migration to the fight against climate change because of our current context:

  • Trees live for a long time and sequester more carbon when they are mature, so we need to plan quickly, several decades in advance;
  • Pessimistic global warming scenarios seem to be coming true one after the other;
  • The Agence forestière des Bois-Francs (AFBF) recently modelled the impact of climate change on the forest of Centre-du-Québec: some stands seem at risk of disappearing.

Shouldn’t we plant resilient trees on a massive scale in southern Québec with seeds from the eastern US, knowing that in 50 years they will be more productive for photosynthesis and carbon sequestration than many of our native trees? In a similar vein, shouldn’t we be planting trees further north in the province with seeds from southern Québec? To answer these two questions, we need to know if it is worth the cost, if the gain in carbon sequestration is significant.

In Québec and elsewhere, we seem to perceive our natural environments as “museums” that must not be touched, at the risk of losing them. Planting “American” trees is not encouraged because they are not native. But living species do not recognize the border between Vermont and Québec! Another argument made against assisted migration is that it is preferable to let nature run its course, among other things, to prevent the arrival of undesirable species that could have a harmful effect on local ecosystems. However, the climate emergency implies that certain paradigms may need to be reconsidered. Assisted migration poses ethical challenges, but it would appear that the beneficial effects of carbon sequestration in the context of a climate emergency have never been weighed.

I think it would be very interesting to evaluate, in 50 years, the difference in carbon sequestration of a forest “left to its own devices” compared to a similar one managed through assisted migration.

How did you become interested in this topic?

The text by Alison Munson (researcher, U. Laval) “Puits de carbone terrestres, près d’un point de bascule?” (, Feb. 13, 2021) made an impression on me, as did the study she cites. It explains that as the climate warms, terrestrial vegetation will find it increasingly difficult to produce enough photosynthesis to sequester carbon. On the contrary, global warming will increase plant respiration, thus releasing more carbon.

The global modeling cited by Munson and the regional modeling by the AFBF (see previous question) have raised questions for me. Can we intervene by promoting vegetation adapted to the future climate, given these scenarios?

I am a tree enthusiast. I have planted dozens of different species on my land, most of them from northeastern North America, while others come from as far south as Texas. Eight years ago, I also created a private nature reserve with the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec (MELCC) that is home to rare and not-so-rare native species. I recently started working as an environmental consultant for the MELCC. As a geographer specializing in Quaternary geology, I previously worked for many years in land use planning at a regional scale. I am also involved with a non-profit that aims to acquire natural environments for conservation purposes.

Carl Plante

Email :

What urban lighting should cities choose to limit visual pollution and the harmful effects on human health, fauna and flora?

Cities have made changes in the type of lighting they use, especially since the arrival of LED bulbs. As a result, many bluish lights have replaced more yellowish bulbs. Even if this type of lighting is less energy consuming, the impact of this type of light on human health and ecosystems cannot be ignored. LED lights probably increase safety at intersections, but are they always used in an optimal way to avoid their harmful impacts? Night workers are particularly exposed to this type of lighting. In addition to these considerations, lighting can also limit stargazing opportunities, which is a problem for amateur astronomers who must increasingly distance themselves from major centers. From an aesthetic point of view, bluish light does not produce the same effect as warm light. I also wonder about the standards that cities must respect. Do they correspond to best practices? Should lighting standards be stricter for the well-being of all citizens?

How did you become interested in this topic?

Over the past several years I have noticed changes in urban lighting and the effect of intrusive light on my sleep cycle. In talking with family and friends, I have found that many of us are bothered by bright bluish LED lights that can be blinding on the road. I find this color less aesthetically appealing, as it creates the impression of a cold environment. Upon further investigation, I discovered that warm LED lights do exist, but they are very rarely used by cities. Why is this? Is there a reason for the choice of blue light? Despite contacting the city, I have never received satisfactory answers to my questions. Personally, my neighbors and I have chosen to replace the exterior lights in our condo building with amber lights and we see the benefits every day.

Sébastien Poulin

Email :

What are the most promising short- and medium-term methods for capturing greenhouse gases (GHG) in permafrost?

Sometimes described as a ticking time bomb, the large amount of GHGs (methane and CO2) currently sequestered in northern permafrost would be enough to cause runaway climate change.

I have even heard that if all the GHGs in the permafrost were to escape into the atmosphere, we would not be faced with a global average temperature increase of 2 or 3 degrees, but an increase of two or three times that amount, completely changing the climate on earth.

The website states, “Melting permafrost would inevitably lead to the release of these greenhouse gases [CO2 and CH4], which would exacerbate global warming. In 2009, the IPCC reported that permafrost in the Arctic regions contained between 1460 and 1600 billion tons of organic carbon. […] this amount […] is equivalent to four times the amount emitted by human activities since the mid-19th century.”

My main concern is with methane since, as I understand it, one molecule of CH4 has 28 times greater impact than one molecule of CO2. Furthermore, once captured, methane could be used as a fuel or for other purposes. Although this process would emit CO2, it would be in much smaller amounts and with much less impact than if the methane were released directly into the atmosphere.

Methane capture could be done by physical means (some type of membrane or vacuum device) or chemical means. In the latter case, it would be a matter of spreading substances that react with CH4 on the ground surface in sufficient quantity.

Researchers (Amitesh Maiti, Roger Aines and Josh Stolaroff at LLNL, Berend Smit, Jihan Kim and Li-Chiang Lin at Berkeley) have demonstrated that, due to their atomic structure, certain nanoporous zeolites (minerals belonging to the silicate family), and in particular a zeolite called SBN, are capable of trapping methane efficiently. Could this be done on a significant scale at a reasonable cost in relation to the expected efficiency?

How did you become interested in this topic?

Around 2010, I attended a conference of Hubert Reeves following the publication of his book Mal de terre (2003). He talked about climate change, among other things. Mr. Reeves described permafrost methane as “a sleeping dragon” that should not be woken up because of the immense devastation it would cause if it were to fly away.

I had previously seen the documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and understood the threat of climate change.

My experience with GHGs is mostly limited to being exposed to information on the subject. I have attended at least 20 conferences and debates on the subject in the last 15 years. I have also read about it in books such as Mal de Terre (2003) and Ce qu’on ne vous dit pas sur les changements climatiques (Brien, 2017). As part of my involvement with Génération d’idées, I helped organize the “Rassemblons nos énergies” awareness night on May 2, 2018, which dealt with climate change.

My understanding of the details of the physical and chemical phenomena related to GHGs remains limited since my background is primarily in the social sciences and humanities (psychology, anthropology and political science).

Jean-Sébastien Bourret

Wants to keep their email confidential.

How to combine the action of scientists and Inuit/Cree to combat the significant impacts of global warming in the Far North, with a concrete example: through a cooling device?

The protection of Nunavik is of concern to me, because nothing is currently being done in this regard. I believe that only action on the ground can be effective, because the Far North is suffering from the climate crisis two to three times more than elsewhere. The Arctic coasts are already severely affected, and it has been proven that sea ice is the best form of protection. It is out of the question to transport ice by boat or truck! There are ways to make ice in industry, etc., but I want something else, that will imitate nature. In particular, I would like to use the phenomenon of nucleation, which occurs in clouds to form precipitation (rain, snow, hail…). Cloud seeding is based on this principle, with one major difference: the atmosphere (and clouds) are highly chaotic and unpredictable environments, unlike lakes, rivers with moderate current, and seas. The portable devices I want to use should create this nucleation effect. It is up to our Duo to prove it! Videos on YouTube show the basic principle (e.g., a water bottle in the freezer is taken out before it freezes, then instantly freezes when tapped). The positive consequences: helping to protect critical areas of Nunavik at affordable costs for Inuit communities, while preventing methane emissions and the uncovering of microbes buried for thousands of years, and safeguarding undiscovered pre-Inuit artefacts, while protecting the permafrost. According to Dr. Lisa C. Sloan (U. of California in Santa Cruz), who modelled this back in 2003, melting sea ice will affect the southwestern United States. She was right and, since 2021, this has included Western Canada! If nothing changes, the worst is yet to come, she says. Among these “tools”, some are quite recent, and can be adapted for this new use. Some should be run by wind power, including a novel version of my own. Researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke are working on the device that I consider the most promising, because it is the most versatile, the RHVT, but for a more industrial use.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I have been interested in this topic since the Montréal Conference of Nov. 2005 where I heard the justified fears of the Inuit. In the September 2021 issue of Québec Science, an article began with the words of Kuujjuaq city councillor Gordon Allen, saying that the situation there had to stop. This made me even more aware of the issue. I believe it can be remedied, but locally, as it should be. All parties promise exorbitant sums of money to electrify transport, reduce GHG, etc., but they all forget this fact, which all experts now recognize: if all global GHG emissions stopped immediately (industry, transportation, agriculture, etc.), those already in the stratosphere would continue to act for decades, with overheating of the atmosphere, sea level rise, forest fires, countess deaths, etc. I think we must also act on heat to combat heat islands. But we mustn’t forget our Arctic, which has the greatest reflective potential in all of Québec, but is rapidly being lost. We must restore it before its loss becomes irreversible. Musk’s X PRIZE CARBON REMOVAL competition, underway since 2021 and until 2025, is not representative! Of the 1,131 initial teams, which I have skimmed through (several have already been eliminated), very few are looking into this, hence my idea to enter! I have until December 1, 2023. I think that Citizen Engagement is a great place to start, before thinking about representing Québec. I hope that this research will allow me, in the few years I have left, to see a revival of Nunavik, and by the same token, a greener Québec.

Raoul J. Petitgrew

Email :

Are there eco-friendly alternatives for protective cases for cell phones and tablets?

As an environmentally conscious consumer with a strong need for protection (young children!) of my electronic devices such as my cell phone and tablet, I was wondering if there are more eco-friendly alternatives to the protective cases currently available on the market. In particular, I was thinking of compostable and/or recyclable cases made from a renewable source. Are such products as durable, affordable, and non toxic?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am concerned about doing my part for the environment. Given that I need to buy several cases every year, and that I am not satisfied with the products on the market (which do not meet my expectations), I find it unfortunate that these cases cannot be recycled and end up in the garbage.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

How can we identify the species of mosquitoes in contact with humans in Québec?

How can we determine which species of mosquitoes are present near places frequented by humans (houses, parks, etc.) in order to know the pathogens to which humans may be exposed (West Nile virus, etc.)?

How did you become interested in this topic?

Having grown up in Brazil, I have always been informed of the risks that mosquitoes can have on health, such as transmitting the Zika virus. I am aware that the scientific community already knows that the pathogens transmitted are often associated with a single species of mosquito.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Health, quality of life, health system

How can we better support young people and teenagers with type 1 diabetes in their treatment and mental health?

Karim Ouellet’s story has highlighted an urgent need to better support teenagers and young adults living with type 1 diabetes. Whether diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, accepting the disease is difficult, especially when young people start to go out, work, and live their lives. Teenagers want to be like everyone else, and having type 1 diabetes sets them apart. I would like to know how we can better support them, beyond medical monitoring and treatment. I think that young people need close nutritional and psychological guidance to help them get through this critical phase and give them good habits for life. I believe that a project to collect the testimonies of teenagers and young adults with type 1 diabetes would help to identify their challenges and needs and better target the interventions needed. Some questions to ask ourselves: How should young diabetics manage their disease when they start going to parties? How can young diabetics do what their friends do without affecting the management of their disease? How can we prevent them from developing eating disorders? Type 1 diabetes is very poorly understood by the general population and even by many family physicians. A research project would also help raise awareness of this disease, which is a heavy burden for those who suffer from it.

How did you become interested in this topic?  

I am the mother of an 11-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes. I follow various diabetes discussion groups on the Internet and the question of adolescence always comes up. Young people who have had diabetes since childhood become “sick” of the disease when they reach adolescence. Often, those who become diabetic as teenagers do not accept their condition and do not look after themselves properly. This concerns me, because my son will be going through this before very long. I am part of the Type 1 Better project on type 1 diabetes, which is working on setting up a registry of type 1 diabetics, as well as developing tools for awareness and management of the disease. I am not involved in the research projects, but I help edit blog posts and give interviews to talk about diabetes.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What is the impact of the mental load that people with type 1 diabetes experience in managing their disease?

The management and care that people with type 1 diabetes must provide for themselves is a very heavy burden, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This represents a permanent “mental load” that has a very significant impact on the quality of life of those living with this chronic disease.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I have had type 1 diabetes for more than 60 years and it has affected every aspect of my life.

Réal Brais

Wishes to keep their email confidential.

What are the long-term impacts of hypoglycemia on the brain of diabetics?

I would like to know the long-term impacts of hypoglycemia on the brain.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

As a diabetic myself, I feel that, over time, I have lost my ability to think quickly, and I have been living with ADD for several years now.

Caroline Beaubien

Wishes to keep their email confidential.

What is the impact of telephone helplines in Québec?

There are 23 telephone helpline centres in Québec. They are non-interventionist and their interaction with callers focuses on active listening. Is the impact of their actions measurable? Does active listening provide significant benefits to Quebecers? How can we measure the effectiveness and impact on callers?

How did you become interested in this topic? 

As a volunteer at a helpline centre, I have provided listening services, and I am ambivalent about their effects and relevance for certain types of calls.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What are the effects of cannabis on the mental and physical health of new cannabis users, especially since the legalization of cannabis in Canada?

I have observed a trivialization of cannabis use, especially since its legalization. Public Health has made several recommendations to the government. The provincial government has issued restrictions and warnings around the use of this substance. However, since it is now legal, some people figure that it can’t be that dangerous and decide to try this new consumer product. I am wondering if it would be possible to evaluate the effects of cannabis use on mental health disorders and possible changes in healthy lifestyle habits (motivation, healthy diet, physical activity…) in new users.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I have a son who is a heavy cannabis user and who lives with schizophrenia. I wonder what impacts this consumption has on the mental health of new users. I also provide family peer support to families of people living with mental health problems, facilitate self-help groups, volunteer with the family peer support helpline, and meet with individuals.

Jocelyne Deland

Is friendship a protective factor for mental health during a pandemic?

Did friendships help people to cope psychologically during the pandemic? If so, how did it promote well-being? What are the indicators of this well-being? Did online social groups help?

How did you become interested in this topic? 

Being in the heart of the red zone and working in education during the pandemic, I found that the friend group I went walking with promoted my sense of balance, reduced my stress, and helped me cope with the many changes.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

How can we find a way for the brain to reverse the effect of autoimmune diseases, as if it could “talk” to the immune system?

1- Immunity is a subject that really fascinates me.

2- Recent research has shown that exercise remodels the brain, creating new blood vessels and hyperconnected neurons. Among other things, this has benefits on several levels: increasing myelin on neurons, protecting against several degenerative diseases, increasing the quality of life throughout life, etc.

We know more and more about the inner workings of the brain, such as the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain and the release of neurotransmitters and other substances in the brain.

Autoimmune diseases are a disruption of the immune system, which attacks a part of the body as if it were an enemy to be destroyed. It is confused. But how can we “talk” to it to explain that, for example, the myelin sheath is not an enemy?

Could we change the immune response by finding a way to remodel the brain so that it “talks” to the immune system and remodels it in turn?  Maybe not through exercise, but surely there is a way?

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I am a nurse who has worked in community settings, and I was drawn to this profession because of the idea of prevention and getting people to take responsibility for their own health. We only have one body for all of our lives! I like to keep my knowledge up to date and I am very interested in scientific advances.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Do medical compression garments increase sports performance? 

Are the benefits of compression garments worth considering for people who are not particularly athletic but would like to improve their performance? Is there a significant difference between wearing compression leggings while running and wearing standard socks? I would like to know more about the other benefits of graduated compression on sports performance: before, during and after. For example, for someone who plays in a softball league and has a history of injuries, how can such garments help and what garment (knit, material) should they choose?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I work in medical equipment sales. I first witnessed the benefits of compression stockings and orthotics with compression fabric when I started selling them. I have seen the immediate relief that patients feel when they put them on, and I know that this is no accident. This applies to me as well. When my legs feel heavy, I put on my compression stockings and I feel an immediate sense of well-being. I also play softball. I’m not in good shape, but the times I’ve performed best are when I was wearing compression leggings that fit like a glove.

Wants to keep their name and email onfidential.

In people with autoimmune diseases that affect connective tissues (e.g., Ehlers-Danlos syndrome), can we find a way for the body to produce collagen in the right way?

Several members of my family have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), which causes physical restrictions and increases the risk of heart attack and intestinal rupture. I hope that this research will benefit people with this condition.

My son is being screened for the condition and the results indicate that he has EDS. The skin on his back tears easily, he has overly stretchy intestines, difficulty on exertion, stretchy skin, ankle instability, and misaligned eyes. His ability to play sports is very limited. His father has similar symptoms. He has torn tendons and can no longer do the sports he used to do. In my husband’s family, almost everyone dies of heart disease and some have intestinal problems.

Karrine Sévigny

Wants to keep their email confidential.

Is it possible to envisage an interdisciplinary intervention to support people living with obesity in improving their physical and mental health?

I am interested in the different interventions that can be put in place to help people living with obesity who wish to improve their health using an interdisciplinary approach (nutrition, social work, physical therapy, etc.). Also, I would like to know how to evaluate the success of interventions while avoiding using weight as a parameter as much as possible.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I am interested in the different interventions that can be put in place to help people living with obesity who wish to improve their health using an interdisciplinary approach (nutrition, social work, physical therapy, etc.). Also, I would like to know how to evaluate the success of interventions while avoiding using weight as a parameter as much as possible.

Laurence Berthelet


Can probiotics be used as a complement to conventional therapies to control certain metabolic diseases (e.g., obesity or diabetes)?

I am curious to know more about the potential of probiotics to improve health on several levels. Can taking them sporadically or regularly help prevent common infections such as colds, flu or gastroenteritis, especially in children? Can their use prevent the onset of gastrointestinal symptoms in people with gastric reflux, gastritis or irritable bowel syndrome? Can we help patients suffering from chronic metabolic diseases such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes or obesity to control their condition by taking probiotics? I have many questions about the vast world of microbiota, a valuable ally whose clinical implications are not entirely understood!

How did you become interested in this topic? 

In my professional life, I meet people with chronic diseases who sometimes have difficulty controlling them. Some of them are looking for non-pharmacological solutions, alternatives with definite benefits and fewer risks. Personally, I regularly use probiotics for my family as well as for myself, to prevent the progression of a benign infectious disease, to alleviate digestive symptoms, but without a scientific argument to back it up.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential

Does an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota have an impact on mental health in youth and adults?

The link between the gut microbiota and mental health.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I’ve heard about it, I’ve read about it. I have a friend whose daughter has a mental health problem, and I am touched by their distress. I’m wondering what can be done.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential

Can we eat without restriction if we carefully control our sugar intake?

Taking Levocarb and its effectiveness versus high-protein meals.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I am aware of this topic because our family consumes animal and vegetable protein foods.

Michel Leclerc


Can Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Artificial Intelligence accurately predict benign vs. malignant ovarian masses that are indeterminate ovarian lesions on ultrasound?

I am passionate about art, the human body, photography and artificial intelligence applications (AI Apps) but because of my family circumstances I was not able to pursue an education in any of the fields and had to drop out of school after college.  I recently accompanied my foster parent who was undergoing a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test. While she was in the machine I started talking to the radiologist and technicians to ask what this test was about.  I learned that the MRI scanner takes images of body parts and produces pictures that show detailed images of the patient’s anatomy to help identify if there is a disease present or not. As I love photography, this got me curious. I was interested in seeing the images to better understand the process of how the pictures are obtained. As a young child my biological parents were unfit to take care of me and I was placed with foster parents.  I became very attached to my foster mom who has a very strong history of ovarian cancer and would go for several tests every six months (blood tests and ultrasound images).  As a young child I never really understood the process. Now that I am older and was able to accompany her for an MRI, I wondered with my limited knowledge of AI apps (I play online video games using AI apps) and no knowledge of MRI, if there is a way that specialized radiologists trained to interpret pelvic MRIs could help general radiologists, family doctors and gynecologists to better identify benign ovarian tumors from cancerous ones via the images they take from the MRI? Speaking to the radiologist in charge of my foster mom’s care, I learned that it takes many years of training to interpret the MRI images correctly and that this expertise may not be available in all community hospitals which are staffed with general radiologists that read all imaging modalities and all diseases of the entire body. In addition, since AI apps are infiltrating every aspect of society, could an application be developed to also help differentiate benign from malignant ovarian tumors? Since I am passionate about photography, I would love to learn how the MRI machine obtains pictures of the body organs, particularly the ovaries, and then how the radiologists are able to identify if the ovary has a tumor or not. Even more impactful would be if radiologists can accurately predict ovarian malignancy using MRI, and help women alleviate some of the stress and anxiety caused by not knowing if they have a cancer or not while undergoing repeated ultrasound / blood testing and experiencing long wait times for their results with the possibility of the tumor spreading if not diagnosed and treated quickly. I would like to combine my ongoing passion of photography and the human body with learning to identify ovaries that are diseased vs. ovaries that are normal on MRI scans. As I am interested in AI apps, I would like to enhance my knowledge in this area by seeing if the radiologists are able to incorporate AI in research projects that could potentially be used to help women like my foster mom with an accurate and timely assessment of the ovaries.

How did you become interested in this topic?

My foster mom used to go for tests to evaluate her ovaries every six months but would spare me the details.  Every time she had to go for testing, I could see her being very anxious and worried until she would receive her test results many months later. On a recent ultrasound (US) test, her gynecologist was worried about a shadow that was seen on the US and he was not sure of what it was and recommended that she have an MRI scan rather than a repeat US a few months later. You can imagine the anxiety this caused for both of us. I decided to attend the MRI appointment with her to keep her company and it was at this appointment that I saw the detailed images an MRI machine can generate.  We were delighted to learn that the shadow seen was a benign lesion that needed no further treatment. The gynecologist explained to us that our hospital is lucky to have access to this specialized equipment and trained radiologists, because without this test many women would simply have to wait for a repeat US a few months later or have to undergo more invasive testing including surgical removal of the ovary with or without the uterus for a more definite diagnosis. My interest in this project is to determine if MRI with or without an AI app could detect an ovarian tumor that is benign in patients where the ultrasound test is not conclusive. I have no scientific knowledge on this subject matter but would love to learn and see if my question could improve how MRI is used in the work-up of patients with inconclusive findings on ultrasound.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

How can natural phenomena be used as a communication tool for disability representation?

We fear the things we don’t understand. I’m interested in the ways we can look to variation in biology and nature to give us a new way of considering cultural acceptance about disability.

I would like to learn more about variation and mutation as they present in botany. Firstly, to find parallels between human disability and plant mutations; whether incidence rates and causes are similar, especially in the context of increasing pollution and climate change. And secondly, to examine how we feel about mutation, what meanings we ascribe to it culturally, especially how moral meaning is attributed to medical diagnosis/disease. Delving into the psychology behind why we do not see “misshapen” fruit in a market or floral fasciation featured in bouquets might give insight into how perception impacts acceptance, fear or exclusion. I’d like to explore these questions from a cultural meaning-making angle, and from an instinctual, or evolutionary angle.

I’m curious whether the public would like to open a discourse about variation in a botanical context, as the underpinning concepts about our discomfort with difference can be challenging. Understanding the reception of that discourse when it centers around plants would be invaluable to disability advocates who want to address discomfort as it relates to our own mortality, autonomy, ethics and systems of oppression.

Disabled people make up 15% of the world’s population, making them one of the largest marginalized groups on the planet. Because everyone at some point will experience disability, either through aging, injury or illness, issues with perception of disability and difference are everyone’s issue.

Medical science and biology categorize and diagnose disability. They have historically provided the rationale for eugenicists. How can we use these methods and processes to now examine and improve upon the cultural experiences and identities surrounding disability instead?

How did you become interested in this topic?

As someone who is physically disabled and dealt with the consequences a genetic mutation (cancer), I’ve been personally affected and incorporated these subjects into my professional life.

I’m an intermedia artist and videographer. My practice focuses on nuanced disabled representation and sci-art intersections, often through incorporation of vintage science aesthetics into my digital media projects.

Two of my most recent projects have been collaborations with neuroscientists, in projects examining the epigenetics of depression, and the artistic potential of infrared. Research methodologies translated into accessible and creative projects inspire me. Another current project actively includes other disabled models in the process of creating animations that showcase “altered movement,” the different ways that different bodies move in the world, and adapt to it. I’m very interested in reframing illness as a neutral phenomenon, and dismantling moral attributions ascribed to disabilities, and disabled people themselves.

I have always admired biological illustrations, and enjoyed thinking how this art is related to classification and taxonomy. In recent years, I found myself focusing in on fungi, and being drawn in by this recent spotlight on it being misunderstood despite being crucial ecologically. Fasciation is a newer discovery for me that brings together the symbolic and biological aspects into something I also find objectively beautiful.

I would love the opportunity to be involved directly in the research aspect for the first time, because science has become such an important focus in my art work.

Emery Vanderburgh

Email :

How can we integrate more mental and physical health prevention programs into the Québec health system?

Increase the focus of public health management on prevention in order to reduce costs and delays in services, while discussing proposed solutions with the people on the ground. Implement concrete actions addressing diet, sport, social networking, education, the environment.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I work in mental health, and I see that there is not enough focus on prevention. As a human being, I am concerned about the quality of life of my species

Steve Dubois

Wants to keep their email confidential.

How can we improve access to treatment for food allergies?

The effects of a food allergy diagnosis are sometimes compared to a tsunami. This is barely an exaggeration.

The psychological and social burden associated with food allergies is substantial. It complicates almost every facet of daily life and requires constant vigilance. To reduce the risk of a reaction that could have dramatic consequences (including death), the allergen must be strictly avoided. Even a trace of it can cause a reaction. This is a considerable challenge that must be met relentlessly, day after day.

A few years ago, with no effective treatment options, allergic individuals had no choice but to avoid the food and, in the event of accidental exposure, to use an epinephrine injector.

An innovative treatment, oral immunotherapy, has completely changed this situation and has brought a huge wave of hope to the allergy community.

Oral immunotherapy has been proven to be effective: studies show that after 6 to 12 months of treatment, 80% of patients can consume small amounts of the allergen without reacting to it. After four to five years, half of them are completely cured (the allergy is gone).

How did you become interested in this topic?

My son Christophe was only a few months old when his first allergy symptom appeared. Tests quickly confirmed that he was allergic to about thirty foods.

From one day to the next, I had to ban these foods from my home. I also had to learn to decipher product labels, take a thousand and one precautions to avoid contaminating meals, develop an emergency plan, reorganize our social life, and raise awareness among those around us. Despite my efforts, Christophe had three anaphylactic reactions requiring a dose of epinephrine. The hardest part was learning to live with this sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

My son’s medical condition prompted me to radically change my career path. A lawyer by training, I left my practice to found the patient association Déjouer les allergies in 2003.

For members of our community, oral immunotherapy is a real lifesaver. However, the fact that this life-changing (and life-saving) treatment is so difficult to access is a source of frustration and even anguish. For allergic children, in particular, oral immunotherapy is most effective if started in the very early years of life. No one wants to miss this window of opportunity.

Marie-Josée Bettez

Wants to keep their email confidential.

Does hypersensitivity play a role in high emotional potential in children?

I am interested in better understanding our young children in terms of their behavioural competence, what is going on in their brains, and how we as adults can adopt a more empathetic attitude towards their hypersensitivity. To understand the impact of their hypersensitivity in daily life, with their peers, their teachers, their families… And to learn how, as parents and educators, we can better support such children in their daily lives through the popularization of scientific knowledge and the development of tools.

How did you become interested in this topic?

During couple therapy, our therapist talked to us about high emotional potential (HEP), in particular during our discussions about our 4-year-old son. Without wanting to make a diagnosis, but rather to broaden our observations and better understand his behavior, I am interested in the possible link between HEP and hypersensitivity and in understanding their relationship. From a professional point of view, I recently became a school/learning coach, assisting children with school-related difficulties. Having additional knowledge would help me to better assist children with HEP and hypersensitivity, provide tools, and allow me to refer them to health professionals who would take over and help such children and their entourage to better understand how they function.

Marie Gidrol

Wants to keep their email confidential.

How do we differentiate giftedness from the discipline instilled by parents and culture?

Having parents who immigrated after the Vietnam War, I have always been surrounded by high-achieving family members with a thirst for knowledge. My peers with similar backgrounds also seem to follow this tendency to perform and accumulate new knowledge. Could it be that some cultures make it easier to manifest giftedness, or do they simply facilitate performance, and giftedness passes under the radar amidst a crowd of high achievers?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I received my diagnosis last year. I have also noticed that I am less high-performance than many of those around me, and I am surprised at how normal my level of performance seems to those around me, when it doesn’t appear to be common according to statistics…

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

What are the impacts of the pandemic on the mental health of young Afro-descendants in Québec?

The number of consultations for mental health problems among young people in Québec increased significantly during the pandemic.

What is the real impact of this pandemic, added to the emotional turbulence experienced by young Afro-descendants following the death of George Floyd and the ensuing awakening and protests, for these young people in the process of constructing their identity in the face of this double challenge? This was compounded by the taboos surrounding mental health in their communities and a general mistrust of families with regard to health services, given their overrepresentation in Youth Protection data. In addition, in many cases parents were less available for these young people, as many were front-line workers in health care facilities or held other occupations declared essential by public health such as security officers, transportation or service station attendants, etc., with no possibility for teleworking and all the associated anxiety.

Are these young people properly represented in the data on the impacts of the pandemic? If not, what would be the best way to capture their reality?

How did you become interested in this topic?

My family was hard hit in terms of mental health during this time—depression, anxiety, separation, etc.—despite a certain protection factor as with many families of African descent like us. Families in these community are rarely consulted, and many are uncomfortable speaking openly about their experiences.

This leads me to believe that the data on the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young people may not reflect the true extent of the pandemic on these communities.

I am concerned that the real needs of these communities may not be adequately reflected in the programs and policies that are in place if the data does not properly reflect their reality.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Does a late diagnosis of twice exceptionality adversely affect life course (academic, professional, well-being)?

Recent research indicates that high intellectual potential (HIP; commonly referred to as “giftedness”) makes the individual more adaptable. However, when giftedness is accompanied by a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD), or a learning disability (LD), this is referred to as “twice exceptional”. In this case, the HIP and the neurodevelopmental disorder influence each other, which can make it difficult to make the right diagnosis, since the HIP enhances adaptability, which can camouflage, or at least lessen the appearance of, the neurodevelopmental disorder.

Despite the presence of the neurodevelopmental disorder, HIP generally allows such students to succeed in primary school. However, by high school and beyond, this compensatory ability may reach its limit, restricting the person’s potential academic and career prospects even if, in the context of the general population, he or she may appear to have performed very well. While HPI provides increased adaptability, I would like to know the extent to which twice exceptionality, by masking the neurodevelopmental disorder, can adversely affect the life course of someone who receives a late diagnosis, either academically, professionally, or in terms of general well-being?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I became aware of this topic while navigating the school system for the past 17 years with my three children diagnosed as twice exceptional. Although the field is emerging, there is still little research and documentation on twice exceptionality, especially for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Over the years, my children have often faced misunderstanding and prejudice from some practitioners. There has been increasing openness and accommodation in recent years for many neurodevelopmental disorders, but twice exceptionality remains largely unknown.

Furthermore, at the beginning of my professional career, I had the opportunity to teach science for a few years at the college level. I can’t help noticing that, years later, resources for teachers and practitioners remain very limited on the subject: in general, this reality is not on their radar. Now that I have been made aware of it because of my children, I realize how much better I could have guided some of my students who came to me for advice.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Can amateur choral singing have a positive effect on the preservation and improvement of cognitive faculties?

I recently began singing in a choir (with no academic training) and I was wondering what the main cognitive benefits of choral singing are. The average age on my singing group is about 60, but some members are over 80… Some have speech disorders but they are able to sing without impediment. We are asked to memorize the lyrics for our concert each year. Tempo, simple choreographies and teamwork are also required for a successful performance. At the ripe old age of 41, I need to continue to train my memory and choral singing seems to be a great way to do it!

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

What is the best diet during breast cancer treatment (radiation therapy and chemotherapy) to promote healing and recovery?

The subject that interests me is food and breast cancer. I had breast cancer myself in 2018 and continued to work throughout the process, including the day after my lumpectomy. I had read a lot on my own about diet during treatment, but not one doctor or nurse mentioned it, even when I asked questions. I was usually given general answers like “Eat what you feel like” or “Eat what you can”, whereas my reading clearly showed me that some food choices were better than others. My own food choices have confirmed the merits of my personal approach. But I would like to see this issue addressed in a more empirical and scientific way, so that more women will benefit in the future.

How did you become interested in this topic?

As someone who has had to deal with breast cancer treatments (and still does, as I have to take tamoxifen for 5 years), I was very quick to realize the importance of diet during these treatments. And being a member of two virtual support groups for women with breast cancer for 3 years (one in France and one in Québec), I quickly saw that there were big gaps in information on this subject.

Suzanne Michaud

Email :

Is there a link between egg consumption and the prevalence of certain cancers?

Materials engineering, technology, computer science

Would it be possible to create electricity from the auroras visible in Northern Québec?

In Québec, aurora phenomena are recurrent, especially in Nunavik. These extravagant curtains of color illuminate the northern landscape of the province with exceptional frequency. These optical spectacles appear in the upper atmosphere and are caused by particles from the sun interacting with the earth’s magnetic field. From what I understand, this “radiant matter” is commonly called “plasma” and represents the “fourth state of matter” after solids, liquids and gases. In this context, I ask myself the following question: do the energetic particles and radiation involved in these plasma phenomena represent a significant energy source? Could they be recovered and stored? Could the polar auroras be an “alternative” energy source to supply electricity to Indigenous communities living in these regions far from urban areas?

How did you become interested in this topic? 

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in what is happening over our heads. As an amateur astronomer for many years, I enjoy observing and photographing various celestial spectacles. The optical phenomena of the aurora have always fascinated me, and I have spent many nights photographing them. As the beauty of nature should not be reserved only for the privileged few, I am involved in an astronomy club and I like to share my best pictures on my website or in publications for the general public (see “Les yeux tournés vers le Ciel”). During many a long nocturnal vigil, I have had the chance to read and listen to explanations describing the phenomenon behind the creation of these amazing colors in our sky. Today, in a similar way to photovoltaic panels, I wonder if we could recover this natural energy and store it somewhere for future users in Québec’s Far North. However, I have no experience in the field of physics or electricity and these celestial spectacles are still very mysterious to me. Collaboration with a specialized researcher would be a great opportunity to better understand these phenomena that are so dear to my heart.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential

Is it possible to optimize existing geothermal systems to store solar heat?

Heat exchange between air and ground. A newspaper article describing a greenhouse that stores solar heat underground with an agricultural pipe coil and recovers it during cold periods to supply additional heat.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

How can we recycle used tires (light vehicles, heavy vehicles, motorcycles, etc.)?

With the increasing number of vehicles on our roads, used tires are becoming more and more common in our landfills. These tires tend to pollute the environment and their natural decomposition can take many years.

How did you become interested in this topic?

Through Radio-Canada

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Philosophy, law, art

Do artists have a social responsibility?

Considering that the majority of artistic disciplines are supported by public funding programs, how are artists accountable to members of the public who say they are offended or shocked by their artistic productions? In what ways are the artist’s freedom of creation and the citizen’s freedom of expression contradictory or complementary?

I am interested in the place of culture in our democracy, and in its role as a social binder. However, in recent years, in Québec as elsewhere, members of the public have more and more means to express their opinions regarding artistic programming, and its moral or ethical basis. While artists use freedom of creation as a justification (for example, as we saw in Québec City around the question of smoking on stage), I am wondering if they have a basic responsibility to their audience, as, for example, the education sector has to its students, or the health sector to its patients. Is it totally inappropriate to question this freedom of creation within ethical or deontological frameworks as is done in other areas of society? Does the creative freedom of artists take precedence over the freedom of expression of members of the public? How can this artistic freedom be circumscribed without falling into censorship (or even self-censorship)?

I would be interested in questioning members of the artistic community as well as members of the public on this subject, but especially in reflecting on the mechanisms that fuel this feeling of unfettered creative freedom: how are artists currently accountable, for example, to broadcasting or funding organizations? What real agency do members of the public have with regard to the cultural offer, and what is the cost of expressing their opinions when they are confronted with artistic proposals that offend them? What similar power relations in other facets of society are reflected in these confrontations?

I would also like to look at what is being done elsewhere, particularly in the English-speaking community and in Indigenous communities, in terms of the connection between the artist and the public, audience development, and the relationship between art and community. Personally, I have not found much information in Québec on this subject, and I would be interested in making it available to contribute to the democratization of culture in my own way.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I have been working in the cultural milieu myself since 2018, specifically in the performing arts. Like everywhere else in society, I have noticed that there is a marked difference between the values of previous generations (reflected not only in their artistic proposals, but also in their way of working), which were more focused on “art for art’s sake” or in other words, “art at all costs”, whereas my generation, which held protests in front of the TNM in 2018 and which questions, among other things, new Québec TV projects from several angles (including casting, as in the case of “Escouade 99”, but also subject, as with the series “Les Mecs”), appears to be asking the question “art, but at what price?”.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.


Could special relativity be a phenomenon caused by the limitation of the speed of interactions of particles in a quantic system?

I would like to learn more about modern physics, in particular astrophysics and quantum physics. I have read several popularized science books and am fascinated by the discoveries of physics, but more importantly, I like to understand the description of how the universe works that physics provides. I would also like to understand modern physics better, including the mathematical point of view. I think that today physics is much more about abstract ideas; theoretical physics is based heavily on mathematical analysis and it can generate hypotheses by the manipulation of equations long before experimental physics can demonstrate or refute them by observing nature.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I learned about modern theoretical physics at university, ending up with a career in the IT sector. I have always followed science news. I have used classical physical analysis and mathematics to design physical simulation systems including real-time systems. In addition, I know some modern physics, having taken courses in relativity theory, astrophysics, and particle physics.

Jean Pierre Arteaga

Wants to keep their email confidential.

Politics and society

What attracts artists to the Gaspé region?

What attracts artists to the Gaspé region?

I love my adopted region, Gaspésie. I have lived here for a dozen years, and I have just settled here for good after buying a property with the love of my life who is, you guessed it, from the Gaspé. I have also been a professional artist for several years, and that all started in Gaspésie, in a huge and effervescent artist’s community. What inspires so many artists to live here? What inspires people to come here on vacation, but to leave right away? How can we continue to inspire more Gaspesians?

How did you become interested in this topic? 

During my last year of Cegep, I worked for a few hours at CIRADD, a research centre with inspiring practices and vision. No sooner had they awakened me to the world of research than I wanted more, and their sensitivity to the issues of my beloved region heightened my own. During my education, there was often talk of research, but I never had the chance to delve into a real formative process that nurtures curiosity. My experience in communications and as an artist in my beautiful Gaspésie gives me all the tools to help it continue to inspire others.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Is it your opinion or how you express it that offends others?

The subject pertains to the current culture war, and concerns over cancel culture, wokeness and political correctness. It seems there is some segment of the population, generally on the right of the political spectrum, who believe that their political views are unpalatable to the majority. They feel silenced and excluded, and believe that they will suffer social repercussions if they express their views openly. They believe that their opinions are justified, and that they are being silenced by those who fear the truth.

But I have found that people across the political spectrum are generally open to discussing their disagreements, when the discussion participants engage with good intentions, open minds, and respectful dialogue. I wonder to what extent the cancel culture narrative is true. Are cancelled individuals really being silenced because we fear their disruptive political insights? Or is it because they send communication signals that alienate others and shut down communication?

I would like to apply the scientific method to analyze attitudes around cancel culture, and understand if and how those attitudes correlate with a person’s communication style. Does the perception of being cancelled correlate with communication-killing habits like angry self-expression, argumentativeness, dismissiveness, interruption, poor listening, or low empathy? Do you get cancelled because of the content of your opinion, or because of how you choose to express your opinion?

How did you become aware or get to know more about this subject?

For four years I have organized a Montreal-based Meetup group (Studio 42) where we invite anyone and everyone to participate in bi-weekly open conversations about contentious topics. We have covered more than 100 topics, including religion, abortion, vegetarian/veganism, wokeness, feminism, the crisis of masculinity, and QAnon. These events attract a diverse group spanning many cultures, ethnicities, religions and political orientations. Despite these differences, our conversations are for the most part friendly, fun, and intellectually productive.

I receive a significant and vocal minority of participants who believe that our society is now experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of cancel culture and of overreaching political correctness. They feel that they have been excluded from groups of friends, coworkers, and family due to their political opinions. But, from my anecdotal observation, these individuals are easily angered and prone to hostile argument. They are sometimes mean or condescending. They are difficult to moderate, they sometimes make other participants feel uncomfortable and they place emotional strain on event hosts.

I am committed to hosting open and fruitful conversations about important issues that concern us and our society. I hope that by investigating this question, I can help everyone to share controversial opinions in a productive way.

Geoffrey Brown

Wishes to keep their email confidential

What would be the real democratic benefits of using random draw to create a citizens' constituent assembly?

The political system we live in is portrayed as a representative democracy. In a democracy worthy of the name, the people are sovereign, so it is they who write the rules of the game. To that end, a constitution written by and for the people appears to be the basis of a true democracy. A citizens’ constituent assembly should be sovereign and free of any conflict of interest. How should assembly members be appointed to avoid conflicts of interest? Is random draw the only way to produce an egalitarian and representative assembly? What would be the alternatives in order to avoid conflicts of interest and corruption?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am a member of the Alliance pour une constituante citoyenne du Québec (ACCQ), a citizens’ organization interested in democratic governance and whose mission is to promote, prepare and provoke the creation of a non-partisan Constituent Assembly, free in its deliberations, and to do everything possible to ensure that the will of the Québec people is respected.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Would a constituent assembly selected by random draw favour the drafting of a unifying Québec constitution?

I am interested in how to organize society in a way that is most beneficial both to the individuals who inhabit it and for external interactions.

I am inclined to think that a process beginning with the adoption of a law ensuring the drafting of the Québec Constitution by and for the people, a law which is itself submitted to the people for approval, would be a guarantee of success. Indeed, experts in all fields are part of the people. So, a process allowing everyone to propose what they feel are the best solutions and entrusting the final drafting to citizens selected by random draw and invited to base their work on the content received would, in my opinion, be the closest thing to a consensus. How could science validate this and carry it out in a way that works to everyone’s satisfaction? Could the process be tested at the municipal level?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I find that despite the good will of candidates in elections, the way the system works favours questionable choices to the detriment of the public and could prove to be a cause of many social problems by encouraging bad decisions, i.e., decisions that benefit a few individuals at the expense of the community. In addition, the lack of means to ensure that electoral promises are kept seems to be an important cause of disinterest. Finally, should we make elections about commitments to be honoured rather than about individuals who can change their minds with impunity for themselves, but with sometimes heavy and even indirectly deadly consequences for others? Shouldn’t the rules surrounding all forms of power be subject to citizen approval?

In addition to my reflections and exchanges with others on this topic, I once ran in a municipal election, in which I proposed a social contract.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

How have public perceptions of Chinatown changed over time?

The research question is threefold: What are the circumstances surrounding the establishment of this neighborhood? What is its current state? And what are its future prospects? These questions attempt to identify the socioeconomic and political conditions that have shaped and influenced the numerous developments of this emblematic yet mistreated neighborhood throughout its history. As a central theme, this research project will capture Québec society’s changing perceptions of this neighborhood throughout its nearly two centuries of history. First, it will be important to understand the ways in which the neighbourhood emerged, the jobs and socialization it offered to immigrants of Chinese origin who found opportunities for integration and work in an otherwise inhospitable society. In this context, how was the future of this district described and perceived in 19th-century Montreal? What was its critical and public reception? And when were the contributions of this community perceived and recognized as such? These questions intersect with key events in the history of Chinatown, its erosion in the face of land development, and its partial abandonment by the Chinese community in favor of other areas of the city and its suburbs. In this regard, cartoons in La Presse and The Gazette illustrated the resistance to the protection that the Chinatown community sought for its built and cultural heritage. This tendency complicates the critical reception and public opinion of the contributions of Chinese and, more broadly, Asian communities to Québec society as a whole. More recently, Chinatown has been recognized as an important “heritage ensemble”: yet the question of the preservation of this urban ensemble remains. How can the social and cultural fabric of the neighborhood be preserved beyond the preservation of the neighborhood’s architecture? How has the perception of the neighborhood made this preservation possible, but also more complicated? It is by identifying the evolution of Québec society’s perception of this emblematic part of the city, and the contributions of the community that inhabits it, that a more complete picture of its history, and its future possibilities, can be drawn.

How did you become interested in this topic?

As a student of Asian Studies, I learned about the countless contributions and advancements made by Asian societies to our culture. On a more personal note, during my childhood, I grew up with many cultural products from East Asia. These combined experiences led to the development of an idea, and an attraction to the potential for discovery offered by this incomparable world. Also, although I am not part of the Asian community myself, it was with a sense of apprehension and a certain horror that I read the news about the rise of anti-Asian violence surrounding the emergence of COVID-19. This violence included physical and verbal attacks in Chinatown, which was also covered with xenophobic graffiti. Reading about these incidents, I realized that I knew little about the neighbourhood, its origins and rich history. Through my involvement with various volunteer groups working in the community, I came to realize how little I knew, and how much research potential resides in this complex and fascinating neighbourhood.

Wants to keep their name and email confidential.

Do the different methods of selecting state officials influence on their qualities, such as integrity and competence?

Is it possible to measure and compare qualitatively and/or quantitatively the relationship between the level of corruption of a political system in relation to the method of selection of state officials (hereditary monarchy, election based on popularity, on merit, by lottery)?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am a member of a non-partisan organization that promotes the creation of a citizens’ constituent assembly. We consider that random draw is the best way to maximize representation and minimize corruption. Having factual scientific tools would be useful for informing debates at the political level.

Luc Harbour

Email :

Urban studies

Is it possible to create or identify other riverside locations for surfing in Montreal, like Guy’s wave and the wave at Habitat 67?

Define the best locations in Montreal to find new waves, in terms of safety and accessibility.  There is a large water sports community in Montreal. It would be nice to have more waves and shoreline development to increase Montreal’s surfing capacity.

How did you become interested in this topic? 

I have been surfing the Habitat 67 wave for 3 years and would like to know where else it is possible to surf in Montreal.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What has been the situation with regard to homelessness and crime in St-Roch Sud-Est over the past few years?

The impacts of the concentration of services for marginalized people on their communities and their users.

How did you become interested in this topic?

I am a resident of the area, and I am concerned about the deterioration of the quality of life.

Olivier Patry

Wants to keep their email confidential.

How can citizens be better included in the decision-making process for major urban projects?

I live in a central district of Québec City and I am very aware of the issue of environmental quality, in all its forms. I see my neighbourhood being transformed and I want to see this transformation take place for the benefit of the community. It is appropriate for the public sector to partner with developers to ensure that major urban projects, such as the one targeting the Maizerets and Vieux-Moulin neighborhoods in Québec City, take into account social and environmental development objectives as well as economic development. But in order for the transformations to be sustained by social actors and to have a positive impact on the community, it is also necessary that these projects be carried out with the participation of residents, who are directly concerned and who will be impacted in the long term. However, the place given to citizens in major urban projects is mostly limited to consultation exercises. They are asked to respond, during one or more meetings, to a set of documents, but it is not clear how their input is integrated into the projects. They are told that their views are important, but the time is not taken to properly present the project, explain the available data, or provide them with the resources to formulate their position. It is therefore difficult for many citizens to have their needs and concerns heard in such a formal process. The context creates a mismatch between the levels of information held by the parties, between the roles and responsibilities assigned to each, and between their concerns. These are facts, which have been well documented. Why is this still the case today? Why, when it is recognized, by scientists as well as by decision-makers, that the wider and long-term success of urban projects depends on the integration of residents in the process, is so little place still given to citizens’ voices and ideas?

How did you become interested in this topic?

I have been involved in my neighbourhood council (Maizerets) in Québec City for more than twelve years. I founded the Table de concertation vélo des conseils de quartier. In Québec City, the neighbourhood councils are a consultative body made up of citizens. I have therefore participated in many consultations and it is obvious to me that the current methods of citizen participation must be improved in view of the major changes that will be required in the face of climate change.

Martial Van Neste

Email :

Questions proposed by citizens in 2021-2022

You can also consult the 2021-2022 Citizen Questions here if you need inspiration to ask your question.