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This Woman's Facebook Post About How It Feels To Be An Unmuzzled Canadian Scientist Has Gone Viral

"That's how things changed overnight."

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Late this week government scientists with Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) were told that they are now free to speak to the media. This is a reversal of a controversial policy instituted by the Harper government.

Jody Paterson's son is a fisheries biologist with the DFO. When the news broke, he said what it felt like to be able to talk freely, and she shared it on Facebook. Her post has gone viral as people celebrate the "unmuzzling" of Canadian scientists.

Here's what her son said:

It is official. At an all staff meeting today with some of the best scientists in the world, certainly the ones who know our coast better than anyone (and I am lucky enough to work for some of them), we were told that it's ok to talk to the media or anyone about what we do without permission. That's how surreal it was. That's how things changed overnight."

Paterson also wrote about how she felt. "I feel like I'm in one of those post-apocalyptic movies where there's nothing but darkness and sorrow and hard times, and then right at the end of the movie there's a scene of the sun rising over a new world ...."

Jody Paterson / Via Facebook: jodyleepaterson

Lots of people seemed to agree, as her post has been liked and shared thousands of times.

"My son and I were completely caught off-guard by all of this," Paterson tells BuzzFeed Canada.

She says they "were both just trying to express small displays of happiness about the change in government to people we knew, and had no idea that there was an entire country out there that was clearly hungry for something to give them hope and optimism."


Paterson was so surprised and moved by the reaction that she wrote a blog post about the experience, and drafted a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau to thank him for changing the policy.

Jody Paterson / Via

Paterson wrote that her letter to Trudeau was "to let him know that a simple post about a fisheries biologist being able to talk again about what he knew had struck such a chord that thousands of Canadians felt moved to share the joyful news. In its own small way, it was like the fall of our own little Berlin Wall."

She said this was particularly unexpected because she'd always hoped that one of her posts about sex work might go viral. That hasn't happened yet, but you can read this blog post from her about Amnesty International deciding to supporting the decriminalization of sex work.

Paterson says that "for we sex-work activist types, [the decision] brought almost as jubilant a reaction as my son's post has brought. "

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Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

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