March 24, 2015

Finding ways to celebrate, commemorate and reflect on April 15

Community invited to participate in newly launched UCalgaryStrong Festival
Organizers are finalizing preparations for the inaugural UCalgaryStrong Festival.

Organizers are finalizing preparations for the inaugural UCalgaryStrong Festival.

This year, April 15 will be a day of mixed emotions for many in our campus community. For students, it’s a time to celebrate the last day of classes before exams start, through the 56-year tradition of Bermuda Shorts Day, the new UCalgaryStrong Festival and ucalgarycares BSD Day of Service. For some, it’s going to be a very tough day of remembering the tragic events of just 12 months ago, when five students lost their lives at a Brentwood house party.

A team of university officials and student representatives has been working over the past several months to develop opportunities for celebration, while respecting the needs of some to commemorate the tragedy, reflect and support one another.

UCalgaryStrong Festival kicks off

Organizers are in the midst of finalizing preparations for the inaugural UCalgaryStrong Festival. The new event — scheduled for April 15 — offers a variety of programs and activities to celebrate the last day of classes, connect with friends and colleagues and engage in programming that encourages leadership, well-being and a collective campus community.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to the Jack Simpson Gymnasium and surrounding areas to join in a free, family-friendly, end-of-year experience.

The festival will feature an artisan market, live performances at the community café, and a quiet reflection space in a contemplative labyrinth. Attendees are also encouraged to participate in free active living programs offered throughout the afternoon including yoga, Zumba and geocaching.

“Our first-ever UCalgaryStrong Festival is a key component of the larger UCalgaryStrong initiative that focuses on fostering individual strengths of each member of our campus community with the ultimate goal of building a collective campus community of engaged citizens,” says Susan Barker, vice-provost (student experience). “Our intent is to make this an annual tradition to celebrate the last day of classes.”

Artisans and local vendors, particularly students, are encouraged to apply for display space in the community artisan market. Space is free to student vendors. Contact for information.

The event festivities are set to kick off at 11 a.m. and will wrap up at 5 p.m. The schedule of entertainers, artisans, and activities will be available on the UCalgaryStrong website. Check back often as the lineup evolves.

Commemorating the Brentwood tragedy

To commemorate the lives of students Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaiti Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura, who tragically died last year on April 15, the university will host a private gathering for family, friends and their requested guests. The gathering will be a closed event for invited guests.

Three of the victims — Lawrence (Urban Studies), Joshua (Haskayne School of Business) and Jordan (Religious Studies) — were University of Calgary students. Kaiti was a former student at Mount Royal University, while Zackariah attended the Alberta College of Art and Design.

“As the one-year anniversary approaches, our thoughts are with the families and friends of the students we lost,” says Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic). “The past year has been difficult, but as a community, the campus has shown tremendous resiliency and support for one another.”

The university will also offer ways for the campus to reflect and remember as a community. The condolences website will be relaunched during the days leading up to the anniversary and a community art piece will be unveiled to encourage expressions of resiliency and strength.

Community members can show support by contributing to the University of Calgary scholarships established to honour the memories of Lawrence, Joshua and Jordan — bright scholars, favourite classmates, dear friends and family members. Three scholarship endowments have now been established in perpetuity. The first of these awards will be offered in the 2015/2016 academic year. For more information or to donate, visit