The University of Dalhousie welcomed entering a third century with a creative performance at its Bicentennial Launch on Feb. 6 2018.
“We wanted something that really reflected on Dal’s 200 years,” said Lindsay Dowling, media relations for the launch committee. “So really celebrating the past 200 years of achievement, inspiration and impact. But we also wanted it to be something that encouraged people to look forward to the third century and to talk about our hopes and aspirations for the future.”
The launch began with a welcome from the Chancellor of Dalhousie, Honourable A. Anne McLellan, and a blessing by Elder Jane Abram from Millbrook First Nation and Dalhousie’s Elder in Residence for the Schulich School of Law.
Along with Elder Jane Abram’s prayer, there was also a Mi’kmaq performance including drummers, dancers and a monologue.
The event was focused around a poem written and recited by George Elliott Clarke, a Dalhousie alumni and former parliamentary poet laureate. The poem led the audience through Dalhousie’s history, starting with the creation and ending with Clarke’s own personal story.
Musical performances occurred during breaks in the poem, accompanied by a slideshow relating to what Clarke just spoke about. The topics ranged from women students of Dalhousie to the integration of different religions to black students of Dalhousie through the history.
“We’ve been planning the 200th anniversary for several years now and the planning process included members from across the entire community,” said Dowling. “So that would include participation from students, staff, faculty, alumni, even retirees and friends of the university.”
Last year a call was sent out for a composition that would play at this Bicentennial Launch. An original piece entitled “The Eagle and the Shield” debuted Tuesday at the end of the launch ceremony, played by the Maritime Brass Quintet.
It was Feb. 6, 1818 that a letter from Lord Bathurst arrived to Lord Dalhousie, giving permission on behalf of the British Crown to use the “spoils of the War of 1812 to establish a new college in Halifax,” according to a press release written by Dowling.
“That decision itself was bold and visionary, spending precious public dollars on books and a college,” Dalhousie President Richard Florizone told the crowd after being introduced by Nayni Jensen, Dalhousie’s 91st Rhodes Scholar.
Florizone spoke about Dalhousie’s history with partnerships, research, and commitment to the highest form of education.
“As we stand at the dawn of our third century, the best is yet to come.”