U of T commemorates Remembrance Day on November 11, honouring fallen soldiers and those who continue to serve the Canadian military.
This year, U of T marked this day with virtual events, along with a physically-distanced service at U of T’s St. George campus (UTSG). The service was filmed at Hart House and livestreamed to the public.
This fateful day marks the end of the first world war, when nations agreed to a ceasefire. Remembrance Day focuses on conserving the memories of fallen soldiers, rather than the spoils of war resulting from Allied victory.
From 1921 to 1930, this day was known as Armistice Day, and was observed on the Monday of the week of November 11 each year. It was not until 1931 that Remembrance Day was redesignated by the Canadian government, holding its current name and unchanging date.
Ever since, Remembrance Day has been consistently observed over the years, with many educational institutions such as U of T holding annual ceremonies of commemoration.
At the university’s St. George campus, the commemoration venue deviated from the usual location at the Soldiers’ Tower due to the ongoing construction of the Landmark Project—U of T’s plan to upgrade campus features including the increase of underground parking and greener, walkable areas. For this reason, along with Covid-19 restrictions, the commemoration event was not open to general attendance and was livestreamed instead.
This year, Nila Rajagopal, conductor of Toronto’s Children Chorus, recited a reading of “In Flanders Field”—composed by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in May 1915. McCrae was a graduate of University College and the Faculty of Medicine.
Numerous wreaths were placed in the ceremony, each from different participation groups. Notably, President of U of T Meric Gertler placed one for UTSG, while Vice-President of U of T and Principal Wisdom Tettey placed one for Scarborough campus (UTSC).
At the University of Toronto Mississauga, the ceremony was livestreamed on the university website. Principal Alexandra Gillespie gave a speech in front of the William G. Davis Building, much like on Remembrance Day 2020. Members of the community gathered virtually to join this commemoration event.
Wreaths were laid next to the flagpole in front of the building and flags were also lowered to half-mast. Additionally, students could retrieve poppy pins at various locations throughout campus, such as at the Davis Food Court and Colman Commons.
For UTSC, there was no separate ceremony held this year due to gathering restrictions.
In return, Principal Wisdom Tettey attended the ceremony at UTSG on behalf of the UTSC community, and students at UTSC were invited to view the livestream of the ceremony to pay respects. Regardless, a display of wreaths was created in front of the Science Building at UTSC for commemoration purposes.
Amidst great difficulties resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, U of T continues to hold the Remembrance Day ceremony on campus for students and staff to pay tributes to all those before us who gave their lives protecting Canada.