No big commemorations planned for Canada 150 at SFU

The university is instead marking the anniversary year-round through courses and public talks

Across the country, groups are gearing up to celebrate the 150 anniversary as Canada Day approaches on July 1.

Simon Fraser University’s campuses are not scheduled to be a venue for festivities. The university instead adopted year-long initiatives such as speaker events and specially-curated courses to mark the occasion.

“One of the interesting things that a university has is the responsibility to dig below what the meaning of a celebration like this is,” said Catherine Murray, associate dean in the faculty of arts and social sciences (FASS).  

The faculty has put together a program that includes for-credit courses on different aspects of the country, as well as talks by SFU scholars.

“[FASS] has been looking at course curriculum in. . . experiential learning for our students, so we have a lot curated and programmed around the entire year, but we don’t have anything for [Canada Day] itself,” explained Murray.  

However, through two of the courses set out this year, students will be involved with other events marking the occasion happening around the region, said Murray.

In one course, students could volunteer to partner with the City of Vancouver, Parks Canada, Fort Langley, or with the City of Port Moody to support and witness the festivities organized by the municipalities and organizations.

In another, classmates have formed teams of up to a dozen members to work on projects built around the themes of the national anniversary.

“In global terms, Canada is quite a young country and many feel that its history is not without some disgrace, and so celebration is premature,” Murray added.  

She noted that Indigenous groups across Canada are not celebrating a lack of recognition of their rights to their territories and that the anniversary being marked is perceived as an act of colonialism.

“So we’ve been having these types of discussions [. . .] about what kind of Canada do we want, what are our hopes for the future,” Murray said.

Student groups on campus, such as the Simon Fraser Student Society, had not publicized commemorations of the occasion prior to The Peak’s deadline.

The final installment of the speaker series organized by the university, titled “From Broken Slates to Newfie Jokes: 150 years of Canadian Women’s Comedy,” will take place on June 28. More specially-curated courses on Canadian topics will be offered in the fall semester.