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Commemoration planning highlights university’s unique role in province

Nov. 8, 2013

Following public consultations and guided by the university’s three frameworks in teaching and learning, research strategy and public engagement, Memorial University is moving forward with plans to commemorate the centennial of the First World War – commemorations intended to reflect the university’s unique origin and role in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Memorial University was founded as a college in 1925 as a living memorial to the fallen in the Great War and in subsequent conflicts, so that, to use the words taken from the university’s memorial wall, “…in freedom of learning their cause and sacrifice would not be forgotten.”

“What we heard through the public consultations was not surprising,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor. “People are interested in the role that Memorial will play in commemorating the Great War, and would like to work with the university and share their community resources through partnerships. They also want the university to provide access to resources such as research and scholarship to enhance community commemorations.

“A steering committee has made recommendations on directions for commemorative activities, and I am pleased to endorse and fully support those recommendations.”

The steering committee is chaired by Dr. Luke Ashworth, head of the Department of Political Science. Other members include Margot Brown, Office of the President; Victoria Collins, Marketing & Communications; Dr. Mark Humphries, Department of History; and Bert Riggs, Memorial Library System.

The university will undertake commemorative activities in three broad areas: academic programs, physical commemorations and library, archives and other resources.

The university will support the creation of a working group of academics dedicated to promoting relevant areas of study and research. The group will explore opportunities in teaching and learning, research strategy and public engagement that are in keeping with the university’s nature as a memorial to those who fell in military service.

New commemorative spaces will be developed and existing sites redeveloped to enhance the university’s role as a living memorial. The university will seek out appropriate commemorative opportunities on all its campuses and locations.

A collaborative approach will be fostered for the development of physical, digital and web-based research collections in areas related to the First World War specifically, and to the study of conflict and society more generally. The goal will be to promote more integrated approaches to collections development and accessibility.

Supporting and amplifying all these activities, the university will promote awareness of Memorial’s status as a living memorial. This plan will include using the forget-me-not flower – an early symbol of remembrance in Newfoundland and Labrador -- and the official colours of the university, claret and white, which are derived from those of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

As the planning process proceeds, updates will be provided on Memorial’s commemoration website at www.mun.ca/commemoration

“In the months and years to come, we will continue to co-ordinate with the provincial government, The Rooms, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council and other stakeholders as we determine the most thoughtful, reflective and beneficial ways to honour our war dead, and all those who served,” said Dr. Kachanoski.


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