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Festival to offer commemorative alternative to Bermuda Shorts Day

By Fabian Mayer, April 9 2015 —

The University of Calgary will host the UCalgary Strong festival on April 15, the same afternoon as Bermuda Shorts Day, to celebrate the last day of classes and offer an alternative to BSD’s beer gardens.

They’ll hold the free event in the Jack Simpson Gym from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will feature an artisan market, live music and activities like yoga, zumba and geocacheing.

The day also marks the one-year anniversary of the murders of five students, including three from the University of Calgary, that took place at a house party after BSD.

Kelly Johnson, a U of C alumnus and chaplain at the faith and spirituality centre on campus, co-chairs the planning committee for the event.

Johnson, who helped counsel students in the aftermath of last year’s murders, said the day will be an emotional one and that there will be some commemorative aspects to the event.

“There are a number of things going on. First of all, acknowledging [last year’s murders]. It is obviously a sensitive issue for the people that were directly affected but it is part of our story now,” Johnson said.

A separate, private gathering is being held for the friends and families of the five victims.

SU vice-president student life Jonah Ardiel sits on the planning committee for the event. He thinks the fact that it is open to staff, faculty and members of the community will help attract attendees.

“We’re broadly supportive. It offers students a different way to celebrate the last day of classes,” Ardiel said. “BSD is a concert and beer gardens. Not everyone wants to do that. This will offer programming for those students.”

The event is funded by the UCalgaryStrong initiative started in response to last year’s tragedy. The initiative seeks to foster caring and resiliency at the U of C. The university plans to make the celebration an annual event.

Johnson said many other universities host an event to celebrate the last day of classes.

“Most people that talk about this UCalgaryStrong [festival] say this is a no brainer,” Johnson said. “A community of 30,000 students should have a multiplicity of options and ways to mark something very special.”

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