Two centuries in the making: Bicentennial Launch kicks off Dal's anniversary year on Feb. 6

- January 31, 2018

A selection of performers from the Bicentennial Launch. Left to right: President Richard Florizone, George Elliott Clarke, shalan joudry, Eastern Eagle and the Maritime Brass Quintet.
A selection of performers from the Bicentennial Launch. Left to right: President Richard Florizone, George Elliott Clarke, shalan joudry, Eastern Eagle and the Maritime Brass Quintet.

An anniversary as big as Dal’s 200th requires a proper kickoff — an opening ceremony, if you will.

The Bicentennial Launch, which takes place on Tuesday, February 6 in the Dalhousie Arts Centre’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, is the first big signature event of Dal’s anniversary year. The event will reflect on Dal’s journey over the past 200 years and look ahead towards its third century, and feature special performance by Dal alumnus George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s most recent Parliamentary Poet Laureate.

“I am excited to celebrate our 200th anniversary with the Dalhousie community here in Nova Scotia and around the world,” says Dalhousie President Richard Florizone, who will speak at the Bicentennial Launch on the impact of Dal’s legacy and the promise of its future.

“This celebration provides us with an opportunity to engage our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends in a conversation about our hopes and dreams for the future of Dalhousie and society as a whole. The Bicentennial Launch will be a great opportunity to start this conversation and to say thank you to all who have helped us reach this milestone.”

The reason for choosing February 6 for the launch event is that it marks the 200th anniversary of the day Lord Bathurst, colonial secretary, granted Lord Dalhousie’s request to use spoils from the War of 1812 to fund a new college in Halifax.     

A journey through art, poetry, performance

At the event, Clarke will perform excerpts from his new poem, The Story of Dalhousie — commissioned for Dal’s 200th anniversary — and act as a guide of sorts for the occasion, leading the audience through Dal’s founding years right up to present day. The Bicentennial Launch will also feature current Dal students and alumni of the Fountain School of Performing Arts, Mi’kmaq drumming group Eastern Eagle, spoken word poet shalan joudry, African Nova Scotian drumming group Drummers from Home and other special guest appearances.

Additionally, the Bicentennial Launch will include the first public performance of The Eagle and Shield, a new convocation anthem composed by Nova Scotia Music Award nominee and Dal alumnus Paul St-Amand, performed by the Maritime Brass Quintet.

Read more: A joyful noise: Dal 200 musical composition debuts at Feb. 6 Bicentennial Launch

“We have been planning our 200th anniversary for several years now and much of the Dalhousie community has been involved in the process,” says Catherine Bagnell-Styles, assistant vice-president, Communications and Marketing and chair of the 200th planning committee. “The Bicentennial Launch will be a once-in-a-lifetime performance that will demonstrate the history, transformation and vision of the university in an unexpected yet memorable manner using art, music, poetry and storytelling.”

Email invites to the launch were sent to students, faculty and staff last month, as well as additional alumni and special guests. For those who are unable to attend the event, the Bicentennial Launch will be livestreamed on

For information on other Dalhousie 200th anniversary events, visit  


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