Dal 200 flashback: The Year of Belonging

- December 6, 2018

Scenes from Belong Forums with (left to right) Angela Davis, Temple Grandin, Murray Sinclair and Mark Tewksbury. (File photos)
Scenes from Belong Forums with (left to right) Angela Davis, Temple Grandin, Murray Sinclair and Mark Tewksbury. (File photos)

What does it mean to truly belong? And how do we build a world in which everyone belongs?

Those were the guiding questions behind Dal 200’s Year of Belonging, which put discussions and debates about diversity, equity and inclusion front-and-centre during the university’s bicentennial celebrations. The year included Days of Action — in which students and others donated more than 5,000 volunteer hours ­— and Building Belonging Workshops to provide platforms for future discussion.

But the core of the Year of Belonging was the Belong Forum series, which invited world-leading speakers to campus to discuss issues of belonging from a wide range of perspectives. Audiences turned out in large numbers to hear from the likes of disability activist Rick Hansen, renowned songwriter and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie and MIT historian Craig Steven Wilder. Making the Belong Forums extra special was the fact that several speakers were presented with honorary degrees at their events. The series also included the inaugural Viola Desmond Legacy Lecture, which will continue into future years.

Below, revisit some of our coverage from the Belong Forum series, with extra reflection from members of the Dal community.

Dr. Angela Davis (Viola Desmond Legacy Lecture)


Dr. Angela Davis thrilled attendees at the first annual Viola Desmond Legacy Lecture in October, offering an impassioned and provocative lecture.  

"I was moved by the untold sacrifices and resilience of a woman who spoke truth to power, not compromising her values. Moreover,  she has retained a radical spirit and vision where others may have become comfortable with their status. Dr. Davis is an exemplar of the strength of Black women in the face of all manner of obstacles. Not all rise to gain the public stature of Dr. Davis, but make no mistake that there are many who go unheralded in surmounting barriers in aid of their immediate and extended community." — Kevin Hewitt, Chair, Dalhousie University Senate

Read more: Lessons from a civil rights icon

Olympian Mark Tewksbury

Held at Citadel High School in April, Mark Tewksbury's Belong Forum offered inspiring insights for teens and Dal community members alike.

"The Dalhousie Citadel High partnership is one that our community values.  Hosting Mark Tewksbury as part of the 200th anniversary,was a highlight for many of our students and teachers. His honest, funny and thoughtful presentation was an inspiration for all who could attend." — Joe Morrison, Principal, Citadel High School

Read more: Mark Tewksbury shares message of belonging after receiving honorary degree

Senator Murray Sinclair

Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, took to the Rebecca Cohn stage in early September to talk about learnings and legacies.

"It was great to think people in attendance got it. When Senator Sinclair said, 'The mythology of European superiority and Indigenous inferiority must come to an end,' people applauded. In true Indigenous style he spoke with honesty, humility and humour and it was an honour to see someone put truth to power and have it so well received. Belonging takes work, it takes friendship, a welcoming smile and a sense of knowing you are part of something. There is a lot of history to overcome and a lot of hearts and minds to change, but let us be diligent in taking Senator Sinclair’s advice; 'learn to be kind, being kind and respectful will accomplish a lot more than anything else.'" — Michele Graveline, Indigenous Student Advisor

Read more: Senator Murray Sinclair urges Canada to think, talk, act differently

Dr. Temple Grandin

The Belong Forum series came to Dal's Agricultural Campus in late September with a famiiar face: world-leading animal scientist and renowned autism advocate Temple Grandin.

"When I learned that Dr. Temple Grandin would be speaking as part of Dal 200's Year of Belonging, I knew I had to attend. Dr. Grandin's willingness to share her story of her individual struggles due to a 'different' learning style was truly inspirational. Set against the backdrop of the Dal Agricultural campus, her talk was one of the highlights of Dal 200 for me." – Terry Murray-Arnold, School Communications Specialist, Faculty of Health

Read more: Temple Grandin on "different kinds of minds"


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