Global audience for McGill’s birthday celebrations

Celebrate 200 virtual event kicks off McGill's Bicentennial festivities
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD’18, and Heleena De Oliveira, BA’21, co-hosted the Celebrate 200 anniversary event

It was a global celebration of McGill’s past and present – with a confident look to the future.

Yesterday’s Celebrate 200 virtual event attracted viewers from around the world and featured cameo appearances and shout outs from some of the most influential members of the McGill community. Principal’s Emeriti David Johnston, Bernard Shapiro and Heather Munroe-Blum, all made guest appearances, along with Ram Panda (Meng’71, MBA’77), Chair of the Board of Governors, and former Chancellor Michael A. Meighen (BA’60, LLD’12).

“Since its founding in 1821, McGill University has educated generations of students, and grown to become synonymous with excellence in teaching and research,” read a message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (BA’94). “As we also look towards the future, I know that McGill University will continue to take a prominent role in shaping our society and helping solve some of the most difficult challenges facing the world.”

Co-hosts share laughs, personal McGill anecdotes

The virtual birthday party was co-hosted by a pair of stand-out McGillians – Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD’18, and Heleena De Oliveira, BA’21. Duvernay-Tardif is an MD and Super-Bowl-champion-turned-frontline-healthcare-worker. De Oliveira is a U3 student completing a double major in Political Science and Anthropology, and President of McGill’s Black Students’ Network.

The co-hosts shared plenty of laughs, sharing personal anecdotes of their time at McGill and competing in a friendly McGill trivia competition. Duvernay-Tardif divulged that he and six other offensive linemen on the varsity football team got stuck in an elevator in Percival Molson Stadium for two hours before being rescued by firemen.

“[The elevator] was built for six people, but we were O-linemen, so we were heavier [than average people]. So, the elevator broke,” deadpanned the 6’5”, 320-pound MD. “It was dark and sweaty and hot… it was disgusting – and that’s how I became claustrophobic.”

Principal Fortier: Roddick Gates were “doors that opened a whole world for me”

Principal Suzanne Fortier (BSc’72, PhD’76) also shared her recollections of her days at McGill as a student. “Open, connected and purposeful – I don’t think I would have used those words when I was a student here 50 years ago,” said the Principal when De Oliveira asked her how the University has changed. “Not to the extent that I do today, where I see all that McGill is doing connecting with various communities around the world.”

“One thing that gives me a lot of joy – and this was true as a student – is just getting to McGill, to our beautiful campuses and, here in downtown Montreal, going through the Roddick Gates,” continued Principal Fortier. “The reason why this is such a joy for me is that I realized that the first time I crossed through those Gates, it was intimidating. And then it quickly became exhilarating, because they were not gates, they were doors… doors that opened a whole world for me.”

Fortier closed the interview by looking forward, calling McGill an institution that “thinks globally and acts globally, while being anchored in its own city, province and country.”

The Principal lauded current students, in particular, their efforts to address the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. “When I see all that is going on around campus, particularly with our students and all the initiatives they launch… they are ready to shape the future, and shape it into a better future,” she said. “To think that our community, our University, will participate in what is the most important project for planet Earth – that’s what we want to do in our third century.”

Kudos to staff and faculty

Faculty and staff were celebrated in a video narrated by Dianna Dutton (Gr.Dip.’88, MBA’89), Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources.

“What started with four professors and a few support staff, has grown to a community of nearly 12,000,” said Dutton. “It’s our community that attracts great students from around the globe and guides them on a journey of discovery and growth.”

On top of a series of diverse musical performances, Celebrate 200 heard from impact200 participants, a competition that brings together students and recent grads to develop transformative projects to enhance the sustainability of our campuses, our city and the world.

A short video celebrated McGill’s deep roots within the community. From the engineers who build bridges and schools around the world, to our students who deliver everything from music to free dental care to Montrealers, McGill has been serving people for two centuries.

Watch the recording of  Celebrate 200 event below