Award-winning comedian Sindhu Vee was part of the lineup for McGill’s Bicentennial At-Home Homecoming 2021.

On Campus

Alumni reunite at historic Homecoming

Homecoming is always steeped in nostalgia as alumni reminisce about their time at McGill. But this year’s edition added special milestones to the mix: McGill’s Bicentennial and the 100th anniversary of Homecoming.

Story by Brenda Branswell

September 2021

Homecoming is always steeped in nostalgia as alumni reminisce about their time at McGill. But this year’s edition added special milestones to the mix: McGill’s Bicentennial and the 100th anniversary of Homecoming.

Keeping Homecoming virtual this year made the most sense, given the University’s primary focus on the safe resumption of in-person academic activities this semester. But sensible needn’t be synonymous with dull and McGill went all out to make Bicentennial At-Home Homecoming 2021 memorable. The virtual events spanned four days – September 29 to October 2 – and brought together alumni from around the globe to reconnect, celebrate, and reflect as experts weighed in on timely topics. The historic gathering enjoyed terrific viewership, despite the gradual reopening of certain parts of the world.

Thousands tuned in to hear Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 67th Beatty Lecturer, share his insights on the COVID-19 pandemic. The chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden and Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Dr. Fauci received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences following the lecture and noted it was “particularly meaningful for me as I have a kinship with McGill.”

Other signature Homecoming events included an engaging Town Hall with Principal Suzanne Fortier, who shared news with McGill Alumni Association (MAA) President Luciano D’Iorio about the University and touched on several topics such as students’ return to campus this fall. She also talked about the Bicentennial, the start of the University’s third century and the 100th edition of Homecoming – a century of McGill alumni reuniting. “It shows, I think, the attachment that people have for our great university” – that sense of being part of a community and wanting to contribute to it is wonderful, she said. The MAA represents over 275,000 alumni in more than 185 countries and Principal Fortier called belonging to a world-wide community a “great privilege”.

Several faculties hosted intergenerational conversations with McGill experts on a range of thought-provoking topics, from diversity, equality, and inclusion with a special focus on Indigenous peoples’ rights, to maximizing brain health and the trade-offs associated with some sustainable practices. The discussions tapped into a broad range of expertise and experience: McGill professors and researchers, current students and recent graduates as well as alumni further along their career path.

Award-winning comedian, writer, actor (and alumna!) Sindhu Vee entertained McGillians at the ever-popular Leacock Lecture with her humorous reminiscences of life on campus and in Montreal, while the Class of 1971 celebrated its Golden Jubilee anniversary with a stroll down memory lane to a graduating year that coincided with a politically turbulent time in history. The virtual gathering included fun rapid-fire questions about McGill student life 50 years ago (think bell bottoms, tie-dye t-shirts and Bens Delicatessen) compared to now, and a photo montage from the 1971 Old McGill yearbook.

McGill alumni groups joined in the action with a slew of Homecoming events. At the annual Return of the Rainbow event, attendees learned about the launch of the McGill Queer Alum Association and were invited to contribute to the development of its action plan at an online meet-and-greet in October. McGill Young Alumni and the McGill Latino Alumni Society welcomed Daniel Aleman, BCom’16, whose debut novel Indivisible has attracted attention and acclaim, while the McGill Women’s Alumnae Association explored how women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are shaping the future. The McGill Black Alumni Association (MBAA) held a moderated conversation with artist Quentin VerCetty about commemoration as a form of resistance.

The five co-founders of the MBAA were among the honorees at the MAA Honours and Awards 2021 Celebration: Marilyn Naana Ahun, BA’15, Christelle Dossa, BA’15, Laura Parny Germain, BEng’15, MBA’21, Samra Lakew, BEng’14, and Sandrine Ntibarigobeka, BA’16. You can watch a replay of the lively ceremony – replete with musical flourishes and well-deserved applause – that celebrated inspiring McGillians for their impressive contributions and achievements in service of McGill, the MAA and their respective communities. Other winners included Margaret A. Gilliam, BSc’59, who received the MAA’s top honour (Award of Merit), and Dr. Richard Walls, PhD’78, DSc’13, and Carolina Walls, BSc’85, DSc’13, (Distinguished Service Award). McGill’s Macdonald Campus also celebrated its impressive graduates with its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Miss a Homecoming event that you really wanted to see? Watch recorded versions of events from Bicentennial At-Home Homecoming 2021.

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