Trent University Convocation Traditions
Trent’s undergraduate and Master’s gowns are uniquely dark green. Undergraduate gowns follow a traditional pattern for Bachelor’s degrees: worn open at the front, with the sleeves cut horizontally the forearm seam open. The trim colour on the hoods represent the degree about to be conferred.
- Bachelor of Arts - White
- Bachelor of Arts and Science – Gold and white
- Bachelor of Science – Gold
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Peach
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science – Red
- Bachelor of Environmental Studies – Light green
- Bachelor of Business Administration – Copper
- Bachelor of Education – Blue
- Bachelor of Social Work – Purple
- Bachelor of Kinesiology – Light blue
- Diploma – the hood is a different shape with thinner white trim
- Indigenous Education Studies wear a special stole
Master gowns are Oxford style with extra-long sleeves that hang down with slits to put your arms through. Master hoods are all green on one side, with the other side representing the degree to be conferred:
- Master of Arts - White
- Master of Science – Gold
- Master of Science in Nursing - Peach
- Master of Science in Forensic Science – Red
- Master of Bioenvironmental Monitoring & Assessment – Green
- Master of Instrumental Chemical Analysis – Silver
- Master of Management – Fawn
- Master of Education - Blue
- Graduate Diploma – the hood is a different shape with thin yellow trim
Ph.D. gowns are Oxford style, red with gold silk on the sleeves and front facings, trimmed with green silk. It is the only Trent degree with a hat: a green velvet “beefeater” style trimmed with gold cord and tassels. Students graduating with a Ph. D. in Indigenous Studies wear a green velvet stole decorated with four golden eagle feathers.
Indigenous students may choose to purchase and wear a special stole. The stoles were designed by Indigenous artisan Tammy Beauvais to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous students here at Trent University in a wide variety of disciplines. The First Peoples House of Learning paddle was chosen to represent the supportive network provided for all First Nation, Metis and Inuit students. There is a long tradition of a gifting ceremony to mark significant rites of passage, and with these stoles, we honour the dedication and hard work of our graduates.
The Student Procession
Graduands (students about to graduate) are lined up by degree and alphabetically. Dressed in Trent’s traditional regalia, and led by a bagpiper, the procession makes its way past the audience filled with family and friends to the stage.
The Student Procession, led by a local piper at the beginning of the ceremony, play until the students are seated.
The Academic Procession
The Academic Procession follows the student procession in the following order:
- Eagle Staff, Water Bearer, Condolance Cane
- The Chancellor
- The President
- The Chair of the Board of Governors
- The Provost & Vice-President Academic
- The Honorary Granduand
- Members of the Platform party
- Guests of the University
- Members of the Board of Governors
- The College Principals and Associate Vice-President of Students
- Members of the Faculty
- Staff of the University
The Eagle Staff
The Eagle Staff, consisting of eagle feathers on a long wooden staff, represents the strength and honour of Indigenous Peoples. The eagle feather represents the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an Individual. The Eagle Staff in the 2022 convocation ceremonies is carried by Councillor Arnold Taylor and Lorenzo Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation.
The Condolence Cane
The Condolence Cane is a reflection of the Peacemaker’s mission to put an end to war and create unity by bringing good minds together to work for a peace that resulted in the founding of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Condolence Cane is a symbolic representation of the governance structure of the Haudenosaunee people and is used as a pneumonic device depicting the “seating” arrangement and relationships of the Grand Council Confederacy of Chiefs in the clans of the Six Nations (Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora). Trent University’s Condolence Cane was a gift from the Trent Aboriginal Education Council in 1995 and was carved by the late Chief Jake Thomas, leader of the Cayuga Nation, and a Trent professor. It is carried at the front of the Academic Procession and displayed prominently during the ceremonies.
The Water Bearer
Water (Nibi) is the most sustaining gift of our Mother the Earth and is the giver of life. In Anishinaabe tradition, women have a special responsibility to care for and ensure that water can continue to provide for the health of our planet and ourselves.
Conferring of Degrees
On behalf of the Senate, the Deans and heads of professional programs will present to the Chancellor for admission to degrees, diplomas and certificates, those candidates whom the Senate has declared worthy of the honour. By the act of accepting the graduand, the Chancellor will bestow the degree, diploma or certificate upon the candidate with congratulations. Students pick up their parchment following the ceremony.
In Peterborough, International flags are displayed on the Champlain College exterior wall facing the Bata Library Podium. The flags represent the countries of the International students graduating that day, so are changed daily. Flag donations are gratefully accepted. The flags of the provinces and territories of Canada are displayed on another wall.
The Honour Song
Trent honours the Indigenous tradition of an honour song performed for the graduating class upon the conclusion of the awarding of degrees and diplomas. This song is performed by Unity, a four-woman Indigenous a cappella group formed in Peterborough in 2006 by Joeann Argue ‘98, Brenda Maracle-O’Toole ‘77, Barb Rivett and Heather Shpuniarsky ’00.
The songs played as the students walk off the stage at the end of the ceremony are suggested and voted on by the graduating students to celebrate their “I did it!” moment.
Trent’s convocation ceremonies would not be possible without the assistance of more than 100 staff, alumni, retirees, students and faculty. They ensure everything runs smoothly, so graduates and their guests can enjoy the moment. On the last day of Convocation, the flowers used to decorate the steps up to the stage are raffled off to the ambassadors.
Trent University has a green setting on approximately 1,400 acres with a river and 30kms of nature trails. Trent strives to align our campus operations to our green teaching and research and as such, has implemented several sustainability practices into our convocation ceremonies.
Reusable Water Bottles
Water bottles are given to each Trent graduate in Peterborough, so they have cool water to drink during the often very hot ceremonies. They have the Trent University Alumni logo to symbolize the transition from student to alumni. Volunteers from Trent Blueboxing, a program facilitated by Community Living Peterborough on Trent's Symons Campus, clean and fill the thousands of water bottles each year.
Water for guests of convocation is available through large coolers filled with water and ice before the ceremonies and placed at the information desk and other locations. Cups are either compostable or recyclable.
After two years of offering a digital program through the virtual Grad From Your Pad celebrations, the University is shifting to a smaller physical program, allowing the majority of the program and student names to be offered online. This will drastically reduce Trent’s environmental impact, saving the print of over 330,000 pages.
Students can choose to take the green pledge and wear a green ribbon during the ceremony: “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organization for which I work.”