By Karen Kelly

Carleton’s fall graduation festivities kicked off on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 with an online celebration and are continuing all week with department-level tributes via video and social media. More than 1,200 graduates are being honoured this fall.

The university-wide Fall 2020 Graduation Celebration video featured congratulations from many members of the Carleton community as well as special guests, including alumnus and actor Hamza Haq.

The ceremonial video opened with dramatic drone footage of campus, which followed a flock of computer-generated ravens as they travelled from the top of Dunton Tower and around the campus before converging on Richcraft Hall. A voice-over read the Ravens creed, which begins, “I am intelligent and creative. I am bold and determined.”

The ravens’ entrance was followed by an Indigenous welcome from ceremonial drummer Steve Wawatie of the Algonquin Nation and Algonquin Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill. After noting that Carleton sits on unceded Algonquin-Anishinaabe territory, Dumont-Hill extended her congratulations to the graduates and offered a prayer of gratitude.

“I’m grateful today for the day the Creator has given us, for all of you students convocating today, for everything that gives you courage and strength as you travel on your next part of your journey.”

From the shores of the Ottawa River, Dumont-Hill virtually extended her hands to Betina Appel Kuzmarov, Carleton’s Clerk of the Senate and host of the online ceremony, who was in Richcraft Hall. The 42-minute event featured remarks from Carleton’s President Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Chancellor Yaprak Baltacıoğlu, Board Chair Dan Fortin, Provost Jerry Tomberlin, the deans of each faculty, and MP Catherine McKenna.

Algonquin Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill speaks during the fall graduation video

Algonquin Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill

“You and your fellow 2020 classmates will always be remembered,” said Baltacıoğlu.

“Each Carleton University class is faced with its own set of challenges, but you are the first to endure a worldwide pandemic while completing your studies.”

She praised the graduates’ resilience and hard work during a trying time. President Benoit-Antoine Bacon echoed her comments.

“What a year and what an amazing accomplishment for you to finish your degree during these unprecedented times,” he told the graduates. “I have no doubt that this experience will serve you very well as you begin this exciting new chapter of your life. Today marks an ending, but more importantly, it represents a new beginning.”

Special Alumnus Guest

The ceremony also featured a heartwarming—and unconventional— graduation address. Hamza Haq, star of CTV’s medical drama Transplant and a 2012 graduate in Film Studies with a minor in Law, led viewers on a tour of his favourite spots on campus. It even included a stop in the Unicentre atrium for an impromptu dance performance. Throughout, Haq described his experience at Carleton in a voice-over.

A screengrab of Hamza Haq in the fall graduation video

Hamza Haq

“Whether you came here because you wanted to, or to make your parents happy, or to have fun, whether you graduated magma cum laude or never gave up after eight years and finally got that undergrad…I hope Carleton gave you what it gave me—an opportunity to learn a bit more about who I was going to be for the rest of my life.”

The Stars of the Show

The event concluded with a rolling list of the university medallists, followed by the graduates in each faculty. While the graduates’ names were displayed, original music from Carleton’s music graduates played in the background.

The pre-recorded celebration gave graduates an opportunity to pause the screen when their name rolled by, as well as re-watch their favourite parts. While many speakers acknowledged that it wasn’t as exciting as crossing the convocation stage, everyone at Carleton looks forward to the day when the graduates of 2020 can return to campus for much-deserved in-person celebration.

For more information about Fall 2020 convocation, graduate stories and all the names of the graduates, visit

Aerial view of Carleton University - Sept. 2020

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