President's Report 2007

Affinity dinners

Rick Mercer and Gen. Rick Hillier

Hundreds of alumni and friends of Memorial gathered together for Newfoundland and Labrador Affinity Dinners, which were held in Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary. These unique events are geared to promoting the university and raising money for scholarships. Developed in association with the Alumni Association of Memorial University, Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador brings together a wide cross selection of people from various backgrounds.

At the Ottawa event in November 2006, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Rick Hillier, who graduated from Memorial in 1975, was the keynote speaker, delivering an informative and moving speech entitled the Canadian Forces: Our Past, Our Pride, Our Future. Gen. Hillier is no stranger to Memorial. In 2003, he received the Memorial University Alumni Association Tribute Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement. The event was emceed by Newfoundland and Labrador singer and songwriter Damnhait Doyle, who herself attended Memorial. Veteran Ottawa broadcaster – and native Newfoundlander – Max Keeping ended the evening by calling on those in attendance to become ambassadors of Memorial.

Meanwhile, Lt.-Gov. Edward Roberts, a respected Canadian politician, lawyer and historian, was the keynote speaker at the Toronto Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Dinner held on Nov. 15, 2006. Lt.-Gov. Roberts, a former chair of Memorial’s Board of Regents and an honorary degree recipient of the university, has served as the Queen’s representative in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2002. His talk was entitled Beaumont Hamel: The 90th Anniversary. On July 1, 1916, at the height of First World War, the Newfoundland Regiment, later renamed Royal Newfoundland Regiment, valiantly went into battle. Despite its efforts, more than 700 members were killed or wounded and only 68 answered roll call the next day. That tragedy holds special significance for Memorial University, an institution that was founded as a living memorial to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who died during the First World War. Actor, writer and comedian Jonny Harris (Hatching, Matching and Dispatching) was the emcee. Mr. Harris holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial’s campus in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Calgary Petroleum Club was burning the midnight oil on June 6, 2007, as master of ceremonies Rick Mercer and special guest speaker Gen. Rick Hillier regaled a full house at the Newfoundland and Labrador Affinity Dinner in Calgary.

The proceeds raised during the evening – over $70,000 – will be used to support Memorial scholarships and bursaries. In addition to ticket sales, a silent auction was held with attractions such as the “Rick Mercer Report Package” – tickets to a live taping of the Rick Mercer Report in Toronto plus airfare and accommodations, and the “General Rick Hillier Dinner” – a private dining experience with General and Mrs. Hillier in Ottawa including airfare and accommodations. Other packages included Escape with WestJet, Calgary Flames Hockey in Newfoundland, and the 1998 Summer of Karmann Ghia lithograph by Christopher Pratt.