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Faculty of Education Remembers

November 10, 2011

November 11 has a special meaning for Newfoundlanders, Labradoreans, and Canadians, as every year we take a moment to remember those who have fought for the freedom of our nation. Memorial University has a particular connection to those great men and women, having been founded in their honour in 1925 as Memorial College.

Now, years later, the university continues to thrive having grown from its Parade Street roots to a multi-campus institution serving all of Newfoundland and Labrador with a growing international influence.

Dean of Education Dr. Kirk Anderson recalls commemorating Remembrance Day in schools through special events, school assemblies, and stories from veterans. During Grenfell's convocation ceremony in October, he recalls being particularly struck by the words of Dr. Kevin Major who spoke in Corner Brook.

"Dr. Major recounted being in England and visiting the graves of a group of Newfoundland Regiment soldiers and a Newfoundland nurse. He spoke eloquently of their sacrifice and of the other women and men for whom this university was created as a living memorial," Dr. Anderson said.

"He then told the graduates that those brave young men and women would be proud of them today. Honouring this sacrifice and earning this pride is a tremendous connection between our citizens who gave their lives and the duty of our university community to be that living memorial."

The link to the foundation of Memorial can be seen throughout the people in the building, including staff, faculty, and students. Countless individuals in the Faculty of Education have relatives who fought in prior wars, or who are involved in the military today. In fact, the faculty has students who have returned from overseas tours and are now working towards an Education degree.

Cory MacDonald is currently studying at Memorial, working towards his degree in Intermediate/Secondary Education. He spent seven months in Afghanistan, stationed in Kandahar City working out of Camp Nathan Smith as part of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.

"The transition between military and civilian life can be difficult. Fortunately I found that Memorial University was very accommodating to my situation and allowed me to pursue Education. MUN has a history of supporting its student soldiers and this was part of my attraction to the school."

Given his time as a full-time reservist, however, MacDonald has concerns that go beyond the battlefield and into civilian life.

"I was lucky in that I already had one degree, and I had an idea of what I wanted to do. Many returning reservists don't have that option and sometimes fall into bad cycles of alcoholism, poor lifestyle choices, unemployment, or underemployment. We need to have more support for reservists entering the civilian workforce and pursuing education."

To consider such realities is indeed a sobering reminder of the price of freedom, a reminder that Memorial takes very seriously given its history and the spirit on which the institution was founded.

So with Remembrance Day upon us, the Faculty of Education is proud to represent Memorial University and those men and women who fought in the past and continue to do so today.

Lest we forget.