Celebrating the Achievements of the Graduating Class of 2020

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Celebrating the Achievements of the Graduating Class of 2020

This is an exciting time of year, as June marks the celebration of the achievements of a new graduating class. Given the challenges presented by COVID-19, this year’s university graduates are facing an unprecedented amount of disruption and uncertainty as they transition into the next stage of their lives.

In what is typically a month filled with in-person convocations and celebrations with friends, families, faculty members and loved ones, Ontario’s universities, graduates and their communities have displayed ingenuity and creativity as they celebrate this momentous achievement.

Below are just a few of the special messages, moments and celebrations that are taking place across the province to commemorate Ontario’s graduating class of 2020.

Notable leaders have shared heartfelt messages of congratulations to the graduating class of 2020 and expressed recognition and admiration of the hardships this year’s graduating class has been forced to undertake.

Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities (MCU) sent a message of congratulations to the graduating class of 2020, and gave a special thanks to faculty, administration and staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure students could finish their courses and exams online.

Prime Minister Trudeau delivered a commencement speech to Canada’s 2020 postsecondary graduates from an empty Carleton University campus, due to social distancing measures: “The choices you will make will make – both big and small – in the next few years will decide the future of our country and our world. And I cannot think of a generation better prepared to set us on the right path forward.” – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Justin Trudeau Commencement Speech

But the messages and moments of recognition did not end there.

Distinguished special guests Dr. Roberta Bondar and Minister Ross Romano, an Algoma University graduate and current Minister of Training and Colleges, surprised graduates with personal messages of encouragement and inspiration.

Former Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Paul Martin, addressed this year’s cohort of Brock University graduates from the comfort of his own home, sharing words of wisdom and advice for the next generation of leaders.

“You and your generation here in Canada and all over the world must rise to the great challenges that lie ahead,” said Martin. “These are your challenges and I know you’re up for them.” – The Right Honorable Paul Martin, Former Prime Minister

Carleton University’s President, Benoit-Antoine Bacon, congratulated this year’s graduating class virtually, encouraging graduates to participate in some of the online celebrations hosted by faculties throughout the university. For example, more than 250 people – graduates, family, faculty, staff and alumni – attended the Carleton University Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism virtual graduation and awards ceremony. It included bagpipe music, speeches, awards, presentations, a slide show and many warm wishes.

Deans, faculty and staff at the University of Guelph have sent videos over social media with words of encouragement and congratulations, including an “Ode to Graduation” to celebrate with the graduates of 2020 at home.

“Let the fond memories guide you,
On the road the lies ahead,
The food, the friends,
The hallowed halls,
And all the things we’ve said.
Though Johnston Green is quiet,
And the cannon sits in wait,
Our hearts are overflowing,
As with you we celebrate.”

Graduates at Lakehead University took to social media to celebrate their accomplishments with friends, family and members of the community. Their experiences and achievements were also celebrated through the university’s Voices From The Class video series.


In recognition of the hard work and dedication it takes to earn a university degree, recent Laurentian University graduates caught up over a series of video conferences so they could share some of their personal stories, advice and reflections as past students.

Through creativity and collaboration, the McMaster University community found innovative ways to celebrate graduates this year. Families created versions of convocation hall in their homes, faculty and deans released videos congratulating the achievements of this year’s graduating class, and one student even received a special visit from the lead singer of the Arkells.

Even though this year’s graduates from Nipissing University aren’t able to celebrate with their classmates in person, they are participating in the special moments of graduation through customizable Facebook profile photo frames, specially curated Zoom backgrounds and printable signs that can be placed on lawns within the community.

Leaders within the art community, past graduates and faculty of OCAD University expressed their warm wishes and messages of congratulations to the graduating class of 2020 through curated video messages.

Instagram Story

Special messages have also come from the Ontario Tech community, congratulating the graduating class on their achievements. Through video, Ontario Tech President Steven Murphy recognized the adaptability and resilience of this graduating class during these challenges times, while deans, faculty and members across the Ontario Tech community also shared their excitement, congratulations and words of wisdom for the next chapter in their lives.

Graduates from universities across the province, including the University of Ottawa, received a very special message from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada.

“This year, things were different. The pandemic changed everything. Yet despite the hardship and the uncertainty, you rose to the challenge, found creative ways to remain connected, finished your classes online and made the best out of a difficult situation. You should be very proud of yourselves.” – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada.

Queen’s University Alumni and Canadian tech entrepreneur, Michele Romanow expressed her congratulations to the graduating class of 2020 and shared her own experiences and struggles as she graduated during a global recession years ago. “Your journey is just starting. I encourage you all to be the innovators and disruptors we need to build a better world.” Michele Romanow, Canadian Tech Entrepreneur

While celebrating with their friends and family in-person would be the first choice for many Ryerson University graduates, some are proudly taking to social media to celebrate their hard work and achievements. Graduates will also have the opportunity to celebrate through a virtual ceremony on June 30.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also took to social media to congratulate recent medical school graduates at the University of Toronto and to recognize the important role medical professions play now, and in the future.

Trent University’s President Leo Groarke congratulated the university’s entire graduating class virtually, providing valuable advice in their path forward and highlighted a unique moment of virtual togetherness that students couldn’t have anticipated taking place just a few months ago.

Trent University President

A graduate from the University of Waterloo wasn’t going to let the challenges presented by a global pandemic ruin his convocation experience. Instead, he edited a video of himself graduating on the Waterloo campus, with his friends cheering in background. He even made sure to include an image of Waterloo’s President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, in his virtual celebration.

Many students, faculty and community members took to social media to celebrate Western University’s graduating class of 2020. Dan Mathieson, Mayor of Stratford also joined in the celebration to send his personal congratulations and best wishes to the #WesternClassof2020.

Graduates from Wilfrid Laurier University can access to #Classof2020 stickers, Instagram backgrounds, Facebook frames, and other fun keepsakes to help them celebrate with their classmates, faculty and community members virtually on July 8.


Members of the Windsor-Essex community and beyond extended their congratulations to recent University of Windsor graduates, with special messages from:

  • Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
  • Melissa Bishop, Canadian Olympian
  • Joel Quenneville, Head Coach of the Florida Panthers
  • Pam Mizuno, Chief of the Windsor Police
  • Drew Dilkens, Mayor of the City of Windsor
  • Irek Kusmierczyk, MP for Windsor-Tecumseh
  • Brian Masse, MP for Windsor-West

No matter where they are in the world, York University graduates are coming together and celebrating virtually using #YorkUConvo and specially curated zoom backgrounds, gif stickers and Spotify playlists to help commemorate their special day.

After an online graduation ceremony was completed through livestream, graduates of the Royal Military College of Canada, who were watching from home, were asked to rise as Brig.-Gen. Sebastien Bouchard then promoted them all to officer ranks.

RMC Virtual Convocation