Reflection and celebration: June events mark Pride, Indigenous history and convocation

Canadian and pride flags

Flags fly at half-mast in remembrance of the 215 children who died at a former B.C. residential school; dancing is on the agenda at a June 19 virtual pow wow; U of T's virtual convocation airs on June 23 (photos by Makeda Marc-Ali, Hannah James & UTSC)

June is among the most eventful months at the University of Toronto, with myriad opportunities for students, faculty and staff to express solidarity, build awareness and celebrate life-changing educational milestones.

U of T's virtual spring convocation takes place on June 23 this year. It will be book-ended by events that promote inclusion of people with disabilities and celebrate and advocate for LGBTQ+ communities. The month is also a time when the history, heritage and contributions of Indigenous Peoples are commemorated through National Indigenous History Month as well as National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

This year, with events being reinvented and moved to virtual spaces, there are more opportunities than ever to participate in some of the most important and highly anticipated events of the year.

Here’s a snapshot of the notable events taking place virtually across U of T in June:

May 31 – June 4

National AccessAbility Week: Reframing Disability, Embracing Difference

Each day from May 31 to June 4, the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities) Office in U of T’s Division of Human Resources & Equity, as well as its partners, will host events and discussions aimed at commemorating the contributions of Canadians with disabilities, celebrating those working to foster greater inclusion and inspiring action on accessibility.

From inclusive curriculum design to accessibility in health-care settings and peer support networks for university employees with disabilities, the National AccessAbility Week sessions will explore a number of ways to eliminate barriers to accessibility, reframe disability and elevate intentional inclusivity.

All events will feature American Sign Language and live captions.


June 1

Pride and Trans Flag Raising

The first day of June sees U of T kick off Pride month with the official raising of the Pride and Trans Flag at virtual events hosted by all three campuses – the first of a broad range of virtual events celebrating diverse LGBTQ+ communities.

By raising these flags, the U of T community signals its commitment to representation and inclusion of LGBTQ+ across the university.

U of T Mississauga’s virtual flag raising ceremony will include remarks from Vice-President and Principal Alexandra Gillespie and a talk by Professor Elspeth Brown on the history of LGBTQ+ communities in Mississauga. U of T Scarborough’s flag-raising will kick off a month of Pride events around the theme of “Love is Here,” which seeks to embrace a diversity of sexualities and ethnicities while celebrating our differences.


June 3

Annual Rainbow Tie Celebration: Moving Forward Together  

U of T Scarborough’s Positive Space Committee invites you to connect with the campus’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community at the Annual Rainbow Tie Celebration: Moving Forward Together.

The virtual celebration will include a number of special guests including Canada’s Drag Race winner Priyanka, musician, writer and artist Vivek Shraya, comedian Monica Garrido and writer/performer Heath Salazar.


June 16  

U of T Pride Pitch 

LGBTQ+ students and entrepreneurs can showcase their innovative business ideas and potentially share in $5,000 in prizes at the second annual U of T Pride Pitch.

Organized by U of T Mississauga’s Positive Space Committee in partnership with the ICUBE accelerator program, U of T Pride Pitch will also feature a keynote from Martha Chaves, a Nicaraguan-Canadian and LGBTQ comedian, actor, activist and playwright.



June 17

Display Your Pride

Use colours, creativity and your personal flair to showcase what your Pride looks like at the annual “Display Your Pride” event organized by U of T’s Positive Space Campaign.

Whether it’s decorating your room, office or student space, creating a piece of art or designing a virtual background, this is your chance to visually celebrate Pride and support LGBTQ-affirming spaces on all three campuses – and share your creation with the world using the #DisplayYourPride hashtag.

If you’re looking for inspiration, ideas and tips on how to create physical or virtual crafts, you can take part in a trio of sessions ahead of the event:

  • Zoom Pride Backgrounds – June 8, 3 p.m.
  • Hand crafts – June 11, 11 a.m.
  • Macrame – June 14, 2 p.m.

This is the seventh consecutive year that U of T’s Positive Space Campaign will participate in “Display Your Pride” alongside Ryerson University, York University, Humber College and OCAD University.


June 19-27

Virtual Pride & Remembrance Run  

For the past 25 years, the Pride & Remembrance Run has raised funds for organizations providing cultural programming and health and wellness support for the LGBTQ+ community.

This year’s Virtual Pride & Remembrance Run will be held virtually from June 19 to June 27, with U of T staff able to register to take part in the interactive virtual run as part of a university team led by the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office and team captain Mark Seymour.


June 19

Honouring our Students Pow Wow

The Indigenous Studies Students' Union will be hosting this virtual pow wow on June 19, an event that will include dancing, drumming, teachings, contests, giveaways and more. 

Held on the YouTube Premieres platform, the fifth annual Honouring Our Students Pow Wow will feature head dancers John Hupfield and Cedar Smoke, special guests and Elders. 


June 21

National Indigenous Peoples Day

The city of Toronto is planning a virtual celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day, which recognizes the cultural significance of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Details to come.


June 22

U of T Pride Concert featuring Jeremy Dutcher

Take in a special live-streamed concert by Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter Jeremy Dutcher, a classically trained operatic tenor and composer whose music is deeply influenced by his roots in the Wolastoq First Nation. His debut album “Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa” involved rearranging wax cylinder field recordings from his community dating back to the early 1900s.

In addition to showcasing his distinct musical style, Dutcher will also engage with the audience through a live Q&A.

The concert will be preceded by an opening performance by Nenookasi, an afro-Indigenous two-spirit queer wife, mother of three and artist-activist who draws on music and mixed media for the causes of Black, Indigenous, and 2SLGBTQI+ rights.

The event – hosted by U of T’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, Hart House, First Nations House, Office of Indigenous Initiatives and the U of T Mississauga Indigenous Centre – takes place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 22. Registration is free.


June 23


Celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of U of T’s Class of 2021! This year’s virtual spring convocation ceremony will air on June 23 at 12 p.m. More than 15,500 students from 105 different countries will have their degrees conferred in absentia, with parchments mailed out around the world. 

Graduating students can showcase their pride by renting optional gowns and hoods, while friends and family can purchase grad gifts at the U of T Bookstore. Customized Zoom backgrounds, GIPHY stickers and Instagram activities are also available to use for everyone tuning into the celebrations. Use the hashtag #UofTGrad21 to share your moments on social media.


June 24

Indigenous Toronto: Stories that Carry this Place

A panel discussion hosted by the Toronto Public Library will bring together contributors to the newly released book, Indigenous Toronto: Stories that Carry this Place, an anthology that explores the impact of Indigenous cultural continuity and settler colonialism on Toronto.

Panelists, who will include Chef Johl Whiteduck, visual artist Philip Cote, author and playwright Drew Hayden Taylor and creative director Denise Bolduc, will share their perspectives on how 12,000 years of continued Indigenous presence and nationhood.


June 26

Black Grad celebration

U of T’s Black graduating students will be honoured and recognized at the fifth annual tri-campus Black Graduation event. The student-run celebration is hosted by the U of T Black Students’ Association and takes place at 12 p.m. on June 26.

Due to overwhelming interest, two extra rounds of registration were added for students keen to take part in Black Grad 2021, with the final round ending on June 10. Students who register by the deadline will receive a Kente stole to showcase pride in their identities and academic accomplishments.