Bermuda Shorts Day alternative offered during Calgary stabbings anniversary

The UCalgary Strong Festival won't replace Bermuda Shorts Day, but organizers say it will give students a chance to commemorate the five young people stabbed to death one year ago near the campus.

UCalgary Strong Festival to commemorate 5 students fatally stabbed last year at Brentwood house party

University of Calgary students celebrate the last day of class at Bermuda Shorts Day. (Gene Baines/University of Calgary)

Many University of Calgary students will be celebrating the end of the winter semester on Wednesday by throwing back beers and dancing the day away at the Bermuda Shorts Day (BSD) festivities.

But this year, there will likely be some students who don't want to take part in the 55-year campus tradition.

"It's been tough. It's been a tough year," said U of C chaplain Kelly Johnson. "It was an incredibly difficult thing for all of Calgary."

The last day of classes on April 15 marks the one-year anniversary of the fatal stabbing deaths of five young people at a house party in Brentwood after BSD celebrations.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Lawrence Hong, 27, Kaitlin Perras, 23, ​Jordan Segura, 22, and Joshua Hunter, 23, died after Matthew de Grood, 22, allegedly went on a stabbing rampage at the party in the early hours of April 15, 2014. (Facebook)

There will be a public candlelight vigil at 9 p.m. on Tuesday — the eve of the stabbings anniversary — outside the home where the killings occurred at 11 Butler Crescent N.W.

Johnson, who counseled students after the stabbings, says there will also be several opportunities at the University of Calgary on Wednesday for people to remember the five victims.

The public is invited to light memorial candles between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Jack Simpson Gym on April 15. 

"It helps us to figure out what makes us human and realize no one is immune from grieving and sorrows," said Johnson.

Sober alternative

The university will also be offering a sober and alternative to Bermuda Shorts Day with the UCalgary Strong Festival.

The event will feature an artisan market with free donuts and coffee. There will also be a drumming circle, performances by the Green Fools Theatre and activities like geocaching, zumba and yoga.

"It's been pretty impressive to see the way that people have mobilized," said Johnson. "We need to be more intentional about building something that is enduring and is going to be a great gift to all of us."


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