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The Sheridan community with public figures during the Celebration of Life event to honour the life of Hazel McCallion.

Celebration of Life for Chancellor Hazel McCallion recap

Mar 14, 2023

Sheridan hosted a Celebration of Life to honour the life of our remarkable Chancellor, the late Hazel McCallion, on March 6. The Sheridan community was joined by elected officials, dignitaries, community leaders, Peel Regional Police, Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services, Hazel’s son Peter McCallion and community members. The event was held at the Chancellor’s namesake campus, the Hazel McCallion Campus in Mississauga.

The ceremony opened with a moving bagpipe version of the song My Home, played by Ian Colquhoun, Senior Systems Architect and Team Lead in Sheridan’s Information Technology department. Emcee Rajan Sandhu, Vice President, Strategy and General Counsel, welcomed guests and offered a land acknowledgment, then invited Sheridan President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Janet Morrison to the stage.

“What I will remember most about our Chancellor was her commitment to young people and her unwavering belief in their potential. ”

– Dr. Janet Morrison

Reflections from Dr. Janet Morrison

Dr. Morrison spoke of how Hazel was so beloved by students, employees and alumni alike and how she championed Sheridan with tenacity and passion. “What I will remember most about our Chancellor was her commitment to young people and her unwavering belief in their potential. Chancellor McCallion implored students to take full advantage of all that Sheridan offered, inside and beyond the classroom,” Dr. Morrison shared. “She often lamented not having the opportunity to attend postsecondary education. She understood the transformative power of education, working tirelessly throughout her life to ensure others had the educational opportunities she couldn’t afford.”

Dr. Morrison offered words of condolence shared by many of Sheridan’s former presidents who were unable to attend, including Mary Hofstetter, Sheldon Levy, Rob Turner, Mary Preece and Jeff Zabudsky. Each president spoke of Hazel with fondness and admiration, as well as gratitude for her wisdom and her valuable contributions to each of them personally, and to Sheridan. Mary Preece summed up Hazel’s life by saying, “She was an inspiration for so many women aspiring to reach professional heights and awe-inspiring for everyone wishing to make a difference. She will be missed and remembered as a one-of-a-kind force with rock-star charisma.”

Sheridan President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Janet Morrison with Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Peter McCallion.
Sheridan President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Janet Morrison with Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Peter McCallion.

Her Worship Mayor Bonnie Crombie shared her reflections on the life of her predecessor in the mayoral office. “It is only fitting that we remember Hazel here at Sheridan College, one of the many reminders of the importance that she placed, not only on learning but on youth. I like to say that she created a meritocracy, that if you did the work, you could succeed—your gender, culture, ethnicity, and religion are not going to be barriers to you. She wanted to ensure that everyone had an equal opportunity to continue their education, and that was one of her great passions.”

Mayor Crombie also spoke of the November 2022 opening of the new student centre at the HMC campus, remarking, “That day meant a great deal to her... She was in her element, talking to students and faculty. She understood the tremendous importance of education and the incredible benefit to our city of having a world-renowned postsecondary institution right here in our downtown. She will forever be a part of Sheridan College’s history, and you will forever be a part of hers.”

Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre program alumni Aidan Reimer, Caitlin Collingwood and Kathleen Mills shared their talents with a performance of Yesterday.

Reflections from Board Chair Daniela Hampton-Davies

Sheridan’s Chair of the Board of Governors, Daniela Hampton-Davies reflected on the opportunity she had to work with Chancellor McCallion who became a mentor for the Board. She said, “Through her strong advocacy and leadership, she never wavered from her belief that Sheridan would become a hub of innovation and excellence, attracting talented students and faculty from around the world. Today, her enduring legacy can be seen in the countless graduates whose lives have been transformed by their time at Sheridan, and in the thriving community that Sheridan has helped to build.”

“I am a beneficiary to her wisdom and her dedication to Mississauga and to Sheridan.”

– Roopam Jain, Sheridan student

Reflections from Sheridan students

International students Roopam Jain and Mahima Kaur Anand were invited to share how Chancellor McCallion had inspired and provided opportunities for them. “I am a beneficiary to her wisdom and her dedication to Mississauga and to Sheridan,” Roopam said. “As an international student, it is here in this city and at this school that I have found my home away from home. At Sheridan I can be the best version of myself because I am provided boundless opportunities, support from faculty and an amazing learning environment.”

Mahima added a heartfelt reflection, “This campus, where I have the privilege of learning and now working as a co-op student, will forever serve as a reminder of Chancellor McCallion’s commitment to education. I am proud to say that I am part of the Hazel McCallion Campus family.”

International students Roopam Jain and Mahima Kaur Anand take the podium.
International students Roopam Jain and Mahima Kaur Anand take the podium.

Reflections from Ryan O’Neil Knight

Ryan O’Neil Knight, a 2012 graduate of Sheridan’s Accounting program, the president and co-founder of the Afro-Caribbean Business Network, founder of Detailing Knights, a public speaker, volunteer and social enterprise coach and mentor, who was inducted into Sheridan’s Pilon School of Business Hall of Fame in 2021, shared his reflections next.

Ryan shared advice Hazel gave him years ago. She told him that even if he thought he was merely a small piece of the puzzle, his contributions would have a ripple effect. He has been inspired by Hazel to leave a strong legacy. “We leave that legacy because we build the foundation that the next generations are going to build on.” He encouraged everyone, including leadership, to follow Hazel’s example and continue engaging with each other. Guests joined Ryan in proclaiming, “Life fully lived!”

Music Theatre alumni sang Danny Boy, and Alexandra Lilley, a student from Sheridan’s Honours Bachelor of Creative Writing and Publishing program, shared a poignant poetry reading.

Commemorative book to honour the life of Hazel McCallion.

Presentation of Book of Condolences

In the days after Chancellor McCallion’s death, staff and students across all three campuses were asked to share their messages of condolence and memories of our much-loved Chancellor. The reflections poured in and were digitized into a commemorative book, which was presented to Hazel’s son Peter at the end of the ceremony. Guests were invited to take a commemorative bookmark home, with a bold reminder from the Chancellor: “Education really is our best hope, in Canada and around the world, to finding solutions to so many challenges today and tomorrow.”

Music Theatre alumni performed their final piece, a rousing version of Frank Sinatra’s My Way, a fitting way to acknowledge a life well lived by Hazel McCallion.

The celebration of life closed with a video tribute to our Chancellor, capturing many of the moments that made her so unforgettable and portraying the life of someone who meant so much to the Sheridan community.

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