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UVic ships caps and gowns to graduating UBC students, after regalia truck gets stuck

A special delivery from the University of Victoria this week will ensure graduates at the University of British Columbia taking part in the school’s first in-person graduation ceremonies since 2019 receive their degrees in style.
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From left, Liz King and Rodolfo Calero from UBC, and Jeanie Gunn from the University of Victoria load 600 caps and gowns at the UVic campus. UBC

A special delivery from the University of Victoria this week will ensure graduates at the University of British Columbia taking part in the school’s first in-person graduation ceremonies since 2019 receive their degrees in style.

The Gordon Head campus shipped more than 600 black gowns and 400 caps across the water on Sunday for UBC to borrow for convocation ceremonies, after the province’s largest university learned its graduation regalia was stuck somewhere beyond Hope.

Liz King, director of ceremonies and events at UBC, said thousands of ceremonial caps, gowns and hoods are in a truck “somewhere east of Hope” and are unlikely to arrive in time for the ceremonies due to the destruction of highway infrastructure in last week’s floods and mudslides.

“The most important thing for us is to make sure that it’s a wonderful experience for the grads. We are working around-the-clock to do our best to deliver that experience,” King said in a statement.

While UBC’s gowns come from Winnipeg, UVic’s bookstore manages its regalia and stores it on-site, so it was able to step in and help. The gowns will be cleaned daily and worn by students graduating the following day. About 2,500 mortarboards have also been collected and sourced from a variety of post-secondary institutions in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Jeanie Gunn, manager of UVic’s convocation and events, said the school is happy to help out.

“During the pandemic, SFU, UBC and UVic ceremonies offices started meeting every six weeks or so and chatting, seeing how things were going and supporting each other,” said Gunn, noting this was just an extension of that relationship.

“We know first-hand how tricky it can be to plan and execute a gathering of this size, especially while adapting to a global pandemic and province-wide transportation challenges.”

Gunn said UVic completed its fall convocation ceremonies — also the first in-person graduations in two years — two weeks ago.

The truck carrying UBC’s gowns left Winnipeg Nov. 15 and was due to arrive Nov. 22.

UBC’s convocation ceremonies start today and run until Friday.

aduffy@timescolonist.com