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Convocation Handbook for Grads

Congratulations graduates

Your university is proud of you

Graduation is an exciting part of life on campus. We are pleased that you have decided to join us at the convocation ceremony. We look forward to making this day memorable for you and your guests.

VIU's convocation ceremonies are a mix of academic traditions and modern celebration. In addition to recognizing the achievements of graduates, the university may also grant honorary credentials.

This page is to help you understand what is involved before, during, and after the convocation ceremony.

If you have any further questions about the ceremony, or if you or your guests have any special accommodations that need to be met, please email or phone 250.753.3245 Ext. 2234.

students at convocation ceremonies

Information for your guests

If you ordered tickets for your guests, please hand them out to your guests before the ceremony as they are required for admittance to the gymnasium.

Due to Fire Code regulations, every guest must have a ticket (including infants).

If you requested extra tickets, you will be contacted if some become available.

If you received tickets but won’t be using them, please return them to the Registration Centre in Building 200. Your fellow graduating students will appreciate receiving these tickets.

VIU holds convocation ceremonies in the gymnasium at our Nanaimo campus. See map below.

Free parking will be available at most VIU parking locations on convocation days. If you want to drop off guests with mobility challenges, the best locations are on the south side of the gymnasium or at Lot V1 and Lot S off Fourth Street. See map below.

The main doors to the VIU gymnasium will open one hour prior to the ceremony. Guests must be seated at least five minutes before the ceremony begins. Bleacher seating is general and first-come, first-served.

Guests may bring their own cushion for added comfort, and are encouraged to bring water as it can get warm in the gymnasium.

The ceremony is usually about two hours long with no intermission. We ask that your guests remain seated in the gymnasium for the duration of the ceremony.

There will be a display of merchandise and flowers for sale before and after the ceremony. Guests can also order ahead of time to guarantee a desired colour or size. Orders will be ready for pick up at the ceremony.

The ceremony takes place in the gymnasium with bleacher seating for friends, family and other supporters. Those who are concerned about seating comfort for the two-hour ceremony may prefer to view the livestream event on-screen at the Malaspina Theatre in Building 310, as well as in the VIU Students' Union Pub in Building 193 next to gym. This seating will be first-come, first-served, and no tickets are required. These guests can then join their graduates at the reception after the ceremony.

Additionally, the Malaspina Theatre has hearing loop technology (assistive hearing system to enhance audio for those with T-coil equipped hearing aids).

Guests are invited to join their graduates for photos and light snacks following the ceremony. The main reception area is the Main Cafeteria (Building 300) and Quad, with other outdoor reception areas closer to the gymnasium.

A shuttle van will be available between the gymnasium and the main cafeteria for individuals who have difficulties with stairs. Pick-up/drop off locations are on the south side of the gym and in Lot F at the upper cafeteria/Welcome Centre.

The VIU Residence Hotel offers affordable short-term accommodation for summer visitors to the city of Nanaimo.

Our hotel features a variety of room options to suit every need, including four-bedroom apartments, two- bedroom suites and single rooms. Enjoy spectacular views, free guest parking and campus amenities! We look forward to welcoming you during convocation.

If you have mobility concerns and need additional support to participate in the ceremony, please contact us as soon as possible.

Accessibility Services Office: 250.740.6446 |

Convocation Office: 250.753.3245 |

If any of your guests are in a wheelchair or require special seating arrangements, please email well before the ceremony date to make arrangements.


Each student participating in the ceremony wears the VIU regalia for their program, unless they are wearing their own Indigenous, Métis or Inuit regalia. VIU regalia consists of a black gown and a black mortarboard cap with tassel; some programs also wear a hood or a stole. This is an academic tradition, as such no embellishments or variations are permitted on VIU regalia.

VIU regalia is rented online from Gaspard in Winnipeg. Place your order before the deadline (2024 order deadline to be confirmed).

If you plan to wear your own Indigenous, Métis or Inuit regalia, please email us at to let us know. That way, we won't worry if we don’t see your name on Gaspard’s regalia ordering list. Questions about Indigenous/Métis/Inuit regalia may be directed to Jennifer Christoffersen at Services for Aboriginal Students: Jennifer.Christoffersen@ or 250.740.6510.

Grads wearing regalia at a ceremonuy

The last day to order regalia online for Convocation 2024 is to be confirmed. Gaspard cannot take orders after this date.

It may be possible to place a late order through the Nanaimo Campus Store. Email to inquire.

Please note: an additional, non-refundable $50 late fee will be charged in addition to the regalia rental cost on all late orders. 

Your VIU regalia will be available at the Campus Store (pick-up date to be confirmed).

When you pick up your VIU regalia, please make sure you receive all that you ordered. All students should pick up a mortarboard cap/tassel and black gown. If you are graduating with a bachelor's or master's degree, you should also pick up the appropriate coloured hood. If you are graduating with an advanced diploma, post-degree diploma, graduate diploma or graduate certificate, you should pick up the appropriate coloured stole.

A friend or family member can pick up your VIU regalia for you if you give them a permission note (by letter or email) to take with them to the Campus Store. Your note should include your full name and student number, your representative’s full name and the exact credential you are receiving.

The cap is yours to keep, but the gown and the hood or stole must be returned. Please return your regalia to the Nanaimo Campus Store (Building 305) immediately after your ceremony/reception.

The day of your ceremony

All students and marshals meet before the ceremony at various muster locations on the Nanaimo campus.

See muster locations

Note: your guests should go directly to the gymnasium, not to your muster location

Each group of graduating students will be led throughout the ceremony by a VIU faculty or staff member, called a marshal. Your marshal will assist you before the ceremony with putting on your regalia, giving you your oath card, and helping you get in order and moved to your assigned seat location in the gym. The marshals will also line you up at the podium to receive your credential or certificate and lead you out of the gymnasium at the end of the ceremony.

You need to be at your muster location no later than 1 hour before your ceremony. Be sure to allow extra time for parking.

See muster locations

It will get warm in the gymnasium, so keep your clothing light. If you choose to wear a suit, you may want to leave the jacket on a coat rack in your muster location, so that you won’t get too warm.

Master’s students should be aware that the master’s gown sleeves do not cover your lower arms.

When choosing your footwear, keep in mind that we will walk outdoors from your muster location to the gymnasium, which may include hills or stairs.

Please note: no flowers, buttons or other ornamentation is permitted on your regalia.

Be sure to bring all of your regalia with you. And a bottle of water! It can get warm in the muster rooms and gym. Please bring your water into the gym with you.

Leave valuables at home or with your guests. We cannot guarantee the security of your valuables if you leave them in the muster location. If you do leave anything in the muster room, be sure to retrieve it directly after the ceremony. Items not collected right away can be picked up from the gym office during regular office hours.

When you get to your muster location check in with the reception desk. You will be directed to the appropriate spot to meet fellow students and the marshal responsible for your program. 

Your marshal can help you get your regalia on properly. There will also be volunteers wearing VIU aprons who can help with regalia. Your marshal will give you an oath card with your name, your reserved seating location and your parchment number on it, and will line you up in order according to the number on your card.

Keep this oath card to present to the reader when it's time to cross the stage.

About 20 minutes before the start of the ceremony, your marshal will walk with you to the northwest entrance of the gymnasium. Once you enter the gym, convocation hosts will guide you to your reserved seating location.

If it is raining on convocation day, umbrellas will be provided to graduates for the walk from their muster location to the gymnasium. Umbrellas will be collected as you enter the gymnasium.

The ceremony starts with a welcome from the Snuneymuxw First Nation, a blessing from VIU Elders-in-Residence, and the singing of “O Canada.” Then, the Master of Ceremonies asks everyone to be seated and officially opens the convocation.

During the ceremony, there is often a special presentation of an honorary doctorate or other university award. Following the presentation, there is a welcome from the Alumni Association and the Graduate Candidate Oath. This is where your oath card will come in handy!

Following the oath, members of the graduating class will be presented individually to the Chancellor, the President and your Dean:

  1. The parchment number on your oath card represents your position in this lineup.
  2. Each program will be presented in turn. Remain seated until it is your program’s turn. Your marshal will signal for your group to rise and line up at the podium.
  3. When it is your turn to be presented, hand your oath card to the reader at the podium. If your name is difficult to pronounce, please whisper the pronunciation to the reader.
  4. Once your name has been announced, walk at an even pace to the centre of the lower stage.
  5. At centre stage, you will meet the Chancellor, the President and your Dean.
  6. Continue across to the bentcorner box at the far side of the stage, where you will be invited to participate in a scholarly tradition unique to VIU: touching the inside of the lid of this ceremonial box. In this way you will symbolically leave your imprint on your university.
  7. Continue past the projection screen, then stop at the table to the left to receive your your parchment from the convocation assistants. If you have already received your parchment or if you haven’t yet met all your program’s graduation requirements, you will receive a certificate of participation.
  8. Return to your seat. After all grads have been presented, the valedictorian will address the graduating class.
  9. The ceremony will conclude with closing remarks from the Master of Ceremonies.
  10. At the end of the ceremony, a bagpiper will lead all graduates and VIPs out of the gymnasium.

Graduate Candidate Oath

The Graduate Candidate Oath is a traditional part of university graduation ceremonies. The Chancellor will ask the graduating class as a whole:

Candidates, will you accept your credential with its inherent rights and privileges, and the responsibility and loyalty which it implies?

In answer, you will read together the oath from your card:

I will accept, with all inherent rights and privileges, and the responsibility and loyalty which it implies.

The Chancellor will then ask you to move the tassel of your cap from the right to the left, signifying admission into the order of scholars.

Each ceremony is broadcast live at VIU’s Facebook page. The live feed will start just before the ceremony. If you have family or friends who are unable to attend the ceremony in person, we hope they will be able to share in your experience from afar.

After the ceremony, you can find the video on VIU's Facebook page under videos. It will also be posted on the Historical Convocation Ceremony Information page.

After you receive your parchment, you will see photo op locations with commemorative backgrounds. These are a great spot for your family, friends and supporters to snap a great picture in the moment!


Candid photographs taken during the ceremony and reception by VIU staff members will be made available on VIU’s Facebook page.

We encourage all of you to post photos to social media. Use the hashtag #VIUGrad to help us share your joy.

After the ceremony

VIU grads with flowers

Join us for a reception in the main cafeteria – your first VIU Alumni event! This is a great opportunity to celebrate with your classmates, instructors and guests. The reception is free for all graduating students and their guests. Light refreshments will be provided.

A commemorative backdrop and photographer will be set up to take free pictures of you with your friends and family. These pictures will then be posted online at VIU Alumni Association on Facebook.

The Campus Store will also have commemorative parchment frames and other souvenirs for sale at the reception.

Vancouver Island University Alumni Association, Established 1936

Welcome Alumni

Congratulations graduates and welcome to the Vancouver Island University Alumni Association – a growing community of more than 100,000 alumni making a difference around the world!

We walked the same halls, sat in the same seats and because we know what it takes to get here, we want to tell you how proud we are of you.

As a graduate, you aren’t leaving VIU, you are joining the alumni family. And like any proud family, we want to celebrate your successes and brag about you to our friends! We also want you to keep in touch so please let us know where your VIU education takes you.

To find out more information on your Alumni Association, please visit To get connected, like our Facebook page or tweet us @VIU_Alumni or join our LinkedIn group Vancouver Island University Alumni - VIU, MUC, MC and VTS.

You can also register for access to your VIU Alumni Perks app. Once connected we’ll let you know about all of the services and opportunities that are now available to you as an alum, including:

  • exclusive discounts
  • professional development opportunities
  • events and networking opportunities
  • career services
  • making a difference in the life of a current VIU student

The Alumni Relations office is here to help. If you ever need assistance in your transition or if you want to get involved with the Alumni Association, you can reach us at 250.740.6215 or email

Thank you for choosing Vancouver Island University for your post- secondary education and best of luck in your future endeavours.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Ribicic

President, VIU Alumni Association

Map of VIU campus