York student Chantel Dunn commemorated with bench dedication

Family, friends and members of the York University community gathered on the Harry Arthurs Common beside the reflecting pond on Friday, June 1, to pay tribute to a life cut short. A commemorative bench was dedicated in the name of Chantel Dunn, a Faculty of Arts student who was murdered 18 months ago, a victim of gun violence.

Right: Chantel Dunn’s father Mavric Dunn (left foreground) and family members at the dedication of a bench in memory of their daughter

The bench and plaque were first announced at a memorial on Feb. 7, 2007, the one-year anniversary of Dunn’s death. The memorial, which was held in the Renaissance Room in Vanier College, overflowed with students, family and community members in a moving tribute to the outstanding student.

The bench was established through the York University Foundation with donations from Calumet College Student Council, the Division of Social Science, the Business & Society Program, the African Studies Program and the York University Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA).

At the commemoration ceremony for the bench on June 1, Dunn’s parents Mavric Dunn and Sandra Walters, Pastor Yvonne Bullard (Dunn’s aunt), Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students, and Robert Drummond, dean, Faculty of Arts, were among those gathered to remember the York student. Professor Andrea Davis, of York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the loss of Dunn and the spirit of hope that she embodied. Tiffin thanked the donors for making the bench possible and cited the location of the bench as the perfect, tranquil spot to “give people the opportunity to reflect and remember”.

Right: York VP Students Rob Tiffin (left), Faculty of Arts Dean Robert Drummond and Professor Andrea Davis

Although she never met Dunn, Amanda Parris, a fourth-year women’s studies student, wondered what they might have had to talk about and share as two young black women. “The spirit of Chantel Dunn has sparked an alternative way of thinking,” said Parris.

Family members remarked on the amazing example Dunn set for everyone she met and asked those present at the dedication to think about their lives, encouraging all present to live their lives to the fullest.

The University community continues to recognize the significance of Dunn’s death with initiatives dedicated to building a stronger local community. Funds are being raised to establish the Chantel Dunn Scholarship. Those wishing to make a donation to this fund should contact the York University Foundation at 416-650-8210.

Submitted to YFile by Karin Micheelsen, manager, communications, public relations & recruitment, Faculty of Arts, and Professor Andrea Davis of the Faculty of Arts.