Update, March 30: The Wardens have extended the deadline for expressions of interest to May 1, 2023.

Wardens issue Call for Expressions of Interest for new Iron Ring Ceremony poems

The Corporation of the Seven Wardens is seeking to commission two new poems, one in each of Canada’s official languages, that will be used in the Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer.

The Corporation of the Seven Wardens is responsible for the Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer, a ceremony that started in 1925 that directs new engineering graduates toward a consciousness of the profession and its social significance, and during which engineering graduates receive their iron ring.

“The Corporation of the Seven Wardens will be celebrating the 100thanniversary of the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer in 2025,” said Leonard Shara, the Corporation’s Chief Warden. “The poem and [historical] video calls are to help mark that milestone. The new poems will be used in the Ritual, while the historical video will be used at various celebration events in 2025 and into the future.

“The new poems are part of the Corporation’s initiative to modernize the ceremony,” Shara adds. “They are expected to use the language of today and to embody today’s social expectations and norms and to help candidates understand their professional roles and responsibilities.”

The current Ritual was developed by noted imperialist Rudyard Kipling and features three of his poems that have faced criticism for outdated and harmful worldviews. Shara explains that the new poems are intended to be used in the Ritual, but whether they will replace Kipling’s poems or be used in addition to Kipling’s works remains unclear. Shara says that the use of Kipling’s poems is a matter that is currently under review by the Corporation’s Ritual Review Committee, which is a process that is running concurrent to this call for new poems.

The Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for being secretive and including harmful worldviews in the ceremony, such as colonialism, racism, and sexism. In Summer 2022, a group called Re-tool the Ring was formed and brought together diverse stakeholders—including Engineers Canada—who are calling for changes to be made to the Ritual.  Re-tool the Ring  acknowledges that the iron ring is a valued symbol for many engineers and that the Ritual has been an important rite of passage for engineering graduates. However, they point out that this positive and affirming experience is increasingly not the reality for many engineering graduates and has called for the Corporation of the Seven Wardens to make changes to the Ritual. They recommend that it be more open, transparent, and modernized.  

The Call for Expressions of Interest outlines that the new poems should be gender neutral, written in contemporary language that is accessible and relevant to today’s participants, and relatable to candidates of all genders, religions, physical abilities, ethnicities, races, and sexual orientations. The new poems should help Ritual participants understand their obligation to society, the challenges of dealing with people and their expectations, the pride and satisfaction to be gained by benefitting society while working in one’s chosen profession and passion, and the potential failures and consequences of not conducting themselves with professionalism and integrity.

The selection process for the new poems includes two phases. During this initial phase, the Corporation is seeking Expressions of Interest. Interested individuals are to submit a brief explanation expressing why they are interested in this opportunity, their biography and summary of qualifications, and samples of their original poems. Shortlisted candidates will be advised by September 30, 2023, that they have been selected, and final poems are to be submitted by March 31, 2024. The Corporation will make the final selection of poems by September 30, 2024, and Shara indicates that their objective is to integrate the new poems in the Ritual in 2024 or 2025 at the latest for the occasion of the Ritual’s 100th anniversary.

The Corporation of the Seven Wardens struck a Ritual Review Committee in early 2022 that has been tasked with considering overall changes to the Ritual. “The Review Committee has been charged with developing a formal case for change and guiding principles for any changes to the Ritual,” Shara explains. “That case will be presented to the Corporation membership prior to the development of specific recommendations for changes to the Ritual.”

More information about the new poems can be found in the Corporation’s Call for Expressions of Interest. The Corporation is also currently seeking proposals for the creation of a historical video.