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Ryerson University to be renamed

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University accepts the Task Force’s 22 Standing Strong recommendations for it to move forward with the next chapter

Today, Mohamed Lachemi President & Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson University released a statement announcing that the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force’s final report was presented to Ryerson’s Board of Governors and the Board approved a motion to accept all 22 recommendations, including the recommendation to rename the university.

The Task Force submitted 22 recommendations, such as renaming the institution, increasing support for Indigenous and Black scholarship, and providing more opportunities to learn about Indigenous history and Indigenous and colonial relations.

This year, the Egerton Ryerson statue was vandalized twice and pulled down in the wake of mass demonstrations during Black Lives Matter protests, and Lachemi said the statue will remain down for good.

Many respondents in the task force’s study expressed disapproval of commemorating Egerton Ryerson due to his controversial past and role in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System(IRSS). Many felt that it is unethical to commemorate an individual who had a part in an education system that sought to assimilate Indigenous children into a settler colonial society.

“The report provides clear recommendations on how the university can move forward and write the next chapter in our history. The Task Force’s 22 recommendations include renaming the institution, sharing materials to recognize the legacy of Egerton Ryerson, and providing more opportunities to learn about Indigenous history and Indigenous and colonial relations. The report provides a full picture of the past and present commemoration of Egerton Ryerson, yet the recommendations are not based on either vilification or vindication of the individual,” said Lachemi.

The university’s president also said that “The Task Force recommendations were heavily informed by the participation of over 11,000 Ryerson community members and the membership’s own extensive learning and unlearning. The Task Force survey generated 22,860 individual question responses, over 250 people participated in community conversations and more than 250 people emailed the Task Force directly.”

In a statement from the university it says, The Task Force recommendations are aligned with the university’s commitment to being unapologetically bold, intentionally diverse and inclusive, dedicated to excellence, respectfully collaborative and a champion of sustainability.

Lachemi expressed his sincere appreciation to task Force members for their contribution and commitment to the “necessary exploration of both our namesake’s life and legacy and the role of commemoration in our university community,” said Lachemi.

One of the recommendations is for the university to develop an action plan by January 31, 2022, to address and implement the Task Force’s recommendations. Lachemi says “will honour that commitment and I assure our community that a process will be put in place to ensure that the recommendations are carried out in an equitable, transparent, inclusive and timely manner. All recommendations related to academics and program delivery will be referred to Senate prior to the completion of the implementation action plan.”

Also, This year, the university’s student council announced that the two student publications- The Ryerson Review and the Ryersonian- will be renamed due to their namesake’s history.

The Standing Strong Task Force had been created back in Nov. 2020 to examine Egerton Ryerson’s life and legacy amid extensive public protesting related to Ryerson’s connection to residential schools, following the discovery of hundreds of graves near residential schools across Canada.

Co-chairs of the Standing Strong task force are: 

  • Joanne Dallaire, Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor – Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for Ryerson University, Chair of Ryerson’s Aboriginal Education Council, and Co-chair of the Truth and Reconciliation directive
  • Catherine Ellis, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of History, Ryerson University, recently concluded her term as an Elected member of Ryerson University’s Board of Governors

For a complete list of all task force members, visit ryerson.ca.

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