Ryerson University

Ryerson University, based in Toronto, takes a big step towards progress as it has announced last Thursday that it will be changing the school’s name. This call to action to change the school’s name had intensified before this announcement because of the 1,300 unmarked graves of Indigenous children that have been found at residential schools in recent months.

For now, staff and students at Ryerson University are referring to the school as University X to support the changing of the school name.

Egerton Ryerson was one of the primary architects of the residential school system. In previous years, staff and students have wanted to remove the statue of Egerton Ryerson, which was toppled by demonstrators earlier this year.

The Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force

Mohamed Lachemi, the university’s president, formed The Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force in November to create recommendations on how to address and respond to Egerton Ryerson’s history with residential schools. Last Thursday, the task force presented a report of 22 recommendations to the Board of Governors, one of which was changing the name of the school. The university accepted all 22 recommendations.

A community works together

The task force was able to get over 11,000 Ryerson community members to participate with 22,860 individual question responses in a survey. The community has made it clear that they want to support the task force’s call for change and inclusivity.

Lachemi stated that “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.” Some of the recommendations include the renaming of the school, sharing materials to acknowledge the legacy of Egerton Ryerson, and providing more opportunities to learn about Indigenous history and Indigenous and colonial relations.

Next steps

One of the recommendations states that the school needs to create an action plan by January 31, 2022, to address and implement all the recommendations made by the task force. Lachemi agreed and stated, “we 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.”

The university hopes to share more information on its responses to the report and how it will implement the recommendations soon.

Take a look at the Standing Strong Task Force Report and Recommendations for further details and research.

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