Ryerson University to Be Renamed

Ryerson University to Be Renamed
A passer-by looks at a statue of Egerton Ryerson outside Toronto's Ryerson University on July 6, 2017. The statue has since been toppled and will not be replaced, and Ryerson’s board of governors has now approved a name change for the university. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
Andrew Chen

Following the recommendations of a special task force, Ryerson University is looking for a new name.

Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi created the task force in November 2020 with a mandate to review the legacy of the university’s namesake, Egerton Ryerson, in the history of Canada’s colonization. The task force released its final report on August 26.

Lachemi said in a news release that Ryerson’s board of governors has approved all 22 recommendations the task force made, including one to rename the university.

Egerton Ryerson was a Methodist church minister and a prominent 19th-century educator who was instrumental in establishing a public education system when he served as the chief superintendent of education for Upper Canada.

In recent times he has been criticized for his role in the creation of the residential school system for indigenous children.

In an 1847 report, Ryerson recommended establishing “industrial schools” aimed at educating indigenous children. According to the task force, this contributed to the establishment of two residential schools in Ontario.

Originally scheduled for September, the report release date was accelerated when an announcement was made in Kamloops on May 27 that the remains of 215 children were found near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. This was scaled back in a later announcement issued on July 15, saying the ground-penetrating radar had located approximately 200 “targets of interest” and that the exact number of remains and “final results” can only be confirmed via forensic investigation with excavation

On June 6, after a gathering was held in honour of children who died at residential schools, an angry crowd toppled and vandalized a statue of Ryerson located at the centre of the university’s campus. Immediately afterward, Lachemi issued a statement saying that the statue will not be restored or replaced.