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Ryerson University to appoint task force to examine Egerton Ryerson’s history and relationship to university

Task force to recommend actions to reconcile namesake’s legacy
Category:From the President
September 02, 2020
Lake Devo with Heaslip House in the background

A new task force will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Over the past decade, Ryerson students, faculty and staff, the university's Aboriginal Education Council (AEC), and the Truth and Reconciliation Strategic Working Group have been deeply involved in the process of reconciling Egerton Ryerson's connection to residential schools. That work has led to a number of actions, including an agreed upon 2010 statement about the role of Egerton Ryerson and, in 2018, the installation of a plaque next to the Egerton Ryerson statue contextualizing his role in the creation of Canada’s residential school system.

We know that the plaque and statement are just one step in the university's journey toward reconciliation.

More recently, communities around the world are having important and challenging conversations about their relationships with historical figures. In some cases, these relationships have sparked protests and demonstrations, focused especially on monuments and statues memorializing these individuals. Our university community has not been exempted from this.

That is why I am announcing that a Presidential Task Force is being appointed to:

  • Conduct broad, open, and transparent consultations to gather feedback from students, faculty, staff, alumni, partners, and others about what the university can do to reconcile the history of Egerton Ryerson;
  • Examine and more fully understand Egerton Ryerson’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples, education, residential schools and how that aligns with Ryerson University’s values and mission;
  • Examine how other universities have dealt with the challenges of monuments and statues;
  • Develop principles to guide the recommended actions that Ryerson could take to respond to Egerton Ryerson’s legacy and the findings of the consultations; and
  • Submit a final report with recommended actions regarding the statue and other elements of Egerton Ryerson’s history.

We know that positive change can only happen when we continue to have open, honest discussions about even the most difficult of topics. Our university provides an important service to society when it engages thoughtfully on critical issues and explores and addresses concerns.

Recognizing the many challenges of the current pandemic, the university will provide a variety of ways and forums for people to offer their feedback, thoughts, and for their voices to be heard.

In the coming weeks, we will be introducing the Presidential Task Force members – which will include distinguished experts from Ryerson and other universities, students, alumni, and members of Ryerson’s broader community – and sharing more details about how to engage in the process.

I encourage all of you to participate and to make your voices heard.


Mohamed Lachemi
President and Vice-Chancellor

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