Ryerson statue not going away
Plaque to be added to give more context
Ryerson University has no plans to remove a controversial statue in the heart of campus and will instead put up a plaque to give more context on the man it’s named after.
This past summer, student groups demanded the statue of Egerton Ryerson be taken down. Though Ryerson was a key figure in the development of free public education in Ontario, his ideas contributed to the creation of residential schools.
Ryerson spokesperson Johanna VanderMaas wrote in an email there’s no timeline yet for when the plaque will be installed and did not provide any details about what it would say.
It’s not enough for Sarah Dennis, a sociology student and member of the Nipissing First Nation, who sees the Ryerson statue as a daily reminder of the legacy of residential schools.
Her own grandfather and his sister were taken from their home as children and placed in one of these institutions.
“They never wanted to talk about it,” she said. “There was silence when questions were asked.”
Dennis is left feeling a “little bit powerless.” She’d like to see the statue taken down and more action from the administration on truth and reconciliation.
Susanne Nyaga, president of the Ryerson Student Union, said she wants to see the administration “do better.”
“From my end I didn’t see a lot of effort to have a conversation between administration and Indigenous students about the reality of removing the statue,” she said. “I think it’s a problem.”
The removal of the statue was part of a list of 11 demands from members of the Ryerson Student Union, Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson and the Indigenous Students’ Association. The list was released on Canada Day through a protest initiative called Colonialism 150.
Other demands included mandatory Indigenous content in all programs and the creation of Indigenous-only spaces.
Since then, the union that represents Ontario public elementary school teachers passed a resolution advocating that John A. Macdonald’s name be scrubbed from places of learning because of his role in the genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
the Egerton ryerson statue sits in the middle of the ryerson campus.