Ry­er­son statue not go­ing away

Plaque to be added to give more con­text

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - May War­ren metro | toronto

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.

Ed­uardo Lima/mEtro

the Eger­ton ry­er­son statue sits in the mid­dle of the ry­er­son cam­pus.

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