egerton ryerson statue

Thousands call for removal of Egerton Ryerson statue from university campus in Toronto

As statues of racist historical figures continue to come down across the U.S. and in Europe, there are now renewed calls for the statue of Egerton Ryerson to be removed from the Ryerson University campus due to his racist beliefs and role in creating the residential school system

One Toronto man named Maaz Khan started a petition calling for the president of Ryerson, Mohamed Lachemi, to make this change, and it's garnered more than 3,000 signatures to date.

"Egerton Ryerson, of whom the campus is named after, was a known racist and sexist who aided the Canadian government in the creation of Residential Schools," the petition reads.

"To date, this information is not widely made public. Ryerson was also opposed to the education of women, found in the published work, 'Arguments over the Education of Girls - Their Admission to Grammar Schools of this Province.'"

Calls for the statue to be removed have surfaced before, often accompanied by demands for the name of the school to be changed as well, but the discussion died down for a while following the installation of a plaque next to the statue by the school in 2018 in an effort to contextualize the situation.

"This plaque serves as a reminder of Ryerson University's commitment to moving forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Egerton Ryerson is widely known for his contributions to Ontario's public educational system. As Chief Superintendent of Education, Ryerson's recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System," the plaque reads. 

"In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that children in the schools were subjected to unthinkable abuse and neglect, to medical experimentation, punishment for the practice of cultures or languages and death. The aim of the Residential School System was cultural genocide."

But as residents across the continent and the world take matters into their own hands and continue to insist racist statues be taken down (or just do it themselves), the Ryerson community is once again up in arms about the racist legacy of the man for which it was named.

"In conclusion Egerton Ryerson is a symbol of racism, sexism and cultural genocide," the petition concludes. "His statue needs to be removed immediately!"

Lead photo by

booledozer


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