ryerson university

Students and staff at Ryerson are now calling it X University over residential school link

Various members of the Ryerson University community are now referring to the Toronto post-secondary institution as "X University" due to its namesake's connection to the residential school system in Canada.

There have long been demands for the university to change its name and remove the statue of Egerton Ryerson — a historical Canadian teacher and minister — from its campus, which have been reignited in the wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the property of the old Kamloops Indigenous Residential School last week. 

A sit-in to honour and mourn the dead was held in front of the Ryerson statue, which now stands covered in fake blood and spray-painted messaging, on Tuesday.

As activists have noted in various petitions, Ryerson was "a known racist and sexist who aided the Canadian government in the creation of residential schools," though he was initially only credited for designing the public school system we know today.

Ryerson now-famously once wrote in an 1847 report that Indigenous populations in North America "cannot be civilized or preserved in a state of civilization (including habits of industry and sobriety) except in connection with, if not by the influence of, not only religious instruction and sentiment, but of religious feelings."

With this knowledge, members of Ryerson think tank the Yellowhead Institute have replaced the university's name with an X, removing it from all professional communications, including email signatures and resumes.

"Historically, Indigenous people have signed with an 'X' under conditions that do not fully recognize or honour Indigenous lives. It is asign of assent under duress," an open letter from the institute reads.

"We ask that, you too, remove Ryerson's name and this symbol of cultural genocide and intergenerational trauma"

The institution's journalism school, too, has vowed to omit the Ryerson name from future publications of The Ryerson Review of Journalism and The Ryersonian next academic year.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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