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Ryerson University’s board of governors approve changing school’s name

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WATCH: After months of continued calls to change Ryerson University’s name due to its namesake’s connection to Canada’s residential schools system, the institution’s board of governors have voted in favour of removing references to Ryerson. Erica Vella reports – Aug 27, 2021

After months of continued calls to change Ryerson University’s name due to its namesake’s connection to Canada’s residential schools system, the institution’s board of governors have voted in favour of removing references to Ryerson.

Thursday’s vote came as the board received a report from the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force, which was created by the university’s president, Mohamed Lachemi, in November and the 14 members were charged with making recommendations that “respond to [Egerton Ryerson’s] history and legacy.”

The body ultimately made 22 recommendations after receiving submissions and feedback from more than 11,000 community members. The board of governors confirmed all of those recommendations would be adopted.

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Read more: School task force on Egerton Ryerson legacy won’t speed up report despite protests

“For over a decade, students, faculty, staff and community activists — particularly Indigenous and Black community members — have completed paid and unpaid research on, and raised awareness about, [Egerton Ryerson’s life and legacy as well as the role of commemoration in the community]. They have also mobilized the community to participate in conversation about the ongoing trauma and pain caused by the commemoration of colonial figures,” the task force’s report said.
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Ryerson University board of governors vote to rename institution – Aug 26, 2021

“Our report recognizes the harm that has been caused by the university’s failure to prioritize historical research and meaningful community engagement about Egerton Ryerson’s work and legacy.”

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In addition to renaming the university, the task force called for reconsidering the school’s mascot (“Eggy”), not replacing a statue of Egerton Ryerson toppled by demonstrators in June, creating educational materials that speak to Egerton Ryerson’s legacy, advance initiatives aimed at supporting Indigenous and Black students and faculty, creating new public spaces and instituting a new university-wide land acknowledgment policy.

Read more: Egerton Ryerson statue will not be replaced after being pulled down, university says

A statement released on Thursday by Lachemi thanked the task force members as well as those who submitted feedback.

“The report provides clear recommendations on how the university can move forward and write the next chapter in our history,” he wrote.

“… I assure our community that a process will be put in place to ensure that the recommendations are carried out in an equitable, transparent, inclusive and timely manner.”

Read more: What can Canada do to prosecute residential school crimes? Here’s what we know

Calls to change the institution’s name intensified in recent months after more than 1,300 unmarked graves of Indigenous children were found on the former sites of residential schools this summer.

Meanwhile, it’s expected further details on how the recommendations will be adopted should be announced by the end of January. The exact process for changing the university’s name as well as a process for getting updated credentials wasn’t immediately clear as of Thursday.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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