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The statue was torn down following a demonstration over the discovery of a mass grave of Indigenous children in Kamloops
The statue of Egerton Ryerson that was torn down following a protest “will not be restored or replaced,” Ryerson University’s president Mohamed Lachemi said in a statement.
For years, the downtown school has faced calls to take down the statue of its namesake, who was an integral figure in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System in Canada.
Pressure on Ryerson to take down the statue – and rename the university – intensified last week after leadership of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced the preliminary discovery that the remains of up to 215 Indigenous children are buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC.
On Sunday night, photos and videos circulating on social media showed the statue being pulled down with a rope and the statue’s head being removed.
On Monday morning, Lachemi said in a statement that a truck arrived at Gould Street following a four-hour demonstration in the afternoon and took down the statue. He said more than 1,000 people attended the march, which was organized in response to the discovery of the Kamloops mass grave.
The statue’s future was under consideration from Ryerson’s Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force, which has a mandate that includes “consideration of the university’s name, responding to the legacy of Egerton Ryerson, and other elements of commemoration on campus.”
“I ask our community to respect their work and to engage with them as we should engage with all matters at our university – through dialogue, debate and the exchange of ideas,” he said.
The task force’s final report is due in the fall.
Last week, the statue became a focal point for grief and rage and was covered in graffiti and red paint. Indigenous students held a sit-in at the statue and surrounded it with shoes representing each of the 215 children.
For months, Indigenous students and faculty have been calling on Ryerson to change its name, and have been removing the school’s name from email signatures and replacing it with “X University.”