The statue of Egerton Ryerson, one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system, was brought down Sunday evening after a downtown demonstration to remember the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were found buried in Kamloops, B.C. More than a thousand people took part.
Mohamed Lachemi, the president and vice-chancellor of Ryerson University, said the incident happened around an hour after demonstrators left. The statue which was at the campus will not be replaced.
“About an hour after the last of the people left, a truck arrived on Gould Street and proceeded to pull down the statue of Egerton Ryerson. We are relieved that no one was injured in the process,” Lachemi said in a statement posted on the Ryerson University website.
“Our community holds diverse views on many topics, including the name of our institution. At our core, this is what universities are all about: we are a place where difficult subjects are discussed, attitudes are challenged, and alternatives are suggested and considered. This often involves demonstrations and civil protest – and the university will always make space for this. I believe the way to move forward on sensitive, contentious topics is by being consultative, inclusive, respectful and thorough.
“The statue will not be restored or replaced. The question of the statue was only one of many being considered by the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force, whose mandate includes consideration of the university’s name, responding to the legacy of Egerton Ryerson, and other elements of commemoration on campus. Their work is now more important than ever. 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,” Lachemi added.
Police are investigating who is responsible for the incident.