Ryerson statue defaced in wake of discovery at BC residential school

The statue of Egerton Ryerson outside of the Toronto university has been defaced once again after the bodies and remains of 215 children were found buried on the grounds of a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The statue has been a point of contention for several years, with Indigenous student groups and other activists demanding it be removed given Ryerson’s role in designing the model for residential schools.

Ryerson was an engineer of Canada’s residential school system, intended to remove Indigenous children from the influence of their culture and make them conform to white Canadian societal norms.

Photo gallery: 

The statue was covered in red paint and graffiti that reads “show the world how many of us you have murdered”, “dig them up” and “land back.”

Mayor John Tory opened the meeting of his executive committee Tuesday with comments about the 215 Indigenous children and residential schools.

“I think what’s important for us to focus on is the trauma being experienced, the renewed trauma, the repeated trauma now being experienced by the survivors and by their families and by the Indigenous people in Canada,” he said.

Tory, who studied Canadian history in university, says the system is an under-discussed part of the country’s history, adding that he hopes the current curriculum has changed.

On Monday, a small group of people rallied in front of the statue on campus to stage a sit-in mourning the 215 children found buried on the BC school’s grounds.

Ryerson was a Methodist Minister, educator and politician in the 1800s.

In June 2020, Ryerson graduate Maaz Khan started a petition to have the statue removed.

The Ryerson statue, and statues of other historical figures both in Canada and the U.S., have been a common target of protesters in the last year or so.

The head from the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is shown torn down following a demonstration in Montreal, Saturday, Aug 29, 2020, where people protested calling on the government to defund the police with a goal to end all systemic racism within all sectors of the Canadian government. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes


In July 2020, Toronto police charged three people with mischief and conspiracy to commit a summary offence after pink paint was splashed on the Ryerson statue, along with statues of John A. Macdonald and King Edward VII.

In late August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “profoundly disappointed” after vandals in Montreal toppled and beheaded a statue of John A. Macdonald.

University’s journalism program votes to change name of masthead publications

The university announced on Tuesday that it has voted to change the names of its masthead publications in time for the new academic year.

As such, the school’s well known publication “The Ryersonian,” will be no more.

“The School’s decision to rename the publications came following a unanimous vote at our School Council meeting on May 18, but it was a process that began last fall,” said the university.

“Last year, journalism students started the conversation about renaming the school masthead publications. They felt the horrific legacy of the residential school system, declared cultural genocide by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and detailed in its The Survivors Speak report, was too great to continue using the Ryerson name. Egerton Ryerson, for whom the school titles were named, was indisputably one of the chief architects of the system.”

The school says it “does not take this decision lightly,” adding that students understand the responsibilities that come with it.

“We are proud of the students, alumni and faculty who have worked under the banners of our masthead publications for many decades. Plans are being made for that archival work to be preserved under those award-winning titles. Those articles and photos will not be wiped from history, but history they are.”

The Ryersonian is staffed and operated by final-year undergraduate and graduate students in the university’s School of Journalism.

With files from Dilshad Burman

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today