The statue of Egerton Ryerson on the campus of Toronto’s Ryerson University was brought down on Sunday.
It’s not known who toppled the statue or the exact time when the incident occurred.
A social media video from the scene showed the statue being pulled down off its pedestal with a rope, while a small crowd cheered nearby.
Later in the evening, another video posted to Twitter appeared to show a group of people attempting to cut the head off the statue.
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Toronto police said they are aware of the incident, and said they believe the statue was knocked down after a protest downtown.
The statue had been vandalized earlier this week, and had been covered in red paint and graffiti that reads “show the world how many of us you have murdered”, “dig them up” and “land back.”
A focus of fierce debate in recent years, activist groups, students and faculty had been asking for the monument to be removed.
Egerton Ryerson was one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system, which sought to convert and assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian culture and saw them suffer widespread physical and sexual abuse. He died in 1882.
The discovery in Kamloops, B.C., of what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school has intensified the discussion of the role these schools have played in Canada’s long colonial history.
Ryerson University has addressed the statue issue in the past. In 2010, the university published a statement saying that while Ryerson did not implement or oversee residential schools, his beliefs “influenced, in part, the establishment of what became the Indian Residential School system.”
Eight years later, the school added a sign beside the statue that read, in part: “As Chief Superintendent of Education, Ryerson’s recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System.”
More recently, there have even been calls to rename Ryerson University, with the school’s journalism department saying on June 2 it would rename two of its publications ahead of the new school year, dropping any reference to the man the school is named after.
Files from Dilshad Burman, Lucas Casaletto and the Canadian Press were used in this report
Photos: The Egerton Ryerson statue on the campus of Ryerson University