The statue of Egerton Ryerson fell after the demonstration on the discovery of 215 remains of Indigenous children in the residential school.
A statue of one of Canada’s residential school system architects has been knocked down and will not be replaced, Ryerson University president Toronto said after protesters gathered in honors the 215 indigenous children whose remains were found in an old school.
Hundreds of people demonstrated Sunday in Toronto commemorate and demand justice for children discovered at Kamloops Indian Residential School in the western province of British Columbia late last month.
A statue of Egerton Ryerson, who helped establish the residential school system that saw more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children separated from their families and forced to attend boarding schools led by the church.
Residential schools, which were open from the 1870s to the 1990s, were full of abuse and it is believed that more than 4,000 indigenous children died there, most often from disease.
Mohamed Lachemi, president and vice-chancellor of Ryerson University, said in a statement that about an hour after the last protesters left, “a truck arrived … and proceeded to pull the statue of Egerton Ryerson forward.” .
“The statue will not be restored or replaced,” Lachemi said.
The demolition of the statue came amid broader requests for the Canadian government, as well as the Roman Catholic Church that ran most residential schools, to take concrete steps to address the continuing damage the institutions have caused. in indigenous communities.
For years, students and professors at Ryerson University have called for the statue to be removed, adding to broader calls across Canada and abroad to rename buildings and institutions, and remove monuments – Tribute to historical figures involved in racist systems, such as slavery.
In late August 2020, a statue of Canadian Prime Minister John A Macdonald, who contributed to the creation of the residential school system, was demolished from a plaza in downtown Montreal.
Ryerson was a nineteenth-century figure who served as superintendent in chief of education in the province of Ontario.
According to one report by the Aboriginal Board of Education at Ryerson University (AEC), although [Ryerson] did not implement or monitor the release of [residential] in schools, he contributed to his project ”.
The report quoted a letter Ryerson sent to the Department of Indian Affairs, in which he wrote about Indigenous students: “Nothing can be done to improve and elevate their character and condition without the help of religious sentiment. This information must be added to all the others to turn the Indian into a sober and hardworking man. ”
Indigenous students at Ryerson University said last month that they would begin calling the school “X University” in an effort to “remove Ryerson’s name and this symbol of cultural genocide and intergenerational trauma.”
“For us, there is no debate about reconciling Ryerson’s legacy. No matter how many non-indigenous historians send their letters of support to Egerton. From an indigenous student perspective, you can’t reconcile, ”they wrote in a open letter on May 11th.
Meanwhile, indigenous communities, as well as survivors of residential schools, are renewing their long-standing demand for Catholic Church to apologize for their role in the abuses that occurred in the institutions.