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Statue of Canadian University's Namesake Toppled, Beheaded

Ryerson University says statue won't be coming back to Toronto campus
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2021 3:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – Canada's Ryerson University might be getting a new name amid widespread anger after the discovery of 215 bodies at a former residential school for Indigenous children—and it definitely won't be replacing its statue of Egerton Ryerson. The statue of the Toronto university's namesake, who had a big hand in developing the country's residential school system, was toppled and decapitated by protesters Sunday night, the CBC reports. Ryerson University President Mohamed Lachemi said Monday that the statue, which was splashed with red paint prior to the toppling, "will not be restored or replaced." Lachemi said the statue's fate was being considered by a task force that is also reviewing the university's name and other reminders of Ryerson.

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Recommendations from Ryerson, who died in 1882, were used to set up the residential school system, in which more than 150,000 Indigenous children were removed from their families to attend Christian schools as part of a policy of forced assimilation, reports the Times of London. Abuse and neglect was widespread. A plaque was added to the statue in 2018 to acknowledge Ryerson's role in forming the policy behind the schools, which persisted until the late 1990s. "Universities are a place where difficult subjects are discussed, attitudes are challenged, and alternatives are suggested and considered," Lachemi said in a statement. "This often involves demonstrations and civil protest—and the university will always make space for this." Indigenous students and faculty members are urging students, faculty, and alumni to refer to the institution as "X University." (Pope Francis did not offer an apology in remarks on the subject Sunday.)

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