The Ryerson University has officially changed its name, bowing down from sustained pressure on campus.
Egerton Ryerson, a Canadian educator and Methodist minister, wrote passages which influenced the Canadian Indian residential school system, according to critics.
Canadian residential schools were the theaters of violence and abuse, as children were removed from their families, deprived from speaking their mother tongue, often physically and sexually abused.
Ryerson supported the creation of school boards, a reform at the time. He also advocated for uniformizing textbooks and making education free.
With the Common School Bill of 1846, Ryerson brought forward major innovations, such as the inclusion of a library in every school, training conventions for teachers, a centralized textbook press and land grants for universities.
The Bill also established the first school board in Canada.
“The basis of this only true system of universal Education is two fold”, Ryerson argued in his 1846 Circular to the County Municipalities:
“1. that every inhabitant of a Country is bound to contribute to the support of its Public Institutions, according to the property which he acquires, or enjoys, under the Government of the Country.
2. That every child born, or brought up in the Country, has a right to that education which will fit him for the duties of a useful citizen of the Country, and is not to be deprived of it, on account of the inability, or poverty, of his parents, or guardians.”
Ryerson remained a strong advocate of public education throughout his life, fighting for the right of the less privileged to proper education.
Education, according to Ryerson, was the “only effectual remedy for the pernicious and pauperizing system which is at present. Many children are now kept from school on the alleged grounds of parental poverty.”
In an 1847 report, Ryerson argued that a separate boarding school system for the Indigenous peoples should be implemented and that it should be English, denomination and focused on agricultural and industrial training.
Ryerson never advocated for the abuse of Indigenous children.
“Names matter. They tell the world who we are and what we stand for. They communicate ideas, values and aspirations. They speak to the future even as they acknowledge the past”, the former Ryerson University wrote as they announced their name change.
“A new name offers an invitation to be more inclusive, to imagine novel ways of thinking and creating — to open ourselves to new possibilities”, they added.
“This is a new chapter for our university, informed by the pages that come before but open to the opportunities that lie ahead. Now is a time to recommit to the values that define us, to invite our community to gather around our shared mission and to shape a future in which everyone belongs”, they wrote.