Truth & Reconciliation
In May 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released the report PDF fileHonouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, external link. The report outlines the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children. The Commission’s report included 94 Calls to Action in order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. Several of these Calls to Action were directly addressed to post-secondary educational institutions to:
- Develop Indigenous focused programs in specific fields, including education, health care and law;
- To increase opportunities for intercultural competency training; and,
- To promote an awareness of Indigenous rights, histories and perspectives.
Others were connected to education more generally.
Our commitment to truth and reconciliation
The University is overcoming the legacy of a painful past. For years there was a lack of understanding of the concerns of its Indigenous community and little desire to accept responsibility to address these concerns. There was also a reluctance to acknowledge the harmful role played by the university’s namesake.
But attitudes are changing. Within the Ryerson community there is growing recognition of the need to demonstrate respect and understanding of the land the university sits on, and to recognize the cultural knowledge and ways of knowing brought by Indigenous students, staff and faculty.
This is an important time at Ryerson to acknowledge the harms of the past and move forward along the path to reconciliation. The PDF fileCommission’s Principles of Reconciliation provide the building blocks needed for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canada to occur. A key step in this process, as recognized by the Commission, is the elimination of the educational gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win (Standing Strong) Task Force
Research on Egerton Ryerson’s role in Ontario’s public education system began in 2010 by Ryerson’s Aboriginal Education Council, and his harmful connection to the Indian Residential School System was later documented in the 2018 community consultation report. In order to seek an understanding of Egerton Ryerson’s life and legacy and the role of commemoration in our community, President Lachemi struck the Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win (Standing Strong) Task Force in November 2020.
The PDF fileStanding Strong Task Force Report and Recommendations includes 22 recommendations, such as renaming the institution, increasing support for Indigenous scholarship, and providing more opportunities to learn about Indigenous history and Indigenous and colonial relations. Though the specific objectives of the Working Group and Task Force are distinct, together they promote the Indigenization of campus, define the university’s priorities, and support a path to Truth and Reconciliation.
Pow Wow (September 2018)
Joanne Dallaire appointed Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Strategic Vision (2020)
Standing Strong Task Force (November 2020)
President Mohamed Lachemi struck the Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win (Standing Strong) Task Force in November 2020 to seek an understanding of both Egerton Ryerson’s life and legacy and the role of commemoration in our community. The Task Force fulfilled their commitment with the submission of the PDF fileStanding Strong Task Force Report and Recommendations.
Next Chapter (August 2021)
Indigenous Ring (September 2021)
Note on language and terminology
Aboriginal Peoples in Canada include persons who are First Nation, Inuit or Metis. The term Aboriginal peoples was established by the federal government as an umbrella term for diverse Indigenous peoples in Canada.
First Nation(s) has been adopted in Canada to replace the term “Indian band” or “Indians,” however, this may not be a term with which Indigenous peoples identify. They may identify with their Nation, e.g. Anishinabe, Haudenosaunee, Mi’kmaq or Dene and/or other terms such as Native, Native Indian, Native American or Indigenous peoples. All of these identities can be part of the umbrella term of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.
Status refers to First Nations peoples who are recognized by the federal government as “Indians” under the federal Indian Act; Treaty refers to those who are Status and belong to a First Nation that signed a treaty with the Crown; Non-Status refers to individuals.
Change is coming
In August 2021, the University’s Board of Governors committed to the implementation of all recommendations from the Standing Strong Task Force to address the legacy of Egerton Ryerson and establish principles to guide commemoration across campus.