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Message from President Lachemi about weekend protests

President encourages thoughtful engagement on critical issues such as the Egerton Ryerson statue
Category:From the President
July 20, 2020
Aerial shot of the Ryerson campus

President Mohamed Lachemi responds to the protests on campus this weekend.

This past weekend, protests took place on our campus and at Queen’s Park, which involved the painting of a number of statues including the statue of Egerton Ryerson.

These situations can be difficult topics to discuss -- we all want our campus and our university community to be a place where we can feel safe. For our community, safety can mean very different things - each individual’s lived experience informs their perspective. That’s why it is so important to examine, discuss and debate issues that are deeply intertwined with our individual and collective histories.

As I shared with the community in June, we are committed to developing a uniquely Ryerson approach to safety and well-being on campus. This fall, a working group will hold consultations with students, faculty, and staff to explore how we can develop a safety and security model that works for the entire Ryerson community. I strongly encourage you to take part.

I believe it is an incredibly valuable attribute of any university that controversial subjects are discussed publicly, attitudes are challenged, and alternatives are suggested and considered -- sometimes this involves protests like the one we experienced this weekend. Our university provides an important service to our society when it engages thoughtfully on critical issues and explores and addresses concerns.

At this time, the university has not made a decision about the removal of the statue. The university acknowledges Egerton Ryerson’s contributions to Ontario's public educational system. As Chief Superintendent of Education, his recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System. This is important context that the university has recognized with the installation of a plaque alongside the statue, which was one of the key recommendations brought forward by Ryerson’s community consultation report in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 

While there is much going on in the world right now, I am encouraging all of us to make space to examine and discuss these difficult topics. Learn from each other, take solace in one another and respect the multitude of perspectives and identities that makes Ryerson a richly diverse community.

Mohamed Lachemi
President and Vice-Chancellor


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