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President Mohamed Lachemi names task force members examining Egerton Ryerson’s history

14 representatives from Ryerson, other universities and the community will make recommendations on next steps
Category:From the President
November 10, 2020
Aerial view of Gould Street facing west

Ryerson University has announced the members of a Presidential Task Force to recommend actions to reconcile the legacy of Egerton Ryerson, the university’s namesake.

I am pleased to announce the members of a Presidential Task Force to recommend actions to reconcile the legacy of Egerton Ryerson, our university’s namesake. This is an important step in the truth and reconciliation process at Ryerson.

Over the past decade, the university has addressed Egerton Ryerson's legacy, leading to a 2010 statement about his role and, in 2018, the installation of a plaque next to the Egerton Ryerson statue on campus, contextualizing his role in the creation of Canada’s residential school system which was devastating to the First Nations people in Canada.

In the past several months, communities around the world have been having important and challenging conversations about their relationships with historical figures. In some cases, these relationships have sparked protests and demonstrations, focused on monuments and statues memorializing these individuals. Our university community has not been exempt from this. 

We know that the plaque and statement are just one part of the reconciliation process, and now we are moving forward with a task force that will take on the following work:

  • Conduct broad, open, and transparent consultations to gather feedback from students, faculty, staff, alumni, partners, and others about what the university can do to reconcile the history of Egerton Ryerson;
  • Examine and more fully understand Egerton Ryerson’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples, education, residential schools and how that aligns with Ryerson University’s values and mission;
  • Examine how other universities have dealt with the challenges of monuments and statues;
  • Develop principles to guide the recommended actions that Ryerson could take to respond to Egerton Ryerson’s legacy and the findings of the consultations; and
  • Submit a final report with recommended actions regarding the statue and other elements of Egerton Ryerson’s history.

Members of the Presidential Task Force

Joanne Dallaire, Co-chair
Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for Ryerson University, chair of the Ryerson's Aboriginal Education Council, and co-chair of the Truth and Reconciliation directive 

Joanne has educated and directed an Indigenous perspective with many organizations, such as the Ministry of Education, Legal Aid Ontario Prison Law Advisory Committee to the Board, Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto (Expert witness on Restorative Justice), Native Child and Family Services and Dr. Janet Smylie at Well Living House/St. Michael's Hospital.

Catherine Ellis, Co-chair
Chair and associate professor in the Department of History at Ryerson University and a faculty elected member on the Board of Governors  

Catherine earned her DPhil from the University of Oxford and previously held research and teaching appointments at Dalhousie University, the University of Victoria and the University of Lethbridge. 

T'hohahoken Michael Doxtater
Associate Professor, Creative Indigenous Practices in the School of Creative Industries at Ryerson

Michael has produced, directed and written award-winning documentaries and dramas for academic and public audiences at the NFB and CBC and has wide experience in facilitation, mediation and communication services in the Indigenous community at Six Nations, Canada and the U.S. Michael is Mohawk, from Six Nations of the Grand River.

Cecile Farnum
Liaison Librarian with the Ryerson University Library

Cecile has been with Ryerson for 15 years, serving for much of the time as Communications and Liaison Librarian as well as liaising with programs in the Faculty of Community Services.

Natasha Henry
President of the Ontario Black History Society

Natasha is an educator, historian, and curriculum consultant. The 2018 Vanier Scholar is completing a PhD in History at York University, researching the enslavement of Black people in early Ontario.   

Tracey King
Indigenous Human Resources Lead, Recruitment and Retention, at Ryerson University 

Tracey King, Miigis Kwe (Little Shell Woman), is Pottawatomi and Ojibway, Otter Clan and a citizen of Wasauksing First Nation. For 30 years, Tracey has worked full-time in many Aboriginal programs and services in Toronto universities and Aboriginal organizations, while completing three university degrees.

Riley Kucheran
Assistant professor, Design Leadership in Ryerson’s School of Fashion

In addition to teaching at Ryerson, Riley is a student in the Communication & Culture PhD program at Ryerson and York University, researching how Indigenous creative industries like fashion can mobilize cultural and economic resurgence. Riley is from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River First Nation).  

Gerald McMaster
Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice, and Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge OCAD University

Gerald’s area of expertise is curatorial studies, Indigenous visual history and aesthetics, and contemporary Indigenous art. He is a Plains Cree and a member of the Siksika First Nation.

Dennis Mock
Former Vice-President, Academic at Ryerson, former President of Nipissing University 

Dennis served for 30 years at Ryerson where he played a central role in steering the university through one of its most significant eras, when it earned full university status in 1993.

Heather Rollwagen
Undergraduate Program Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology

Heather’s area of research study is housing, perceptions of crime and neighbourhood livability in urban areas. She is also a member of the Canadian Worlds of Journalism research team - an interdisciplinary research group collaborating with scholars from 63 countries to understand the professional roles and values of journalists.

Tay Rubman
History student at Ryerson University

Tay was elected to the Ryerson Board of Governors in 2020. 

Amorell Saunders N'Daw
Partner and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette

Amorell, a Ryerson alumna, is a leader in the field of academic search and recruitment. She has provided leadership and support to academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations, including a 12-year career at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Julia Spagnuolo
Urban and Regional Planning student at Ryerson University

Julia is a student representative on the Ryerson University Senate. As an At-Large representative, she serves on the AGPC Committee, Senate Appeals Committee, Policy 46 Review Committee, Academic Standards Committee and the Nominations & Elections Committee.

Frank Walwyn
Partner, WeirFoulds LLP 

A Ryerson graduate, Frank is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been named as one of Canada’s top lawyers in the area of corporate and commercial litigation by numerous legal publications. In addition to a Bachelor of Laws degree from Queen’s University, he has a Certificate of Business Administration from Ryerson University.

Denise O’Neil Green, vice-president equity, community, and inclusion, and Steven Liss, vice-president research and innovation, are the executive co-leads on this important initiative and I want to thank them for their ongoing leadership and support.


Mohamed Lachemi
President and Vice-Chancellor

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