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Ryerson House Name Changed to First House

Jun. 10

The Board of Regents of Victoria University has approved a motion that will end the use of Egerton Ryerson’s name for honorific purposes at the University. The residence called Ryerson House will be returned to its original name, First House, with immediate effect. The Board of Regents is Victoria University’s most senior governance body. 
 
The Executive Committee of the Board asked the President of Victoria University, William Robins, to provide a report on Egerton Ryerson, which would consider historical and current contexts for understanding Ryerson’s involvement with and impact upon Indigenous communities. The Board also asked for recommendations on the honorific use of Ryerson’s name at Victoria University. Egerton Ryerson was a founder, first Principal, and first President of Victoria College. 
 
The President’s report found that ‘Ryerson’s name evokes a complicated and troubling legacy. Ryerson enabled a discriminatory model of education that caused real harm to Indigenous students and their communities, through the development of residential schools and their destructive and traumatic impact.’ 
 
‘This and other practices of exclusion that he enabled, including segregated schools for Black students, counteracted the ideals of inclusion that he professed.’ 
 
The President’s report is based on the findings of a comprehensive research report he commissioned from a panel of two Indigenous and two non-Indigenous historians. In reaching his recommendations, President Robins also consulted widely within Victoria University, including with the Special Advisor on Indigenous Issues, the Indigenous Advisory Circle, student leaders, alumni, and senior administrators.  
 
In its statement, the Board expressed the hope that these steps will contribute to building stronger partnerships and respectful dialogues between Victoria University and Indigenous peoples. 
 
‘For the University to develop meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities, it is essential that we engage in deep reflection on the truths of our past’, said President Robins. ‘Only then, can we move along the path towards reconciliation. We will continue to address Ryerson’s legacy, support Indigenous students and staff, and take actions to live into our responsibilities as treaty people in the twenty-first century.’ 
 
For more information, contact: 
Office of the President (416)-585-4511, vic.president@utoronto.ca 

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