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Canada: Ryerson renamed Toronto Metropolitan

Ryerson University has changed its name to Toronto Metropolitan University to “better reflect” the institution’s values and aspirations, its board of governors has decided.

The name change "is not about erasing our history", president and vice-chancellor Lachemi noted. Photo: Wikimedia

The memorial to Ryerson was torn down during a protest after a mass grave at a residential school was discovered in 2021

The original name of the university was taken from Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist preacher, educator and colonialist. Ryerson designed a model for residential schools for the country’s Indigenous population. In 2021, remains of children were found at former schools across Canada.

However, the new name is the “culmination of work carried out over several years”, the institution noted.

“Metropolitan is a reflection of who we have always been – an urban institution dedicated to excellence, innovation, and inclusion and who we aim to be – a place where all feel welcome, seen, represented and celebrated,” president and vice-chancellor Mohamed Lachemi said.

The board of governors unanimously agreed to the rename and also accepted all 22 recommendations of the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force.

“This is a very important moment in our university’s history”

The recommendations – released in August 2021 – included that the university rename the institution in a process engaging community members and university stakeholders, and not to “reinstall, restore or replace” the statue of Ryerson and rehome remaining pieces of a toppled statue to “promote educational initiatives”.

The memorial to Ryerson was torn down during a protest after a mass grave at a residential school was discovered. The institution was also recommended to reconsider the Eggy the ram mascot.

The University Renaming Advisory Committee consultations generated responses from over 30,000 people and reviewed more than 2,600 potential names.

“Through our community engagement we learned that there was a strong desire – across all groups of students, faculty, staff and alumni – for the new name to reference our place or location,” said URAC chair and provost and vice-president, Academic Jennifer S. Simpson.

“Toronto Metropolitan University reflects the feedback we heard and is in line with our values and our accomplishments that define who we are as an institution.”

The institution’s executive director for International Student Enrolment, Education & Inclusion, Isaac Garcia-Sitton, has called for more support for international students to fully understand the plight of the country’s Indigenous community.

“This is a very important moment in our university’s history as we move forward with a name that better reflects our values and can take us into the future,” Lachemi added. “As a university, our values have long defined who we are and they will always guide where we are going. They are the basis upon which we have built our uniquely vibrant, diverse and intentionally inclusive culture.

“Our new name builds upon these values and, along with our 73 years of excellence and achievement, it is intended to be a name that unifies all of us – a place where all of our community members belong.”

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