Ryerson school will now be known as Makwendam Public School

By Staff

November 18th, 2021



At the November 17, 2021 Board meeting, Halton District School Board Trustees selected Makwendam Public School as the new name for Ryerson Public School, located at 565 Woodview Road in Burlington.

The name was unanimously supported by all Trustees. The new name will take effect immediately; a plan will be developed to make changes to school signage, website and sports uniforms.

The name Makwendam, pronounced muck-kwen-dum, is the Indigenous word for “to remember” in the Anishinaabemowin language.

Halton District School Board chair Andrea Grebenc

In their discussions, Trustees considered that this name would honour the reason for renaming the school, that is, Egerton Ryerson’s involvement in the creation of the residential school system. There have been growing calls to remove Ryerson’s name from public buildings and institutions and the HDSB has received formal requests to remove Ryerson’s name from the school.

“The choice of Makwendam Public School speaks directly to the purpose of renaming Ryerson Public School – as we as a country search for the lost children on residential school lands, we must remember, we must learn and be better,” says Andréa Grebenc, Chair of the Halton District School Board. “The Halton District School Board is committed to Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness, as outlined in our Strategic Multi-Year Plan commitments. We look forward to hearing the results of the City of Burlington’s naming process for the adjacent park.”

Egerton Ryerson: his role in the creation of the residential schools has, unfortunately, been distorted.

At the Board meeting, Trustees heard from Evan Rochon, a Grade 6 student at Ryerson Public School. In his delegation to the Trustees, Evan supported the name Makwendam.

The naming process began in September to ensure the parent/guardian, student and the broader community had the opportunity to provide input. In total, more than 1,200 names were submitted.

The City of Burlington is in the process of renaming the park adjacent to the former Ryerson school that shared the name of the man who gets credit for creating the education system that has served the province very well.

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6 comments to Ryerson school will now be known as Makwendam Public School

  • Penny Hersh

    This new name will never be pronounced properly.

  • Stephen Paquette

    I’m glad to see that the trustees saw the wisdom of not just changing the name of the school but in also finding a suitable name it gives context as to the reason why. The challenge is in understanding that historians have a Eurocentric perspective that dismisses the Indigenous reality but we are getting there.

  • perryb

    But it was nice to see the Ryerson problem cautiously mentioned, if only in the caption of his picture.

    • Phil Waggett

      Perry, I agree. For a much more detailed analysis, both of the current “stampede to justice” and the historical record, written in much depth, I recommend: https://www.dorchesterreview.ca/blogs/news/the-imbecile-attack-on-egerton-ryerson

      I would have no objection to this name change if the popular narrative were true, but I can find no meaningful connection between Egerton Ryerson’s record and the federal initiation of the residential schools in the 1880’s. I’m afraid we are setting a very bad precedent.

  • perryb

    It is less well known that actual historians across the country are dismayed at the almost libelous treatment of Ryerson, dutifully repeated in this article. Some are afraid they will receive threats and rebuke if they speak too loudly. The same social media mob is now also attacking Marie Henien, asserting the unconstitutional idea that lawyers are as bad as the people they represent, and that the people they accuse do not deserve any defense. This will end badly, after much damage is done.

  • Fred Untermeyer

    I want to thank the School Board for picking a very appropriate new name for Ryerson Public School. I hope that the park will have as suitable a name.