Trustees want to remove name from Ryerson PS - can't do that until a new name is selected

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 22nd, 2021



The plan to rename Ryerson public school started when the Halton District School Board trustees were looking at the progress they had made in their Multi-Year Strategic Plan (2020-2024) , in which they committed to champion supportive and inclusive practices, and to promote knowledge and understanding of Indigenous perspectives and realities.

Grebenc frown

Halton District school Board Chair Andrea Grebenc wants to name of the school changed and would like to see the evidence based approach to making decisions continued. Problem is some of the evidence is more emotional than factual.

One of the first steps was to “to assess how we as a school board can raise awareness”.  The trustees wanted to build their understanding of the truth and take action, which included addressing common misperceptions about Canadian history. “We must start this critical and necessary conversation and truth.”

Ryerson statue

The statue of Egerton Ryerson was vandalized, then toppled with the head of the man mounted on a pole on the reservation in Western Ontario

“Ryerson Public School was named for Egerton Ryerson’s contributions to the education system. E. Ryerson was pivotal in the design of Canada’s residential school system arguing that “Indians should be schooled in separate, denominational, boarding, English-only and agriculturally-oriented (industrial) institutions.

“In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that this assimilation amounted to the genocide of Indigenous people.

“People and organizations are being challenged to confront all forms of bias, discrimination and harm, including in the colonial context which is still very real today. We have also heard from the local school community which includes Indigenous voices.”

fallon - parent

Fallon Melander, an Indigenous mother with children attending the school formally asked that the name of the school be changed.

Fallon Melander, an Indigenous parent, formally requested an examination of the use of the Ryerson name.

As Trustees, they felt there was a “need to lead by example and have the courage to approach these difficult conversations.

“We recognize that when we know better, we do better.

“As years have gone by and truths have been uncovered, we have a responsibility, in collaboration with our staff and communities, to re-evaluate past decisions and address accordingly. The perspectives of the diverse communities of Halton must be valued and honoured. Indigenous students, staff and the broader community should be able to enter a school without being harmed by the HDSB upholding the name of a person that has contributed to genocide.

shuttleworth 2

Trustee Margo Shuttleworth – believes the sign has to be replaced.

“Today, many institutions are re-evaluating their use of the name Ryerson — we must do the same.”

The original motion was to be immediately remove the name “Ryerson” from the school located at 565 Woodview Road, Burlington, Ontario and to initiate the renaming process for a public school.

It turned out to be quite a bit more complex than that.

The renaming process must take place, including public consultation, before a new name can be decided upon.

It is going to cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to remove the signs – there are three of them.  The Staff recommendation was that two be removed immediately and that the third be covered until the school has been renamed.

Report cards for the school year that is ending will state that the student graduated from Ryerson Public School.

The school that students report to in September will still be known as Ryerson Public school.  Athletic wear and forms will still have the word Ryerson on them.

The Board of Education has a procedure for renaming a school.  In order to ensure full public consultation the Board decided to have the committee that will be handling any re-naming report back no later than November 3oth, 2021.

Ryerson public school

The trustees want the school name sigh to be replaced with a new name. Not much public input on that decision.

The research that was done to support the decision to re-name the school was done by Trustee Shuttleworth.  The Gazette has asked for access to the source documents.  We have yet to receive that research.

Trustee Shuttleworth is not an historian nor is she known to be highly versed in this publicly contentious issue.

collard trustee

Trustee Amy Collard – remove the sign immediately.

The vote on the motion was unanimous.  Trustee Oliver said there was an “urgent nature” to this decision.  Trustee Danielli said she felt this was the right thing to do and Trustee Collard wanted the sign taken down immediately.

Director Miller explained that there had to be a sign on the building for safety purposes.  He didn’t comment on the purpose a sign would serve if it was to be covered up.  There will apparently be signage explain the cover-up.

There is another chapter to this story.  Stay tuned.

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4 comments to Trustees want to remove name from Ryerson PS – can’t do that until a new name is selected

  • John Anderson

    History isn’t there for you to like or dislike. It’s for you to learn from. Ryerson lifted millions out of poverty in Ontario with his design of a publicly funded education system. Look at the old census data. “Can you read and write” was one of the questions. The Irish immigrants could not, for the most part. Contracts were signed with an X. But, their children could read and write. And it’s because of Ryerson.

  • Penny Hersh

    It seems like a “quick” fix. To remove names from buildings and remove statues for very complex problems and walk away is not the answer.

    Doing this will not solve the problems that have evolved from a history of abuse, neglect etc. We need to provide clean drinking water, proper housing, health resources, education and prospects for a better life for all people that need them.

    We cannot rewrite history, but we should strive to “not repeat” history, and do what we can to make things better for all.

  • Glenda Dodd

    not that all good men/women have never done bad things neither can it be said that all bad people have never done anything good……I believe that more would be accomplished if the evil/bad things done would be brought forward and highlighted as a shameful part of their past ……

  • Steve Holman

    There you go – find the truth by erasing history