The statue of former Superintendent of Schools for Upper Canada and Ryerson University founder Egerton Ryerson has been vandalized again at the downtown Toronto campus of the university. The vandalism comes as a new wave of outrage after the remains of 215 children were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The statue has now been vandalized with paint and graffiti multiple times, along with many other statues, including that of Prime Minister John A. MacDonald. Ryerson is regarded as one of the architects of the residential school system. Ryerson advocated educating Indigenous children away from their families and white children at residential schools.
"The university is a very colonial institution, but particularly Ryerson because of the history of our namesake Egerton Ryerson. We’ve had a lot of talking, a lot of consultation, but I think that what the statue looks like right now kind of speaks for itself, and I think it’s time," librarian at Ryerson University Jane Schmidt told CP24.
The finding of remains at Kamloops' residential school has resulted in new calls to action by the federal government by indigenous groups and activists. Activists say there are more mass graves out there and calls on the federal government to start looking. The government initially rejected $1.5 million in requested funding for the search but in 2019 announced $33.8 million over three years for a ‘National Residential School Student Death Register’ which was aimed at creating an online registry of those who died in residential schools.
"A thorough investigation into all former residential school sites could lead to more truths of the genocide against our people," said Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Prime Minister Trudeau said, "I think there will be more that we will do," but did not elaborate.