Skip to main content

Truth and Reconciliation at Ryerson

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was tasked with gathering information about and promoting awareness of Residential Schools in Canada, delivered its final report in 2015. The final report included 94 Calls to Action, a number of which relate to post-secondary education.

In November 2015, the President and former Provost, Mohamed Lachemi, launched a community-wide consultation on the response, which was led by Denise O’Neil Green, Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion, and supported by the university’s Aboriginal elder, Joanne Dallaire.

The summary community consultation report entitled Truth and Reconciliation at Ryerson: Building a Foundation for Generations to Come was presented to the president and provost in a community celebration on January 26, 2018. The celebration included the unveiling of a plaque to accompany the Egerton Ryerson statue as a reminder to our commitment to truth and reconciliation in light of our namesake’s connection to residential schools.

View President Mohamed Lachemi's remarks from the community celebration.

“The university’s respect for Indigenous perspectives and commitment to building relationships with Indigenous communities is an important part of our culture at Ryerson and has been embedded as a core value in our Academic Plan. We support the commission’s call for increasing access to post-secondary education for Aboriginal students, and we will build on our existing efforts of outreach and recruitment within the Aboriginal communities, on our development of an Aboriginal-focused curriculum and on the work of the Aboriginal Education Council.” - President Mohamed Lachemi

Aboriginal Students - Consultation

May 2, 2016

Aboriginal Students - Consultation

May 2, 2016

Aboriginal Students - Consultation

May 2, 2016

Aboriginal Students - Consultation

May 2, 2016

Talking Circles

To initiate the consultation process with Ryerson’s Aboriginal* community, several Talking Circles were held in May and June with Aboriginal students and university groups, respectively. Additional Talking Circles were held in Fall 2016 and in 2017.

EDI is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. Please contact us at if you have any particular accommodation requirements.

Consultation Timeline

June 2015: Federal Truth and Reconciliation Committee releases final report on history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children.

October 2015:
 Ryerson holds two events to initiate discussion on the Federal Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) report and to begin answering how Ryerson can collectively work towards the implementation of the TRC Calls to Action.

  • Public forum, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation Implementation.”

  • Soup & Substance Public Lunch and Learn Session entitled “The TRC Report – What Does It Mean for Ryerson?”

November 2015:
 President and former Provost, Mohamed Lachemi, launches community-wide consultation on the response, led by Denise O’Neil Green and Joanne Dallaire

January 2016:
 Ryerson School of Journalism’s Joyce Smith announces new online course, Reporting on Indigenous Issues, to be offered beginning in Fall 2017. Course curriculum is created in consultation with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) and Duncan McCue.

Winter 2016 semester:
 Master’s students at the School of Journalism embarked on a digital reporting project inspired by the TRC Calls to Action. For Masters of Journalism Digital Journalism course, Asmaa Malik partnered with Journalists for Human Rights and their Indigenous Reporting program, for the 2016 graduate digital-journalism class project external,This Is a Canadian Issue.

March 2016:
 TRC Consultations initiated with a Dine and Discourse interactive public lecture and lunch led by the Aboriginal Education Council and the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion

April 4, 2016:
 Student-led TRC meeting takes place.

May 2016: 
The Learning and Teaching Office Ryerson Faculty Conference keynote address is delivered by the Honourable Murray Sinclair. Entitled, “Canada’s Residential Schools: The Story We Must All Know,” it challenges all Ryerson community members to make a commitment to Ryerson, their community, or their family to do something that will contribute to making the future better for all the Indigenous Peoples of our country.

May 2, 2016:
 Aboriginal Student Consultation takes place.

June 7, 2016: 
TRC Consultation with Affinity Groups, Audience: Aboriginal Groups (RASS, CUPE Instructors and Aboriginal Education Council).

September 2016: 
The Ryerson School of Journalism appoints Duncan McCue, reporter for CBC’s the National, as Rogers Visiting Journalist. He will work with instructors in the school to develop new approaches and educational strategies for reporting Indigenous stories and issues, culminating in new curriculum for students.

October 2016:

  • October 4, 2016: Aboriginal Consultation, Audience: Ryerson Aboriginal Community  students, staff and faculty

  • October 5, 2016, Morning: Aboriginal Consultation, Audience: Ryerson Aboriginal Community students, staff and faculty

  • October 5, 2016, Afternoon: Open Consultation, Audience: Ryerson Community  students, staff and faculty

  • October 11, 2016: Open Ryerson Community Consultation, Audience: Ryerson Community students, staff and faculty

  • October 17, 2016: Consultation with Aboriginal Community Agencies

October 31, 2016:
  Social Justice Week, organized by the CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, is dedicated to Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity,  includes TRC - Annual Check-In panel.

November 28, 2016:
 TRC Consults with the ECI Campus-wide Steering and Implementation Committee

Winter 2017:
 First-year graduate students produced a special site called external,Indigenous Land, Urban Stories featuring interactive projects about urban Indigenous life covering topics such as cultural appropriation, the role of Christianity in spiritual life and reclaiming the names of Toronto places. The site, a partnership with Journalists for Human Rights, was launched in June during National Aboriginal History Month.  

February 2017:

  • February 13, 2017: Consultation with First Nations Technical Institute

  • Meeting with members of Indigenous Students Rising takes place

March 2017 - September 2017: 
Course projects, documents, transcripts and notes from  talking circles, community consultations, and recorded events are compiled and work begins on the writing of the TRC Consultation Summary Report.

October 2017:

  • Social Justice Week, organized by the CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, is dedicated to Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity. It includes panel discussions, a rally, a march and sharing circles.

  • Annual TRC Check-In during Social Justice Week has been included as a permanent annual feature in the program lineup. The Check-In will provide an update on the progress of the commitments made in the prior year on implementing the various Ryerson TRC initiatives.

  • Meeting with members of the Indigenous Students Association, Continuing Education Student Association of Ryerson and Ryerson Students Union

November 2017 - December 2017:
 A summary of the community-wide consultations is finalized.

January 26, 2018: 
Ryerson’s Community Consultation Summary Report is released.

Key Facts

Leaders of Ryerson University’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action Community Consultation:

  • Denise O’Neil Green is the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion and provides the leadership, advocacy, education and coordination needed to address equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the entire university community.

  • Joanne Dallaire, Shadow Hawk Woman of the Wolf Clan, is Cree Omushkego with ancestry from Attawapiskat, Ontario. She holds an honorary doctorate from Ryerson. Her many Ryerson roles include Elder of the Aboriginal Education Council, traditional counsellor for Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services and recognized Elder for Ryerson.

Extensive Community Consultations:

As a part of the consultation process, between October 2015 and February 2017, Ryerson’s TRC working group held the following community-wide consultations, discussions, and events:

  • Three (3) panel discussions

  • Eight (8) talking circles

  • Two (2) consultations with community partners

Groups consulted:

  • Centre for Indigenous Governance

  • Chair in Indigenous Governance, Dr. Pamela Palmater

  • Continuing Education Students' Association of Ryerson (CESAR)

  • CUPE 3904

  • Indigenous Students Association

  • Racialized Students Collective

  • Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA)

  • RFA Aboriginal Caucus

  • Ryerson Students’ Union

  • Ryerson Sociology Students’ Union

  • RFA Equity Issues Committee

  • Former Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Dr. Winnie Ng

  • Indigenous and non-Indigenous Ryerson students, faculty, and staff

  • First Nations Technical Institute

  • Indigenous Students Association

  • Indigenous Students Rising

  • Social Justice Week Committee
Aboriginal resources at Ryerson University

Internal resources

The university has a long-standing commitment to supporting Aboriginal students, faculty and staff. Examples include:

  • Soup and Substance
    • All students, staff and faculty are invited to participate in this series of moderated discussions. While enjoying a warm bowl of soup and refreshments, participants will engage in an open conversation on a range of diversity related topics.
  • Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services
    • Provides specialized services for Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit students on campus to develop a mutually productive relationship between Ryerson and the Aboriginal Community.
  • Aboriginal Liaison/Admissions Officer
    • Supports the unique ‘wrap around’ admissions process that is being built for Aboriginal learners
  • Aboriginal Human Resources Consultant
    • Ryerson’s Aboriginal Hiring Consultant is available to candidates thinking of applying, employees who are looking for support settling in, or leaders who are looking to hire Aboriginal employees.
  • First Nations, Metis and Inuit Faculty, Instructors and Staff Community Group
    • First Nations, Métis and Inuit faculty, instructors and staff from across the university who come together to learn from each other.
  • Eagle Staff inclusion in important university events
    • During a community ceremony and celebration on March 30, 2012 Ryerson University and Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services (RASS) were presented with an Eagle staff. The staff has very significant spiritual significance and is adorned with fur and thirteen eagle feathers. It is the traditional flag of Indigenous peoples and takes precedence over all other flags. Ryerson is the first and only university in Ontario to receive one.
  • A long-standing partnership with the First Nations Technical Institute
    • Provide university-level education in social work, and politics and government.
  • An active Aboriginal Education Council
    • With a mandate to participate in the process of developing a new relationship of truth and reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people at Ryerson, and in the community at large, based on knowledge and respect.
  • Chair in Indigenous Governance
  • TRC at The Ryerson School of Journalism
    • Master’s students at Ryerson School of Journalism embarked on this digital reporting project inspired by the TRC’s calls to action in areas from holistic healthcare to criminal justice, from preserving languages to fostering new generations of athletes.
  • Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences certificate program
    • This certificate provides a broad orientation to Aboriginal experiences in Canada and how Aboriginal peoples have been impacted by laws, policies, and practices in the health, social services, human resources, and other sectors.
  • AEC's Land Acknowledgement Statement

External resources

For more information, visit Ryerson's Aboriginal microsite.

Related Events
Date Event information
June 7, 2017 Aboriginal Groups (RASS, CUPE Instructors and Aboriginal Education Council)
May 19, 2016 LTO Conference, Keynote Address by Hon. Senator Murray Sinclair “Canada’s Residential Schools: The Story We All Must Know” external,Watch Hon. Senator Sinclair’s address
May 2, 2016 Aboriginal Students - Consultation
March 24, 2016 Dine and Discourse - The Truth and Reconciliation Report and calls to action: What does this mean to Ryerson? external,Watch the calls to action at Ryerson discussion Hosted by the Aboriginal Education Council and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
February 1, 2016 external,School of Journalism- Atkinson Lecture feat. TRC Commissioner
October 7, 2015 Soup and Substance - Truth and Reconciliation Commission 2015 report: What does it mean for Ryerson external,Watch the TRC report at Ryerson discussion
September 16, 2015 external,School of Journalism- Jody Porter talk “Reporting on Indigenous Issues”
September 23, 2015 Wab Kinew: Truth, Reconciliation and Politics at the Ryerson Student Learning Centre
February 25, 2015 Soup and Substance: Why do we acknowledge the land? Aboriginal knowledges at Ryerson external,Watch the discussion on acknowledging the land
June 6, 2013 Hon. Justice Murray Sinclair Ryerson Convocation Speech external,Watch Justice Sinclair’s convocation address online

Ryerson TRC contact

For more information, please contact

A note on language and terminology

*Note: Aboriginal peoples in Canada include persons who are First Nation, Inuit or Metis. The term Aboriginal peoples was established by the federal government as an umbrella term for diverse Indigenous peoples in Canada.

First Nation(s) has been adopted in Canada to replace the term “Indian band” or “Indians,” however, this may not be a term with which Indigenous peoples identify. They may identify with their Nation, e.g. Anishinabe, Haudenosaunee, Mi’kmaq or Dene and/or other terms such as Native, Native Indian, Native American or Indigenous peoples. All of these identities can be part of the umbrella term of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

Status refers to First Nations peoples who are recognized by the federal government as “Indians” under the federal Indian Act; Treaty refers to those who are Status and belong to a First Nation that signed a treaty with the Crown; Non-Status refers to individuals.