A message from the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force
The discovery of an unmarked mass grave on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops has brought an increased sense of urgency from the community and requests to the task force to make recommendations for the removal of the statue and a new name for the university.
We understand, empathize with and appreciate the strong emotions and passion for change from so many of our community members. We would like to provide an update on the work of the Standing Strong Task Force.
Acknowledging the urgency
The task force’s timeline is ambitious and we recognize that this work cannot be delayed. The current sense of urgency and demands for action reinforce the importance of the task force’s work.
Throughout our two-month engagement period, we received over 6,000 survey responses, over 50 report-backs from community conversations, numerous open letters and extensive media coverage. We recognize and appreciate the time, knowledge and trust that the community has shared with us as we examine the legacy of the university’s namesake.
Out of respect for all of the individuals who contributed submissions, for our mandate which includes broad community consultation and historical research, and for the process that was put in place for transparency and accountability, we must take the time necessary to review and reflect on all that has been shared before we can make recommendations.
We remain committed to presenting our final report and recommendations to President Lachemi before the fall semester.
Legacy and commemoration
We were tasked to examine and more fully understand Egerton Ryerson’s relationships with Indigenous peoples, education and the residential school system. We were also tasked to consider whether that legacy aligns with the university’s values and mission. Our scholarly historical research has drawn on the expertise of historians, community members, elders and archivists. The findings of this research will be included in our final report and will be made available to all community members in an accessible format.
Our mandate includes the development of principles to guide commemoration-based decision-making at the university, such as naming and iconography. These principles will inform the task force’s recommended actions regarding the statue, the university’s name and other elements of the commemoration of Egerton Ryerson on campus.
We continue to learn
While we recognize that our university, our community and our history are unique, we have also examined and learned from the processes and outcomes of similar reviews undertaken by other universities, municipalities and institutions across the country and around the world.
We are strongly committed to learning from our community. While our formal engagement period has ended, our learning continues and we welcome submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With great respect,
Joanne Dallaire and Catherine Ellis
Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) co-chairs