President Mohamed Lachemi struck the Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win (Standing Strong) Task Force in November 2020 to seek an understanding of both Egerton Ryerson’s life and legacy and the role of commemoration in our community. The Task Force fulfilled their commitment with the submission of the PDF fileStanding Strong Task Force Report and Recommendations, opens in new window.
The mandate was to:
- Conduct thorough, open, transparent consultations with Ryerson students, faculty, staff, alumni and others. (Fulfilled by Appendix B, What we learned report)
- Examine and more fully understand Egerton Ryerson’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples, his links to the education system in Ontario, and his role in the development of residential schools in Canada, as well as interpret these findings in both their historical and modern context. (Fulfilled by Appendix D, Life and legacy of Egerton Ryerson)
- Examine how other universities have dealt with the issues of statuary, memorials, and requests to rename and identify best practices. (Fulfilled by Appendix C, External Scan)
- Develop principles to guide the recommended actions that Ryerson could take to respond to Egerton Ryerson’s legacy and the findings of the consultations. (Fulfilled by report and recommendations)
- Provide a final report to the President with recommendations and principles by the end of summer 2021. (Report and recommendations submitted August 18, 2021)
Over the course of nine months, the Task Force oversaw an in-depth historical research project, a 2-month community engagement period and learned from Traditional Knowledge Keepers and various subject matter experts about the life and legacy of Egerton Ryerson, statues as forms of public art and memorialization, the history of colonization, Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and place-making, the naming of public spaces, the Indian Residential School System, the public education system, segregated and separate schooling, Truth and Reconciliation, and the uses of commemoration.
The recommendations put forward reflect the Task Force’s learning as well as the voices of our community members. They embody the university’s commitment to being unapologetically bold, intentionally diverse and inclusive, dedicated to excellence, respectfully collaborative and a champion of sustainability.
Task Force Name
Originally, the Task Force was called the Egerton Ryerson Presidential Task Force. Co-Chair Joanne Dallaire, a Cree pipe carrier gifted with the ability to seek out Spirit Names, sought out a Spirit Name for the Task Force. This name is in recognition of our ancestors and spirit helpers who are invited to join and guide the process.
The Spirit Name for the Task Force in English is Standing Strong. In Cree (N-dialect), it is written as ‘Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win’.
The work of the Task Force is represented as a circle with no one above, no one below, no one ahead and no one behind. Regardless of age, stage or position, everyone has an equally valued voice.
In all documents produced, the Spirit Name of the Task Force will be given prominence.
Task Force Approach
The Task Force approached its mandate through an Indigenous lens, guided by the belief that no one is above, no one is below, no one is ahead and no one is behind. Regardless of age, stage or position, everyone’s voice is equally valued.