Changing the Name of Ryerson House to First House
On June 10, 2021, the Victoria University Board of Regents passed a motion accepting the recommendation of President William Robins, contained in his Presidential Report on the Legacy of Egerton Ryerson, that Victoria University discontinue the use of Ryerson’s name for honorific purposes and return the residence called Ryerson House to its original name of First House. The vote followed a recommendation made to the Board by the Executive Committee in a motion passed at its June 3, 2021 meeting.
The Board’s vote comes after the Executive Committee asked President Robins in June of 2019 to provide a report on the legacy of Egerton Ryerson. The Committee asked that the report consider historical and current contexts for understanding Ryerson’s involvement with and impact upon Indigenous communities, and make recommendations regarding the honorific use of Ryerson’s name on the Victoria University campus.
At that time, a subcommittee of the Executive Committee also heard input from Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members including students, Board members, alumni, and administration, and reviewed the University of Toronto’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report.
At its June 3, 2021 meeting, the Executive Committee also struck a subcommittee to examine other recommendations in the report to determine if further actions come under the Board’s jurisdiction and if so, to recommend what actions should be taken.
The Board expresses its deep gratitude to those who kindly shared their insight and knowledge during this process, especially Indigenous community members within and beyond the University.
It is our hope that these steps will contribute to building stronger partnerships and respectful dialogues between Victoria University and Indigenous peoples.