TORONTO — The magazine long known as the Ryerson Review of Journalism is temporarily removing “Ryerson” from its name.
The biannual magazine published by the Ryerson School of Journalism will go by the [ ] Review of Journalism, the Review, or the [ ]RJ until the end of the winter semester.
The move comes after the school of journalism announced in December it would review the names of its two student publications — the Review and the Ryersonian — given their namesake’s legacy.
Egerton Ryerson was an architect of Canada’s residential school system, which sought to convert and assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian culture and saw them suffer widespread physical and sexual abuse.
Ryerson University is also examining its relationship with its namesake, with the school’s head creating a task force that will “recommend actions to reconcile the legacy of Egerton Ryerson.”
The 15 final-year undergraduate and graduate students currently running the Review say that while they don’t have the power to permanently change the magazine’s name, they want this year’s publication to reflect the processes that are currently underway.
“The Review’s mission is to probe the quality of journalism in Canada. One of the central tenets of our mission is to ‘foster critical thinking about, and accountability within, the industry,'” the masthead said in a written statement. “This means we must also foster critical thinking and accountability within our own publication.”
They also pointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, which includes a call to better educate Canadian journalism students on the history of Indigenous Peoples.
Questions surrounding the university’s relationship to its namesake are far from new.
In 2010, the school published a statement saying that while Ryerson did not implement or oversee residential schools, his beliefs “influenced, in part, the establishment of what became the Indian Residential School system.”
Eight years later, the school added a plaque beside a statue of Ryerson that’s displayed prominently on campus.
It reads, in part, “As Chief Superintendent of Education, Ryerson’s recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System.”
The issue came back to the fore over the summer, when the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted anti-racism protests all over the world.
In July, the school’s statue of Ryerson and a monument to John A. Macdonald at the provincial legislature were both splashed with pink paint.
There have also been calls to rename Dundas Street — which happens to be the southern border of Ryerson University’s campus — because its namesake, Henry Dundas, delayed the abolition of slavery in Britain by 15 years.
The City of Toronto is currently reviewing those calls.
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press