National Newswatch

TORONTO — The Ontario legislature has relocated a painting and bust of Egerton Ryerson following a request from the leader of the Opposition to move the artwork of the man credited as an architect of Canada's residential schools system.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's office wrote to the legislature's speaker this week requesting that the artwork, which was displayed directly outside her office, be moved.

Horwath's office said the request was made in light of the discovery in Kamloops, B.C., of what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school.

"Andrea felt it was important that her staff, MPPs and any visitors to the building don’t need to confront those objects coming and going from her office," the party said in a statement Friday.

Ryerson was one of the architects 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.

Legislature Speaker Ted Arnott said the bust and portrait of Ryerson that were previously displayed outside Horwath's office on the third floor of the building were moved Thursday.

As of Friday, the portrait was in storage and the bust had been moved away from the NDP office, but was still present down the hall. 

"They are the property of Archives Ontario," Arnott said in a statement. "We have reached out to staff at Archives Ontario to make further arrangements." 

Premier Doug Ford's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ryerson's legacy has been a topic of heated discussion in recent days after the discovery in Kamloops.

There have been growing calls to rename Toronto's Ryerson University and remove a statue of Egerton Ryerson from its campus.

Earlier this week, the university's school of journalism said it would rename two of its publications ahead of the new school year, dropping any reference to the man the school is named after.

The change took place after conversations with students who the school said felt the "horrific legacy" of the residential school system was too great to continue using the Ryerson name in the mastheads.

A statue of Egerton Ryerson was vandalized with red paint and graffiti on the university campus earlier this week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

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