Photo: Sierra Bein

Indigenous student group pens open letter to Ryerson

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By Alanna Rizza and Sarah Krichel 

A Ryerson Indigenous student group has written an open letter asking the university to acknowledge various requests supporting the Indigenous and Black populations at Ryerson.

The group, Indigenous Students Rising, sent a letter on Nov. 15 to the Office of President Mohamed Lachemi, the office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the faculty of community services and the school of social work.

According to Indigenous Students Rising’s Facebook page, the group is a student led movement that is working against colonialism and anti-Native racism at Ryerson.

The letter states that the Indigenous and Black community feel as though the onus falls on them to “take care of their people and to fight for the furtherance of their issues.”

“Indigenous students are being faced with trauma, microaggressions and systemic racism and marginalization on campus,” states the letter in its opening. “We are too often met with complacency or flat-out direct acts of anti-Native racism and anti-Native rage.”

The group’s requests include incorporating approaches to addressing privilege and allyship in the social work curriculum, having discussions on micro-aggression in every class, making land acknowledgments compulsory at the beginning of each semester in every class, increasing funding for Indigenous and Black students in the school of social work, hiring more Indigenous and Black staff in all faculties and schools as well as creating compulsory education sessions for faculty on decolonization and colonialism.

The letter concluded stating that it is the university’s responsibility to support the Indigenous population, as the school’s founder Egerton Ryerson who was known for his involvement in residential schools.

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