Ontario Construction News staff writer
Two nooses were found on a construction site at the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto last week. It is the third such incident at the hospital and brings the total to five nooses discovered on four different worksites in the city since June.
It pains and angers me to confirm that on September 24, two more nooses were found on the EllisDon construction site on our property.
These despicable acts of racism are not reflective of our hospital community. While we will not let incident of hate define us, we will call out these insidious acts whenever they take place.
“Following the first display of nooses on the construction site in June, we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our employees, neighbours, community and local businesses,” said Sarah Downey, hospital CEO.
“They surrounded our hospital and the construction workers who work there in support with a display of anti-racism messages.”
Downey said the site was cleansed with a healing ceremony before the final structural beam, symbolically named the Unity Beam, was placed on the new building in August.
“What took place on September 24 was an overt attempt to dismantle the reconciliation work our community and our hospital has done to heal,” she said. “This pattern indicates a systemic problem. Although we have been reassured by the efforts made by EllisDon and others to address racism in the construction industry, it is clear that they need to do better.”
Toronto Police are investigating the latest incident.
EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith called the acts the handiwork of one or two racist criminals and said every other worker and leader is appalled at their hatred and cowardice.
“These individuals are unfortunately comfortable in the knowledge that on a heavily populated and constantly changing construction site, they will be hard to identify,” Smith said in a statement. “But I want to send a clear message: We will not stop until you are found, charged and permanently evicted from our industry.”
EllisDon is working closely with the Toronto Police Service, and will be using every available tool, including upgrading the security and surveillance on our sites, both to catch these criminals and to ensure that every worker is safe from discrimination, hate and bigotry.
“EllisDon acknowledges that systemic racism in the construction industry is real and – with our partner unions and subcontractors – we have initiated both long and short term measures to root it out wherever it lies, and eliminate it. This will take time and sustained effort by many people, but we have already begun, and we will succeed,” Smith concluded.
Hospital officials said they are committed to addressing systemic and overt racism within the organization and the health sector “and will hold EllisDon and all of our partners accountable to do the same.”
“Investigations on this most recent incident are underway and we will work alongside Toronto Police Service to ensure that whoever is responsible for this act is identified and prosecuted. Anti-Black racism has no place in our hospital or anywhere in our community and it will never be tolerated,” Downey said.
Police confirmed in late July that they are investigating the earlier incidents as possible hate crimes.
The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario removed a member after a noose was found hanging at an Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction site in August.
“Local 27 denounces these acts in the strongest terms and supports our industry employer colleagues in their swift removal of the individual, union president Mike Yorke said in a press release. “Behavior that makes anyone feel unsafe on construction worksites will not be tolerated, and accountability rests on everyone in the industry to create safe and respectful workplaces.
Local 27 has endorsed a ‘Charter of Inclusive Workplaces’ which is prominently posted at jobsites and can be found at www.carpenterslocal27.ca.
EllisDon has launched a series of initiatives to support Black employees and inclusive diversity. See the list here.