Edmonton

EPCOR investigating 'unacceptable' racist remarks made toward smudging ceremony in Edmonton school

EPCOR is investigating after a principal told parents one of the utility company's crews made racist remarks about a smudging ceremony at a school in southeast Edmonton.

Students at Edith Rogers School were participating in a smudging ceremony on Friday

EPCOR apologized and is investigating a racist incident where crew members made racist remarks towards students participating in a smudging ceremony at Edith Rogers School. (Scott Neufeld/ CBC)

EPCOR is investigating after a principal told parents that construction crew members made racist remarks about a smudging ceremony at a school in southeast Edmonton.

Students and staff were participating in a smudging ceremony Friday on the basketball tarmac at Edith Rogers School in Mill Woods, principal Stacy Fysh wrote in a letter sent to parents.

During the ceremony, crew members at the adjacent Malcolm Tweddle-Edith Rogers Dry Pond "swore, made racist remarks and ran their equipment so that it was difficult for the participants to hear the ceremony," the letter said.

EPCOR apologized for the incident and said it is investigating. EPCOR said the workers were a contractor's crew members, but didn't identify the contractor involved.

"It was unacceptable, and we are working with the contractor to take swift action, including shutting down all construction activities at this site until a full investigation is complete," EPCOR said in an email.

The company does not "condone racism or hate of any kind," the email said.

Carrie Rosa, acting director of communications for Edmonton Public Schools, said the smudging was part of the school's commitment to truth and reconciliation efforts.

"We aspire for all of our learning and working environments to be free from hatred, racism and hurt," Rosa wrote in an email. 

"That's why what happened on Friday at Edith Rogers School was so deeply unsettling and unacceptable for our staff and students who were participating in the smudging ceremony." 

She said the school has spoken with EPCOR about the incident.

"Edmonton Public Schools is committed to truth and reconciliation by providing a variety of learning experiences in all of our schools, which includes events like Friday's smudging," Rosa wrote.

EPCOR said that until its investigation is complete, it will not provide any more information on the matter.

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