'Lack of respect': Toronto firm backs out of working with Sarnia council after diversity training session
Session happened late last year
A Toronto consulting firm that offers workshops in equity, diversity, and inclusion says it won't work with Sarnia City Council any more after councillors showed a lack of respect in a training session.
The KOJO Institute was brought in to work with Sarnia councillors late last year. However, the two-hour session turned hostile, the company said.
Details of what transpired during the meeting weren't provided, with KOJO founder Kike Ojo-Thompson telling CBC News on Wednesday that they occurred in a closed session.
She said while the KOJO Institute did complete the first session, the company won't be moving forward with two other planned sessions.
Ojo-Thompson said it's a matter of safety.
"A narrow uptake of the term safety would make this hard to understand," she said. "When reference was made to safety, we were talking about it in multiple, multiple forms."
The company sent a letter to the city outlining its position following the session. That letter hasn't been made available to CBC.
However, the Sarnia Journal, in a story published this week, quotes the letter as stating "The undisputed, uncorrected, and unabated hostility demonstrated by some members of Council toward our Principal Consultant Kike Ojo-Thompson was wholly inappropriate."
Sarnia Coun. Brian White was in the session, and told CBC News there was pushback from some councillors who weren't willing to listen.
"Emotional and mental safety, psychological safety can become under threat by all kinds of things," he said. "In this case, I would suggest it was a combination of words and tone, and lack of decorum, that really showed a lack of respect for the person and the information being presented."
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said in an email to CBC News that he wasn't able to comment further under the Council Rules of Conduct.
He did say a councillor has requested the city's integrity commissioner investigate the matter.
Bradley stated he hoped that investigation will take place.