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Epcor contractor fires worker, contributes to $30,000 donation after racist smudge ceremony encounter at school



a sign on the side of a building: A construction company contracted by Epcor has fired the employees who disrupted a smudging ceremony outside Edith Rogers School last week.


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A construction company contracted by Epcor has fired the employees who disrupted a smudging ceremony outside Edith Rogers School last week.

A construction company contracted by Epcor has fired an employee after workers disrupted a smudging ceremony outside a southeast Edmonton school last week.

Wilco Contractors Northwest, issuing a statement on the company’s official Twitter account Tuesday, said employees working on a dry pond project near Edith Rogers School made racist comments and disrespectful actions towards participants at the ceremony.

On Saturday, a Twitter user identifying as a teacher at Edith Rogers School, said construction workers “revved their engines and yelled racial insults at staff and students” while the school hosted a smudging ceremony Friday.

On September 25, we let down the community,” the company tweeted Tuesday. “We apologize unreservedly to the students and staff who were hurt by these actions. We take full responsibility for what occurred, and we are taking concrete action to ensure this never happens again.”

The company said it undertook an internal and external review and terminated a staff member who was involved. It also announced it will be implementing cultural and Indigenous awareness training.

“T o support the broader community, we are pleased to be joining Epcor and Sureway Construction Group in jointly funding a $30,000 donation to the Edmonton Public School Board’s Amiskwaciy Academy,” read the Twitter statement.

Arthur Mann, president and CEO of Wilco Contracting, said the company has terminated one staff member and are continuing to review documentation of the event.

He said the company has sent a personal apology to the school, students and parents involved as well as Grand Chief Billy Morin.

“We have

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Epcor contractor fires workers, make $30,000 donation after racist smudge ceremony encounter at school

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On Saturday, a Twitter user identifying as a teacher at Edith Rogers School, said construction workers “revved their engines and yelled racial insults at staff and students” while the school hosted a smudging ceremony Friday.

On September 25, we let down the community,” the company tweeted Tuesday. “We apologize unreservedly to the students and staff who were hurt by these actions. We take full responsibility for what occurred, and we are taking concrete action to ensure this never happens again.”

The company said it undertook an internal and external review and terminated the staff who were involved. They also announced they will be implementing cultural and Indigenous awareness training.

“To support the broader community, we are pleased to be joining Epcor and Sureway Construction Group in jointly funding a $30,000 donation to the Edmonton Public School Board’s Amiskwaciy Academy,” read the Twitter statement.

Epcor issued its own statement Tuesday thanking the students and staff at Edith Rodgers for bringing the workers’ actions to them.

“Epcor took immediate action to shut down the construction site until an investigation could be completed, and we have been in communication with school officials, witnesses, the contractor for the site, and the sub-contractor,” said the statement.

Edmonton Public Schools previously said the smudging ceremony was part of its efforts to teach students about reconciliation with Indigenous people. Smudging is a type of ceremony practised by certain Indigenous cultures. It typically involves the burning of sweetgrass, sage, tobacco or cedar, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.

In a statement over the weekend the board called the incident “deeply unsettling and unacceptable for our staff and students who were participating in the smudging ceremony.”

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EPCOR, contractor apologize for racist incident during school smudging ceremony

EPCOR and a private construction company have apologized for an incident last week that saw workers make racist remarks during a smudging ceremony outside an Edmonton school.

The company, Wilco Contractors Northwest Inc., said it has fired the staff members involved.

The incident happened on Friday outside Edith Rogers School in Mill Woods.

During the outdoor ceremony, employees on a nearby construction site who were working on an EPCOR dry-pond project made racist remarks. The contractor on the project was the Sureway Construction Group.

In a statement Tuesday, EPCOR thanked the students and staff who brought the incident to the company’s attention.

EPCOR said it took immediate action to shut down the construction site until an investigation could be completed.

Wilco Contractors said after a review of the incident it has terminated the staff involved.

“We apologize unreservedly to the students and staff who were hurt by these actions,” Wilco said in its statement. “We take full responsibility for what occurred, and we are taking concrete action to ensure this never happens again.”

Wilco said it will be implementing cultural and Indigenous awareness training.

Wilco, EPCOR and Sureway will jointly make a $30,000 donation to amiskwaciy Academy, a school within the Edmonton Public Schools system that provides programming within an Indigenous context.

“In addition to this public statement, we are apologizing directly to all those who were harmed by this incident,” Wilco said.

“The hurt experienced by the students and staff is front of mind for us, and we hope the actions we are taking demonstrate to them how seriously we take this situation.”

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Is an algorithm less racist than a home loan officer?

In 2015, Melany Anderson’s 6-year-old daughter came home from a play date and asked her mother a heartbreaking question: Why did all her friends have their own bedrooms?

Anderson, 41, a pharmaceutical benefits consultant, was recently divorced, living with her parents in West Orange, New Jersey, and sharing a room with her daughter. She longed to buy a home, but the divorce had emptied her bank account and wrecked her credit. She was working hard to improve her financial profile, but she couldn’t imagine submitting herself to the scrutiny of a mortgage broker.

“I found the idea of going to a bank completely intimidating and impossible,” she said. “I was a divorced woman and a Black woman. And also being a contractor — I know it’s frowned upon, because it’s looked at as unstable. There were so many negatives against me.”

Then, last year, Anderson was checking her credit score online when a pop-up ad announced that she was eligible for a mortgage, listing several options. She ended up at Better.com, a digital lending platform, which promised to help Anderson secure a mortgage without ever setting foot in a bank or, if she so desired, even talking to another human.

In the end, she estimated, she conducted about 70% of the mortgage application and approval process online. Her fees totaled $4,000, about half the national average. In November 2019, she and her daughter moved into a two-bedroom home not far from her parents with a modern kitchen, a deck and a backyard. “We adapted to the whole COVID thing in a much easier way than if we were still living with my parents,” Anderson said this summer. “We had a sense of calm, made our own rules.”

Getting a mortgage can be a harrowing experience for anyone, but for those

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