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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