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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Anna Reynolds School renovation on the ballot for Newington voters

A $33.5 million renovation project for Anna Reynolds School will be decided by Newington voters when they go to the polls or send in their absentee ballots this election season.

The referendum question asks whether to approve $33.5 million in bonding for a renovate-to-new building project at the elementary school.

Local taxpayers would be responsible for up to $17.5 million of the cost of the project. School building grants from the state would cover the remaining cost. The town council voted unanimously to have the question added to the ballot.

If approved by voters, construction would begin in the summer of 2021 and be completed by December 2022. Students would attend the school during construction.

District officials and parents have been seeking upgrades to the school for several years as its condition has continued to deteriorate.

Built in 1954 and originally known as Northwest Elementary School, the 65,000-square-foot building suffers from a chronically leaking roof that has led some students to joke about the school’s “waterfall feature.”

Before the roof was recently repaired again, Principal Jason Smith said that 11 of the school’s 20 classrooms were experiencing leaks, which are expected to return without a new roof.

Teachers and parents have also complained about a foul odor that is emitted in the building during times of dampness and humidity and the harm it could do to those with allergies or breathing issues.

The building is also not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirement, has outdated plumbing, electrical and heating ventilation and air conditioning, officials say. The only air-conditioning the school has is window units around the building and open windows. Temperature control also fluctuates greatly from classroom to classroom.

Other issues include a main entrance that does not align with modern security precautions for people coming into

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Chefs are parents, too. Here are their tips if your kitchen is now a makeshift school cafeteria

Yahya Noor from East Boston’s Tawakal Halal Café has seven kids — four of whom started virtual class last week — so he knows what he’s talking about.

“Think about it like going to school all day, where you don’t have the option to just go to the cafeteria,” he says. Instead, he packs Tupperware containers of lunches and snacks the night before for easy distribution at set times so his kids don’t get distracted. A favorite? Basmati rice with wild-caught salmon from Market Basket (his go-to grocery store), mozzarella cheese sticks, and grapes.

Yahya Noor of Tawakal Halal Café.
Yahya Noor of Tawakal Halal Café.Handout

Get creative at breakfast

If your kid eats on the fly, use breakfast as the main meal. Valentine Howell from Krasi in the Back Bay has an 11-year-old daughter with an “eclectic” palate and a remote curriculum in Roslindale. He fashions breakfast “sushi” with a banana rolled in Greek yogurt or peanut butter, then rolled again in her favorite cereal (she likes Fruity Pebbles; your mileage may vary). He then slices it into bite-sized pieces. “It looks like fun kid’s sushi, it gets them to eat yogurt, and they often want to make it themselves,” he says.

Shop the sales

Heather Costa from Back Bay’s Revolution Health Kitchen, also at Time Out Market Boston, stocks up on organic products at Aldi. “Salsa, spices, pastas — they have a ton of organic products that are so much cheaper,” she says. (One favorite: Kite Hill vegan cream cheese.) She stores food for her remote Somerville third-grader in a Kitsure 30-ounce stainless steel Thermos, which is larger than other brands and comes with a folding spoon.

Rice is nice

Tom Fosnot from Lincoln’s Real has three kids enrolled in remote learning. His secret? Cooking a big batch of rice on the weekend

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HVAC contractor charged with spying on girls at another N.J. school

A former contractor who was charged earlier this month with recording young girls in bathroom stalls at a Camden County school was now facing charges for doing the same thing at a Cape May County high school several years ago, authorities allege.

An investigation revealed that Gregory Mahley, 51, of West Deptford, performed HVAC work at the Cape May County Technical High School and recorded multiple people in a bathroom on October 15, 2013, March 20, 2014, and April 22, 2014, according to a joint statement from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and Middle Township Police.

Mahley, who worked for eight years for Multi-Temp Mechanical, Inc., in Westville, was arrested and charged Wednesday with 10 counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child for manufacturing child pornography and 10 counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child for possessing the child pornography, the office said.

All the victims who were recorded are now adults and have been identified, and contacted by authorities, police said.

The discovery of Mahley’s alleged crimes in Cape May County came after he was arrested on Sept. 9 for recording girls in the stalls at Glen Landing Middle School, in Camden County, officials said.

Authorities said he installed mirrors onto the back of bathroom stall doors that allowed him to secretly record girls using the restroom through an air conditioning vent.

Once the mirrors were discovered, school officials found Mahley inside the utility closet where he recorded the videos, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release earlier this month. During the investigation, multiple devices were seized from his home and his work vehicle.

While performing a search of a tablet he owned, detectives located videos of six minor female students and one adult and charged him with seven counts of

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