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

EPCOR said they are investigating after a local principal told parents one of the utility company’s crews made racist remarks about a smudging ceremony at a school in southeast Edmonton.

Students and staff were participating in a smudging ceremony on the basketball tarmac on Friday at Edith Rogers School in Mill Woods, according to a letter sent to parents from Principal Stacy Fysh. During the ceremony, a construction crew 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 stated.

EPCOR apologized for the incident and said they are investigating. 

“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.

They wrote the company does not “condone racism or hate of any kind.”

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,” she 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 and they know it’s being taken seriously. 

“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 their investigation is complete they will not provide any more information on the matter.

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