Two more nooses were found at a construction site at Michael Garron Hospital on Thursday, prompting its president and CEO to release a statement expressing her shock and anger at what she says is clearly “a systematic problem.”
There have been at least four separate incidents so far this summer in which nooses have been left hanging at construction sites in the city, including another one at the Michael Garron worksite in June.
The incidents prompted Mayor John Tory to holds a series of meetings with executives and union leaders from the construction industry earlier this summer in which he challenged them to take action to address anti-Black racism within the sector.
The latest incident, however, casts a shadow over those efforts.
“This pattern indicates a systemic problem. Although we have been reassured by the efforts made by EllisDon and others to address racism in the construction industry, it is clear that they need to do better,” Michael Garron Hospital President and CEO Sarah Downey said in a statement issued Friday. “I am committed to addressing systemic and overt racism within our organization and the health sector and will hold EllisDon and all of our partners accountable to do the same.”
Downey said that the latest “despicable acts of racism” at the work site are particularly disheartening given the efforts the hospital went to in June to help the community recover, which included the staging of a “healing ceremony” before the final structural beam was erected in its new building.
She said that viewed through that lens, what happened on Thursday can only be described as “an overt attempt to dismantle the reconciliation work our community and our hospital has done to heal.”
For its part, EllisDon told CP24 in a statement that it immediately contacted police after becoming aware of the latest incident and will also be conducting its own investigation.
As well, the company says that members of its senior leadership team will be visiting the site today to “address the project team and condemn these actions.”
“We strongly condemn all acts of racism and we stand by our Black employees, subtrade workers and local community members,” the statement reads.
In a series of messages posted to Twitter on Friday morning Mayor John Tory said that he is “deeply concerned” with the latest incidents at the Michael Garron worksite, noting that “this blatant hatred and threat of violence, has no place in our city.”
Tory said that he will also continue to work with the construction industry to address anti-Black racism, as he has throughout the summer.
As part of that work, EllisDon has already taken a number of actions, including the creation off three employee-led leadership teams focused on anti-racism, inclusion and gender equality.
It has also created an Alliance of Black Employees Experience and Leadership (ABEEL) group.