Numerous posters and works of art display a clear message on the hoarding at the Michael Garron Hospital construction site in Toronto’s East York community: Shut down hate.
Community members rallied together and started pasting the posters to the hoarding after two more incidents of nooses being found at construction sites across Toronto were recently reported. This comes after nooses were found by two subtrade workers on June 10 at the hospital site, which is being built by EllisDon.
Police are currently investigating all the incidents, which include a noose being found at a project being built by The Daniels Corporation at Dundas Street East and Sumach Street in Toronto’s Regent Park community, the company confirmed June 26. The other was found on June 25 at a tower project being built by EllisDon and Govan Brown in a joint venture at 81 Bay St.
As a result of these crimes, several unions, industry associations and stakeholders have come forward to condemn the acts and push for change.
In a statement, the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America expressed disgust called for “all employers in the construction industry, as well as governments at all levels, to implement more safeguards to protect employees and focus more resources on long-term education to help eradicate racism in the workplace.”
“We denounce these acts in the strongest terms and commend our industry employer colleagues for their actions in promptly addressing these repulsive incidents by launching internal investigations into what happened, contacting the Toronto Police Service, and overtly characterizing these acts as hate crimes,” the statement reads. “The Carpenters’ will not tolerate any behaviour that makes anyone feel unsafe on our worksites.”
Mike Yorke, president of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, highlighted that the union recently signed the Charter of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities, which was brought forward by the Carpenters Local 27 as part of a multi-union effort supported by the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create safe and respectful workplaces.
“While only a first step, this charter holds us accountable and reminds us that we must learn and grow together as an industry,” he said.
The Charter of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities is available online and will be posted on all jobsites and in administrative offices where members are working.
Yorke’s message echoes that of many other stakeholders who issued statements or took to social media to share their views.
The Labourers’ International Union of North America said in a statement its union has zero tolerance for any and all forms of racism.
Tom Reid, international vice-president for the first district (Canada) for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, also issued a statement declaring these types of acts have no place in society.
The Canadian Construction Association also expressed its disgust.
Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) president Richard Lyall called the acts “disturbing and shocking” in a statement, adding they are “denounced by everyone who works in our industry. These are acts of cowardice and racism that have no place in our industry nor society. The perpetrators must be caught and prosecuted.”