EDMONTON — A utility company says contract staff have been fired for making racist comments during a smudging ceremony at an Edmonton public school.
Epcor says school officials reported that students and staff heard construction workers swearing, using racist language and running their equipment during the ceremony last week at Edith Rogers School, which teaches students from Grades 7 to 9.
The workers were at a dry pond project across from where the students were participating in the smudging ritual in which Indigenous peoples burn sacred herbs and medicines for cleansing or health purposes.
“Epcor does not condone racism or hate of any kind, and we thank the students and staff who brought this incident to our attention,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The company said the workers were with a sub-contractor, Wilco Contractors Northwest, and under the control of Sureway Construction Group.
Epcor, Wilco and Sureway said they will together donate $30,000 to the Edmonton Public School Board’s amiskwaciy Academy, a junior and senior high school that offers Indigenous programming.
Wilco said in a separate statement that it has fired the workers involved and that racism will not be tolerated. — The Canadian Press