Months after nooses were discovered at an east-end Toronto hospital construction site, officials say two more were discovered at the same site on Thursday.
“These despicable acts of racism are not reflective of our hospital community. While we will not let incidents of hate define us, we will call out these insidious acts whenever they take place,” Sarah Downey, president and CEO of Michael Garron Hospital, said in a statement on Friday.
“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.”
It was on June 10 when crews located nooses at the construction site, which is operated by EllisDon. The nooses were reported to have been found where two Black workers were stationed.
Residents shocked by the incident rallied outside the hospital, attaching posters and artwork on the construction walls. The hospital held a healing ceremony after the final structural beam was put into place.
“What took place on Sept. 24 was an overt attempt to dismantle the reconciliation work our community and our hospital has done to heal,” Downey wrote.
“Anti-Black racism has no place in our hospital or anywhere in our community and it will never be tolerated.”
Geoff Smith, president and CEO of EllisDon, responded to the discovery, calling it the “handiwork of one or two racist criminals” and adding that many at the company are “appalled” at the “hatred and cowardice” of those involved.
“These individuals are unfortunately comfortable in the knowledge that on a heavily populated and constantly changing construction site, they will be hard to identify,” he wrote in a statement on Friday.
“But I want to send a clear message: We will not stop until you are found, charged, and permanently evicted from our industry.”
A Toronto police spokesperson said 55 Division is in “the early stages” of an investigation into the incident. The spokesperson said it hasn’t been determined if it was connected to the past discovery at Michael Garron Hospital or to other construction sites where nooses were discovered.
There have been at least three other construction sites in Toronto in recent months where nooses have been found.
Meanwhile, Smith said the company is working with police to assist their investigation. He also said security and surveillance are being upgraded “to catch these criminals and to ensure that every worker is safe from discrimination, hate, and bigotry.”
“EllisDon acknowledges that systemic racism in the construction industry is real and – with our partner unions and subcontractors – we have initiated both long and short-term measures to root it out wherever it lies, and eliminate it,” Smith wrote.