Help love win for paramedic wives in Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada

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On July 1, 2017, paramedic-firefighters Sheri and Alyssa Monk were forced to resign from Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission after being told by management not to use the word “wife” for one another and to refrain from discussing their personal and family lives at work. They were told that some people would never accept their legal same-sex marriage and that those belief systems had to be respected. When they asked if the other four married (and heterosexual) couples who served on the department would be subject to the same rules, they were told no – because they weren’t the ones others had a problem with.

They tried everything they knew how to keep their jobs, including writing letters, asking for diversity training for management, and policies that would apply to everyone equally. Their requests were ignored, and their letters remained unanswered. Eventually, the situation became so unbearable, the women no longer felt safe at work, especially considering the dangerous nature of it. They had no union, there was no HR department, no investigation, no exit interview – no recourse.

As a result, this family has lost their savings, their dream house is for sale, and Sheri is commuting three hours away for work. Alyssa still hasn’t found a new full-time position. The worst of the damage is how a family was torn apart. Both moms work hours away from home for days at a time, and family time has become a rarity instead of the norm.

The women filed a human rights complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission in August 2017, but there is a long backlog of cases and they may be waiting five years for a tribunal. Most EMS sites in Alberta are operated by Alberta Health Services (AHS), but Pincher Creek is independent, and only contracted by AHS. Alberta Health Services is a leader in diversity and inclusion, and was named as one of Canada's top 100 employers in 2018.

Pincher Creek is a small town of fewer than 4,000 in Alberta, Canada at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It is the gateway to Waterton National Park and to Glacier National Park across the border in the United States. The community is known for its warm hospitality, hardworking ranchers and farmers, and borders some of the most pristine wilderness in Canada.

The Town of Pincher Creek has tried to distance itself from Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission, but the mayor of the town, Don Anderberg, is the chair of the commission itself.  Someone must be held accountable for the mismanagement at Pincher Creek Emergency Services. The Monks deserve justice and a public apology, and the people of Pincher Creek and surrounding area deserve an emergency services department that represents the true, giving and inclusive spirit of the region.

Please sign this petition to help these two women in love by asking for:

1.     That Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission issues a public apology and acknowledges harm that was done to the Monks;

2.     That those responsible to be held accountable for what happened; and,

3.     That diversity training and policies be instituted to protect future first responders from the same treatment.

 



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