End Racist Violence in Commercial Construction and Building Development

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In the past few months, nooses were hung at multiple construction workplaces to intimidate Black workers. Further, we are informed that racist, sexist, and homophobic violence is long-standing and commonplace in commercial construction work environments. 

Marginalized workers are regularly harassed, assaulted and in fact most who begin in this industry leave shortly after, because of the violence they experience. It is clear that manifestations of white supremacy, misogyny and terror are so ingrained that it is an expected part of the employment experience of Black, Indigenous, racialized, female, and LGBTQ workers in construction. 

This hatred has festered in these workplaces with impunity. Little to no action has been taken to identify and hold perpetrators to account. The Ministry of Labour has the legislative oversight responsibility over this sector and yet there has been no accountability required of this large powerful and connected workplace lobby. The construction companies whose sites upon which the nooses were found – Crosslinx, Ellis Don Ltd., Daniels Corp. and Govan Brown – specifically need to be held accountable for perpetuating unsafe workplaces. The Ministry of the Attorney General has to start laying hate crimes charges for these heinous crimes linked to the hate of Black People. The City of Toronto needs to assess why its police force chose not to lay charges in the terrorization of Black workers. The whole industry related to commercial construction needs to step up.

What we know about the nooses, so far:

  • In one of the incidents, the perpetrator was clearly identified and given the opportunity/choice to resign instead of be fired
  • In another incident the perpetrator was “known” on the construction team and he was simply re-deployed to another site.
  • Not one arrest has been made or hate crime charge laid in any of the 5 incidents.
  • Construction companies continue to hire white “consultants” to deal with these white supremacist hate crimes, with no results.

This deeply entrenched and unchallenged culture of white supremacist misogyny within the construction sector must be changed immediately. All leaders of the industry need to examine how this culture is perpetuated within the industry and commit to concrete ways to ensure it is eradicated. It is time to take action: we are calling for a meeting with all power-brokers in this industry to hear the concerns and recommendations Toronto residents.

We demand the Province and City act forcefully in bringing this industry into compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Criminal Code, the Ontario Human Rights Code, Workplace Safety and Harassment legislation and common decency.

We are asking that provincial, city, and industry leaders work to:

  • Create an oversight committee on building and construction
  • Enforce affirmative action in unions, construction and building, engineering, design and architectural corporations
  • Establish anonymous reporting line for industry workers
  • Collect race-based data of on-site incidents
  • Appoint an ombudsperson to address race and discrimination issues in construction

Toronto citizens deserve safe workplaces free from terror. PLEASE help us get the word out, and share this campaign on your social media platforms.

For more details, and the full letter to the Ontario government, see @csarc_to on Instagram or Twitter.

Thank you to everyone who is helping ensure the construction industry is a safe place to work for everyone.If your organization would like to sign onto these demands, please email CSARCtoronto@gmail.com

In Solidarity,
Community Solidarity Against Racism in Construction (CSARC)

Urban Alliance on Race Relations
Black Architects and Interior Designers Association
Chinese Canadian Nation Council (CCNC) - Toronto Chapter
Beachers for Black Lives
Olds Cool General Store
Not Another Black Life
Friends of Chinatown (FOCT)
Unity Mosque
Rima Berns McGown, MPP
Kristyn Wong-Tam, City Councillor
Coalition against White Supremacy and Islamophobia
Social Justice Committee of the Danforth Jewish Circle