Love not hate sign

Open letter to our community: We stand united against hate

Message from Sarah Downey, President and CEO, Michael Garron Hospital

Dear East Toronto community members and partners,

As many of you know, on June 10, the EllisDon construction site of our new redevelopment project was the scene of a despicable act of hate.

I want to begin by saying that anti-Black racism has no place in our hospital or anywhere in our community and it will never be tolerated.

I would like to commend EllisDon’s leadership team, who promptly contacted Toronto Police and immediately began an investigation into the incident. In addition, I am pleased to see that EllisDon hired an independent third-party company to conduct an investigation and provide recommendations on additional steps their company can take to support their employees and subcontractors and to address anti-Black racism on their job sites. It is unfortunate that these similar acts of hate were also seen on other construction sites with different employers and contractors in recent weeks.

Since then, our employees and community members spoke out to hold EllisDon, Toronto Police and our hospital accountable for getting to the bottom of this hateful act and taking action to ensure our workplaces and communities are safe, inclusive and welcoming. I support this call to action.

As an organization, we continue to do everything we can to support EllisDon and Toronto Police in their investigation. We strongly demand that action be taken against those found to be responsible for this deplorable act that goes against the values and vision of our hospital.

At Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), we recognize that our diversity is our strength. We work diligently to empower our staff, physicians and volunteers with the cultural knowledge to serve patients and families in an environment that fosters understanding, inclusion and compassion.  It also helps us support each other as colleagues. Our history of working with LGBTQ2S+ organizations, our Aboriginal Healing Program and most recently, supporting high-risk communities with a disproportionate number of new Canadians and racialized groups during the pandemic, are examples of our strength in diversity.

A few weeks ago we started a conversation within MGH around how we can address anti-Black racism in our organization. This work is ongoing and we continue to look for ways to increase education and opportunity within our hospital and beyond our walls. We are committed to dialogue and further action wherever possible. Later today, I will be participating in a public forum hosted by two local MPPs on this incident to continue calling out hate in East Toronto. 

Despite the shock and negativity of this incident, the outpouring of support from the East Toronto community this past weekend lifted the spirits of everyone affected. Following the lead of a local family who shared a homemade sign of solidarity on our construction hoarding, local East End business Old’s Cool General Store organized a community movement. People from all over the city visited the site to share similar thoughtful, supportive and uplifting signs on the perimeter of our hospital for all to see. These initiatives were ones that we warmly welcomed and encouraged because they are clear examples of how we must all come together and unite against hate. We are grateful to all those who took part and made an extra effort to fill our immediate surroundings with love and positivity.

To expand on those community efforts, today we are committing to hosting a Healing Ceremony to cleanse the construction site this summer. We have asked our trusted spiritual advisor, Elder Little Brown Bear, to work in partnership with our broader East Toronto community and EllisDon to bless the site that will serve as a cornerstone of our community for many years to come. We blessed this sacred ground at the beginning of this construction project and as we get closer to topping off the structure, we are committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive place of healing for every person in our community.

Hatred will never be tolerated in our hospital. We stand with our community in demanding action to find those responsible.

Respectfully,

Sarah

Sarah Downey

President and CEO, Michael Garron Hospital

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