PSA: Africna NOva Scotian firefighters have been struggling against racism in the Fire Service for over tow decades. Hear their story and explore how it relates to similar problems across HRM business units.
Last week a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Board of Inquiry decided that former firefighter Kathy Symington did not suffer discrimination while working at the Halifax Fire Service.
“In fact the Tessier case shows that for a woman to complain about a male-dominated workplace, such as the Fire Service, the woman has to be willing to fight for more than a dozen years, has to have an airtight complaint, witnesses, and certainly not criticize her superiors. Short of this, women are simply not believed.,” writes Judy Haiven.
Halifax Fire District Chief and Restorative Lead Kevin Reade on the racism he encountered when he joined Halifax Fire as a Black recruit, the Human Rights complaint and the formation of the Association of Black Firefighters, and the challenges and opportunities offered by a restorative justice approach.
Judy Haiven attends the human rights tribunal for former firefighter Kathy Symington, and hears more corporate HR jargon in a couple of days than during her entire career teaching HR at St. Mary’s.
Scott Neigh of Talking Radical interviews Liane Tessier and Judy Haiven on the remarkable success of Equity Watch, the workplace anti-bullying organization that is making a real difference.
It’s been a year since Halifax Fire chief Ken Stuebing publicly apologized to Liane Tessier, and both Halifax Fire and the Human Rights Commission are reluctant to share what changes were made at the organization to deal with the misogyny that was so prevalent. “We’re dealing with issues that were hidden, now we are letting it out of the bag and HRM and the NS Human Rights Commission don’t like it, because now they are being held to account,” Tessier says, pointing to the work of Equity Watch, the anti-bullying organization she co-founded.”
Judy Haiven reports on the case of Kathy Symington, a former Halifax firefighter whose quest for justice has been denied by the NS Human Rights Commission. “I’ve waited 16 years for justice,” Symington said. “The Commission is not accountable and not listening. I deserve to have my case properly investigated.”
I keep thinking we need a public enquiry into racism and bullying at the city’s workplaces. Council and city management had years to fix the widespread malaise. They were awful at it.
Halifax city employees who suffered racism, misogyny and bullying at work, can now call a tip line. As well, the process to hire a consultant to look at safe workplace issues has been set in motion. But are these measures designed to really fix this problem, or are they a distraction?
Liane Tessier , the former Halifax firefighter and co-founder of Equity Watch, believes that Halifax employees who suffered racism, misogyny and bullying at work deserve a public inquiry, not just some quarterly updates to Council and a review by an external consultant. Tessier fought the city for 12 years after suffering abuse by management and fellow workers before she was vindicated.