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Fire & Emergency Services

Apology to the Halifax Association of Black Firefighters
Delivered by Chief Doug Trussler
April 25, 2013

It has taken a great deal of work and honest intentions to bring us together today to take our first steps on the path toward resolution of a disappointing and painful chapter in the history of Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency. 

On behalf of Halifax Regional Municipality and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, I apologize to any black firefighters who experienced racism within the fire service.

As an employer, we should have done more to prepare the work environment to be inclusive and protect you as employees and as people. We also fell short in our duty to prepare the training environment for the inclusion and acceptance of a designated class of recruits.

For that, I am also sorry.

When allegations of poor treatment were brought forward by individual firefighters and the Association of Black Firefighters, the allegations were not addressed as effectively as they could have been; allowing old hurts to reopen instead of heal.

In any fire service, the standards of behaviour are established at the top of the chain of command.  I apologize for our failure to bring a swift end to any discriminatory behaviours you experienced in the workplace. 

Harsh words and racist comments cut deeply, leaving lasting marks on the soul of those who have endured them. As the employer, we owe everyone who works for Halifax Regional Municipality and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency a workplace that is free from language and behaviours designed to wound, belittle or discriminate.

The fire service needed systems in place to genuinely support a diverse, inclusive and culturally competent workplace. We failed in our duty to be the kind of employer that would welcome and support African Nova Scotian recruits, and for that I am sorry.

Firefighters should have each other’s backs. We are one service, united to serve the safety of the public and to protect each other. As a fire service we did not always have the backs of the designated recruits.

Words alone cannot undo what has been done. As we move to implement changes as a result of this restorative process and gain a mutual understanding of the harms you have experienced, I hope our actions help redress past wrongs and we can work together to make Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency a stronger, healthier organization.

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Read complete version of Restorative Plan (PDF 127.17kb) agreed to by HRM, the Halifax Association of Black Firefighters, Halifax Professional Firefighters Local 268 and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

News Release -- Thursday, April 25, 2013 -- Fire chief issues apology to black firefighters