Shelburne Mayor responds to alleged racism at the fire department

February 16, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter 

Shelburne Mayor Wade Mills has released a statement in response to allegations of racism and discrimination within the Shelburne & District Fire Department. 

A statement from the mayor was posted on the Town of Shelburne’s website on Feb. 7 following the publication of an article by the Alliston Herald reporting allegations of racism and discrimination within the local fire department raised by volunteer firefighter Randy Narine. 

“The Town of Shelburne treats all allegations of racism, discrimination and harassment very seriously and is committed to continuing to be a municipal leader in the areas of diversity equity and inclusion,” read the beginning of the mayor’s statement. 

In the article published by the Metroland Media affiliate, Narine detailed alleged experiences of racism and discrimination including being called racist names such as “monkey and the “N-word” as well as being denied training opportunities. 

He also alleged that members of the local fire department made racial comments about South Asian residents and did not provide them with the same level of service. 

In the official statement, Mills clarified that the Shelburne and District Fire Department is not a department of the Town of Shelburne, but is managed by a third-party board of management comprised of representatives from Amaranth, Mulmur, Melancthon, Mono and Shelburne. 

“This board employs all members of the SDFD including the Chief, and the board operates as its own independent entity,” Mills continued. “As such, the Town of Shelburne has no jurisdiction over board matters and therefore neither town council nor town staff can provide comments on the issues and allegations raised in the article.” 

A meeting was held on Feb. 8, by the Shelburne and District Fire Board, which was attended by Narine. 

Shelburne Deputy Mayor Shane Hall, who sits as chair of the fire board, responded to the allegations during Shelburne Town Council’s meeting on Monday (Feb. 13). 

“The board is taking these allegations very seriously. These are complicated allegations against the department, the chief, and department members, and we have retained legal counsel to guide us through this process and with that a very credible independent third-party investigator. For the time being, as this investigation takes places, these matters are going to be confidential but I will endeavor where appropriate to provide council with any necessary updates,” said Hall. 

Narine has filed complaints with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Labour Relations Board. 

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