WHITBY, Ont. – Chief David Speed of the Whitby Fire and Emergency Services vividly recalls that when he was at a requiting session about four year ago, almost all the applicants in the room were white men.
” And that really bothered me and I vowed that we really needed to do something about diversity,” Speed told The Caribbean Camera.
” So I spoke to our management team and we all agreed that it (diversity)should be in our five-year plan,,”
‘Since that time we have been taking steps to try and promote careers in firefighting to groups in the community that we serve that are under-represented in our department and a Diversity Inclusion and Equity committee has been formed.
Playing an active role on that committee is Jamaica-born Joel Linton, the only Black fireman in the Whitby Fire Department.
Linton moved to Canada when he was 13 and was at university when a friend got him interested in becoming a firefighter.
“My story fits in with the mold of someone who didn’t realize this was an option, didn’t know anything about the job and hadn’t considered it,” said Linton.
Discussing his current activities on the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee, Linton said he has reaching out to groups and providing them with information which they my not have,
Linton says that while he would like to see more diversity in the department, he does not expect that it will happen overnight..
“But we can certainly benefit from having people who come from different backgrounds,” he said.
The Whitby Fire department isn’t alone when it comes to a lack of diversity. Over the years, the issue has been raised in departments across Canada.