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Cloverdale Rodeo Association addresses Human Rights complaint

‘We want to ensure those employees and volunteers experience a respectful and inclusive environment’, says Rich Kitos
The Cloverdale Rodeo’s office is seen in the Alice McKay building on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds July 14, 2021. Allegations the Rodeo’s board failed to act to protect workers and volunteers from harassment by ex-GM Mike MacSorley were brought to light July 13 after a “complaint” was filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

The Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association has addressed the recent Human Rights complaint that was filed against them.

A press release on the Rodeo’s website July 26 said they received an appendix to the complaint (the same document the Cloverdale Reporter reported on July 13).

“To be clear, the Association has not received a copy of the complaint itself.”

SEE ALSO: Human Rights complaint filed against Rodeo Board

In the release, the Association said it takes the allegations against them in the appendix very seriously and they are “vigorously working” to gather all the information they can.

“The (Association) will respond fully within the process determined by the Human Rights Tribunal.”

The release then explains three steps the board has taken—prior to the filing of the Human Rights complaint—after an internal human resources investigation was undertaken in February of 2021 to address concerns at the time.

The release notes, “The general manager responsible was removed in February; a draft for Respectful Workplace Policy has been developed; a process for anonymous reporting of workplace concerns to an independent professional is included in that policy.”

SEE ALSO: Mike MacSorley no longer general manager of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association

However, the Association president Shannon Claypool told the Reporter in March that former general manager Mike MacSorley “resigned for personal reasons.”

”In February of this year the general manager was asked for his resignation,” Claypool said via email. “He offered it and it was accepted by the board.”

Claypool said MacSorley’s departure resulted from the findings of the internal HR investigation.

“Our statement at the time did not provide any detail,” Claypool added. “With the public nature of this anonymous complaint, we felt it was important to clarify the circumstances of his resignation.”

The release also noted work is “ongoing to address” the recommendations from the Association’s internal human resources investigation.

“Throughout our history thousands of people, both young and old, have worked hard to make the Cloverdale Rodeo a proud community tradition,” Rich Kitos, Rodeo chair and VP of the Association, said in the release. “We want to ensure those employees and volunteers experience a respectful and inclusive environment in which each one of them is acknowledged for their valuable contribution.”

Surrey councillor Brenda Locke thinks the Association’s response should have gone further.

She told the Reporter the allegations are very serious and they were made by a lot of people.

“I think the board should have stepped down until the allegations have been dealt with,” she said. “This isn’t just a single incident. It’s multiple incidents of racism and misogyny over several years.”

She thinks the board should have stepped aside and appointed a trustee to manage the business of the Cloverdale Rodeo until the Human Rights complaint process was completed.

Locke said she was also surprised that while addressing the complaint, the board inferred they asked MacSorley to leave.

“That was not the info given to us by councillor (Doug) Elford. Elford told council the GM left for personal reasons,” she explained. “That concerns me a lot. That makes me ask questions like, why was he let go? Was there a payoff? If there was, was that City money?”

Locke said the revelation elicits more questions than answers.

“At the end of the day, if the board was serious about the allegations, they should have apologized to the staff, apologized to the volunteers. This has been a difficult time for all of them. I think the board owes them a better explanation than that.”

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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