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Residents rallying behind Happy Valley-Goose Bay man fired without cause by town

Residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay protested outside the town hall Thursday to support Travis Ford. Ford is the town's former recreation director, who says he was fired without cause or reason on Wednesday. (Rhivu Rashid/CBC - image credit)
Residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay protested outside the town hall Thursday to support Travis Ford. Ford is the town's former recreation director, who says he was fired without cause or reason on Wednesday. (Rhivu Rashid/CBC - image credit)
Residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay protested outside the town hall Thursday to support Travis Ford. Ford is the town's former recreation director, who says he was fired without cause or reason on Wednesday.
Residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay protested outside the town hall Thursday to support Travis Ford. Ford is the town's former recreation director, who says he was fired without cause or reason on Wednesday.

Residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay protested outside the town hall Thursday to support Travis Ford. Ford is the town's former recreation director, who says he was fired without cause on Wednesday. (Rhivu Rashid/CBC)

Residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay are rallying around a former employee of the town, who says he was fired from his dream job without cause by the town council.

Travis Ford, the town's former director of community services and recreation for the past two years, was dismissed from his role during a town council meeting on Wednesday.

Speaking with CBC News on Thursday, he says the town has been silent on the cause of his dismissal or the reasoning behind the decision.

"I really don't know what they are, you know, what the reason is. I've worked with HR and management on a work plan, we've been making strides with that," Ford said. "I have never had a discussion with council about any of my skills or anything like that. So, you know, I was dumbfounded when I found out this last week."

Ford's partner, Michelle Russell, told CBC the town sent Ford a letter regarding his dismissal, saying they didn't believe he had the skill set for the position.

Russell disputed that claim, citing Ford's university degree and having enough knowledge and experience to make it through the probationary period of the job, and says learning opportunities should have been given to him if they wanted to improve his skills.

Ford, seen here standing in the middle of a drum circle of support, said he was "dumbfounded" to hear that he was dismissed from the town.
Ford, seen here standing in the middle of a drum circle of support, said he was "dumbfounded" to hear that he was dismissed from the town.

Ford, seen here standing in the middle of a drum circle of support, said he was "dumbfounded" to hear that he was dismissed from the town. (Rhivu Rashid/CBC)

Ford said he's devastated to have to leave the position he called his dream job.

"I've been giving up a lot of my time for the community since I've come back from university. Never for myself, but, you know, just to make sure the programs keep continuing and stuff like that," he said.

"This is my dream job, and they're taking it from me. It hurts."

Tensions run high at council meeting

Residents of the town came to the Wednesday meeting to support Ford, including Catherine Mitsuk.

"Travis is young, he's open-minded, and he's an asset to this community whether you see it or not. Travis, like all of us, deserves a supportive and fair workplace. A place in which he is given the tools and guidance required in order to be effective," Mitsuk told the councillors.

The vote to dismiss Ford passed with a two-thirds majority, which led to chants of "shame" from residents.

Members of the public attended the town council meeting on Wednesday. Several raised their voices to defend Ford and question the decision to dismiss him.
Members of the public attended the town council meeting on Wednesday. Several raised their voices to defend Ford and question the decision to dismiss him.

Members of the public attended the town council meeting on Wednesday. Several raised their voices to defend Ford and question the decision to dismiss him. (Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay/Facebook)

"How would you like to go do your daytime job and say you've been dismissed without an answer? You wouldn't like it too much, would you?" one woman asked Mayor George Andrews. "You guys should be ashamed, and you can't even look us in the face."

Andrews tried to call the meeting to order before passing the floor to Deputy Mayor Ella Wallace.

"This is the process that we have to follow in the Act. Without cause does not mean without reason. We're not going to disclose or go through any of this in a forum such as this. You can't. You can't do it," Wallace said.

Residents than asked if she could give the reason for Ford's dismissal. Wallace remained quiet for several seconds before Andrews put the meeting in recess.

CBC News asked Andrews for an interview, who said the town isn't commenting on the dismissal due to it being a human resources matter.

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