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Scanned copy, if there are errors, please e-mail me with corrections:

Opening comments:  More at the end.
    This was forwarded to me Mon, 13, Nov. 2006, just before election day.  It is Meserat Demke's story of how City of Mississauga abused her and the children in her care - all statements are her's & her opinions.  Very little has been changed, spacing, punctuation, spell like a few i to I's and of course color.

    I am working to clarify some details, such as if a written complaint was ever filed.

    Some people may wonder why Councilor Prentice, Ward 3, is being contact regarding events taking place at Applewood Swimming Pool {
3119 Constitution Blvd.}, - isn't that in Ward 1, in Applewood acres?  No, the one in Ward 1, is Westacres pool.

Meserat Demke's story of how City of Mississauga abused her
and the children in her care.

    On October 23rd @ 9:30am I met with (Mayor) Hazel McCallion, (Councilor) Maja L. A. Prentice and John Rydzewski (Director, Hershy Group and North East district).

    The meeting was arranged by Councilor Prentice after many unsuccessful attempt to get in touch with her, I received a campaign flyer if I could put a sign in my lawn.  I was very surprise when I saw the flyer because after leaving several messages trying to talk to her no one got back to me since July 14th.  After having a discussion with her she agreed to set a meeting with her and the Mayor.

    My understanding and request for this meeting was the people who are occupying the public office and, in the position power to hear my side of the story, and at least give me a written apologue to me and my children.

    The Mayor was not interested in listing to anything I have to say instead she was verbally abusive and did not have the full concept of the incident.  She offered I could go and use the pool if I am not crating a problem, in which Mr. Rydzewski has to remind her that the banning was for 60 days and has expired.  She asked in a very overpowering manner then what do you want ?  I stated that we have two issues to deal with.

    1.     My question is the life guards are claiming I left my children unattended and I have to be inside the pool with my 7yrs old son,
            it was not any sign posted stating that rule.

    2.    How a public employee would be able to fabricate a story accusing somebody and is able to get away with it, and the City is
           standing by and is not willing to do anything?  She said why all this people will conspire against you are you trying to tell me all
           this people lie.  I answered yes.  She {the Mayor} was defensive and said, you have a problem, a serious problem if you think it
           is everyone's fault you need to go get help and continue her verbal abuse.
  After having this meeting for almost an hour I was
           left with more question than answer.  At least they could have offered an apologue to the trauma and poisoning my children's
           innocence with the drama they have caused by calling unqualified security guard and making a public display.  This experience
           has changed me as a person, and make me think Justice = $
   I would like to believe the truth will prevail but with what price.
           I am sorry for all those people who has been accused wrongfully and no one believed them, now I believe you.

My Side of the Story

    On July 13, 2006, I took my two sons O.... (almost 10 years old) and N.... (almost 7) and their stepbrothers (ages two and a half and eight) to the Applewood Swimming Pool.  My neighbour Michelle and her two children went along as well.  Though the pool was scheduled to open at 1 p.m. they only let us in around 1.25 p.m.  When my neighbour asked no explanation was given as to why they kept us waiting in this heat.  As I was paying my entrance fee one of the lifeguards, a young girl whose name I don't recall, "greeted" me by saying that I had to be in the water with the youngest child and supervise my other kids.  No-one else was instructed to do this except me.  She must have so focused on me because of two events the week before.

    On the first occasion, towards the end of the swimming session, the lifeguard Sonia suddenly began to rush my children out of the pool.  When I asked her to give them a minute as they were trying to get out of the pool, she refused.  Instead, she turned to me and announced loudly that next time I would have to stay in the pool with the kids all the time because he, and she pointed her finger at Nebill, couldn't swim.

    On the second occasion another lifeguard, a young girl whose name I don't recall, gave me her instructions at the entrance.  This time the instructions also revolved around me - stay in the pool or be within arms reach.  I said that I always did exactly that.  When we entered the swimming pool area Sonia was already there.  As soon as she saw me, she began telling me and my kids what we should and shouldn't be doing.  She wouldn't leave us alone, constantly following us.  All this was making me increasingly uncomfortable.  I asked her to kindly stop and perhaps focus on others as well.  Later I overheard a conversation between one of the lifeguards and two black children about 11 years of age.  The lifeguard was telling them that she would give them their entrance fee back if they stopped coming to this swimming pool.  Obviously there was something wrong with all of this.  I thought it would be only appropriate to make the pool supervisor aware of the situation.  I didn't believe that the lifeguards were right in acting the way they did.  I asked the lifeguards for the supervisor's name and phone number.  Then I called Melissa Rediell and left a message.  Since she did not return my call I phoned her back the following day.  When I talked to the supervisor about the rudeness and unprofessional conduct of the lifeguards, especially Sonia's, I felt she was really not interested in what I was saying because she had already been told about the situation.  It felt like she even expected my call.  After a few questions she abruptly ended the conversation by saying that she would talk to her staff.

    Thus, when on July 13, the lifeguard began to bombard me with her instructions, I realized that I and my kids had already become an issue for the pool staff.  Meanwhile, the two and a half year old didn't want to go into the water at all.  The older boys, however, went to swim with me supervising them closely, as always.  Some twenty minutes later the little one felt hot and anxious.  He wanted to go home to his daddy.  I asked my neigbour to kindly watch my kids, put a life jacket on Nebill, and left to take the youngest one home.  I made the life guard aware of everything, saying that I would be gone for ten minutes or so.  She said it was O.K.

    When I returned I found the three boys sitting on the side of the pool eating popsicles.  I wondered what was going on and why some people in the pool kept staring at them.  When I asked the children who treated them to the popsicles they said that one of lifeguards did.  Well, I said to myself, the pool staff must have been trying to be nice to them.  While I was having those thoughts a young woman came up to me and introduced herself as Melissa Rediell, the pool supervisor I had talked to on the phone.  She told me that she had given the popsicles to the boys after she had tested their swimming skills.  Only this one, she pointed at Ori, had passed the test, the others had failed.  I asked her whether other children in the pool had been given the test as well.  She said that they had, but I doubted that since I had been gone for a very short period of time.  Ms Rediell then ordered that I had to stay in the water with them.  When I enquired whether she had given those same instructions to other adults in the pool she said "yes" and quickly changed the subject by insisting that I should be in the water with my kids or within arms reach.  At this moment I realized that she was not concerned about my children' safety.  She obviously had some other agenda in bossing us around.  I felt very disappointed with how she handled the matter regarding her staff's conduct.  I told Ms. Rediell that I was not going to be provoked nor play power games with her.  I got up and went into the water to join my son.  She followed me repeating over and over again that I should be staying in the water.  I replied that I was aware of my responsibility to supervise my children.  As I was saying this I looked around only to see that in fact I was the only parent standing by the edge of the pool while the rest of the adults were sitting comfortably in their seats.  I drew the supervisor's attention to this.  But she didn't seem to be impressed or interested.  Nothing I did or said was good enough for her.  She continued claiming that I was still not within arms reach.  How does one measure an "arms reach" stretch, I wondered.  She did not respond but suddenly ruled that I had to leave.  When I enquired for what reason and on what grounds, she brushed me off by saying that it was HER swimming pool and that I had to leave.  NOW.  When I reminded Ms Rediell that it was not HER pool but a public swimming pool and that she was just an employee there, she threatened to call security unless I left.  I told her to go ahead.  My children had sensed the commotion and bad vibes and wanted to leave.  I calmed the boys down and sent them back to swim.  At this point two girls (around 11 or 12) approached me.  Since they had witnessed everything they thought that the supervisor was not fair and that I and my children had done nothing wrong.  I thanked them and continued to watch my kids.  Meanwhile Nebill couldn't get over the stress.  He was very upset and wanted to go home, which was only a few minutes away.  I said would catch up with him.  I then asked Michelle's mother Margaret McKenzie, who was looking after her grandchildren since her daughter Michelle had to leave, if she didn't mind keeping an eye on my kids in my absence.  She said she had no problems doing that.

    When I was about to step outside I was confronted by the supervisor.  She threatened to call security if I left.  I asked her not to intimidate me.  I felt I was being provoked by her and actually told her this.  But Ms Rediell wouldn't listen.  Instead she promptly began to lead me back to the pool area.  While doing so, she suddenly stopped next to an elderly lady.  She apologized to the lady for the commotion showing with her demeanor that I was to blame for it.  By the time Ms. Rediell reached the middle of the pool all eyes were glued to her.  There was no doubt in my mind that she was trying hard to let everyone know about the problems she was having in "handling" me.  I told her that.  Feeling both exhausted and frustrated I sat down.  But only for a moment because I still had to go and check on Nebill no matter what.  I told my neighbour that I would be back in no time.  She nodded.  While I on my way out, the supervisor threatened again to call security.

    When I was coming back I almost bumped into two security officers approaching the building as well.  I remarked that they most likely were coming to see me.  In a very authoritarian manner one of them told me to wait for him outside, because he first needed to talk to the staff.  When the officer re-appeared he asked for my name, but wouldn't give me his.  He demanded to know why I had left my children unsupervised.  He added that the lifeguards were not my babysitters.  I told him my children were being supervised, contrary to the allegations of the staff.  I said that my neighbour was watching the children.  I tried to explain the situation to him but he wouldn't listen and told me not to keep interrupting him.  I stopped talking.  Then he told me to explain everything.  But when I resumed telling him about the situation he silenced me again.  Then he demanded to see the neigbour that I left in charge of the children.  We went inside.  My neigbour introduced herself and confirmed that she indeed had been watching the children.  The security officer ignored her statement and kept repeating that I had not informed the lifeguards of that.  He kept talking to me as if I were some kind of criminal.  He was making notes.  I again requested his name and his report.  At this point the second security officer joined us.  He gave me his business card and then went to the supervisor's office to talk to her.  He told me to wait.  When he came back the first security guard began to demand that my children and I immediately vacate the premises of the pool.  He stated that they didn't want us in the pool and that he would give me his report outside.  I agreed to leave but asked that my kids be allowed to stay in order not to traumatize them needlessly.  I reminded him that they were being watched by my neigbour.  He agreed.

    While I was waiting for his report I enquired what his assessment of the situation was.  He said that the staff claimed that I threatened their lives.  I was so shocked I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  I wanted to know who specifically claimed that.  He refused to answer.  I kept repeating that I couldn't believe that.  At this point the security officer said that he had a reason to disbelieve the allegations, because when he talked to me I wouldn't let him speak.  I admitted that in communicating with him and the staff I got emotional.  But feeling emotional and making threats are entirely different things.  He wanted to know why I got so emotional.  I tried to explain to him how being picked on made me feel.  But then I saw that he was not listening to my explanations.  I asked him to give me the report so that we could go.  I had to sit down.  I suddenly felt so drained.  On second thought, I said to myself, I could get the report later from the office.  But then, unexpectedly, he handed it to me.  In doing so he also advised me that I was banned from the Applewood Swimming Pool, as well as from the Glenforest Swimming Pool and the Park.  But I didn't even know where the Pool was! He said "nearby".  He told me to sign the ban order he prepared.  I refused.  I took the ban order and called my children.  Then we left.

    That same afternoon, around 3.45 p.m.  I went to the Parks and Recreation Office to speak to John Lohuis, the person in charge.  I was told that he was in a meeting and was received by Mr. Andrew Wickens.  In describing the situation I became very emotional and even burst into tears.  He promised to look into the matter.

    When I came home I received a phone call from a lady whose name I don't recall.  She first asked me whether I had seen Mr. Wickens and then requested that I tell her what had happened.  I did.  She then advised me that she had had the opportunity to discuss this matter with the lifeguards.  They claimed that I had threatened to come back with my people and deal with them.  I vehemently denied those accusations.  The lady said she would look into the matter.

    On July 14 I went to the Mayor's office and requested to see her.  Carol Horvet came out and asked the reason for my visit.  I told her that my children and I had been discriminated against in the swimming pool.  Ms Horvet went back to see what she could do.  Then Cathie P. Evans, corporate security coordinator, came out to see me.  I described the situation to her as best I could.  She asked me not to cry and assured me that things like this happen to everybody, including her and her children.  I told her that this was not the issue at the moment.  I emphasized that I was willing to accept responsibility if I indeed had broken any pool regulations.  However, the issue now was that I had become a victim of false allegations and that I was accused of something I neither said nor did.  I also pointed out that I had the right to know how public employees could make up a story like that.  It turned out that Ms Evans had the report.  I asked for a copy as well.  She replied that she was not in a position to give me one but said I was eligible to obtain it from the City.  When I asked Ms Evans what she was going to do about all this, she said "nothing", but if I thought that the allegations were untrue I should go ahead and fight them.  That's all she had to say after almost an hour with me …

    I still wanted to speak with the Mayor.  Ms Evans wondered what the Mayor could do - she certainly would not cancel the ban order.  I said I didn't want her to, but that there were other issues I wanted to address with the Mayor.  I went to the front desk.  The secretary told me that the Mayor was still in a meeting and that they would call me to schedule an appointment.

    On July 18, I went back to the Mayor's office.  I said I hadn't heard from them but I needed to see the Mayor because it was an urgent matter.  Carol Horvet came out to see me.  She advised me that the Mayor would be in her office only on August 9, after her vacation, and only then would they let me know whether she would receive me or not.

    On July 18, I also went to my MPP's office and scheduled an appointment with Peter Fonseca for Friday July 21 at 9 a.m.

    When I got home I received a call from Carol Horvet.  The Mayor, she said, was still on holidays. Meanwhile she had had a chance to address this issue with some other people.  The city's position was that there had been no wrongdoing on the part of either lifeguards or security.  I told her that I disagreed with their decision and would still like to meet with the Mayor.  Ms Horvet said that she would see whether the Mayor would meet with me but didn't see what else could be done.  She said she would let me know when the Mayor was back.

    On July 21, I met with MPP Peter Fonseca and explained the situation to him.  He said that this was a City issue and advised me to file a written complaint with them.

    So I ended up going back to the Parks and Recreation Office in order to file a written complaint.  Mr. John Lohuis heard me talking.  He said he had some twenty minutes to spare before his meeting and asked me into his office.  It turned out that he was aware of my situation and hoped that it would be soon resolved.  He then called Brian Connors (Recreation Analyst, Aquatics) to his office.  When he arrived I expressed my concern that public employees could falsify facts and fabricate a story in order to advance their personal agendas.  Both gentlemen tried to explain to me the importance of pool regulations in matters of safety.  I said I fully agreed. 
Mr. Connors took a copy of my ban order and said he would call by the next week to schedule a meeting.

    I received a call from Mr. Connors on Tuesday July 25.  A meeting was set up for Thursday, July 27 at 1:00 p.m.

    On the above date I met with Mr. Connors and Mr. Stuart Taylor (District Manager, Operational Planning).  Mr. Taylor began by advising me that I was eligible to use other Mississauga pools and that he had a list of those pools ready for me.  But, I objected, we were no longer interested in using the Mississauga pools since I was extremely dissatisfied with how "our" pool handled the situation.   As a result, I lost all the confidence in the City altogether.  I pointed out that I thought the meeting was being held in order to resolve the issue at hand.  Mr. Connors insisted that both the lifeguards and the supervisor had the same story to tell.  I indicated that my concerns basically revolved around Sonia and the supervisor.  In my view, the latter felt that it was safe to fabricate her story because she had no doubts that the City system would back her.  Mr. Connors responded that we were at an impasse since there were conflicting stories.  I replied that they were neither objective nor interested in the truth and that all they were doing was covering up.  He asked me how we could find the truth in this situation.  I stated that in my view an objective independent agency should look into this matter in order to resolve it properly.  Mr. Taylor said he would consider this and let me know whether there was a process of this nature in place within their department.  Meanwhile, for the time being, that was their position.

    After I got home I called Mr. Connors and left him a message requesting their decision in writing.  He called me back, took my mailing address and said he would mail it to me.  I also left a message for John Lohuis and expressed my disappointment at their failure to resolve the issue.

On October 23rd @ 9:30am I met with (Mayor) Hazel McCallion, (Councilor) Maja L. A. Prentice and John Rydzewski (Director, Hershy Group and North East district) - at start of this account.

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