EDMONTON -- EPCOR has launched an investigation after contract workers were accused of racist behavior during a smudging ceremony at Edith Rogers School.

The incident occurred on Friday, according to EPCOR. Crews were working on the Malcolm Tweddle-Edith Rogers Dry Pond project near the school at the time.

Smudging is a traditional Indigenous ceremony to remove negative energy and thoughts.

Workers swore, used racist language and ran equipment during the ceremony, according to the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB).

“We aspire for all of our learning and working environments to be free from hatred, racism and hurt,” said Carrie Rosa, acting director of communications for EPDB in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

“That’s why what happened (Friday) at Edith Rogers School was so deeply unsettling and unacceptable for our staff and students who were participating in the smudging ceremony.”

In a statement EPCOR said they were “working with the contractor to take swift action.”

“We do not condone racism or hate of any kind. We have the utmost respect for Indigenous peoples and the ceremony taking place at the time of the incident… We sincerely apologize to those who experienced this disrespectful act.”

The work on the dry pond project has been put on hold while EPCOR investigates.