Bernd Gretzinger of St. Albert Fire and Rescue Services. (St. Albert city photo)

Alberta fire chief suspended, wore blackface at off-duty costume party in 2016

Bernd Gretzinger of St. Albert Fire and Rescue Services has apologized for dressing up as musician Lenny Kravitz

The chief of a municipal fire department in Alberta has been suspended without pay for two weeks for wearing a blackface costume at a private party three years ago.

Bernd Gretzinger of St. Albert Fire and Rescue Services has apologized for dressing up as musician Lenny Kravitz at the party, which was before he was employed by the city.

Gretzinger says the images were posted on his personal Facebook page and were taken down last year.

He says he dressed up as Kravitz for the celebrity-themed party in 2016 because he is a fan of the rock star’s music.

Gretzinger says no one at the party said anything to him about his costume or suggested it was in poor taste.

He says he posted an apology for the images earlier this month.

“I apologize if I hurt anybody with my actions. That was never the intent,” Gretzinger said. “I’m devastated.”

The City of St. Albert issued a release that doesn’t name Gretzinger, but refers to the behaviour of a city employee while off duty.

“These actions were racially insensitive and not consistent with the culture of the City of St. Albert,” said Kevin Scoble, the city’s chief administrative officer.

“The employee has taken accountability for the mistake and is working to make amends.”

Gretzinger was hired as the city’s fire chief in January. He says he doesn’t take issue with the suspension.

Blackface refers to when someone paints or alters their appearance to resemble someone with a different skin tone.

Its origins are rooted in early 19th-century American minstrel performances where white performers would paint their faces black and lips white as a caricature of black people.

Earlier this month, three images and one video surfaced of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in brownface and blackface makeup taken between sometime in the 1990s and 2001. (CTV Edmonton)

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Stettler Festival of Lights brings in a net profit of more than $103,000

“I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of this town and surrounding areas.”

New labour and delivery suites ahead for Stettler

Moms and newborns to benefit from equipment and renovations

Alberta RCMP prepares for National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day and shares safety tips

National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day is a nationwide RCMP initiative taking place Dec.7th

County of Stettler balks at costs of Province’s modified policing model as local budget talks continue

Rural municipalities responsible for policing costs; upwards of $200 M

Lacombe Rams Senior Boys rout Stettler 86-53

Guard Jared Gamble leads all scorers with 34 points

Fashion Fridays: Ethical and sustainable gifts for the season

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Man accused in toddler son’s death inept parent, not murderer: defence

Toddler’s body was found outside Good Shepherd Anglican Church in April 2017

Job numbers disappointing, but oil and gas growth expected in 2020: Kenney

Unemployment rate in Alberta rose to 7.2 per cent from 6.7 per cent last month

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Feds approve Alberta’s carbon tax on big industrial emitters

Tax will be applied on 10 per cent of emissions produced by the province’s biggest polluters

Appeal denied: Alberta’s top court upholds conviction of triple-murderer

Douglas Garland was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of a couple and their grandson

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read