Not just in America: hate and white supremacy has always been just as prevalent in Canada as in the “land of the free”


QAnon, Soldiers of Odin, and the KKK are just a few of the conspiracy and supremacy groups operating in Canada, while the infamous Proud Boys call this country home

white supremacy
Photo by Gayatri Malhotra via Unsplash.

On Jan. 6, rioters stormed the United States Capitol building and five people died in the process. Then-president Donald Trump and multiple American politicians have been credited with inciting the riot. The rioters consisted of   an amalgamation of different far-right, white supremacist, and conspiracy theorist groups.

Since as far back as March, many Canadians have been part of a debate on whether the same systemic racism and white supremacy (that is so often portrayed as U.S.-specific) exists here. Of course, it does. But that has not stopped people from arguing.

Over the summer, multiple prominent Canadian politicians, like Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet made the claim that systemic racism does not exist in Canada, or that at the very least it is not as bad as in the United States. Brenda Lucki, the commissioner for the RCMP, claimed that she was “having trouble with the definition of systemic racism,” and that ultimately, she does not believe it exists.

In fact, despite comments to the contrary by Canadian politicians and law enforcement,there is an alarmingly large number of white nationalist groups, or groups affiliated with white nationalism, in Canada. Thankfully, these groups have seldom crawled out of their racist, homophobic, and xenophobic holes in the past. Unfortunately, this has begun to change in the last several years.

In March of 2017, members of the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) were arrested in downtown Vancouver after they attacked participants at an anti-racism rally. SOO was established in Finland in 2015 and subscribe to an ideology that is  overtly Islamophobic and anti-immigrant in nature.

Although SOO chapters in Canada claim to be firmly against racism, there has continued to be racially-motivated threats of violence by SOO members. Most recently, members of the SOO physically and verbally threatened the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en when they were occupying the B.C. Legislature in Feb. 2020.

Also in 2017, a couple in Chilliwack, B.C. found a flyer in their driveway promoting a group called the “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” and worried that it was because one of them was part of a marginalized group.

The most recent KKK news in Canada comes from Grimshaw, A.B., the town I went to school for all of junior high and high school. A man was pictured outside of a post office wearing a KKK hood, which divided the town (with many defending the man’s actions) and garnered outraged responses from advocacy organizations operating across Alberta.

These groups have been mostly hidden away from the public eye, operating on various online platforms. Nothing put the spotlight on them like the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

QAnon, a new conspiracy theory group that has quickly grown in popularity across Canada and the United States, had a significant role in the riots at the Capitol. Although QAnon does not outright claim white supremacy, especially in Canada, many white supremacists have become adherents of the group. Corey Hurren, a man who tried to break into Rideau Hall in July of 2020 to kill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, had posted memes on his company’s Instagram page related to QAnon only a few months prior.

I have personally seen multiple friends and family members being slowly pulled into the hate-seething nonsense that is QAnon.

Another group that played a significant role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol has its very roots in Canada. The Proud Boys is an organization that was founded in Canada by Gavin McInnes, and is a far-right, white supremacist, male-dominated organization.

The Proud Boys were one of the most prominent groups present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and very few Canadian chapters of the Proud Boys have responded to what happened. Only some have disbanded, but there are chapters throughout Canada that have done nothing in response.

As a result of their role in the Capitol riots, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP, has begun a call for the Canadian government to officially designate the Proud Boys as a domestic terrorist organization. Singh’s united call for this designation was answered on Feb. 4, 2020, and the Proud Boys are officially considered a terrorist organization. Again, this group was started in Canada.

 People who are still on the fence on whether white supremacy is as bad in Canada as it is in the U.S., or “having trouble” with the definition of systemic racism like Brenda Lucki, need only to undertake a quick Google search of the groups mentioned above.

This ideology is not new in North America. It has been around since the beginning of colonization. We have only managed to convince ourselves that everything is completely fine. When we have government officials on all fronts calling for groups like these to be declared as domestic terrorists, there is a serious problem that needs addressing.

We need to stand firm against white supremacy. We need to stop cowering behind the national myth that Canadians are somehow incapable of being racist. There is no excuse for allowing this type of threat to grow this dire right in front of us in the year 2021.