By Elizabeth Simons and Morgana Adby
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network
October 6, 2020
ASYL co-founder Sam Bell, speaking at a Wexit event in Red Deer, 2019. Photo: Melanie Woods/Huffington Post Canada
A group of about 20 young men, all under the age of 26, make up the Alberta Separatist Youth League (ASYL) -- and they have big political aspirations. While they hide their true ideology publicly, behind the scenes they are explicit in their antisemitic, racist, and authoritarian beliefs.
Founded by three self-identified Groypers -- an alt-right neo-Nazi ideology connected to the fandom of American white supremacist Nick Fuentes -- they used social media such as Telegram and Facebook, as well as the infamous neo-Nazi forum Stormfront to recruit new members.
Co-founder Eli Weisberg described them as “young politicians” in a recruitment post on Stormfront; the ASYL seeks to insert itself into the Albertan nationalist, separatist, and patriot landscape through a variety of connections to political parties in the province.
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The organization’s membership primarily comes from Edmonton and the surrounding areas of Stettler and Red Deer. At least two of the founding members have established themselves within fringe political parties; Sam Bell was initially with Wexit Alberta before being selected for the board of the recently formed Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta (a merger of Wexit Alberta and the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta). Eli Weisberg helped found the Alberta Advantage Party and served as its secretary.
Several future members of the ASYL and one of its founders attended the Alberta PC leadership convention in 2017.
Waycee Hellekson and Trey Nichols at the 2017 Alberta PC leadership convention. Source: Facebook
“All of us have provincial political experience, have helped to start many mainstream conservative parties and groups (including Wexit Alberta) which do not engage in National Socialist activism,” Weisberg, posting as OfOneHeart, writes on Stormfront. “We're going to try our best to build something real and honourable to uphold the fourteen words.”
The "fourteen words" is a neo-Nazi slogan invented by David Lane, founder of The Order, while in prison for his part in the murder of Jewish American radio host Alan Berg.
“People of all levels of redpill are welcome!”
The Alberta Separatist Youth League is not only an online chat group - they want to get organized. Around 20 young men planned to meet on August 18th in Red Deer, at the One Eleven Grill.
Concerned with mainstream legitimacy and appearance, Weisberg advertised ASYL as “Optics Friendly National Socialism'' on Stormfront.
The Foundation of the Ethnostate
Alberta is ripe with opportunities for white nationalists to get involved in the fringes of politics. It’s facing pandemic and energy-related struggles, the Western separatist (Wexit) movement is stoking existing feelings of western alienation, and some believe the United Conservative Party can’t stop what they see as Ottawa’s interference in their economy.
“Michael”, whose identity we are not disclosing because they are concerned for their safety, had joined ASYL and provided material from their private Telegram chats to The Canadian Anti-Hate Network and The Canada Files, a student newspaper.
“[Albertan conservatives] are looking for another party to kind of lend their support to, whether that’s the PPC or other right-wing regional parties,” Michael tells us. “[They’re ] like ‘oh yeah I hate Trudeau, yeah we need to get the pipelines built,’ just general stuff like that right, and they don’t realize that a lot of these parties that have been popping up- and they don’t realize just what these parties stand for.”
Wexit, an Alberta Separatist movement, has drawn neo-Nazi support since its inception. For example, a former member of Blood & Honour, which is now a designated terrorist group, expressed support online, and participants have been spotted wearing neo-Nazi clothing at their rallies. The idea of Wexit is appealing to the white power movement -- with a strong stance against immigration and extremely socially conservative values, they see it as the next best thing to a white ethnostate.
While the larger separatist movement is not necessarily racially motivated, those that are have been welcomed into the fold. Thanks to this, those advocating for an ethnostate have been legitimized by the media - Sam Bell has been profiled by some outlets without mention of his online activities.
The group is supported by a popular far-right Alberta Instagram account with 1500+ followers run in part by Martin, a 2020 high school graduate from Brooks, AB. The account promotes alt-right talking points and links to the ASYL in its bio.
The ASYL website relies on emotive language and dog whistles common within the white power movement to appeal to their potential recruits. After asserting that “you,” the audience, have seen your society degenerate, “but nobody cared,” ASYL is there to step in and help young men with purpose and brotherhood, telling the reader that they’ve found someone just like them.
The leaders of the group identify as Groypers. Just like the alt-right was a rebranding of neo-Nazism, the Groyper movement is a subsection of the alt-right that wants to move away from the label, recognizing it’s been associated with neo-Nazism. The Groypers, however, have even more of a focus on what they see as religious/traditional values, infiltrating politics, whitewashing their ideology, using humour and deniable language, and concealing their extremism. A common theme with ASYL members is the idea of “our peoples’ meta-narrative”; an easily digestible and plausibly deniable version of the 14 words.
Despite using American revolutionary imagery to draw in its audience, its leadership does not appear to agree with pluralism on principal. In a Telegram group chat, Weisberg made it clear he has a low opinion of libertarians -- and democracy.
“I would rather be ruled by a heavy-handed monarch with virtue than a democracy that votes for gibs,” he said. “Hell, I’d honestly rather live in a commie craphole.”
Enter the Wildrose Independence Party. Created in June 2020 as a result of a merger between two fringe provincial parties: Wexit Alberta and the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta. The Wildrose Independence Party claims to be ready to topple the two party status quo. The fringe parties had received about 1 per cent of the vote in the 2019 provincial election, but may be poised to gain more ground.
A poll from January 2020 revealed widespread discontent towards Premier Jason Kenny and that separatist sentiment was up from the previous July. As many Albertans look for a fresh solution, the Wildrose Independence Party is trying to appeal to the disenfranchised. Currently headed up by interim leader Paul Hinman, the party is pivoting from its search for a “fair deal” to a bolder independence effort.
The day before they voted to combine their parties, supporters of Wexit Alberta and the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta gathered in Medicine Hat to talk shop. There, members of the press were told that they intended to “radically alter” their relationship with the federal government.
The Alberta Advantage Party was formed in late 2018 by Marilyn Burns and David Inscho, of the now-defunct Wildrose Party, and Eli Weisberg, the neo-Nazi Stormfront user and one of the founders of the Alberta Separatist Youth League. The fringe right-wing party ran 28 candidates, but only received 0.3% of the vote in the 2019 Alberta election. Their platform states they want to choose their own immigrants, like Quebec, which has been subject to scrutiny for favouring white immigrants. They would also require that schools notify parents of their childrens’ “sexual behaviour” and involvement in Gay-Straight Alliance clubs.
During the 2019 election, some Albertans claimed to have received robocalls from the Alberta Advantage Party in which the speaker ended the recording by telling the listener they will “Make Alberta Great Again.” An 2019 op-ed by Weisberg on the Alberta Advantage website is very similar to the recruitment narrative for ASYL, referencing the “decay” of “our nation’s social structure.”
Meet the members of the Alberta Separatist Youth League (ASYL)
Sam Bell. Source: Facebook
Before founding ASYL, Sam Bell, who went by his real name on Telegram, ran the Make Alberta Great Again Facebook page. When Bell was exposed as a founder of ASYL, he deactivated his account, and the page. He is still active on Instagram, where he had previously reposted much of the content from his MAGA Facebook page. While Bell’s social media has always been alt-right, over time the content has become more overtly fascist. He began quoting Hitler in recent months and referencing Julius Evola, a popular philosopher among the alt-right.
In the chat logs from the ASYL private Telegram group, Bell was told that quoting Hitler was not good optics.
“You weebs have to stop telling people I posted Hitler cringe,” Bell replied. “I liked that Hitler quote.”
In one Instagram post, Bell uses a meme to argue that immigrants should be paid to leave Canada. His followers argue that they shouldn’t be paid.
“Diversity in never-ending hoards will crush our civilization. It’s not too late to reverse mass immigration,” he said, agreeing that white immigrants should be permitted -- those who would not undermine our “cultural meta-narrative.”
During the summer months, Bell intended to register the ASYL with the province as some kind of formal organization. At time of publication it isn’t clear whether this happened.
Eli Weisberg AKA Ernest Aberklien AKA OfOneHeart
Eli Weisberg. Source: Alberta Advantage website.
Eli Weisberg, aka Ernest Aberklien, began posting on Stormfront under “OfOneHeart” in 2017. He studied engineering at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, before returning to Alberta.
As a student, Weisberg participated in robotics competitions and showed the ASYL a photo of a 3D printer that he and a friend built from scratch. While in school, he had the opportunity to sit on the executive boards of multiple parties, according to his posts on Stormfront. In 2018, Weisberg wrote that this political action was not enough to satisfy his “moral needs,” and he began organizing with friends. Weisberg was still active on Stormfront while he was co-founding the Alberta Advantage Party in 2019, serving as party secretary.
In one Facebook post on the economy, Weisburg commented, “Accelerationists need to be patient. Our provincial and federal governments are working diligently to destroy our economy. Have a little faith in their incompetence.” Accelerationism is a philosophy that promotes the acceleration of societal collapse. In the case of neo-Nazis, they hope it will provide them the opportunity to seize power and implement a white ethnostate.
Never one to hedge his support for National Socialism, Weisberg’s introduction post on Stormfront in 2017 contained his glowing endorsement of life in Nazi Germany.
“In every account of life in Nazi Germany, a link was always made to the holocaust, or the Gestapo showing up to arrest ‘innocent’ people,” the post reads. “Life appeared to be a perfect utopia: A nation with one heart, moving in the same step, yet free to conduct business, live as they wished, with more rights than in any democratic nation today. If you were a moral citizen, you had absolute freedom. As I looked a little deeper, I realized that the only people being arrested by the Gestapo were communists and traitors.”
Weisberg continues, peppering his post with the echoes to refer to Jewish people, “The world economy must remain weak, indebted, and poor in order for (((them))) to be fiscally secure. (((Their))) profits are based on our dependence on (((them))).”
Weisberg’s also shows support for eugenics and re-education on Stormfront:
“The disease of the mind was still there, untreated. It had already migrated to the ‘traitors.’ I know it may seem like a long shot, but I believe with science and technology (neuro-reformatting, gene therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, etc), the ‘Great Disease of the Heart and Mind’ can be cured. Forever.”
Weisberg attempts to find others to discuss applications of therapy and drugs to the “diseased minds of other races and race traitors ... 1. Significant modification to ethic thought processes must be carried out or 2. The non-white brain must be altered in order to gain the capability to think correctly.”
Waycee Hellekson aka Alberta Revolution
Waycee Hellekson. Source: Facebook
Another prominent member of ASYL, Hellekson, known online as Alberta Revolution, toutes his self-proclaimed goal to unite the western provinces through racial identity.
“Alberta and Sask are the two youngest, whitest, and fastest-growing provinces. We need to hijack them and create a new nationalist west,” he wrote online.
Hellekson is more concerned with optics and appearance and chastised Bell for quoting Hitler. However, he makes his own callbacks to white nationalist and neo-Nazi ideology on Facebook. For example, Hellekson shared a photo of Hitler Youth burning books with the caption “Me and the boys at Drag Queen Story Hour” and tagged other members of the ASYL.
Also on Facebook, Hellekson posted a picture of a US marine who travelled to the colonial power of Rhodesia in 1979 to fight “communism,” with the caption “Based as fuck.” Rhodesia as a concept has been turned into an explicitly white supremacist reference to their support of the former apartheid state and to promote anti-Black hatred.
Hellekson runs the ASYL Twitter account.
Reece Nichols, aka Sloth_R, and his brother Trey Nichols aka KingVelvetta 1st
Reece Nichols. Source: Facebook
Nichols, known as Sloth_R online, is a conspiracy theorist who defends racism, as “not a crime as long as harm is not done.” In another tweet, he reacts to the sentencing of a man convicted of distributing the Christchurch terrorist’s live stream footage of him murdering Muslims: “Smells like communism at its finest.”
On his public Facebook, he was enthusiastic about the People’s Party of Canada and perpetuates the conspiracy theory that “the west is being brainwashed,” by communist forces, referencing the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory.
Trey Nichols. Source: Instagram
Nichols’s brother, Trey Nichols, may also be a member. A member in the chat has a similar unique username - King Velvetta 1st - to the nickname Trey uses in his Instagram bio - Captain Punter Trey (king velveta) Nichols. On his Facebook, he regularly posts libertarian political content, and opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
For example, he reposted an article that attempts to shift responsibility for the police murder of George Floyd off the officers and onto Floyd. An interview with Ezra Levant is also featured, where he argues that “resisting arrest, not race, is the common denominator,” in police killings.
Teron Garbutt aka Mike Literus
Teron Garbutt. Source: Instagram
Garbutt, known online as Mike Literus, is less conscious of optics than his compatriots.
“The most precious possession you have in the world is your own people,” he captioned a shared image of the new Nationalist edit of the Wildrose Independence red flower logo, “and for the sake of this people, we will struggle and fight, and never slacken, never tire, never lose courage and never lose faith.”
It’s a quote by Hitler.
Garbutt also owns a Third Reich officer’s dagger, swastika and all. He shared an image of it with ASYL. In a Snapchat photo shared by Hellekson to ASYL, Garbutt is featured shirtless holding the knife over his head. The caption, “POV: it’s 1934 and your nose is too fucking big.”
Teron Garbutt. Source: ASYL chat logs.
For Michael, who provided us with the chat logs, the rise in ultranationalism and fascism disguised as run-of-the-mill conservatism is of deep concern, particularly with how it attracts young people. “Fascism and this kind of far right extremism, [it’s] extremely appealing. It gives people a very obvious target. [They tell people] “This is why you have the problems that you do, and this is how we are going to fix it, this is the true view of the world,” right?”
“When I think about my politics personally I think about what’s going to help the most people, right? Whereas this group is like, “we’re going to help our race, and our own group,” and I had to look at my values and be like, you know, “that’s wrong.” If you are willing to ignore the part of society that you are not a part of, it’s very very appealing to support this kind of ideology. Because, you stand to gain the most from it. Even if what you’re doing is immoral.”
We reached out to members of the ASYL multiple times for comment, but received no substantive response.
Since being contacted by journalists, the ASYL has deleted all the content on their Telegram account.
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A copy of the leaked chat logs can be found here.
Do you have more information on the Alberta Separatist Youth League or any of these individuals? Contact us at [email protected].