Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Knowing where to start can be difficult when looking to join the fight against the racist right, white supremacy, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ+ provocateurs that are trying to take root in our communities.
There are numerous books and resources available, but the ultimate modern toolkit is arguably 40 Ways To Fight Fascism: Street-Legal Tactics For Community Activists by author and far-right researcher Spencer Sunshine, which forms the basis of this article.
The best way to start helping is to prepare. Comb through anti-fascist research and far-right live streams, propaganda, and philosophy to know the enemy. Research the far-right and hate movements in your region or area of interest. A solid foundation of knowledge is key to truly understanding the landscape and far-right organizing.
There are a variety of methods and tools that can be used to gain information. Connect with other community members concerned about the far-right and grow your own network of mentors and peers. Subterfuge is often required to monitor and expose far-right actors, so take the time to learn about proper security protocols and stick to them.
The far-right moves to international influences and forms international networks. Recognizing that, and understanding how they incite one another is important. However, the best place to make an impact will usually be in your own local community.
See a poster for the Proud Boys in your town? Spied any COVID-conspiracy stickers on the walk to work? Public propaganda remains a valuable tool for raising awareness and recruitment in the far-right as well as spreading their message. Cover up or (safely) take down the propaganda when possible, and replace it with your own anti-racist, pro-community messaging.
Another simple thing to do if you have made progress while investigating the far-right in your community is to release your research publicly. This might mean crafting a concise social media post, starting and writing a blog, or passing the information along to other activists or even principled journalists. This data keeps communities aware of who and what exactly is organizing in their backyard. This research is invaluable in convincing venues, public figures, advocacy groups, even major unions and politicians into opposing fascism publicly.
When a far-right figure announces a speaking date or lecture, contact the venue and make sure they know all about the organizers and participants. Toronto students and antifascist activists recently organized to stop a People’s Party of Canada and Ontario First Party event at X (formerly Ryerson) University. While a handful of the far-right Canada First and Plaid Army supporters still showed up on the day, the organizers backed out with pressure from the groups on the ground and a little media attention. Their event was a total bust.
All of these things together make it more difficult for the far-right to organize.
Some people choose to use the legal system to fight fascism, but it’s often prohibitively expensive. Court battles have played a big role in many struggles, but even with sympathetic lawyers and fundraising, these fights can take years. The most powerful tools in this war will always be exposing fascists in the community, and out organizing them when they try to take up public space.
Take steps to prepare for the challenges faced in combating the far-right ahead of time.
You can make it clear that racial prejudice and far-right ideologies are not welcome in your community by putting up flyers, stickers, even yard signs. Make your own or find printable templates online.
Organizing public talks, reading groups, classes, and speakers (by video if necessary) about what is going on and how to help in your community.
If you’re a parent or an educator, keep an eye on what’s happening in schools. We’ve developed a practical toolkit aimed at helping students and faculty identify and intervene when kids are being groomed and recruited.
If you’re an educator or staff member and interested in learning more about our new toolkit, reach out to us at [email protected].
Form affinity groups with your trusted friends, and make connections with local anti-racist and anti-fascist groups. Often Googling “anti-fascist” or “anti-racist” plus your city is the best place to start. No group around? Think about starting your own.
If your plan is to demonstrate, remember the three T’s: training, training, training. Try to find or organize first aid classes, self-defence, and de-escalation classes, and personal and digital security workshops (etc.). These solidarity-building exercises can prepare the community to face the threat, while also serving as an outreach to bring in new bodies to your coalition.
When fascists meet in the streets, show up to let them know they are not welcome.
Organize counter-demonstrations and document the far-right actions. Appearing where you can be seen and heard will disrupt uncritical media coverage of far-right events and help deny them the cover of respectability they so often seek.
Planning counter-demonstrations is an important tool in combating the far-right, but involves a lot more than just boots on the ground. Help organize equipment, food, recruit medics, fundraise for support, arrange transportation, and more. There’s no shortage of things to do.
Pushing public officials into action is another useful tactic. Lobby your local representatives to deny or revoke protest permits when possible. When “Billboard” Chris Elston showed up outside of high schools to protest, students in Ottawa brought people together to push him and his supporters out of the neighbourhood. In the crowd were people from the student body, community, and even a few elected officials arrived to lend their voices to the chorus.
It is always important to remember those impacted most by the far-right. Any collective dedicated to combating fascism will dedicate focus on supporting those victimized by the far-right.
Many times, community members may not immediately realize that they have been targeted by the far-right or be unsure of the source of harassment they face. If you see someone’s name or personal information being shared by the far-right, reach out to let them know. Rally around those who are being threatened and help the families of victims of far-right threats and violence. Aid those injured in the course of actions and make sure the public is aware of the attacks and threats.
Finally, taking part in an existing mutual aid project, or starting one yourself, can provide invaluable support to the people fighting fascism as well as the communities they target. Mutual aid relies on communities to develop systems of support outside of the government and charities to help themselves. This can be as simple as handing out food and clothing to those living rough or organizing a legal defence for activists facing trial.
Chances are there is already a network in your area. Take a look and stay safe.