We spent over a year inside the network uncovering the identities of former Proud Boys as they built a propaganda channel with 42,000 plus followers and networked with other fascists and a white power gang.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
With over 42,000 subscribers at the time it was shut down earlier this month, The Western Chauvinist Telegram channel may not have been sizable by the standards of mainstream social media accounts. For a racist, antisemitic, and genocidal socal media channel, however, it is a significant influence in the English-speaking international neo-Nazi community.
The Western Chauvinist is just one single point in a network of interconnected Telegram channels and social media accounts. Each produces a wide swath of content for Canadian and international audiences. The various branches of this network are run by a small group of men making up a nameless collective – of whom the majority are Canadian.
Proud Of Their Boys
Images shared by the group while attempting to form Proud Boys Canada First. Source: Telegram
The core membership of this collective is just over 20 people, and is made up primarily of what used to be called the Steel City Proud Boys (SCPB), a branch of the “fraternal drinking club” centred around Hamilton, Ontario – not to be confused with a Philadelphia chapter using the same name. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network gained access in Spring 2021, when the former SCPB president unknowingly invited me to join through a dummy account after the dissolution of another online group we infiltrated.
This particular chapter of the Proud Boys was more antagonistic than some other Canadian branches, with a public history of engaging in violence against their opposition. Some of its members appeared in the media when they brawled with antifascists at Mohawk College in Hamilton when People’s Party of Canada founder Maxime Bernier was slated to appear with David Rubin in 2019. Several members of the SCPB, including one man identified as Tim Kelly, arrived on scene to spar with activists disrupting the event.
Five people – none of them Proud Boys – were arrested by police in relation to the event, according to CBC News.
Tim Kelly is a former Proud Boy “Elder” – a rank of senior members responsible for overseeing and running the larger Proud Boy organization. Within the SCPB, however, Hamilton resident Brandon Lapointe was president. The pair remain close friends and are both members of the chat. Neither still view themselves as Proud Boys, but continue to have access to leadership spaces.
Photograph of Tim Kelly published in 2018. Source: ARC Collective
The elder hierarchy does not appear to be a particularly well functioning system. When Proud Boy National President Enrique Tarrio was revealed to have previously acted as a criminal informant, members complained about the lack of a mechanism to boot him from the club. Part of this may be due to “chapter autonomy,” which gives individual chapters the ability to make decisions independent of the national organization. Tarrio claimed his chapter, the Florida Proud Boys, had elected to keep him.
An example of this internal discord within the Proud Boy leadership chats – which CAHN was granted access to by Lapointe – is when Tarrio sparred verbally with senior leadership across the country, defending himself in a flurry of audio messages and text. Tarrio is currently awaiting a bail decision related to rioting charges for events that took place on the United States Capitol Hill in Washington D.C, on January 6, 2021.
In this same chat, Kelly told the Proud Boys leaders that the entire club should disband, but was quickly shouted down.
Around this time, Lapointe’s and Kelly’s group would struggle with its own identity.
Briefly attempting to recruit under the name Proud Boys Canada First, and then just Canada First, they have gone back and forth on creating a formal organization – “we don’t wear matching shirts, we’re just a frens group,” Lapointe said in a private conversation. The network doesn’t have a formal name. Internally, we refer to them as “CF-88” to distinguish them from multiple other members of the far-right using the “Canada First” title. The 88 is shorthand for Heil Hitler, a common reference made in the network’s main chat titled “Aryan’s Only.”
Before Canada’s Proud Boys allegedly disbanded in May 2021, a self-identified elder acknowledged the offshoot, writing that “Proud Boys wishes Canada First all the best in their endeavours to encourage patriotism in Canada. At the same time, Proud Boys want to make it abundantly clear that these are mentally ill losers who couldn’t quite cut it in a conservative men’s drinking club.”
The message about Canada First, like the notice of disbanding, was reshared across a variety of US and Canadian Proud Boys channels.
According to both parties, the split boiled down to a difference in direction and ideology.
“It’s not divided into American vs Canadian tho. It’s divided by civic nationalist PB and fashy PB … Canadians went more fashy tho because were [sic] being replaced faster than any other nation,” wrote tattoo artist Nick Bennett, posting as “Captain Saturnalia,” in the fall of 2020.
Photo posted of Nick Bennett standing in front of the flag bearing a sonnenrad, or black sun. Source: Telegram
“Jews and Arabs have always united against the Europeans,” Bennett wrote, lumping together what seem to be the network’s preferred targets. “The rivalry between Jews and Muslims is largely false since they are both Semites. They are cousins. Only difference is that the Ashkenazi is less obvious.”
Bennett also runs other channels that combine his interest in a race-first version of Christianity and esoteric thought. More recently, this channel and others have been pushing the concept of an “Ancient Aryan Theory” – an update of revisionist history embraced by Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists. This theory supposes an ancient origin of “Aryan” people dating back to Cro-Magnon man. This theory relies on a pseudoscientific theory that different races, especially the “Aryan” race, evolved separately and belong to an entirely different species. Bennet and other believers use this to justify the separation of the “Other” and aim to bring forth the awakening of a distinct “Aryan consciousness.”
The Propaganda Network
The group's primary goal has been to grow the following and influence of their propaganda channels while networking with other local National Socialists.
The second-largest channel in the network – with over 7,000 followers – offers a slightly softer introduction to theories of deliberate white replacement, Jewish global conspiracies, and Black violence. Other channels push increasingly violent and genocidal rhetoric and have names which invoke either “pro-white” or neo-Nazi ideology. One makes a clear reference to “The Day Of The Rope,” which is the chapter title in a prominent work of neo-Nazi fiction in which they execute “race traitors.”
During the course of our investigation, we were able to verify eight propaganda channels belonging to CF-88, although that number may be higher. By design, Telegram offers easy sharing of content posted in one channel to another. The network is constantly cross-promoting content between its channels, often sharing the same posts almost immediately. This practice has made connections easy to intuit, but not necessarily confirm. Many channels not connected to the network also share the content created by the group, but don’t follow the same pattern of activity.
Former Steel City Proud Boys president Brandon Lapointe and other CF-88 members are also behind an organization called Nationalist 13 and the White Southern Ontario Meetup Group. To date, their only activism has been to litter Hamilton and surrounding areas with stickers and posters. More recent photos include alleged members of the group meeting in person.
Photos of the stickers placed across the city included the sonnenrad, declarations that there is a “war on whites,” and images of Hitler’s chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels along with the phrase “our patience has limits.”
As part of this networking, Lapointe has met with the Folkish Resistance Movement’s former Ontario leader – a man named Brent who went by the pseudonym “Bjorn'' online – and promotes them by reposting photos of FRM’s activities.
Lapointe has also shown an interest in connecting with much more established accelerationist elements of transnational fascism. In 2021, under the screen name “Fascist Fritz,” he vetted into a chat server maintained by the Iron March Legacy group Fashlash. However, as the chat was infiltrated, members were being exposed. New arrivals were being booted as they attempted to find the source. It was during this shuffle that Lapointe inadvertently brought CAHN into the private chat for the small group of around 20 men making up this network’s informal membership.
Early after being introduced, there were several attempts to organize larger meetups. These events usually fell apart as hikes, workout sessions, and social gatherings were cancelled at the last minute due to rain or poor planning. Previous meetings, according to group members, included skill development like shooting, sparring, gardening, survival skills, and rabbit breeding. The goal is to promote skills and activities that allow members to disconnect from the system, which they view as controlled by elites, Jews, and communists (and elite Jewish communists).
Many of the members, like Lapointe and another former Proud Boy, Gabe Costen, are located in Hamilton. Others appear to be as far flung as Florida and Ohio.
During the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa in February 2022, a member of the organization agreed to meet and we spent an evening touring the vehicle-clogged streets. He too claimed to be a former Proud Boy, this time from the Ottawa chapter, which he left when they asked him to do the impossible.
“I was caught in an ideological split,” a man who identified himself only as Will told me. Adding with a laugh, “[the Proud Boys] said I wasn’t allowed to be racist anymore.”
Photo taken of “Will” in Ottawa in February 2022.
Various members of the network have attached themselves to both the Hamilton and Southwestern Ontario Active Club branches. A previous investigation by CAHN revealed Canada’s Active Clubs to be run by the Vinland Hammerskins, a racist skinhead street gang.
Tim Kelly expressed concern about the Active Club starting out. Kelly claims that one of its early principal recruiters, an online streamer and leader of Ontario’s White Lives Matter named Spencer/Mcleafin, is a federal agent.
“The rest at the top are ex Hammerskins and at least one of them is a loose cannon,” Kelly told the rest of the chat. “There's some good guys in there, but there's shady ones too. The one guy we met with was just another dude like us who wanted to hang with pro-whites.”
He added later that, "The Hammerskins got so fed infested because a lot were dealing drugs and boot fucking anyone who mildly crossed them. They were also constantly physically infighting and plotting murders of [each] other."
This attitude was not shared among all members of CF-88.
“I've been getting linked up with some sick dogs and Active Club [sic],” wrote one unidentified member of the chat, “would recommend for guys who want more than bitching on Telegram."
Many of the individuals in this network were old friends, having known each other since the days of their time in the Proud Boys, but new people were sparingly brought on. One included a member of the Forest City Wisemen riding club based out of London, Ontario. Still unidentified, he regularly shares footage of the numerous Nazi and swastika bearing flags that adorn his garage, and the custom “White Boy Summer” decal he affixed to his bike.
An unidentified member of the Forest City Wisemen Riding club and chat going under the name “Adolfich Russk” on Telegram.
Another is a personal trainer working, likely working at a Goodlife Gym in or around St. Catharines, Ontario. Among workout advice, he also dispenses tips on managing testosterone cycles for increasing strength, including how to make it appear as though their “T levels” have crashed in order to obtain a prescription for testosterone supplements from a doctor.
Lapointe likes to brag about his family. Once telling me his wife has always been “more antisemitic” than he is, the two appear to have run a couple’s Telegram channel for a brief period of time. Titled “Mr and Mrs Barons' Based Family Emporium,” the channel regularly shared homophobic and racist content, sometimes violent in nature.
"I have a lot of them, my kids have confiscated some of them,” Lapointe once wrote in chat during a discussion about purchasing Nazi flags. “I won't complain, I'd rather them hang flags of swastikas and sonnenrads instead of posters of 2pac and other dead or alive n*****s."
A picture posted in a Telegram channel showing a swastika drawn out in Minecraft. The caption claims it was created by the poster’s children. Source: Telegram
The Western Chauvinist was mentioned and shared across fringe platforms by multiple groups and organizations until it was shut down by Telegram. Among those sharing their content was Patriot Front, a network of fascist street activists in the USA.
Known for public marches and video messaging, Patriot Front suffered massive leaks after the logs of its Rocket Chat were obtained by the not-for-profit media outlet Unicorn Riot. New York City Antifa and Antifa Seven Hills identified Paul Gancarz as Patriot Front’s Network Director for Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, and Delaware as Paul Gancarz.
According to the logs, Gancarz told another member of Patriot Front that he was friends with the person running The Western Chauvinist.
Like many of this collective’s channels, The Western Chauvinist cross-posts much of the content shared on the other channels. Before becoming The Western Chauvinist in 2021, the channel was titled Proud Boys: Uncensored, and before that Proud Boys: America First, a very similar title to the one adopted briefly by Proud Boys: Canada First.
When questioned privately if Lapointe knew the people behind the channel, he joked, “yeah bro, you know them too,” implying that the channel belonged to others from the CF-88 chat.
For years, antifascists warned that the Proud Boys isn’t just racist and fascist, but a pipeline to even more extreme forms of white supremacist violence. They’ve been proved right. Now, many Proud Boys have gone on from punching each other while shouting brands of breakfast cereal – a rite of passage within the Proud Boys – to calling for “total n****r death” in the CF88 chats. Like Paul Gancarz, who moved from the Proud Boys to Patriot Front, many US chapters of the club contain former and current members open about their white nationalism – including within the leadership chat.
Other channels, mirroring similar themes to that of this Canadian network, including the incorporation of neo-Nazi rhetoric combined with Proud Boy imagery, have emerged. The most obvious is a channel that brags in its title about a “pipeline” between the fraternity and fascism. This channel often shares images of Proud Boys from the media, inter-spliced or alongside neo-Nazi imagery.
“Make no mistake, a very large portion of the Proud Boys have become racially aware. The club has a spectrum of members. From libertarians to national socialists,” the channel wrote in its first message. “Clout chasers are the ones who rush to the front of the cameras and make the club look bad, but there are still many good men who uphold morality and Godly principles. There is a large and growing movement in the club of men who started off as conservatives but ascended to fascism/NS.”
“We refuse to allow milquetoast conservatives to become our mouthpiece.”
Others who follow this path are easy to trace. In March 2022, the Pacific Antifascist Research Collective reported that a 30-year-old California man, Robert Wheldon, was the leader of the state’s chapter of White Lives Matter, a member in a local Active Club, and unsurprisingly, a Proud Boy.
According to Motherboard, members of the militant accelerationist and fascist organization The Base, reportedly were interested in joining the Proud Boys before moving onto more radical politics. This includes Chris Hood, who went on to found the National Socialist street club NSC131.
Tim Kelly also began producing a podcast in the fall of 2021. Under his pseudonym “Rick The Man,” Kelly releases content to the “Murder The Media” podcast alongside an unidentified cohost who claims to be Canadian.
Nicholas Ochs (left) and Nick DeCarlos (right) pictured inside the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Source: US Department of Justice.
MTM channels include Nick DeCarlo, also a Proud Boy, as its principal streaming host. Besides giving Kelly a home for his content, DeCarlos and Hawaii chapter leader Nicholas R. Ochs were arrested and charged for entering the United States Capitol building on January 6, 2021.