By renowned social media and data sciences expert Megan Squire.
Hate Groups Find Foothold on East Coast
Here's what you need to know
Olivia Boonstra & the Canadian Anti-Hate Network
July 29, 2019
New Brunswick and Halifax members of the Northern Guard. Source: Facebook.
White supremacist and far-right groups have been trying to gain a following in the Maritimes for almost a year now. Their activities are escalating and they’re carrying out ‘patrols’, rallies, and demonstrations.
Three groups are particularly active on the East Coast: The Northern Guard (NG), The National Citizens Alliance (NCA), and the remnants of Yellow Vests Canada (YVC), now producing content under the name 'NL Media'. Stephen Garvey, leader of the NCA, is running in the riding of Cumberland-Colchester, Nova Scotia, in the federal election.
The escalation started about a year ago, when the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) began carrying out so-called patrols in Halifax in late 2018. SOO rebranded as the Northern Guard in NS in early 2019 and continued these ‘patrols’, which sometimes included giving pizza to the homeless.
This kind of hate group ‘volunteerism’ is commonplace and part of a simple public relations strategy. Elsewhere the Soldiers of Odin pick up needles and the neo-fascist, neo-Nazi Atalante Quebec give meals to white people who are homeless, for example.
Fagan has been banned from all Domino's locations in Nova Scotia.
A post from Northern Guard president, Norman English, took umbrage with what occurred, including a statement acknowledging, “yes we are against any ppl that come here to change our way of life”.
A recent video also shows Northern Guard member Tobin Parker threatening people on the street with pepper spray during the a National Citizens Alliance rally on June 22nd.
The National Citizens Alliance (NCA) is a federal party led by Stephen Garvey, who has done events in the past with the explicitly anti-Muslim Worldwide Coaltion Against Islam, a neo-Nazi tied organization which refers to Muslims as vermin and sewage. NCA aims to put a ‘temporary pause’ on immigration and a massive reduction in immigration over time.
The party is working hard to secure a following in Nova Scotia, attending popular festivals and attempting to hold rallies and demonstrations. However, it has now been banned from events and has been met by counter-protests.
On June 22nd, National Citizens Alliance held a rally in Halifax in an attempt to recruit members in the area. The NCA were largely outnumbered by counter protestors organized by Halifax Against Hate (@HFXAgainstHate), a Halifax collective documenting far-right activities in Halifax and organizing against their actions.
During the rally, and shortly following the rally, police arrested two counter-protestors. Video shows a man being arrested after knocking Garvey’s hat off (without otherwise making contact with him).
Following the rally, the Halifax Regional Police arrested another counter-protestor for allegedly damaging an NCA banner. A video appears to show the counter-protestor being attacked by NCA members, ostensibly after damaging the banner, and it’s alleged that they were pepper sprayed by an officer while NCA members attacked them.
Only one National Citizens Alliance member was arrested, allegedly for public intoxication, according to a Halifax Against Hate press release.
The party has rallies planned in cities across Canada, and according to their website, have raised $16,520 dollars in donations.
On July 19th, 2019, NCA announced that leader and founder, Stephen Garvey, would be running in the Cumberland-Colchester, NS federal riding in the 2019 federal election. Eight more NCA candidates were also announced, running in ridings in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Alberta.
NCA is planning more rallies across Canada in cities like Hamilton, Kingston, Charlottetown, and Nova Scotia.
Another somewhat recent entry in the East Coast hate scene is the Yellow Vests Canada movement, which began holding regular demonstrations across Canada, primarily targeting Muslims and Trudeau, in late 2018.
The Newfoundland & Labrador chapter of Yellow Vests Canada has been particularly active over the past few months, despite the general decline of the movement across Canada.
The group has organized small demonstrations in the St. John’s and Mount Pearl area. They are more active online where leader Kenny Winsor launched NL Media, one of many far-right, content-producing pages. NL Media primarily targets Trudeau and the LGBTQ+ community, with a particular focus on Liberal candidate Hasan Hai.
Winsor went to Hai’s campaign headquarters in May of 2019 to confront him directly after months of online harassment. Winsor harangued Hai and his staff before eventually leaving. Law enforcement was called but have not laid charges to date.
Winsor works with other content creators like Yellow Vests Canada alumni ‘Rollin with Pat and Jay’ who are touring across Canada, and have had several venues cancel on them after outreach by the anti-racist community.
‘Rollin with Pat and Jay’ hosts Pat King and Jay Riedel share anti-immigrant, anti-muslim, and anti-semetic sentiments, including Holocaust denial. King and Riedel were planning on touring Newfoundland & Labrador, however that leg of the tour has been cancelled due to the “great possibility they will face fierce opposition.”
The Northern Guard (NG) is a militant anti-Muslim group with neo-Nazi ties that is active across Canada. Their members have engaged in premeditated assaults targeting anti-racist, anti-fascist demonstrators.
The Northern Guard is an off-shoot of a similar group called the Soldiers of Odin (SOO), which disbanded in Nova Scotia and was reformed as the Northern Guard. The SOO were founded in Finland by a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who has been found guilty of multiple racially motivated assaults. SOO chapters have been active in Canada since 2016.
There is some dispute over what motivated this ‘rebranding’ in Nova Scotia. Some sources say that there was internal conflict within the NS chapter of SOO about letting women join the group, which led to the creation of the ‘men only’ group, the Northern Guard. Women interested in being a part of the Northern Guard are encouraged to join their ‘sister’ group, the Northern Maidens, which works as a support group for the Northern Guard.
A statement from the Northern Guard insists that the split was due to financial conflicts within the group, with one post alleging that the president at the time, Billy Rushton, was stealing from the group.
National Citizens Alliance
The National Citizens Alliance (NCA) is a small federal party that was accepted by Elections Canada in January of 2019. Their website boasts that they will put a moratorium on all immigration, reduce foreign aid by 75%, reduce ‘bureaucracy’ by 50%, and make 9 amendments to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their overall platform is anti-immigration, anti-globalization, and climate emergency denial.
Much like the Northern Guard, there is a specific anti-Muslim focus. The party itself walks a fine line so as to not portray itself as openly racist. It betrays itself, however, by it’s past associations with anti-Muslim and neo-Nazi groups such as the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, and by its actions. Garvey attended the Arab Festival in Calgary last weekend where he livestreamed himself asking attendees where they came from and their immigration status.
Yellow Vests Canada
Yellow Vests Canada (YVC) is a far-right movement and Facebook page that has come to be characterized by hundreds of documented examples of death threats and overt racism, primarily targeting Muslims. At its peak it included members and supporters of virtually every anti-Muslim hate group in Canada. YVC is, by and large, a spent movement that can no longer carry out any significant demonstrations, however there is a particularly stubborn faction in Newfoundland & Labrador that remains active.
Today, it’s not so much a movement with any organizational capacity, but rather a Facebook page and a collection of content creators, including NL Media, Rollin with Pat & Jay, Rick Boswich (currently charged with uttering a threat), and Derek Storie.
Olivia Boonstra is a Masters student currently working in the areas of Harm Reduction and countering Right-Wing Extremism. She is completing a placement with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as part of the Criminology and Social Justice MA program at Ryerson University.