Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Source: Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Outside Fork York Regional Library, a crowd of protesters gathered this weekend objecting to a family-oriented drag storytime event taking place inside. While the event drew a familiar lineup of demonstrators, this protest included members of the neo-Nazi White Lives Matter movement.
On Saturday, April 29, the steps of the library located across from the historic Fork York where the location draws its name were filled with supporters and opposition to the event for children six years old and below.
Alongside typical and baseless accusations of pedophilia and grooming taking place at these family events, the afternoon protest saw half a dozen members of White Lives Matter Toronto adding shouts of “white power” and Nazi salutes to the fray.
The narrow sidewalk was lined with those objecting to the event, many of whom waved signs and flags. With a crowd of about two dozen, the protesters were greatly outnumbered by supporters of the event. The counter-protest formed out front of the library, offering a wall of rainbow flags that blocked the sight of the protest from inside the library.
Toronto Police Services were also on the scene throughout the event, keeping the groups separated. This included officers mounted on horseback who reinforced the divide between both sides.
A representative for the TPS said there were no arrests and officers were there to keep the peace.
Inside the library, the protest could hardly be heard, while the story-reading event took place in a conference room.
Library protests have become a regular occurrence as more branches seek to incorporate inclusive events like drag storytime. In Ontario, the teenager-led Save Canada organization, in particular, has focused on showing up to numerous family-oriented events to protest. The protesters claim these events are inappropriate and sexualize children.
A recent protest outside of a school in Ontario saw some of the student body appear to support Save Canada.
While several members of WLM Toronto remain unidentified, known members of its ranks include Andrew Benson, a man with a long history in neo-Nazi organizations, who claimed affiliation with a few racist skinhead crews during the 2000s. While masked, he was in attendance during the Fort York protest and identifiable by his tattoos.
Appearing alongside WLM was Gus Stefanis, a political candidate of several unsuccessful campaigns. He most recently ran as leader of the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party. Stefanis earned himself 52 votes in the 2021 federal election and the CNP was de-ratified as an official political party shortly after for failing to obtain the requisite number of signatures.
Source: Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Stefanis has appeared at previous demonstrations held by WLM, though unlike others, he does not cover his face. He also was present during a recent Save Canada protest outside of an Ontario high school.
Another unmasked individual wore numerous pieces of jewelry with Nazi symbols, including a sonnenrad around his neck and a ring emblazoned with the symbol of Hitler’s Schutzstaffel or SS.
If you have information about the man pictured below, please reach out to [email protected].
Chris Dacey, a live streamer who often appears with Save Canada at these events, spoke with WLM members several times on his stream. Thw WLM’s leader apologizes for his “friend” and his shouting.
Dacey and several other regular protesters state later they did not know the members of WLM and accused the group of being agitators harmful to the protesters' message.
WLM is a decentralized global movement that has chapters across Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia. Propaganda and promotional materials are shared on a variety of social media channels, and individual chapter leaders are granted access to a larger international leadership chat.
According to an article by Montreal Antifasciste, the founder of WLM Canada, Mcleafin, was granted access to the larger White Lives Matter leadership chats in 2021. Then only typically organizing a number of small protests outside of Queens Park. His protests typically attract around five or six people.
Other small chapters have sprung up across Canada since the group’s emergence in Canada’s far-right. The British Columbia branch recently posted a video to social media of its members putting WLM promotional materials into children’s books.
Under several names, Mcleafin has served as a guest and cohost on a number of neo-Nazi live streams. There are no known photographs of McLeafin without his mask, however, during a vetting meeting for Active Club Canada the Canadian Anti-Hate Network attended under the pretense of joining the white-only workout club, Mcleafin arrived with two members of the Vinland Hammerskin, Ryan Immel and Troy Miles, to conduct interviews with members interested in joining.
During this meeting, he did not wear a mask. Mcleafin is a man of European descent who appears to be in his late 20s to mid-30s. Around 5’4” to 5’6”, during the meeting, he kept a large blonde beard and has light blue eyes.
He identified himself as Spencer, a name similar to screen names he has used in the past. All other attendees used their real first names during this meeting.
Individuals pictured by WLM Toronto also appear in promotional videos and images for Active Club Canada, including one individual who appears to be a child.