'Refugee-hating' vigilante group Soldiers of Odin pops up in Yukon
Group founded in Finland last year now has chapters across Canada
A group that has been deemed an extreme anti-refugee vigilante organization has set up shop in Yukon, according to RCMP.
The Soldiers of Odin was founded last year in Finland, in reaction to the influx of refugees in that country. Since then, chapters have been springing up across Europe, the U.S. and Canada.
The Yukon chapter has established a closed Facebook group with 22 members, though it's not clear how many of those members actually live in Yukon. The group's administrator, James Albert, lists Whitehorse as his home.
The Anti-Defamation League in the U.S. has denounced the group's "anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and refugee-hating ideology" in a report issued this year. It says the group was busily setting up one or more chapters in every state, "primarily by using social media to recruit and organize."
"White supremacy seems to be constant within and around the Soldiers of Odin," the report reads.
The president of Soldiers of Odin Canada, however, has denied any racist ideology. He says the organization in Canada is more like a "community watch group."
Irfan Chaudhry, who teaches criminology at MacEwan University in Edmonton, says that claim rings hollow since many of the group's members are openly racist.
"When you look on their Facebook pages, a lot of people are expressing really hateful and negative and racist sentiment," he said.
"The followers that are attracted to joining the group do tend to have that ideology, and they feel this is one space where they can find some like-minded peers."
Chaudhry says communities should be mindful of the group, and monitor any activity online, or offline. He says the rise of extremist groups in Europe and the U.S., as well as the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election, suggest "there's a lot of simmering pots that might be boiling over."
Yukon RCMP say they have not yet received any complaints about the local Soldiers of Odin chapter.