Sophie Labelle has decided to give Halifax a second chance.
The transgender cartoonist and author is returning to Nova Scotia this week for a book launch, even though the last time she planned an event in Halifax it was cancelled following a series of "severe threats" online.
"That was intense," said Labelle. She told the CBC's Information Morning she remembers landing at the airport in Halifax on May 17, turning on her phone to check her messages, and then saying, "Oh no."
Anonymous posters were making death threats as part of an organized "harassment campaign," Labelle said. Her home address in Montreal was even posted online, she said, forcing her to move.
At the time, Marshall Haywood, the owner of the venue that was hosting the book launch in Halifax — Venus Envy — said he was cancelling the event because he "couldn't really guarantee people's safety."
Labelle said she's hoping this time will be different.
"The support that I got from people in Halifax after this happened really showed me how much my work is appreciated," she said. "I'm very excited to be back."
No new threats
Labelle, who is on tour to promote a series of young adult novels in French called Ciel, said she hasn't received any new threats "specifically targetting Halifax" this time.
She said she thinks the people behind last year's hate campaign got "bored" and moved on to other targets.
That said, as a transgender activist, Labelle said she's used to receiving hateful messages on a daily basis.
Labelle said her work is not meant to be educational.
Instead, she said she strives to create a body of work that is "funny and empowering" for transgender people. "That's something that makes a lot of non-trans people very uncomfortable," she said.
Extra staff on hand
Haywood said he and his staff were keen to try hosting another book launch for Labelle at Venus Envy. "We are delighted that Sophie has come back," he said.
Although he's planning to have a couple of extra staff on hand for Thursday's 7:30 p.m. event as a precaution, he said he's not too worried about it being unsafe.
"There are a lot of trolls in the world who have a lot of time on their hands and unfortunately attack people like Sophie just for being who she is," Haywood said.
Labelle will also be signing books at Cape and Cowls Comics and Collectibles in Lower Sackville on Thursday at 4 p.m.