'Sneaky way to make people feel othered': Sherwood Park resident rips down anti-Muslim sticker

A Sherwood Park resident who removed an Islamophobic​​​​​​​ sticker from a sign near her bus stop says she’s angry about the attempt to spread hate in her community. 

Strathcona County RCMP investigating after being made aware of reports on Sunday related to a sticker

Trish Agrell-Smith spotted and removed an anti-Muslim sticker from a sign near her bus stop in Sherwood Park early last week. CBC has blurred the website address on the sticker. (Trish Agrell-Smith/Twitter)

A Sherwood Park resident who removed an Islamophobic sticker from a sign near her bus stop says she's angry about the attempt to spread hate in her community. 

Trish Agrell-Smith said she was headed to a bus stop near Fir Street and Cedar Street last week when she spotted the sticker on the back of a sign.

"The sticker is not a platform for sharing ideas. It is an anonymous, subtle, sneaky way to make people feel othered," she said.

Text on the sticker asks if Islam is a religion of peace, and lists a website where readers can learn more. The web address leads to a crudely constructed blog featuring lengthy posts that draw on racist ideas, referencing white supremacist tropes and warnings against multiculturalism and diversity.

The sticker was too high up for her to reach when she first spotted it so she returned after work with her husband, bringing along a stool and a scraper and removed the sticker. She decided to post about it on social media, to make the point that this kind of message isn't acceptable.

"It's not my place to speak on anyone's behalf, but I would really hope that what action I have taken can provide the opportunity for others to have a platform," she said.

Strathcona County RCMP are investigating after being made aware of social media reports on Sunday related to the sticker, said spokesperson Cpl. Chris Warren. 

Warren said officers were making inquiries in the neighbourhood to further the investigation. 

The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) programs director Trent Daley said Sunday that there have been other instances of stickers put up around Edmonton to promote specific hate groups. In this case, the attack seems to just generally be directed at Muslims, he said. 

Daley described the website's content as "rambling.

"It's just concerning about the kind of media that they're trying to use, especially during an election. That's typically when hate incidents spike," he said.

Daley said AMPAC will be following the situation closely, trying to make sure that if a particular group or individual is found to be responsible for the stickers, they can open up a dialogue with them. 

He said AMPAC is working with authorities, and that anyone who sees one of the stickers should call authorities to have it removed so the stickers can be identified and confirmed. 

Strathcona County councillor Brian Botterill thanked Agrell-Smith. Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Liberal candidate for Edmonton Mill Woods, tweeted his support for the Muslim community in Sherwood Park.

"If you spot one of these hateful stickers, please contact the appropriate authorities. We must stand strong, be there for one another, and work together to tackle racism and hate in all its forms," Sohi wrote.

Social activist Jim Gurnett, who also came across one of the stickers at Sherwood Drive and Tamarack Street in Sherwood Park this week, said it's important to speak up against hateful views, despite running the risk of amplifying racism.

"If everybody stays quiet then the tiny minorities that are like that, that have racist views and anti-Islamic views, they get away with it," Gurnett said. "But I think we've got to say, 'This has happened,' make sure that the Muslims in our community know that most of us are better off for them living here and we're glad to help them."