Manitoba

Thompson mayoral candidate says racist comments he wrote were 'disgusting' and 'wrong'

A man running for mayor in Thompson, Man. is distancing himself from racist comments he posted on an online forum known as a haven for white nationalists.

Comments on forum Stormfront attack Indigenous people, Asians, Jews and black people

Thompson mayoral candidate Ryan Brady says he doesn't hold the same views that he expressed in posts on the white-nationalist forum Stormfront in 2009 and 2010. (Ryan Brady/Facebook)

Warning: This article contains offensive quotes about racial and religious minorities

A man running for mayor in Thompson, Man. is distancing himself from racist comments he posted on an online forum known as a haven for white nationalists.

Ryan Brady, 29, says the comments are "incredibly disgusting" and "wrong," but they don't reflect who he is now. In posts on the website Stormfront from 2009 and 2010 under the username "honoryourlife," Brady talks about starting a white pride group, and makes denigrating comments about a number of ethnic and religious groups, including Indigenous people, Jews, Asians, and black people.

"I would say I didn't believe in all of that stuff that I said on Stormfront, but I did believe in some of it, but that isn't the person I am today," he told CBC in a phone interview. "If you go through my Internet history on Facebook or anything, in that 10 years of time, there's no such racist posts at all."

The comments resurfaced on the website Anti-Racist Canada, which wrote about Brady's online activities in 2009, when he launched a group called Winnipeg White Pride Warriors. In a post at that time, Brady claimed the group had 20 or 30 members.

"It was all online. It's not like we got together and met or anything, or went out and caused hell on the town or anything," he said.

At the time, Brady was 19 to 20 years old and living in Brandon, Man. He said he was addicted to cocaine and other drugs.

He says he isn't sure what led him to get involved in white nationalism.

"It wasn't like anyone really telling me to go there, but I heard about it. I wanted to check it out, so I did. And I just started posting there. And I wasn't too serious about it, but I mean, the words that I said, they're not kind words, that's for sure," he said.

Derogatory comments

In one post from October 2009, Brady referred to Asians as "sly and cunning creatures."

"But this can all be changed. All the immigrants can be expelled from our country. It's just a matter of time, money and force," he wrote.

In another post, he says Indigenous people should "stick to their 'reserves' and stay there, much like wild game reserves."

In response to another person talking about someone in his family who had mixed-race children, Brady replied: "Wow, that is unfortunate. Most of my family is white, but my dad's cousin married a black man and she has two half-ape offspring. It's terrible."

In a post from September 2009, Brady refers to Jews as "vermin" and "filthy creatures...Into the sea with all of them!"

Brady said he liked to "troll people" by making offensive statements or memes and sharing them online.

Since news of the comments broke, Brady says friends of his who are Indigenous have reached out to him to say those comments don't reflect the person they know, and he insists he doesn't hold any prejudices toward any group of people.

He says he left the forum after about five months. "There's a lot of hate built up in that community. It's not somewhere where I wanted to be, so I left it," he said.

Moving forward

One woman who has interacted with Brady online in recent years said she isn't convinced he has done enough to demonstrate that he has moved on from his past views.

Brielle Beardy-Linklater lived in Thompson until about a year-and-a-half ago. In response to a comment Beardy-Linklater left on the Thompson Talk Facebook group in November 2016, in which she mentioned being an advocate for various marginalized groups, Brady replied: "What about the rights of the whites, and the males?"

When asked about his comment to Beardy-Linklater, Brady said he's concerned about all people's rights.

"If you're for social progress, and people's rights; then everyone should be included and no one excluded, I think sums it up pretty well. I added two groups she left outta that list," he said in a Facebook message.

Beardy-Linklater, a member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, says it's not enough for Brady to say he has Indigenous friends who believe he has changed.

"I honestly like to believe that people can do better, but he needs to prove that and address some things, and be asked about his views on Indigenous people 'cause that's the only way to prove that," she said.

Brady says part of his election platform includes plans to improve food security by teaching people in surrounding First Nations communities sustainable farming practices. He also says he's concerned about issues of crime and safety in the community, which cut across racial divides.

"I want to try and help people in my community, everyone in my community. Not just one group or the other, everyone. We all want safety, we all want peace, and we all want productivity, and we're not getting any of that here."

Brady apologized for the hurt that his past comments have caused, but said his mistakes have led him to be a more compassionate person.

"I do not expect forgiveness or sympathy. But I hope to earn your respect in time, as my actions are shown that I am doing what I can to better myself as a human being," he wrote in a Facebook message. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron MacLean

Online Reporter

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.

now