After Nazi flag removed from Yellowknife building window, another flag appears

After a Nazi flag was removed from a window at Northern United Place, what appears to be an Imperial German war flag replaced it Tuesday morning. According to the Anti-Defamation League, that flag has been used as a substitute for the Nazi flag by some neo-Nazis in Germany.

Different flag posted Tuesday morning appears to be Imperial German war flag, which predates Third Reich

A flag that resembles an Imperial German war flag was seen on Tuesday hanging in the window of a unit at Northern United Place in Yellowknife. Cabin Radio reported that a Nazi flag hung in the same window on Monday. (Sidney Cohen/CBC)

After a Nazi flag was removed from the window of a prominent building in downtown Yellowknife, what appears to be another controversial flag has been hung in its place.

Cabin Radio reported on Tuesday that a red flag with a white circle containing a black swastika was seen on Monday hanging backwards in a window on the top storey of Northern United Place. By Tuesday morning, the flag had been replaced with what looks like an Imperial German war flag, a banner that predates the Third Reich.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Imperial German flag has been used as a substitute for the Nazi flag by some neo-Nazis in Germany, where public displays of the swastika are banned.

Northern United Place's landlord says there's not much it can do about offensive imagery in its windows.

"There's only certain things under the Residential Tenancies Act that we can, as a landlord, ask a tenant to comply by, and decorations are not one of them," said Gail Leonardis, executive director of the N.W.T. Community Services Corporation, which owns and manages Northern United Place.

The top story of Northern United Place on Tuesday. The building's landlord said it asked a tenant to remove a Nazi flag that was hanging in the window of a unit on the top floor. (Sidney Cohen/CBC)

Leonardis said a memo was sent to the person living in the apartment with the flag, asking them to take it down.

"That flag has connotations that are very uncomfortable for a lot of people," she said. 

But Leonardis said making the request is all she can do. "He is allowed to display whatever he wants within his own home."

She said she doesn't know whether the tenant responded to the memo, and that he is under no obligation to do so. 

Asked whether actions will be taken over the second flag, Leonardis said she is away from the office and will assess the situation when she returns. 

"If we've got complaints from other tenants, or that kind of stuff, then we'll address the situation with the tenant," she said.

Everyone knows the swastika, what it represents, and the impact from displaying it to the public- Evan Balgord, Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Northern United Place contains residential and commercial spaces, including Aurora College, affordable and student housing, and the Yellowknife United Church.

Citing privacy concerns, Leonardis would not say who is living in the unit, nor would she say if the apartment has gotten other complaints. CBC knocked on several doors on the building's top floor on Tuesday, but no one answered.

Not illegal to display Nazi flag

"We don't have a specific law against flying a Nazi flag [in Canada]," Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network — a non-profit that monitors hate groups and hate crimes in Canada — wrote in an email. 

"That being said, everyone knows the swastika, what it represents, and the impact from displaying it to the public (outside of a museum context)."

Responding to an email containing a link to the Cabin Radio story, Balgord said, "the use of the symbol itself in this context is the wilful promotion of hate propaganda, which is a criminal offence. If an apology is not forthcoming — and it looks like that will not be the case — they should be charged."

In an emailed statement, Yellowknife RCMP said the force monitors "ideologically motivated extremist groups that pose a risk to public safety," but that it is "not in a position to comment on the existence of any specific group in the N.W.T."

"It is not a criminal offence to display a flag, even if the flag could be perceived as distasteful," wrote spokesperson Julie Plourde.

She said police are not investigating a flag in a Northern United Place window.

Northern United Place in downtown Yellowknife, pictured Dec. 13, 2019. (Andrew Pacey/CBC)