Saskatoon

Police investigating after 2 organizations in Saskatoon targeted by 'hateful' posters

The Saskatoon Open Door Society says a recent incident where its offices were targeted with "hateful" posters is a threat to diversity here in the city.

OUTSaskatoon says posters on office window 'demonstrate acts of white supremacy'

Ali Abukar, with the Saskatoon Open Door Society, stands in front of a pillar at the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s offices that sustained minor damage from a poster that was glued to the front of the building on March 6, 2020. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

The Saskatoon Open Door Society says a recent incident where its offices were targeted with "hateful" posters is a threat to diversity here in the city.

Open Door was one of two organizations targeted by the poster campaign, the other being OUTSaskatoon, an LGBTQ advocacy group in Saskatoon.

The posters featured language about a "great replacement of European Canadians."

Ali Abukar, executive director of the Saskatoon Open Door Society, said the posters are worrying.

"They're rooted in misconceptions and misreadings about immigration statistics and are also rooted in hateful, prejudice and bias understanding of how immigration works in Canada and the Canadian society," he said. 

The posters were glued to two Open Door locations and caused some damage to the properties, but Abukar said the main concern is the "emotional damage" the posters caused.

"It is a threat to our whole community and I think we all need to stand together and speak-up against it."

An employee at OUTSaskatoon works to remove posters that were applied to at least two organizations in the city. The Saskatoon Open Door Society was also hit with the posters, which OUTSaskatoon said were hateful and 'demonstrate acts of white supremacy.' (OUTSaskatoon/Instagram)

In a statement emailed Friday, the Saskatoon Police Service said it received reports from businesses in the 200 block of First Avenue and the 100 block of Third Avenue North "that posters had been glued to the building, possibly causing some damage." 

"As this was report was taken only hours ago, the investigation is in its very early stages with limited details at this time," Saskatoon police said in the statement.  "We cannot comment on the motives of the suspect."

Sheelah McLean, a well-known academic whose work focuses on settler colonialism and anti-racism, said the posters are racist. She said the language is trying to reaffirm myths and misconceptions around who belongs in Canada.

Saskatoon Public Schools teacher and SAFE committee member Sheelah McLean said the anti-racism conference is growing steadily. (Alicia Bridges/CBC)

McLean said police should be classifying the groups behind these campaigns as "hate groups."

"That's what they are," she said. "We do have laws against spreading hate and inciting hate in this country and I would hope that full-force of the law would come into play here." 

OUTSaskatoon called the postering "acts of white supremacy" in an Instagram post. The organization is holding an event for members of the LGBTQ community who are new to Canada on Monday. 

Rachel Loewen Walker, executive director of OUTSaskatoon, said the organization is still a safe space for all members of the LGBTQ community, noting they have a good relationship with the Saskatoon Police Service.

"Anything like that, it's shocking," she said Friday, noting this is the first time something like this has happened to the OUTSaskatoon space.

Loewen Walker said while the posters were shocking, but won't deter OUTSaskatoon from its mandate of promoting a welcoming and inclusive Saskatoon for all. 

"They won't win," she said.

Evan Balgord, with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said in an email the posters have also been seen in Whitby, Ont. He said far-right groups, specifically white supremacist groups, look at demographic changes and attribute them to a "purposeful agenda to replace white people."

Several posters can be seen on the front window of OUTSaskatoon on Thursday. (OUTSaskatoon/Instagram)

It's unclear who is behind the postering campaign in Saskatoon.

This isn't the first time posters linked to white supremacy have been surfaced in Saskatoon.

In late 2019 CBC Saskatoon reported on how ID Canada, which supports white supremacy, was trying to recruit members in the city.

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