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Jun. 17, 2019 | Monday
Local News
Hate posters in NOTL spark concerns amongst residents
Posters which many residents feel are white supremacist propaganda have been spotted around Niagara-on-the-Lake. This poster was posted in 2019. (Submitted photo)

A series of anti-immigration posters circulating around Niagara-on-the-Lake has some residents feeling unwelcome and even concerned for their safety.

The posters contain rhetoric attacking immigrants and messages advocating against diversity. 

One flyer, similar to posters circulated in town two years ago, asks, “Is diversity a code word for anti-white?”

Another poster, from a group calling itself the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee, features a photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sitting in what appears to be a Sikh temple.

The text says, “We’ll be a minority by 2050. Canadians were never consulted about this ethnic cleansing.”

A number of residents have told The Lake Report they feel the posters are hate speech.

The letters have appeared on bulletin boards outside the post office on Queen Street.

A man who answered the phone at a number listed on the flyer identified himself as “Shawn,” but refused to comment on the flyers.

Tony Hendrik, owner of the Valu-Mart, said it’s “not a good situation.”

He has been removing the posters from the bulletin board in his store and says it’s made him question the continued use of the bulletin board.

“Our Local Events board is for the postings of events that celebrate all the amazing people and happenings in our town, not for political or ideological opinions,” he said.

“We would like to keep this board up, hopefully, as it is an important part of the fabric of our store and community information source.”

Doug Binning, manager of the Canada Post depot in Old Town, said he isn’t authorized to comment, but noted that Canada Post is not in charge of the bulletin board outside of the post office.

The board is monitored by the Friends of Fort George, however president Tony Chisholm said his group can only monitor the posters it puts up, since the board is open to the public.

A local resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she first noticed anti-immigration flyers on the community notice board at Phil’s Valu-Mart in Virgil around April 2017.

“Then the flyers started showing up on the community notice pillar in downtown NOTL, directly in front of the post office,” she said in an email to the paper.

“When I complained to a Canada Post supervisor, they said the notice board had nothing to do with them. A town bylaw officer said the same thing. No one took responsibility for monitoring the board,” she said.

“Next, the posters showed up on the notice board at Hendriks’ Valu-Mart across from the NOTL post office. I complained to Tony and he was really upset. He promised to check the board constantly and remove the poster if it ever showed up again.”

After complaining, she said she didn’t see any similar posters in town until this past month.

“I do not feel comfortable, welcome or safe in NOTL anymore,” she said.

Niagara Regional Police spokesperson Phil Gavin said the letters are “concerning” and warrant “further review and investigation.”

“We would be apprehensive to characterize it as a ‘hate crime’ without further investigative information,” Gavin said in an email response to an inquiry by The Lake Report.

“We would encourage anyone who has received one of these posters, if they have concerns, to call our communication unit to report it.”

Hendrik said he first reported the issue to the police in 2016.

“They have contacted the people involved but say they can do nothing to stop the postings,” he said.

“Last week, we spoke to the 2016 investigating officer and sent him email copies of the most recent postings and asked him to investigate further. We have not heard any response as of yet.”

Hendrik said the posters have been “intermittently” posted over the past three years.

“Police have advised us that this does not constitute hate speech. But anyone reading this knows that these type of posters are specifically targeting specific ethnic/minority/immigrant groups. They are distasteful, unwanted and unacceptable anywhere in today’s society and especially in such a welcoming community such as NOTL.”

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