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Friday, April 19, 2024
Residents fight hate speech posters in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Hate speech posters are becoming more prevalent in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but people are starting to fight back.

After last week’s story about hate speech posters being put on bulletin boards in town as far back as 2017, a number of residents have reached out to the paper about the issue.

Someone has started putting up opposition posters that say “Immigrants welcome,” outside of the post office. The posters say “The border does not divide one world from another.”

We got our hands on four new posters, all put up in Old Town within the last week.

Some of the posters are prints which identify two groups, Canadian Culture Society and the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee. Some include the name Shawn, saying “may I please take a few moments of your time?”

Others are unsigned hand-written posters which attack the Liberal party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and contain derogatory and erroneous phrases like “Justin Trudeau is a traitor to Canada just like his self-admitted communist father Pierre Trudeau.”

Nobody has come forward to take responsibility for the posters, as far as the paper is aware.

A manager at Hendriks Valu-Mart told the paper store staff have been looking at the video cameras to try and find out who is putting the posters up, but due to the high volume of traffic at the times they’re being posted, they’re unable to get a clear image.

Tony Hendriks, owner of the store, has continued to remove the posters from the bulletin board.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she hasn’t seen the posters, but that the town is currently having discussions about what to do about them.

“We actually had a discussion about it yesterday,” said Disero during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

 “It is unfortunate that someone is putting these posters up,” she added.

“It’s not something that I believe the town supports.  We’re going to keep an eye to see if more are going up. At some point I’d like to have a conversation with the regional police on what to do.”

“This is not something that is acceptable in Niagara-on-the-Lake. We are a welcoming community who were given awards for our friendliness and our community spirit. This is not something that should be happening in (town). We’re trying to figure out how to put a stop to it.”

She said she doesn’t “have a timeline” on contacting the police and taking action but it is something that is “top of mind.”

Rohan Joshi, an Indian international student from Niagara College, didn’t know the posters were being distributed.

Upon seeing them he said “if I wouldn’t have seen this poster, I wouldn’t have believed it. I am an immigrant myself, I’m here to study. I’ve been here for eight months now and only twice have I experienced something I would call racism.

He said he “can’t count” the number of times strangers have been “sweet” to him or helped him out in some way.

“People here are very welcoming, I can’t let a few (people) tell me otherwise.”

Stephanie Dell, who was born and raised in Canada but has Swedish roots, pointed out most Canadians are immigrants.

“Everyone came down here one time or other. The parents or grandparents of the people behind these flyers would also have come here a few decades or centuries ago,” she said.

“It’s very difficult to leave your perfectly settled life and family and shift to another country and learn every new way of living from the top. It takes a lot of courage. The least we can do is be supportive and caring towards the immigrants we get from all around the world. If you try, you can learn a lot from them.”

Akashdeep Singh Dhaliwal, a student of Hospitality, Hotel and Restaurants Operations at Niagara College, upon seeing pictures of the posters, says, “I appreciate the efforts these guys put into spreading hate. I don’t go for grocery shopping sometimes because I am lazy, but they anonymously print these posters, put them out without being noticed, that’s too much work. I think they’re giving us major goals on how to be more vocal and productive with our positive energy.” Dhaliwal adds, “I don’t understand why there are no laws restricting these people from spreading their very derogative ideas. These are signs of potential terrorism.”

– with files from Brittany Carter and Arjun Saroy.

The Lake Report understands publishing these images may offend some people. We believe it is important for people to see them to understand the full extent of the
alt-right movement creeping into Niagara-on-the-Lake.
This type of racist propaganda is not condoned by TLR.

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