Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island president, who refused to provide his name, meets with Jamison McGrath, a supporter of Discontent City, on Aug. 5 on Front Street during a rally that featured supporters from both sides. Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin)

Soldiers of Odin confront supporters of B.C. tent city

No violence during heated and tense meeting between the two sides in Nanaimo

A face-to-face meeting between members of the Soldiers of Odin and Discontent City supporters was heated and full of discontent, but remained non-violent in the end.

The Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island had announced last week that they, along with Action Against Discontent City, a group of citizens upset at the tent city’s existence, planned to visit Discontent City to protest the illegally formed camp. That announcement resulted in a planned counter-rally by supporters of Discontent City, who pledged to protect the camp.

On Sunday afternoon, Soldiers of Odin, wearing most black, and members of AADC made good on their word and marched to the front of Discontent City, where they were greeted by at least 150 tent supporters, the Nanaimo RCMP and a much smaller contingent of people opposed to the camp’s existence.

Story continues below

The Soldiers of Odin was founded in Finland by Mika Ranta, an admitted neo-Nazi, to patrol the Finnish streets in order to “protect” citizens from asylum seekers, according to an article by the Agence France-Presse. However, the Vancouver Island chapter’s president has denied accusations of neo-Nazism and racism.

It’s those ties and links that attracted a number of people to come and support members of Discontent City, including Phoebe Ramsay, who handed out literature about the Soldiers of Odin. Ramsay said as soon as she found out about the SOO coming to Nanaimo, she decided to make the drive up from Victoria to protest against them and inform people about them.

“In Canada, although the Soldiers of Odin are trying to put forward a front that they are a community safety and service organization … there are still clear links of this organization to white supremacy and they are also an extremely anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, Islamophobic hate group,” Ramsay said.

Prior to the Soldiers of Odin arriving, Discontent City supporters, which included members of various First Nations, chanted, cheered, sang songs and gave speeches.

Organizers of Discontent City called for their supporters to make their voices heard, but not to engage with the Soldiers of Odin or cause any violence.

“We don’t discuss with them, we don’t engage with them. If they yell at us ignore it because our message is stronger than their individual taunting … and trolling,” Ivan Drury, a tent city activist, told a fired-up crowd of Discontent City supporters.

Shortly before Soldiers of Odin arrived, Discontent City supporters marched out onto Front Street and blocked traffic, which caused a number of people to voice their displeasure.

“I paid taxes, I paid for this road get off, come on,” screamed one woman, who later blocked traffic herself in protest.

Story continues below

Shawn Mawer, who had an extremely vocal confrontation with a Discontent City supporter, told the News Bulletin he is tired of all the problems caused by the tent city. He said it made him “mad” to see how many people showed up to support Discontent City.

“It makes me mad because they don’t understand what is truly going on,” he said. “All these people have really just seen it from these Facebook posts and the media, whereas if you actually spend time down here, you’ll see what really goes on,” he said. “It pisses me off to see how many people will support what they don’t know.”

When SOOVI arrived, around 2 p.m., the atmosphere became charged with supporters from both sides immediately coming toward each other, which led to the RCMP getting between the two sides. There were also loud chants from both sides with people calling Discontent City occupants a bunch “freeloaders” and “scumbags” while others called the marchers a bunch of “racist pigs.”

The Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island president, who, once again, refused to give his name, said his group came to Discontent City to force politicians to stop sitting around and take action to remove the camp.

Although there was plenty of profanity and hostility between the two sides, who were merely an arm’s length away from each other due to the RCMP, there were a few brief moments where some members on both sides engaged in a civil manner and listened to one another. There were even a few hugs between the two parties.

After about an hour of chants from either side, the marchers called it a day and left Front Street, which drew loud cheers from supporters of Discontent City and a speech from Drury, who told the crowd that at their actions represented a “victory” for the camp.

It’s unclear whether the Soldiers of Odin will return to Discontent City, but their president said it is a possibility.

“I’ll come back next weekend, I’ll come back every weekend,” he said.


nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook or follow Nicholas Pescod on Twitter

Just Posted

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

College of New Caledonia wants public’s input on budget

A public consultation will be held Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. at Vanderhoof Campus

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Huawei founder thanks inmates, Canadian justice system for treating daughter well

Ren Zhengfei said he believes there will be a just conclusion to the case of his daughter, Meng Wanzhou

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external committee

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

Canada needs a digital ID system, bankers association says

The Department of Finance last week officially launched its public consultation on the merits of open banking

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Most Read