White supremacist group linked to Petrolia Active Club recruiting on James St

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The poster which appeared on James St.

A researcher with the Canadian Anti Hate Network believes the Active Club looking for members in Petrolia has ties to the white supremacist movement.

Peter Smith, a reporter with the non-profit organization, spends his days researching hate groups across the nations. And the Active Club, like the one advertised on posters near the downtown, has ties to the Vinland Hammerskins which brought the concept to Canada.

Last week, a family on James Street found photocopied posters “Calling all local patriots” to find out about the Lambton County & LDN Active Club. A QR Code on the poster led to the club’s Telegram account. 

The family says patriot is often a term used by hate groups and they’re concerned.

“The idea that these groups are advertising recruitments right outside my house, right where my kids play, terrifies me. I have gay and trans family members. My neighbours are refugees. I love my neighbourhood and want everyone to feel safe here. But they can’t if hate groups are allowed to post recruitment flyers and operate in secret like this,” they said.

The Independent found the small club bills itself as a fitness group. Text messages on Telegram show the owner of the group raising the issue of drag shows in local libraries. He presenting a video of trans youth, asking other’s opinions about trans youth and if they would be willing to “apply energy towards combating the above type of grooming of children.”

Later, the owner says “If you are in any way sympathetic to child sex change surgery, puberty blockers to prepubescent children or promotion of transgenderism to children your beliefs do not align with ours and you will be barred from membership.”

Crystal Fach of Diversity Ed is not surprised by the online exchange saying Diversity Ed gets people “coming at us in droves” saying they are “indoctrinating their children to become trans and that we are grooming kids.”

Smith, who has been investigating the Fit Clubs and their ties to white supremacy contacted The Independent after seeing our story.

Smith says the idea for the clubs came from a while supremacist in the US named Robert Paul Rundo. It’s meant to draw people into the movement.

“He is called this movement, white nationalism. 3.0 … white nationalism 3.0 is this idea in a culture war…you’re prepared to defend yourself or commit violence. But you’re also well read…they encourage these people to do all kinds of positive things to be, physically fit, to engage with philosophy, to stay off drugs, to develop and work on yourself as an individual, but all of this is kind of underscored by a current of, you know, whites only white nationalism,” he says.

“When you when you look at the larger network that’s operating Canada of active clubs, it is run explicitly by a very old and international, white nationalist gang or a racist skinhead gang called the Hammerskins Nation, and specifically here in Canada, the Vinland Hammerskins.

Smith has found 38 different active clubs in Canada. 

What raised suspicious with the photocopied poster in Petrolia was the symbolism. 

“The symbol with a wolf’s head in it is a Celtic cross, which is a white supremacist symbol… I’ve seen Hammerskins use it before.”

Smith says the Hammerskins espouse the Nazi ideology of a superior white race and have used violence in the cause including trying to blow up a Sikh temple.

The homo and trans phobia seen in the Petrolia chat room is also part of their belief system.

“Homosexuality, transgenderism – any type of different gender expression as a subversive element created by the Jews should destroy western society. Or at the very least, they’ll say it’s the type of immoral degeneracy which is part of what they try to reject about modern society.”

At first Smith said it appeared the Petrolia group could be linked to the Hammerskins Active Clubs. After doing some research, one of the organizers of the Lambton group was found on the white supremacist group’s website in a cue to be vetted for entry.

Smith says the method the Petrolia group used – a photocopied poster pinned to a hydro pole – is typical.

“The purpose is (to get) that picture and to get it online, where it will be seen and shared by many, many more people and get things like media attention that displays these URLs or displays the ways to find them,” he says.

The Independent cropped the QR code in the photo to stop people from using it online, which is a good practice, according to Smith.

“That is what they hope –  that it gets put up somewhere. It doesn’t matter what the article says it matters that the website is displayed. The QR code is displayed.”

And while the group attempts to use media to spread its message of hate, Smith says it is important to bring the groups to light.

“We have to consider how large things will grow if we ignore them, versus how large things will grow,” he says noting how fast information can move on the internet. “People need to know what, who, and what is being organized in that town… having something that is called an active club sounds very innocuous…but when you when you talk with these individuals, when you’re in their online spaces, when you’re in a physical spaces, it is unadulterated hatred towards people who are not European people are not perceived as white.”