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Stop Proud Boys From Intimidating and Bullying at Laurier

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 Dear Colleague,

Please consider signing this open letter concerning the intimidation tactics used by a far right group against Wilfrid Laurier students. Instructions on how to sign are below.

Far right organizing is surging in Canada as well as the United States. Since their Charlottesville, Virginia, rallies in early August, far right groups have called on their supporters to attend rallies in Toronto, Vancouver (Aug. 19), London (Aug. 26), Ottawa (Sept. 30), St. Bernard la Colle (Sept. 30), Quebec City (Nov. 25).

Last week, they called out supporters again in Waterloo and Brantford, on and near two campuses of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Although the far right draws in support for their cause by expressing seemingly legitimate political positions around free speech and multiculturalism, they are, to varying degrees, virulently sexist, trans-phobic, homophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic. Their goal is not to debate and discuss ideas, but to instill fear in people organizing for social justice, and loathing against marginalized peoples.

The rallies have been met with counter-protests at every turn. As Vancouver’s mayor Gregor Robertson, said about a recent rally in his city, “People have a right of demonstrate, but hatred and racism has no place in this city. And I expect people to confront that and to make sure there is a peaceful and direct pushback on racism and hatred. It is really important that people speak out at every opportunity against racism and hatred."

We will need to continue to be vigilant, and work to build the confidence and strength of those who are vulnerable to the violence and intimidation. This letter was initiated in response to that violence and intimidation as it has manifest on WLU’s Brantford campus. We invite you to sign, as a gesture of solidarity.

Please send your name and university affiliation to us at openletterwlu@gmail.com.

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OPEN LETTER RESPONDING TO PROUD BOYS DISRUPTION OF STUDENT MEETING

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, a far-right group known as the Proud Boys disrupted a student meeting on the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier University. This letter is signed by faculty from Laurier and other Canadian universities who condemn that disruption and who uphold the right of students to meet on our campuses free of bullying and intimidation.

Laurier Brantford students met to launch a chapter of the Campus Anti-Fascist Network (CAN). CAN was initiated in the United States in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, and the growing presence of far-right groups on university campuses.

The students were responding to earlier efforts by the far-right to organize on campus. The Proud Boys who disrupted their meeting are a self-described Western chauvinist fraternal organization, with local chapters popping up in mostly Canadian and U.S. cities, and include as one of their “values” “venerating the housewife”. While claiming not to be racist, some of their members actively participated in the rally at Charlottesville in which openly fascist protesters chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, and drove a car into a counter-protest, killing one protester. In Halifax, the Proud Boys physically disrupted a Mikmaq ceremony this past July. And Proud Boys regularly show up at Islamophobic rallies at Toronto City Hall, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with white supremacist organizations like the Soldiers of Odin and the Northern Guard. 

Unfortunately, the concerns that led Laurier Brantford students to organize a CAN chapter were not misplaced. Several Proud Boys members arrived at their first meeting. They rallied outside the meeting doors, and entered the room, many wearing their organizations’ uniform. The Proud Boys disrupted the meeting and took video of the CAN members which they later posted on Facebook – an intimidation tactic they’ve used in Toronto and elsewhere to encourage trolling and doxxing. They refused to leave when asked.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about free speech on university campuses, including at Laurier. Like other members of the Laurier community, we too are concerned with the status and protection of free speech on university campuses and are deeply committed to open and free exchange of ideas. But for this to happen, students need access to learning spaces that are not based on intimidation and bullying tactics. While far-right groups may defend these tactics in the name of ‘free speech’, these tactics are intended to cause harm to and/or shut down those who engage in anti-racist, feminist, queer and other social justice activism, thereby undermining free speech ideals. Their aim is not to promote free speech, but to intimidate.   

We stand with students and others who challenge racism, sexism and all forms of injustice, and assert the right to meet in safe campus spaces to learn, explore, and raise awareness about attempts by the far-right to lay roots at Laurier and elsewhere in Canada and beyond.

Signatures:

WLU

Holly Baines, Sociology and Women & Gender Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University; Professional Communications and Interdisciplinary Studies, Royal Roads University

Abderrahman Beggar, Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University,

Greg Bird, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Kari Brozowski, Community Health, Public Health & Health Administration, Wilfrid Laurier University

James Cairns, Social & Environmental Justice, Wilfrid Laurier University

Debra Chapman, Political Science, North American Studies, Global Studies, and Human Rights and Human Diversity, Wilfrid Laurier University

Hugo De Marinis, Languages and Literatures, Wilfrid Laurier University

Peter Eglin, Professor Emeritus, Sociology

Kimberly Ellis-Hale, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Sue Ferguson, Digital Media & Journalism, Wilfrid Laurier University

Nick Garside, Brantford Foundations, Wilfrid Laurier University

Todd Gordon, Law & Society, Wilfrid Laurier University

Jeremy Hunsinger, Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Clarice Kuhling, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Sharon Marquart, Languages and Literatures, Wilfrid Laurier University

Sara Matthews, Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Audra Mitchell (she/her or they/them), CIGI Chair in Global Governance & Ethics, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University 

Patricia Molloy, Communication Studies Department, Wilfrid Laurier University

Marcia Oliver, Law & Society, Wilfrid Laurier University

Vanessa Oliver, Youth & Children’s Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Garry Potter, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Natasha Pravaz, Anthropology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Ashwani Peetush, Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University

Helen Ramirez, Women & Gender Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Jennifer Root, Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University

Ellen Russell, Digital Media & Journalism, Wilfrid Laurier University

Kim Rygiel, Political Science & Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University

Ciann Wilson, Community Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Jasmin Zine, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

 

NON WLU

Magi Abdul-Masih, Chair in Catholic Studies, Saint Mary’s University

Greg Albo, Politics, York University

Himani Bannerji, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, York University

Trycia Bazinet, Indigenous and Canadian Studies, Carleton University (PhD candidate)

Simon Black, Labour Studies, Brock University

Deborah Brock, Sociology, York University

Michael Bueckert, Sociology and Political Economy, Carleton University (PhD candidate)

David Camfield, Labour Studies & Sociology, University of Manitoba

Aziz Choudry, Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

Rebecca Comay, Philosophy, University of Toronto

Deborah Cowen, Geography & Planning, University of Toronto 

Steve D'Arcy, Philosophy, Huron University College

Scott Forsyth, Cinema & Media Arts/Politics, York University

Ruth A. Frager, History, McMaster University

Kanishka Goonewardena, Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Julie Guard, Labour Studies and History, University of Manitoba

Larry Haiven, Professor Emeritus, Saint Mary's University

Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Lakehead University

David Heap, French & Linguistics, University of Western Ontario

Andrew Houston, Theatre and Performance, University of Waterloo

Ian Hudson, Economics, University of Manitoba

Suzan Ilcan, Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, and Balsillie School of International Affairs

Kamala Kempadoo, Social Science, York University.

Gary Kinsman, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Laurentian University

Stefan Kipfer, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University 

Kirk Kitzul, School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies, Carleton University (Master's candidate)

Xavier Lafrance, Département de science politique, Université du Québec à Montréal

Abby Lippman, Professor Emeria, Mcgill University

John Loxley, Economics, University of Manitoba

David McNally, Politics, York University

Colin Mooers, Politics & Public Administration, Ryerson University

Mahtab Nazemi, Education, Thompson Rivers University

Michael Ornstein, Sociology, York university

Mathieu Perron-Dufour, sciences sociales, Université du Québec en Outaouais

Justin Podur, Environmental Studies, York University

Alan Sears, Sociology, Ryerson University

Rashmee Singh, Sociology & Legal Studies, University of Waterloo

Adrian Smith, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

Penni Stewart, Sociology, York University

Mark Thomas, Sociology, York University

D. Alissa Trotz, Caribbean Studies at New College and Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto

Don Wells, Professor Emeritus, Labour Studies and Political Science, McMaster University

Thom Workman, Political Science, University of New Brunswick

Cynthia Wright, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, York University

Devin Zane Shaw, Philosophy, Carleton University. 

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For more information about the most prominent post-Charlottesville far-right organizing and counter-protests in Canada, see the summaries of the linked reports below:

Aug. 19, Vancouver: The Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (Canada) and the Cultural Action Party called a rally at which It planned to have speakers from the anti-immigrant vigilante group, The Soldiers of Odin. The far right failed to show up in any great numbers when 4,000 counter protesters took over the streets.

London, Aug. 26: Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West, a far-right group with roots in Germany’s (PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), called a rally, with the support of an anti-Islam militia-style group called the Three Percent Canada. They were overwhelmingly outnumbered, and later that week, “London's city council passed a motion affirming that activities that promote hate would be banned in the city.”

Ottawa, Sept. 30: The Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens brought out “a few dozen” supporters to protest immigration laws. A larger counter rally shouted them down on Parliament Hill. On the same day, a far-right rally and counter protest took place in the Quebec border town of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

Quebec City, Nov. 25: 300 to 400 supporters of far-right groups, including Storm Alliance, La Meute and Atalante Quebec (an explicitly neo-fascist group) marched, with police cooperation, in Quebec City. They outnumbered the counter rally, and the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, is now calling on politicians to “open your eyes” to the threat the far-right represents.

Toronto: Far-right and neo-fascist groups have been rallying regularly at City Hall. They are met by counter protesters every time. A recent call to rally in the Beach neighbourhood was called off when Riverdale Against Racism called for on Torontonians to join them in a festive occupation of the park where the rally was planned. 

 



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