The woman whom thousands of Canadians believe is their secret ruler isn’t afraid to tell her followers she’s calling for the executions of health care workers and politicians behind the vaccination rollout. “At the firing squad, the military firing squad, you will receive not one, but two bullets on your forehead for each child that you have harmed as a result of injecting this experimental vaccine,” said Romana Didulo to those involved in vaccination efforts in a recent video on Telegram. “So when you go home tonight, think about how many bullets.”
Didulo, a B.C.-based woman in her 50s, has recently built up a following of thousands of people who listen to her claims of having been put in control of the Great White North by the same forces that QAnon believers think are fighting the deep state in America. QAnon, for the uninitiated, is a wide-ranging, wildly unfactual conspiracy centred upon Donald Trump’s secret fight against an international cabal of elitist pedophiles. Didulo was recently thrust into her position by several well-known QAnon figures who helped anoint her as a leader and in turns sent a swarm of followers her way. But despite her following being only weeks old, Didulo has rallied her Canadian followers to real-life action. They’re in the midst of filing hundreds of “cease and desist” notices demanding businesses, governments, and police forces stop all activities related to combating the pandemic. They have organized themselves into localized groups to email their demands out en masse, send them via registered letter, or simply make their way to stores or police stations in order to physically hand them out. One particularly riled-up group of conspiracy theorists in Cochrane, Alberta, went to over 30 businesses last week to hand out the notices. On June 10 they decided to go to a K-8 school—while children were present—and hand the notices and anti-vax flyers out. They eventually were kicked out and Cochrane RCMP confirmed to VICE World News that two people received trespassing tickets for their actions. The group complained about its mistreatment by police inside its Telegram chat and mulled over “bombarding” the school’s principal with letters.
Didulo has said that if the people who received the cease and desist orders from her followers break them, they will be executed. “Peace, prosperity, or perish,” is one of her slogans, after all.
It’s not Didulo who is necessarily important, but her growing and active audience. QAnon, which may, according to a recent poll, have as many as 30 million followers in the U.S. as well as more outside of it, has contributed to real-world violence, including the Capitol Hill uprising. Only a few short years ago, Didulo could have been simply ignored as someone with a grift or a tenuous grip of reality posting videos, but now, thanks to the new QAnon ecosystem, she’s a figure of consequence. In this modern environment, someone claiming to be the secret ruler of Canada and to be holding military tribunals and executions can rapidly gain thousands of followers, some willing to follow her off the deepest creases of the internet and into the real world.To know the volatility of her followers, however, you must first know who they’re following. Didulo is the “leader” of an online political party called the Canada1st Party of Canada—which does not appear to have been officially registered anywhere but has been turned into a corporation by Didulo. She began posting about the party and making videos about her policy in late 2020, during the second wave of the pandemic. However, the party never took off, and she languished in obscurity for some time.
That all changed in May when she changed tactics and switched her rhetoric to fit several popular QAnon narratives. After getting noticed by a couple of well-known QAnon figures, her profile has been growing rapidly. She now has almost 20,000 followers on Telegram, her primary channel, and a growing and engaged audience. The audience consists of an intersection of QAnon believers, anti-lockdown zealots, and “sovereign citizens” (people who think government laws do not apply to them, especially ones related to taxes). And her audience is not a passive one.“Hello, Canada, I’m Ramona Didulo, I'm the founder and leader of Canada1st. As of February this year, 2021, I am the head of state and commander in chief of Canada, the Republic,” she said in her announcement video. “The people who appointed me are the white hats and the U.S. military, together with the global allied troops and their governments—the same group of people who have helped President Trump.”She speaks to her audience either through Telegram posts or via poorly produced videos in which she sits on a couch in front of an empty beige wall. In a follow-up video to her initial decree, Didulo declares herself not only the “the head of state,” “commander in chief,” and “head of government,” but also the “Queen of Canada, replacing Queen Elizabeth II of England who has now been executed for crimes against humanity.”
Many of Didulo’s followers seem to believe she’s holding tribunals behind the scenes, which are resulting in the executions they’re thirsting for. These followers use extremely tenuous scraps of evidence to prove Didulo is actually in power—including the fact that Romana Didulo is an anagram for “I Am Our Donald.” The violent rhetoric she spouts in her posts and videos seems to be one of the main things driving her popularity. “Let’s keep this simple,” Didulo wrote recently, “death is the penalty for crimes against humanity.” This was met with much jubilation from hundreds of followers: “YASSS!!! 🙏,” wrote one; “I’m so happy we have you.😘❤️,” wrote another; “she is the only one that is saying anything hopeful or anything that makes sense…. It felt completely hopeless before Romana came along,” wrote a third. “As much as I hate to see people being put to death, it has become necessary because the jerks just won't stop what they are doing,” wrote yet another.
Pete Smith, a journalist with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has been researching Didulo and her rapid rise. Smith said Didulo immigrated to Canada from the Philippines at a young age (something Didulo claims on her own website as well) and that prior to Didulo starting Canada1st in late 2020, she started and quickly shut down several companies and ventures—which weren’t conspiracy-oriented—and that nothing she’s attempted has really taken off before now. Even her initial posts declaring Canada’s new secret rulers were met with relatively little fanfare until she was signalled out by QAnon figures such as Charlie Ward and Whiplash347, who legitimized her to their audiences.
"It’s their endorsement that seems to have been the cause of all of this,” said Smith. “Without them, I don’t believe that there is a Canada1st party like we’re seeing right now." Drew, an anti-fascist researcher who follows the anti-lockdown group closely (and didn’t want to be named because of fear of reprisal), said he came across Didulo in early 2021 but that she “was a nobody” until she got big-upped by Q-influencers.Marc-André Argentino, a research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence who has written several papers on the QAnon movement, told VICE World News influencers in the QAnon ecosystem “have shown an uncanny capacity to raise unknown individuals to positions of influence in a very short period of time.“In the absence of ‘Q,’ influencers in QAnon ecosystems have taken on the mantel of determining what is canon (or authoritative) in these spaces,” said Argentino. “Though they may not always agree, they are able to bestow authority on random individuals. This makes for a volatile ecosystem, which expands radicalization pipelines in unpredictable ways.”
In a video speaking about her, one popular QAnon theorist who gets thousands of views on off-brand sites like Rumble and Bitchute states unequivocally she’s a “temporary holding until they get Trump in.” Others have “confirmed” her by sharing her videos or outright saying she’s legitimate, as she fits into their conspiracy.
“She is sending out all these cease and desist orders to stop these mass mask mandate and vaccine mandate crimes and she’s making it very clear that if you violate the crimes you’ll be executed,” said one popular online QAnon influencer in a video on Didulo that received over 30,000 views. “God bless her; Canada needs somebody like that.”A follower of Didulo told VICE World News that seeing Didulo being spoken about by these figures confirmed to her she was legit and “not a bullshitter.” The woman, who is active in helping hand out cease and desist notices in Alberta, said she’s attempting to talk to Didulo to confirm some of her claims, but was not able to contact her. Numerous attempts by VICE World News to contact Didulo and people whom she previously worked with before declaring herself Queen went unanswered. “Everywhere I look and the people that I listen to and even people down the States and the UK say she’s here to sidetrack the cabal,” the follower told VICE over the phone. “She’s a true and sincere person; that’s without a doubt.” Smith said that, as far as he can tell, she is relatively “unique” as a figure leading another country in the conspiracy ecosystem at the moment. Didulo didn’t shrink before the demands put on her by the quick growth of her audience, and posts frequently under the guise that she’s leading Canada. She decreed that Victoria is the new capital of Canada and recently released a video addressing the Indigenous community after the bodies of 215 children were found in a mass grave outside a residential school. She promised to investigate if they were killed for adrenochrome harvesting. (A central tenet of the QAnon conspiracy revolves around the false idea that elites torture and kill children to extract adrenochrome—a substance that can be bought cheaply at chemical supply stores—to maintain their own youth and vitality.)
Didulo’s rapid rise has seen her receive a bit of pushback. Other conspiracy theorists have made videos and blogs claiming she's a government “psyop” to ruin the true QAnon movement, or that she’s in fact mentally ill. Didulo has responded to her critics by saying everyone who commits fraud about her—or says she’s endorsed companies or products—will be executed.
A sizable portion of Didulo’s followers are not passive, and are in the midst of a rather large effort to hand out cease and desists across the country. Didulo instructed her followers to send notices to schools, retirement homes, police stations, grocery stores, hospitals, places of worship, hotels, banks, and so on. Her subjects are loyal and listen to their queen. "The speed with which her audience has grown and then how quickly they have become active on the street in real life is extremely significant,” said Smith. The cease and desist comes in the form of a PDF they’re sharing. It says it serves as the recipient’s “lawful notice to cease and desist” all vaccinations, PCR testing, masking, lockdowns, and quarantines, and border closures. It contains two “special notes” at the bottom. The first says that Joe Biden is not actually president and the U.S. military is in charge south of the border; the other says the Canadian Armed Forces have been notified (by email) that Didulo is now in charge.
The Queen’s Court
In order to facilitate the cease and desist effort, Didulo’s followers have splintered off into localized chat groups to organize and “serve” as many notices as they can. While there have been groups created for each continent and other countries like South Africa and Australia, the effort is mainly localized to Canada. Each province has its own Telegram group with hundreds of members, and while not every member is active, many of them are.
VICE World News viewed the groups for Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba. Each was extremely active, with users posting address after address of where they have sent the letters or are planning to send them. Some have even created spreadsheets that break the province down by town and business, lists when the cease and desist was filed and by whom, and, in some cases, the name of the person who received it. Others posted videos of them going from store to store handing out the notices. Many of the people who are actively organizing cease and desist efforts and celebrating imaginary executions do so under their real names. The members run the gamut from electricians to real estate agents to outdoor adventure guides to, of course, people who run holistic health clinics. Many of them are elderly. VICE World News reached out to several people involved in these efforts, as well as online supporters of Didulo, to see just how much of her rhetoric they believed, but most did not respond. One woman, who handed out cease and desist notices in British Columbia, said she’s not sure if Didulo is legitimate but she’s “praying it’s true.”“I know she’s sure brought people tons of courage to send out cease and desist letters,” she said. “Doesn’t do any harm.”While the group is active at the moment, its activities seem constrained to handing out cease and desists. But even this fairly innocuous activity doesn’t always go well. “Served Dairy Queen (a) Cease and Desist,” wrote one woman. “Very rude. Patrons were laughing at us. Two employees walked out and videotaped us. One said we can’t go there anymore. Felt good though."Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.