Photos by Mack Lamoureux and Evy Kwong.
RICHMOUND, Sask. - Citizens of a small Saskatchewan town blew their horns while trying to tell the QAnon cult leader who set up shop in their abandoned school to get the hell out. Romana Didulo, the so-called QAnon Queen of Canada, was holding a meet and greet in the school which brought in around 30 or 40 followers to Richmound, a town of roughly 150 souls. Many in the town expressed worry that the situation could turn violent, especially after some of Ddiulo’s followers sent out pseudo-legal letters that threatened several residents with “public execution.” The word “Waco” was thrown around rather generously.
To ease tensions, the RCMP–Canada’s federal police force that also serve as provincial cops in some provinces–flooded the town with members. Every vehicle entering Richmound had to go through a police check stop and there seemed to be more RCMP cruisers than stop signs in the town. Two plain-clothed RCMP officers, acting as liaisons between the town and the cult, were rarely out of sight. The cult and town people were sectioned off by numerous fences and police officers, leading some locals to complain that they couldn’t get close enough to properly protest their presence. For the uninitiated, Romana Didulo is a QAnon cult leader who has somehow been able to convince her followers that she’s not just Canada’s Queen but that she is also a being from a different dimension who regularly communes with aliens. Since early 2022 she has been travelling across Canada with a dedicated group of followers who have given up their lives to serve her every whim.
Didulo first set up shop in the town’s abandoned school about a month ago, arriving shortly after being chased out of a nearby community. She was gifted the school by a local named Rick Manz, who, according to several locals VICE News spoke to, had few fans before inviting a cult leader to town and, unsurprisingly, even less now. The town, for lack of a better term, is royally pissed and wants Didulo removed from her fraudulent throne.
“We not only want this group gone from our village, but we don’t want any other community in our province, anywhere in Canada, or anywhere in the world to have to be spending the money and the time to dealing with this kind of stressful situation,” Shauna Sehn, resident of Richmound and former teacher at the school, told VICE News. To show the cult members that they wouldn’t be intimidated, town residents drove their vehicles around the school and blared their horns for hours. Two men with the cult stood stoically in front of the school as the vehicles circled ,listening to the horns and jeers from the townsfolk. At times, other members of the cult would nervously peek their heads out of doors to see what was happening. Afterwards, the town held a BBQ just off the school grounds. But despite the town’s obvious displeasure of having them there, Didulo wasn’t discouraged. At the same time as the townsfolk were consuming burgers the cult, behind closed doors just feet away, held and livestreamed a bizarre ceremony where 30-something followers all read in unison a “declaration of sovereignty.”Tensions are high, not just with the townsfolk who were paranoid of the cult followers invited into town, but the cult being scared of residents hurting them. In a recent livestream, the group said they were worried the school would be burned down with them in it and that someone was attempting to poison Didulo’s dogs. Didulo personally described the city and the police as “Nazis.” When anyone walked near the now fenced-off property of the school followers would film them and refuse to respond if asked questions.
The school the group had taken over had been abandoned for several years, but before that was the primary school in town for generations. Several of those in attendance told VICE News that seeing the group rip down the signs of the school they had formative years in only to replace it with one that said “Kingdom of Canada” was painful. “That breaks my heart really,” said a local named Pat who didn’t want his last name to be used. “I saw the other day driving by, her people were sanding it down and I thought, oh my, it hurt you know. My feeling is that they’re putting a dagger in the community.”
Despite the noise and the commotion, the cult carried on with their meet and greet and ceremony inside the school’s gymnasium. Thirty people crammed themselves into the building to declare loyalty to Didulo and receive a portion of the “currency” she created. The day’s livestreams revealed that the cult had painted the gymnasium white and purple to reflect the cult’s chosen colours. Included among those gathered were several young children. Earlier in the day Brad Miller, the mayor of Richmound, and several other leaders of local communities held a press conference where they said they wanted Didulo not just out but to “end her reign” as well. Miller said that he’s tried to talk to the group but that “she won’t speak to me.”
“What’s a leader when they won’t come out and see you,” said Miller. “I’m going to do everything in my power to help that majority out, and she will not come out and speak to me. So to me, she’s not a leader, and she’s hiding behind a closed door again.”“It’s a new low for myself and the community and everyone else that’s in this area. It hits home. We just want her out. We want our health and safety back. We want the love of our community back to where it was”.As for the citizens of Richmound and the nearby area, well, they just want their lives back. “Shut her up, shut it down. So that we can get back to our lives,” said Sehn, the former teacher. “Times are difficult enough as it is without this.”