At Least One Canadian Proud Boys Chapter Has Shut Down Following Terror Designation

While the Saskatchewan chapter described themselves as 'just a beer-drinking club' full of 'awesome men' the government called them a 'neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence.'
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
February 17, 2021, 1:56pm
The Saskatchewan chapter of the Proud Boys is shutting down after the government of Canada designated it a a terror group.
The Proud Boys Saskatchewan logo. Photo via screenshot. 

The Saskatchewan chapter of the Proud Boys is shutting down after the government of Canada designated it a terror group.

The chapter made the declaration on the (newly reinstated) social media platform Parler.

“So that was fun! This is the Saskatchewan chapter signing off for good,” it wrote.

In a farewell post, the group described itself as “just a beer-drinking club” full of “awesome men who wish only well for their country.” 

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In contrast, the government describes the Proud Boys as a “neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence” whose members ”espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.” 

On Parler, the Saskatchewan Proud Boys also blamed Canada First, a Proud Boys spinoff group known for espousing Nazi ideology, for the terror designation.  

“Love how Canada First got to tarnish our name then move on to just drop the Proud Boys,” reads the post. “Should have done that from the start you dumb fucks.”

Canada designated the Proud Boys as a terror group alongside other far-right groups Atomwaffen Division, the Base, the Russian Imperial Movement, as well as several ISIS-affiliated groups. The move came after  the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill where the Proud Boys played a key role. The decision was criticized by experts as an overreach that could cause a backlash against people of colour and groups like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, or Indigenous land defenders. 

(Gavin McInnes founded the Proud Boys in 2016. He was also a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then.)

The Saskatchewan chapter has a small online footprint—most likely as a result of the group being chased off mainstream social media platforms. An archived version of its Twitter account, from November 2019, shows the group wasn’t very popular and had fewer than 30 followers at that time. 

“Don Cherry did nothing wrong,” reads one of its few tweets.  

Archived Parler posts show the group was recruiting new members as recently as last November. VICE World News attempted to contact the chapter on the email it was using to recruit but got a message saying the email is no longer active.  

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Kurt Phillips, a researcher who used to run the Anti-Racist Canada blog and now works with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said that the Saskatchewan chapter wasn’t “significant.”. 

“Before Parler going offline there were a few posts that had been made and there were claims that they had engaged in some ‘civic activities,” Phillips told VICE World News. “However, there was never any real proof of that.” 

But Canada First is “overtly racist and supportive of violence” and is a group “of concern,” Phillips said.

The Proud Boys formerly listed 15 chapters Canada-wide on their website: seven in Ontario, two in Alberta, two in B.C.,and one chapter each in the Maritimes, Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan appears to be the only Canadian chapter to respond to the terror designation as of the time of reporting.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Minister of Public Safety said they weren't familiar with the Saskatchewan chapter and therefore couldn't comment on the particulars.

"I can say that race-based, white supremacist violence is a tragic reality in Canada, and while we have taken significant action as a government to end violence in our communities, we also know there is more to do. We are committed to doing that work," they said in an emailed statement. "We strongly denounce organizations, such as the Proud Boys, who advance misogynistic, white supremacist beliefs and glorify violence."

A spokesperson for the Office of the Minister of Public Safety said they weren't familiar with the Saskatchewan chapter and therefore couldn't comment on the particulars.

"I can say that race-based, white supremacist violence is a tragic reality in Canada, and while we have taken significant action as a government to end violence in our communities, we also know there is more to do. We are committed to doing that work," they said in an emailed statement. "We strongly denounce organizations, such as the Proud Boys, who advance misogynistic, white supremacist beliefs and glorify violence."

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