Members of ID Canada during a rally in 2018. Photo via Twitter.
The man charged with killing 50 Muslims at a mosque earlier this month, seemingly donated a hefty sum of cash to a European far-right group known as Generation Identity—a group that’s also active in Canada.According to Reuters, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed that a man with the same name of the alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant, donated 1,500 euros ($2,264 Canadian) in early 2018 to Martin Sellner. Sellner is the leader of the Austrian chapter and figurehead of the Generation Identity and identitarianism—a movement aimed to protect white European rule and culture—as a whole.
After the connection came to light, Sellner took to the preferred platform of white nationalists, YouTube, to state he received a donation through an email address that matched Tarrant’s name. He also made sure to say that he was not a terrorist and Tarrant wasn’t involved with Generation Identity.Prior to this, on Monday, Sellner’s home was raided by police due to a possible connection to the attacker. Authorities say the donation was a “disproportionately high” amount and that any connection between the group and the shooter will be examined. Kurz added that the country was looking into “dissolving” Austria's chapter of Generation Identity.
While Canadians might not be familiar with Martin Sellner, he’s something of a celebrity in far-right circles and Generation Identity is held up as one of the fastest growing far-right groups in Europe. The movement is youth-based—dubbed “far-right hipsters”—and utilizes the strength of the internet, far-right pundits, and stunts to spread their anti-immigration and white nationalist message. The movement has been around since about 2012, it didn’t get its legs until recently. While they don’t overtly endorse violence, or racism, they are proponents of retaining European or ethnic (read: white) majority rule.To put it bluntly, identitarians are just white nationalists who use big words in vain attempts to add intellectualism to their cause. The group tells their followers that the clock is ticking before their people are replaced. Simon Murdoch, a researcher for UK anti-racism advocacy group, wrote in a recent report that “identitarians say: Get active or be ‘replaced’ by migrants. It’s no surprise some take this as a call to violent action.”
The group’s fundamental point—that Europe is losing its white majority to immigration—was also the focal point in the Tarrant’s manifesto, the Great Replacement. Even prior to it being known he donated money to the movement, experts speculated Tarrant was influenced by the group’s ideas.
Evan Balgord, the director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, described identitarianism to VICE as the “European version of the alt-right neo-Nazi movement” and said “here in Canada the largest single group… is ID Canada, formerly known as Generation Identity Canada.” The people at the Anti-Racist Canada blog has found numerous connections between ID Canada and the Canadian white nationalist movement in which they outline in detail.
On their website, ID Canada espouses the same ideology as Generation Identity and writes that they’re “an organization of concerned youth aged 18-35, from various political camps, who see the nation we once knew & loved being destroyed” and outline similar beliefs as their European sibling organizations.“If one is to believe the current state of affairs, it seems inevitable that ethnic Canadians will be where ethnic minorities are today: forced to fend for themselves and defend their group interests,” reads their website. “Identitarians do not see this scenario as something desirable and are intent on making public their interests known today, before it is too late to change the tide.”
The group started in 2014 as Generation Identity Canada, but changed the name to ID Canada in 2018 to, as they write on their website, have “its own unique Canadian brand.” While the groups says they have “hundreds of members and affiliates, spanning every major city across Canada,” that doesn’t seem to be true. To the contrary, the group only seems to have a handful of members in one or two major centres across the country and is best known for postering campaigns and working with Faith Goldy’s mayoral campaign.On their website, ID Canada has several posters that their followers can print off and put online. These posters, all focused on immigration, feature calls to action with lines like “defend Canada,” “stop the ethnocide of old stock Canadians,” or “our fathers didn’t die so their sons could be cowards.”Like the majority of far-right groups these days, ID Canada primarily recruited and organized on social media—a tactic that recently took a large blow. In February of this year, the group was banned from Facebook. According to a video made by Goldy lamenting the ban, the personal pages for leadership of the group were also kicked off the platform. Facebook has recently banned white nationalism from their platform.Based on the fact that a European-centric group like Generation Identity has a Canadian chapter, the movement is rather large. The popularity of the group has a Canadian connection. Identitarianism came to fruition from the help of far-right influences—primarily Lauren Southern, a Canadian, who routinely would feature the group and speak highly of them and their beliefs. Balgord described Southern as “one of the movement's figureheads.” Among other racist exploits, Southern famously teamed up with the group to attempt to stop a boat from helping migrants off the coast of Italy in 2017.ID Canada did not respond to a comment request for this story.Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.Follow Mack on Twitter.