Critics are expressing concerns over what they fear is a potentially racist organization masquerading as a benevolent group of people walking Vancouver’s streets.
A group called The Soldiers of Odin has posted videos of members walking the streets of Vancouver, an activity they describe as a “a neighbourhood watch based activity, with a focus on the safety of women children and the elderly.”
The group claims to be protecting the public, but Alan Dutton of the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society is skeptical about the Canadian chapter’s motives.
“We have every reason to be concerned,” he said.
The Canadian chapters share the same name with an anti-immigration group that originated in Finland last year amid the refugee crisis in Europe.
“There’s real concern about the various chapters of the Soldiers of Odin and certainly in Europe,” Dutton said. “There are connections — a clear-cut connection — that have been reported between this group and racist organizations.”
Soldiers of Odin Canada claims it’s independent and denies any links to neo-Nazi groups and biker gangs. On his Facebook page, Soldiers of Odin national president Joel Angott said “it is our hope that in time citizens of all races and religions come to see the peaceful nature of our activities.”
SFU criminology professor Rob Gordon has his doubts.
“There’s got to be a reason why they’ve sprung up and why they’ve chosen to embrace this particular larger group and the philosophies that it seems to subscribe to,” he said. “I don’t buy it, quite frankly.”
There doesn’t appear to be any evidence the group has been violent. BC RCMP said they are aware of the local chapter, but they have not received any complaints, nor has Vancouver Police.
– With files from Rumina Daya