‘This is not the Whitby I live in’: Town, experts react to racist posters spotted around city

Click to play video: 'Racist posters spotted in Whitby'
Racist posters spotted in Whitby
Durham police are investigating a troubling situation in Whitby. It's where numerous anti-immigrant posters were found plastered on multiple mail boxes. Brittany Rosen reports. – Feb 6, 2020

Town officials and hate crime experts are condemning a number of anti-immigrant posters that have been spotted around Whitby, especially in the community of Brooklin.

“All racism is dangerous rubbish,” said Mayor Don Mitchell.

“This is not the Whitby I live in and certainly doesn’t reflect the values of our town.”

A resident who lives near Cochrane Street says they were walking in the area Wednesday when they made the troubling discovery of the posters, plastered to several mailboxes.

The poster says “the great replacement of European Canadians is not a conspiracy theory, it is an undeniable fact.”

It then goes on to list statistics alleged to be from Statistics Canada, showing a supposed decline in Canada’s white population.

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“We strongly condemn any attempt to mislead and divide Canadians,” Statistics Canada said in a statement.

“We collect data and provide information and insights that contribute to the strength of our people, our communities and our country. We trust Canadians will use this data responsibly.”

The posters have since been removed, for the most part. However, the town is struggling with getting all of the material off, as those responsible glued the posters onto the mailboxes.

Durham police are investigating the incidents. They say the posters are similar to those posted on a separate occasion in Whitby last October.

“As of today, we were also told about three more incidents where the same posters were located in the Brooklin area at a school, so we have officers that are investigating,” said Const. George Tudos.

“Obviously we take these very serious[ly].”
Click to play video: 'Durham’s Jewish community spreads messages of love with chalk'
Durham’s Jewish community spreads messages of love with chalk

Dr. Barbara Perry with Ontario Tech’s centre on hate, bias and extremism says the posters could have come from a number of anti-immigrant groups.

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“They could be coming from more extreme groups, like the Soldiers of Odin, all of which [have] a presence in the area,” she said.

Perry says far right groups such as the Soldiers of Odin are “very fearful of a loss of privilege.”

That kind of fear, the professor says, is what was responsible for some horrible incidents, like the mass killings in Christchurch, New Zealand.

It appears expressions of hate are becoming a more common sight in Whitby. Just a couple of kilometers from the posters, pieces of wood with anti-Semitic messages were found in a local park. 

Perry says recent incidents are a concerning reflection of increased racism in the region.

“There is both cultural anxiety and economic anxiety in the region now. That makes it ripe for recruitment by these sorts of groups,” she said.

The professor says municipalities and community members can make progress on the issue by continuing to publicly address any incidents that happen.

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