A formal complaint has been made to Alberta RCMP after a version of the Nazi flag was flown at a property northeast of Edmonton.
The Hitler Youth flag was spotted on a flagpole south of Boyle, at a rural property along Highway 831, with a sign out front saying “Licenced Vehicle Inspections Station.”
“The swastika is a symbol, for the Jewish community, of terror and of genocide,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, the director of policy for Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC).
“I can’t think of any other symbol that is so dark and frightening to our community as the swastika.”
The Flag of the Nazi Party is red with a black swastika on a white circle; whereas the modified Hitler Youth flag has a white horizontal stripe through the middle and narrow border around the universally recognized symbol of racist hatred.
The Hitler Youth was a mandatory indoctrination organization for 14- to 18-year-old Aryan boys under the Nazi Party in Germany. It appropriated many Boy Scouts activities while also teaching military practices, with the intent of shaping future soldiers and pushing the party’s racist views among younger generations.
News of the flag reached FSWC — a Jewish human rights organization based in Toronto — on Thursday. Kirzner-Roberts said a post containing images of the flag were sent to her in the morning.
“I was immediately concerned. And the first step that I took was to see whether the details were accurate,” she said, explaining she contacted Boyle RCMP, who she said confirmed it was a Nazi flag.
She asked if a criminal investigation had been launched and was told no, because a formal complaint hadn’t been file. So she did just that.
“Our position is that flying a Nazi flag is clearly hate motivated. And according to the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to promote hatred.
“So we certainly urge the RCMP to investigate the matter as a hate-motivated crime,” she said to Global News.
The property is in Athabasca County. A statement said council and administration are aware of an inappropriate flag.
“Athabasca County prides itself on being a warm and welcoming region,” said a statement from Reeve Larry Armfelt.
“This type of display, and the messages it sends, has no place in our communities.”
The county said the matter has been referred to the RCMP.
Alberta RCMP said officers spoke to the property owner on Wednesday night.
“The flag was taken down voluntarily, and our investigation continues as to whether this is criminal or not,” a statement from Const. Chantelle Kelly with RCMP media relations said.
Since the Second World War, the possession of swastika flags and other Nazi symbolism is forbidden in Germany.
Canada doesn’t have any laws on the books restricting ownership or display of Nazi flags, but hate laws give police the right to intervene if they are used in the communication of hatred. In modern times, the Nazi flag has been embraced by neo-Nazi supporters and sympathizers.
Kirzner-Roberts said the flag represents more than just hatred towards Judaism.
“People that fly this flag often hate the Black community and other communities in our country. And I would say that they hate Canada as a whole – you know, our country fought a world war to defeat the Nazis,” she said.
“We lost many of our soldiers, many, many were injured. This is such a profound slap in the face to Canada and Canada’s values.
“So we are really hoping that the RCMP will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter.”
Global News attempted to reach the property owner several times on Thursday, but was unsuccessful.
— With files from The Canadian Press