[The featured photo is sourced from Andrew Macdonald’s FaceBook]
Last Sunday, Peterborough residents within the city’s downtown core witnessed a spectacle that shocked and offended many.
Three men were seen engaging in what has since been described as a small-scale “white rights rally”, in which they waved flags marked with white supremacist imagery.
The ringleader of this event was Kevin Goudreau, a Chairman for the Canadian Nationalist Front and self described “veteran activist for the White Nationalist Movement”.
The Canadian Nationalist Front’s website states that the group would like to see “proper immigration reforms, stopping the flow of third world immigrants” as well as “a return to Canada’s original White-European ethnic make up.”
“We’re here today to celebrate White Pride Day.” Goudreau said in a video of the rally posted on YouTube later in the day. “It’s our right. You have gay pride; you have black pride… We’re here to show some white pride.”
Despite Goudreau’s assertion that celebrations of “white pride” are no different than pride movements within the black and LGBT communities, many advocates such as activist and educator Franchesca Ramsey have noted that these movements within marginalized communities are generally used to facilitate solidarity among oppressed individuals. “White pride” movements, on the other hand, are generally perceived as a celebration of already existing oppressive power structures and are often tied to white supremacist movements like the Klu Klux Klan and the white nationalist website Stormfront.
This is not the first time Goudreau has let his contentious ideological convictions be known to the community. In late 2016, it was reported that he had assaulted a bartender after being kicked out of popular local bar The Spill due to having displayed the large swastika tattoo he has on his chest to fellow patrons.
According to Statistics Canada, Peterborough had the highest rate of hate crimes among large cities within Canada in 2011, with a rate of 17.9 per 100,000 people.
Although the city dropped to fourth place in 2014, these statistics show that this recent rally is a part of an ongoing trend within the community.
In November of 2015, a Peterborough mosque was set on fire, resulting in over $80,000 in damage. Police confirmed that this was deliberate, labelling the incident a hate crime.
This rally also comes in wake of growing fears among Trent students and community members that there has been an emboldening of those who espouse racial hatred in the months since the election of Donald Trump, both at home and abroad.
In mid-November of last semester, a protest entitled Make Trent Safe was hosted at Bata podium in response to reports that masked individuals had been spotted yelling sexual slurs and pro-Trump slogans around campus.
Although a later statement from President Leo Groake appeared dismissive of these allegations, citing a lack of evidence to support them, the protest showed that those within the Trent community would not remain silent in the face of what they perceived to be unjust discrimination against their fellow pupils.
Likewise, a protest in response the recent rally in question was held a few days after it took place to send a message that, as organizers put it, “Canada is, and always be a multicultural country” and that “Peterborough does not tolerate any racially discriminatory attitudes”.
The turnout for this protest was high, showing once again that many community members were eager to come together to stand up in solidarity against racial discrimination.
In response to discriminatory acts within the community, organizations such as the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough have come into existence. The CRRC was formed in response to ongoing physical and verbal harassment faced by African Trent and Fleming students in the early 1980s.
“Since the 1980’s, Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough has been working to eliminate racism within our community. The white rights rally that took place last week is a reminder that despite the energy many of us put into
creating a safer and inclusive community, that this work is still needed,” Cáitlín Currie, Coordinator of CRRC said in a statement to Arthur.
“The white rights movement is born from racist and white supremacist ideologies; the movement is a response to all of our efforts for racial equity and is built on the notion that any disruption of white power, aka the status quo, justifies a movement to maintain the privileges, access and rights that are disproportionately entitled to white people. Let this weekend be a reminder to us all that our work is not done and now more then ever we need to be visible and speak out against racism in Peterborough.”