Over the last year, equality seems to have become an even more hot button topic. Black Lives Matter, love is love, and female equality are no longer just causes but hopelessly controversial topics even though the world has taken great strides in its understanding and action on these issues. Unfortunately, no matter how far we come , there are always groups trying to remind us of our differences.
One of the biggest groups in history that sought to continually divide people based on religion, sexual orientation, religion and immigration status was the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK was a raging, violent force that not only believed in a supreme race but also engaged in targeted attacks against people of color, often resulting in murder . Because of the Klan, people of color or different backgrounds lived in fear for several years. But now, just when we think that we have moved into an era of safety, it seems that more and more white supremacist groups are popping up with increasing influence - Canada is no exception.
Edmonton is a very diverse city composed of multiple immigrants, races, religions and other ways of life. This is why it is so shocking to me there remains a KKK chapter in the city. The Klan came to Alberta in 1924 and has continued to thrive just under our awareness. It’s quite interesting: at one point they had 11 different branches throughout the province and around 7,000 members. To top it off, the KKK published propaganda known as The Liberator out of an Edmonton office. Within the last six years, there have been “street patrols” and rallies being held within city limits. Police have even attended to keep the peace between the supremacist and anti-racism groups.
It’s uncertain as to why several of these groups are able to continue when the KKK lost its legal status in 2003. Police and government are well aware that they continue to exist. Some of the KKK members do not even seem fased by possible charges that could be laid on them if they were caught.
An example of this is a man that was seen entering the Canada Post in Grimshaw just after the New Year. He was photographed wearing what appeared to be the white hood of the Klan. The witness who brought the story to light (and also asked to remain anonymous), stating that she had thought to offer him one of her extra masks to use before realizing: “They made this item to wear. I was really appalled.”
Although Grimshaw RCMP were still investigating, the small town had several anti-racist groups rallying in an attempt to bring forward a discussion in the town.
A member of Inclusive Canada, Taylor McNallie, stated “It was a good half-and-half mixture of people supporting and people not wanting us there.” She also talked about the work that they had planned on doing such as leaving letters for Mayor Rob Regal from locals and other individuals about the incident. They even attempted to hang photos at the post office which were promptly ripped down by a woman claiming that the town wasn’t racist and they shouldn’t be there. The incident escalated to the point that local RCMP were called and told the woman that as long as the group was wearing masks they were allowed to remain
In the end, the RCMP had released information of having a suspect but still have yet to lay any charges.
One chapter in Montana (the Rocky Mountain Knights) changed its ways to accept members from all walks of life in 2014. John Abarr, the Klan’s leader, released a statement that basically indicated that they would not discriminate based on race or sexual orientation when choosing new members. Abarr had also said, “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan.”
It’s important to note the breakdowns that have happened widespread throughout the KKK community. Most of the different groups are separate from the others as different members have different ideas on how to accomplish the same goals, politics, and personal agendas. It brings to light the question; if they can’t even agree on how things should be done, how do we know who we are really dealing with?
Despite one Klan’s new perspective, the goal remains the same in the rest of the other Klan chapters and does not seem to be moving in a very modern direction. This is happening in Alberta’s backyard without enough attention. Unfortunately, ignorance is the seed of intolerance. Far too many people have chosen to be ignorant to the fact that these extremists are not to be trusted and are just as blind as they have ever been.