The Soldiers of Odin are coming to the Kootenays — eventually.
On Saturday, June 24, the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) — British Columbia posted on their Facebook page that they would be coming to the Kootenay region to recruit new members and start a chapter in the area.
That post said that the SOO would be coming “next weekend” but a post made on Tuesday, June 27 clarified, “We will be coming to the Kootenay region next weekend (not upcoming for Canada day [sic]).”
But Nelson man Daniel Joseph Nolan was ready in the event they decided to make an appearance. He organized an event on Facebook so that if the SOO showed up, they’d be greeted by a host of clowns.
“I wanted to make sure that if the Sons of Odin [sic] showed up in any sort of public way in Nelson that we’d have some people out, just to point out how ridiculous they are,” said Nolan. “I don’t really want people taking them seriously.”
The SOO BC’s website emphasizes that the group is “a volunteer-based community support system” that is “here to help any Canadian in need regardless of race, colour or creed” and on its Facebook page the group shared that the Fraser Valley chapter was involved in the search for a missing girl in Whalley, Surrey.
But the organization originated in Finland in 2015 “in response to a perceived European migration crisis caused by unrest in the Middle East,” according to a Canada Border Services Agency intelligence bulletin.
“SOO is a self-proclaimed street patrol group whose broad purpose is to prevent violent migrant-related crime,” the bulletin continues. “Members of the SOO are generally Caucasian males between the ages of 20 and 40 who adhere to right-wing politics and ideology — some members adhere to extreme right-wing ideology and are not afraid to use violence to achieve objectives. The group’s nature has raised concerns of anti-immigration vigilantism.”
While SOO Canada has tried to distance itself from the Finland group in the media, the SOO BC Facebook page includes anti-Muslim posts.
And at least one member of the SOO has shown no qualms about threatening Nolan for taking a stand against the group.
In response to a post where Nolan invited people to join the Children of Freyja Facebook group to stand against the SOO, one man, identifying himself as a member of the SOO, posted eight replies, some homophobic and some threatening.
“Can I have you [sic] Address? [sic] And contact information?” he wrote. “I definately [sic] Don’t [sic] want to miss the opportunity to meet you face to face.”
He also messaged Nolan privately, writing, “Looking forward to meeting up with you in Nelson,” and informed Nolan that he is a level 1 krav maga instructor. He also identified Nolan’s girlfriend and said that over 5,000 members of SOO would be coming through Nelson in August.
Nolan saw no sign of the Soldiers of Odin over the weekend, but is remaining vigilant.
“I don’t have any clear indication of when they plan to show up,” he said on Friday. “I haven’t heard of any announcements about any events they’re planning to host. I don’t know whether they intend to come here and just quietly meet with people or whether they’re planning some sort of public event. At this point, I’m keeping an eye on them and I’m asking other people to keep their ears and eyes open.”
Nolan started Children of Freyja with three goals in mind. He wants people who are marginalized or who might be intimated by SOO to know someone is on their side, he wants to send the message to anyone thinking of joining SOO that the group is not supported by community members and to send the message to SOO members that Odin’s wife, Frejya, is ashamed of them.
As of Monday, the Children of Freyja has 18 members.
BC RCMP are aware of the SOO, but so long as those involved commit no criminal offenses, the RCMP are unconcerned.
“While we are aware of this group, individuals have the right to assemble or associate as per the Charter provided they don’t commit a criminal offence. Should we receive information that a criminal offence may have occurred, the police would investigate,” read a statement issued through their communication services.
“There is quite a bit of information about this group on the internet and some of this information suggests that the Soldiers of Odin are a vigilante group. When asked about vigilante efforts in the past we have said the following:
‘In general, the RCMP would recommend that the public leave enforcement and investigations to the police. Individuals who engage in this type of action can risk their personal safety or the safety of others in the community. We are always concerned when people decide to take matters into their own hands. When that happens there is a risk that investigations can be jeopardized and key evidence can be lost.’”
Three men who identified themselves as SOO members were arrested in Vancouver on March 26 for disrupting an anti-racism rally.
SOO BC was contacted for comment via their Facebook page, but when the Castlegar News refused to show them our story before publication — as per our newspaper’s policy — they sent the following response: