A petition looking for Peace residents to denounce the Soldiers of Odin, and sent to candidates running in most municipal election races throughout the region, has gone ignored publicly by most candidates running throughout the Peace – but some key names have made statements.
“Call upon all elected officials, municipal candidates, and community leaders to publicly denounce the Soldiers of Odin, and to not associate with the group at any time in the future. Some ways you may consider to doing this are to issue a press release, post on social media, share your thoughts in an email or newsletter, or speak publicly about this issue. We encourage you to take a firm stance against hatred in our community,” reads a petition started after the Dawson Creek Mirror broke the story of a Soldiers of Odin chapter in the Peace region.
As of noon Thursday – Dawson Creek councillor candidates Paul Gevatkoff, Charlie Parslow, and mayoral candidate Trenten Laarz are of the 118 members of the public to have signed the petition. Fort St. John candidate Becky Grimsrud has made public statement, while the city of Fort St. John will be dealing with it at the council level.
While some candidates and officials have made private statements, Blair Lekstrom, Dale Bumstead, and Trenton Laarz have each provided statements to the Dawson Creek Mirror.
“I am proud to tell you that I am happy to support efforts to denounce any group who promotes hatred or is against the equal treatment of all,” said Blair Lekstrom, running for Dawson Creek city council.
“I have not and never will back away from a difficult issue.”
Mayoral hopeful Trenten Laarz said he signed the petition quite quickly.
“It makes sense to. If there are groups promoting hate, or going to attack people for different points of view or ideas, that isn’t what Canada or Dawson Creek is about,” he said.
Mayor Dale Bumstead said the matter will dealt with at the council level.
“When I became aware of the story I referred it through to our city administration to do an investigation and report that back through to council. That is in the process currently underway,” he said.
“Once I have that information we will report back through to the public through council. It is an issue I asked for follow-up on and once we receive that information I would comment on it with that material,” he said.
“I will be speaking publicly about it once I have the report from administration.”
Members of the public found it hard to believe elected officials couldn’t do their own research, and come to their own conclusions.
“Hatred has no place in our small cities. The Soldiers of Oden masquerade as peacekeepers but they are a known hate group.” said Judy Fox-McGuire. Justin Jones also had some common sense for those sent the petition.
“Walking around with Soldiers of Odin, and saying you do not represent the origin group’s agenda is like saying you are a member of the KKK, but do not represent their agenda.”
I find it hard to believe that anyone who is an elected official, states that they have no knowledge of the SOO,” noted Amie Reynolds on Facebook.
Earlier this week the South Peace Community Resources Society noted they would be re-examining volunteer protocols, noting the Soldiers of Odin members volunteered at their September 20 Take Back the Night march.
“As a result of a failure to critically and thoroughly assess all volunteer activities involving our agency, a small group of members of the public were permitted to volunteer at the event. The presence of this small group ultimately caused discomfort for some attendees,” said SPCRS executive director Angela Willmott.