Some Burns Lake residents were shocked over the March 16-17 weekend to see posters around town bearing the name of anti-immigrant group Soldiers of Odin and seeking support for a cellular phone drive.
“We are looking for lightly used cell phones, Android or [iPhone], unlocked and with chargers. These phones will be donated to women in our Bulkley Valley and Lakes communities that need access to emergency help related to domestic abuse,” read the poster, at the top of which “Soldiers of Odin B.C. Canada” was written.
The poster contained an online link, email and phone number for the Northern Society for Domestic Peace (NSDP), and listed the shop P & B Feeds ‘n’ Needs as a drop off point for the phones.
There was also a Facebook link for Soldiers of Odin on the page.
Jason Jubinville, owner of P & B Feeds, told Lakes District News a man came into his shop on March 14 with the Soldiers of Odin poster and a box for the phones.
Jubinville said he believes the man is from the Southside.
“He just said that they were trying to help locate phones for ladies that were in a bad way so they could have a way of communicating. The idea sounded like a good thing but I didn’t realize who they were,” Jubinville said.
When he understood what the group was about he removed the box and poster.
No phones were dropped off.
The NSDP released a statement on Facebook on March 17, distancing itself from the poster.
“NSDP has no relationship with the Soldiers of Odin and is not working with the group on this project. We appreciate everyone who wants to donate gently used cell phones to this initiative but we ask that phones be dropped off to the Smithers RCMP station for collection and vetting. The RCMP will then forward the phones onto NSDP.”
The organization launched its smartphone drive on March 7.
When reached for further comment, Airika Owen, NSDP Executive Administrator referred only to the Facebook post and had nothing more to add.
Lakes District News contacted Soldiers of Odin – British Columbia through Facebook about the posters but had received no response.
It remains unclear why Soldiers of Odin – or a individual claiming to represent the group – associated itself with the NSDP’s program, as well as exactly when its posters were first put up.
Its Facebook page contains posts criticizing immigration to Canada and what it calls “transgender ideology.”
Last August, Soldiers of Odin members confronted supporters of tent city occupiers in Nanaimo, in a tense but non-violent encounter.
The group has claimed it only shares the same name with the anti-immigration group formed in Finland in 2015, and is in fact a neighbourhood watch and volunteer group.