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Posters have been plastered around 13 post-secondary campuses in Canada. Photo: CC, Leedtior.

Youth movement led by alt-right group Generation Identity

On Sept. 11, promotional posters were put up around on at least thirteen campuses across Canada an identitarian youth movement led by alt-right white nationalist group Generation Identity.

Beginning in France in 2002, Generation Identity mobilized in response to immigration, as a way to allegedly protect their European heritage and culture. The Canadian chapter of the ethno-nationalist group was founded in December 2014 with the same values of protecting their identity. This white nationalist group does not believe that Canada existed before its European colonizers and ancestors.

“The federation has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any type of racism and bigotry. Anything that is attacking anybody for their identity, for their experiences, for their race,” said Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi, vice-president equity for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

The Canadian members of this group are vocal about upholding their identity, and believe that increased immigration is the cause of a supposed diminishing white population in the country. Despite this, the group claims not to be neo-natzis or white supremacists.

According to their website, the group hopes to “ fight for Canadians, because our politicians refuse to do so.” The group also believes that “the failed experiment known as multiculturalism has lead to the destruction of our very unique identity and values.”

“I think this is a scary time,” said Moumouni-Tchouassi. She continued that the alt-right group feels threatened by immigrants because Generation Identity thinks that migrants are taking something from them.

According to Moumouni-Tchouassi, white or non racialized individuals believe they are becoming the minority because there are so many racialized people coming from other places. “At the end of the day, when you continue to push people out of their home, they’re gonna go to where the people push them out from.”

Although this group has not been in the eyes of the media for long, the European chapter was recently featured in international news as their Austrian members protested against anti-immigration by blocking rescue boats, an operation called “Defend Europe.” The mission proved unsuccessful, however, after Generation Identity ended up stranded in the Mediterranean Sea due to engine failure. The group was later rescued by said refugee rescue boats.

“I think that is absolutely abhorring, you can’t claim to not be racist when you are basically perpetuating the belief that non white people are inferior” said Geneviève Joëlle, fourth-year international development and globalization student at the U of O.

Moumouni-Tchouassi believes that a major issue with such movements is that they distance themselves from the very labels they ensue upon themselves by the very thing they stand for. “You can’t attack something you can’t acknowledge.”

Joëlle was one of many who saw and torn down the posters that read, “Defend your identity,” saying, “this is not existing in a vacuum, it can’t be separated from extremism in Canada, in France, in the (United) States, they are all interconnected … this is not an isolated incident.”  

“This is a hate group, and this needs to be called out as what it is,” said Joëlle.

Joëlle, who has previous experience in migrant rights and working with migrant families in Ottawa predominantly from Syria, believes that in order to abolish microaggressions, work needs to begin in the community, such as at universities. “Universities are breeding grounds for the normalization of white supremacy, if you look at our curriculums and if you look at our class rooms, whose voices are elevated and whose voices aren’t.”

“These movements also give belonging to people and give people something serious to fight for in a time when you actually need to pick something up and fight for it, because we are in an unstable kind of time,” said Moumouni-Tchouassi.