The Soldiers of Odin (SOO) are an anti-Muslim, far-right hate group that are active in Sudbury. They originally formed in Finland in 2015 and spread to other countries soon after. The Sudbury chapter was established in 2016.
As far as providing a short summary of the local chapter’s history, Wikipedia is actually pretty good in this case, so let’s start with that:
The chronology is a bit off – the public outcry over them volunteering at the soup kitchen occured after the incident with the Chief – but otherwise this is accurate.
Soldiers of Odin (SOO) posing with Chief of Greater Sudbury Police Service Paul Pederson.
A SOO member preparing food at the Blue Door Soup Kitchen.
The point made about the Sudbury chapter’s formation around the time that the Finnish leader was sentenced for aggravated assault is critical; these guys knew what Soldiers of Odin (SOO) were about when they chose to form a chapter here. Their excuses about having no affiliation with the organization in Finland ring pretty hollow when they formed right around the time of the Finland leader Mike Ranta’s high profile court case.
We know that the Sudbury chapter leader David MacKinnon was in direct contact with Mike Ranta at that time.
This whole “we have nothing to do with the organization in the other country” routine also happens to be the oldest trick in the book; one that has been employed by white supremacist groups in Canada for nearly a century.
Sudbury Star (Oct. 28, 1925, pg. 9)
It is also important to emphasize here that Soldiers of Odin (SOO) have neo-nazi roots in Canada, lots of them. The local SOO are quick to deny any affiliation with the rest of the SOO while not doing anything to actually distance themselves.
This strategy largely plays on the sense of exceptionalism that Canadians and Sudburians have: These SOO are different than all the other ones and they haven’t said or done anything racist that we know of.
This is all completely false and we’d like to take a moment to address that.
First, an investigation by Sudbury Against Fascism in Fall 2017 turned up some pretty concerning people in then President David MacKinnon’s friends list.
His now ex-wife Emma Hennessy who was a SOO member at the time also had a number of conspicuous posts.
These two individuals are both no longer with the Sudbury chapter, but that they were both involved in it’s formation and it’s leadership speaks volumes. To our knowledge, none of the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) in Sudbury have ever acknowledged, addressed or denounced the politics of their founding leadership.
More recently, we can also see from this post made by current SOO member Richard Pacey in response to the shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, that the rest of the apples still don’t fall far from the tree. Mr. Pacey was also involved this year with spreading a rumour that public housing residents were being evicted to make room for immigrants.
The colors worn by Soldiers of Odin (SOO) strongly resemble those of the Hell’s Angels and their associated puppet groups. While one can already deduce that they need the permission of HA to wear such colors – lest they find themselves angering the outlaw motorcycle gang – the SOO in Canada have, in fact, addressed and confirmed that connection themselves.
A post from one of their now deleted Facebook pages. Big Red Machine here is a reference to the Hell’s Angels.
To be absolutely clear: this does not mean they are in the Hell’s Angels. What is fair to assume, though, is their at least tacit support for a criminal organization responsible for distributing much of the opiates on the streets of Sudbury. Such support flies in the face of their proclamations of being genuinely concerned about the opioid epidemic and the issue of discarded used needles.
SOO members are extremely defensive and try to change the subject when anyone points out that the Hell’s Angels are heavily involved with Fentanyl trafficking.
We’ve observed considerable overlap amongst local supporters of both groups online, which is consistent with what other researchers have noticed. In short, outlaw biker gangs and white supremacy groups have similar aims, namely, white men dominating all others.
Excerpt from Right-Wing Extremism in Canada by Barbara Perrry and Ryan Scrivens.
An image taken from the Facebook page of a supporter and close associate of the local SOO. “81” stands for “HA” or Hell’s Angels.
There have been some rumours and speculation that their needle cleanups are staged or fake. We have seen no evidence of this. The numbers they claim to have collected are both realistic and only a small fraction of the number of used needles on our streets. In our opinion, there are no reasonable grounds to suspect that anything about their needle cleanups are fake.
While the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) remain barred from the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and we have not seen or heard of them volunteering elsewhere; they continue to do their needle cleanups and street patrols. Members were also spotted attending one of the local Yellow Vest demonstrations last year.
Despite being “banned” from Facebook as a hate group, they remain active there posting propaganda and trying to recruit new members. Several members are active participants on local forums, particularly Shoutout Sudbury Uncut, which is run by a supporter of theirs named Jody Mitoma.
They can also frequently be seen around town wearing their colors and this is no small matter. A group of guys openly parading around town in colors associated with anti-Muslim prejudice, Neo-Nazis and organized crime is serious, despite the attempts of even some local progressives to minimise this. We are often told that they are an isolated group of boneheads and that Sudbury is overall “a very tolerant city”, but it’s also hard to dismiss them as a marginal group of boneheads when even a local politician has supported them.
Quote from Sudbury city councillor Robert Kirwan.
It is also difficult to ignore that the current members regularly share violent innuendo.
Despite their fondness for wearing colors, over the past year, the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) have mostly stopped photographing themselves wearing them.
Our take on this is that there are multiple reasons for this all having to do with optics:
- Group photos have already been used to identify members of the group and their associates.
- Group photos of them volunteering at the soup kitchen were a major factor in mobilizing public opinion against them.
- Group photos posted on Facebook can get their accounts banned.
- The downtown core where most of their operations take place already has a major problem with being perceived as unsafe. Photos of a white supremacist group active downtown do not help that perception.
- The City of Sudbury are trying very hard to attract immigrant labor to the region, which again, makes the SOO a potential problem for the city if they become too high profile.
The local population, city officials, media and law enforcement do not want our city to end up with a bad reputation like other very similar cities like Thunder Bay and Hamilton. Accordingly, it is in the SOO’s best interest to avoid attracting attention, particularly media coverage, which has had a largely negative effect for them in the past.
Blue Door Soup Kitchen president Marc Leduc responds to a petition by Sudbury Against Fascism asking for the SOO to be barred from the premises. To our knowledge, there been any transparency or accountability with regards to how the SOO were able to volunteer there as a group in the first place.
The discourse around the Soldiers of Odin (SOO) in Sudbury has tended to center around the views, opinions and feelings of mostly white locals for whom the SOO and their racist, nativist politics are frankly not much of a threat to.
To close this piece, we would like to highlight this comment that appeared in a CBC article, one of the only times that a comment from a member of a minority group has been featured in any of the local news coverage surrounding them.
More in-depth coverage of their recent activity is available in the following blog posts:
We also have a list of all the known members of the Sudbury chapter:
Local media coverage: