Staff and faculty were greeted with white supremacist, anti-Indigenization posters when they entered Carleton Hall on the UNB campus Tuesday morning. Posters have since been found at Tilley Hall and the Harriet Irving Library.
In total, 12 posters have been discovered so far and appear to have been put up overnight. Located on numerous message boards, there was only one version of the poster found.
UNB Classics and Ancient History professor Matthew Sears tweeted out a picture of the posters after he was made aware of them by a faculty of arts staff member.
This flyer is today all over my building at @UNB. The consequences of marginalizing indigenous peoples and other groups, in the name of “free speech,” are real and hurt real people. Let’s all stand against this cowardice and bigotry, and call out, publicly, everyone enabling it. pic.twitter.com/FCs66rswb0
— Matthew A. Sears (@matthewasears) January 16, 2018
Sears condemned the posters, and in a statement to the Brunswickan, said “not only are these posters ignorant of history (while calling real history ‘slander’), they’re white-supremacists and racist against ‘foreign invaders,’ a veiled reference to Muslim immigrants and refugees.”
“For the honor of our ancestors” is emblazoned in capital letters across the top of the poster, which encourages people to “reject the anti-white narrative being pushed in media and academia.” According to the poster, this is “slander” against the founding Europeans of Canada.
The poster featured an 1871 version of the Canadian Red Ensign, which was a past flag of Canada until 1965 when it was replaced with the maple leaf design.
The text of the poster starts out with what seems to be an anti-Indigenization rant, providing “proof” that the Residential schools were actually beneficial to the First Nations that went to them, and that “Overwhelmingly, Native Americans are beneficiaries, and not victims of the society built by Europeans.”
However, things become confusing when the poster-maker resumes their caps-lock rant to talk of how “the enemy of Canada” is trying to infiltrate through historical lies, and presses Native Americans and Europeans to “join forces” to fight against “the threat posed by the foreign invasion of our lands!”
Problematic on so many levels. Beyond the blatant racism and white supremacy, the Red Ensign is not a ‘white’ symbol, but explicitly a British one, which excludes many European Canadians not from Britain. Like the Slavic neo-Nazis we’ve seen, it makes no sense historically
— Christo Aivalis (@christoaivalis) January 16, 2018
The Brunswickan has chosen to not show the full poster since it would be further publicizing the white-supremacist message.
Several took to Twitter to express their outrage and their confusion at the posters found:
In case anyone’s wondering, I will be condemning this poster in my classes today. I urge all of my colleagues to do the same.
— Matthew A. Sears (@matthewasears) January 16, 2018
This is beneath the dignity of all at @UNB who have taken the time to do an academic review of the IRS system. Free speech should not be a shield for the academic incompetence of those who posted this or their supporters
— Cindy Blackstock (@cblackst) January 16, 2018
Those of us – like me – of European background here in Canada for several generations (3 in my case) need to be clear these “free speech” bullies don’t “speak” for us
— John Richmond 🌹 (@siempre1907) January 16, 2018
It’s so disheartening to see this bullshit continue. I am a white descendant of colonials, and these people do NOT speak for me, dammit.
— Michelle Menhennet (@michmenhennet) January 16, 2018
“Ideas have consequences. Speech has consequences. If we are to make this campus welcoming for Indigenous students, let alone implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, we have to speak up publicly and continually rally against the message contained in these posters,” said Sears.
“I think the UNB administration should lead the way on this.”
According to UNB spokesperson David Stonehouse, UNB Security is currently investigating the posters.
“UNB Security is investigating and these posters are being removed as discovered. UNB is committed to a safe and respectful environment for all members of the community. We encourage and applaud critical thought and respectful dialogue, but do not tolerate disrespect or the marginalization of any group in any form.”
An updated statement was later released on UNB’s social media accounts, adding, “We are disheartened by racist posters that have been found around the Fredericton campus.”
The Fredericton police force is now currently investigating the incident as well.
Other posters found last week in Carleton Hall
Last week four white supremacist posters were found in an accessibility washroom on the second floor of Carleton Hall. These posters were different from the ones posted on Tuesday morning.
The Brunswickan uncovered this in their investigation into the posters found Tuesday morning.
The posters each contained a different message but all contained an anti-immigration message. There was no mention of Indigenous peoples.
The posters refer to a “white genocide” caused by mass immigration policies and that “no other race would endanger their own existence through mass immigration the way whites are.”
However, the posters refer to “genocide” as caused by “forced assimilation,” which is exactly what Europeans did to the original population of North America through the residential school system and other atrocities.
Ironically, when the posters say that this “genocide” is perceived as occurring to whites, it is “the height of folly, a departure of natural law, and a fatal error.”
Reported by staff in the Faculty of Arts, no other copies of these posters have been reported.
The Brunswickan will update this story as it unfolds.
With files from Emma McPhee