An extremist sect leader and her followers have set up camp in a small Saskatchewan village, 83 kilometers northwest of Maple Creek, near the Alberta border. The group has called for the public execution of elected officials and other members in and around the community.
Romana Didulo is known as a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist. She has declared herself “Queen of Canada,” among other titles, including national Indigenous leader.
She has amassed thousands of followers by pushing conspiracy theories and what she calls decrees through social media, particularly Telegram, a messaging app that has gained popularity among the far right.
Didulo and some of his followers, who call themselves the ‘Kingdom of Canada’, have been traveling the country for some time. On September 13, the townspeople forced them to leave Kamsack, Sask.
The cult then headed to the town of Richmound on September 15 and stayed at the old Richmound School, having been invited by the owner of the property.
Richmound Mayor Brad Miller said village residents don’t feel safe with them there.
“It’s been increasing and people are getting more and more tired of this, more mental health problems. [concerns]more scared,” Miller said.
Thomas Fougere of Community TV, an independent local news outlet based in Medicine Hat, Alta., has been covering the sect’s presence in Richmound. He said people there are nervous about the group’s extreme beliefs, their behavior and their potential impact on the village’s children.
The playground, which is near the school, is closed to children to prevent the possibility of a child fighting.
On September 24, after taking note of Kamsack’s success in driving Didulo and his followers out of town, Richmound villagers protested with signs: They paraded their cars near the school, honked their horns, and called for the sect to leave. out.
“The people inside the school grounds were very agitated,” Fougere said of Didulo’s followers.
Cease and Desist Notice
On Monday, Didulo’s supporters sent the village administration at least four “cease and desist” emails, according to Miller. The notice was also posted on Telegram and shared on other social media platforms.
He addressed the mayor, village councillors, members of the fire department, members of the RCMP, Fougere and a school teacher, all by name, accusing them of corruption, intimidation and harassment, and calling them these behaviors are “dangerous,” “illegal” and “immoral.”
In the letter, the cult threatened that if the village did not follow the “queen’s” decrees, they would receive trial and “if found guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’ or ‘treason,’ they would face a publicly broadcast execution.” “. and undeserved devastation upon their children, grandchildren and families.”
“Be warned and prepared. WTP (We the People) are now staring at you with open eyes. The curtain is drawn. … Your future is in your hands,” the post reads.
Miller said a village council meeting was called shortly after this letter was sent.
“We were all upset and scared,” Miller said.
“This has everyone on alert. People are just staying home more. Their heads are in 360, they’re spinning.”
Provincial response, RCMP presence
Richmound alerted Cypress Hills MLA Doug Steele to the situation.
In a statement emailed to Breaking: on Thursday, Steele said: “While the Government of Saskatchewan does not direct police in their daily operations or law enforcement activities, I am confident that the RCMP will take appropriate action to in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. prevent, investigate and maintain order involving federal, provincial and municipal laws in the town of Richmound.”
On Friday, Chief Supt. Tyler Bates with the RCMP’s southern district management team said officers are currently investigating threatening online posts and emails. He said he cannot provide further details at this time, but that Richmound will see an increase in police presence.
“We are following the comments very closely [and] the group’s activities to assess whether or not there are aspects of criminality with respect to its activities,” Bates said.
He warned that all citizens must follow the same rules and laws, even if they feel threatened.
“We certainly want to make sure that this situation is de-escalated, that there are no longer any emotions that could lead to criminal behavior.”
As for threats sent via email and online, Bates said it’s a complex situation that requires a lot of evaluation and experience.
“Threatening personal harm to another individual certainly falls within the realm of criminality. But all that being said, there is a lot of research that focuses on an indirect threat. There is a lot of research that focuses on cyber comments rather than direct face-to-face comments.” “. face interactions.”
Asked Wednesday about the situation in Richmound, Premier Scott Moe said the Justice Department would discuss the issue on Friday.
“[They] I think it will certainly provide the community with some tips and some options for how they can ultimately protect the serenity of their community. And the government will support it,” Moe said.
Take threats seriously
Local journalist Fougere told CBC he doesn’t believe the sect would actually execute him, but said being named in the threatening emails and online posts remains concerning.
“I don’t know who’s reading this. I don’t know what kind of mental state they’re in. I don’t know if they’re currently in a vehicle headed toward Richmound, Saskatchewan, with a bunch of firearms. “There’s a lot of unknowns. It makes me feel a little nervous. “It makes me feel a little sick,” Fougere said.
Dr. Christine Sarteschi, a professor of social work and criminology at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been following the “Queen of Canada” movement for years.
“They seem to sense that the people of Richmound were attacking the queen and that she is in danger,” Sarteschi said.
He said this reaction is exaggerated, which is normal when it comes to the “queen” and her followers. Sarteschi said the sect has made similar threats of “public execution” before and, to her knowledge, has never carried out violent acts. But she said that doesn’t mean threats against the people of Richmound shouldn’t be taken seriously.
“We don’t know what they are capable of, but they are very active,” Sarteschi said.
“People are being threatened. Their children and grandchildren are being threatened with this. We should not ignore it. We don’t know what their intentions are.”
Sarteschi estimates there are currently up to 12 Didulo followers in Richmound. On October 14, they will hold a meet-and-greet with their supporters and potential new recruits, which Sarteschi said is a cause for concern.