An estimated 600 young people are involved in the neo-Nazi Skinhead
movement in Canada. These include a hard core of some 350, plus an
additional 250 who are, to varying degrees, participants or
supporters. While their numbers were declining in the late eighties,
that trend was reversed in the 1990’s. The cities with the largest
contingents of Skinheads are Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and
Vancouver, but activity has also occurred in recent years in
Edmonton; Calgary; Winnipeg; Saskatoon; Regina; Quebec City;
Halifax; Victoria, B.C.; Moncton, New Brunswick; and the Ontario
cities of Kitchener, Windsor, Kingston and London.
Skinheads have been a part of Canada’s extremist scene since the
early 1980’s. As in the United States, they have no national
organization, operating instead in separate gangs with names like
Aryan Resistance Movement Skins, Norther Hammerskins, and Final
Solution Skinheads. Canadian Skins also figured prominently in some
established racist and anti-Semitic hate groups, such as the
Heritage Front, led by Wolfgang Droege of Toronto; the Nationalist
Party of Canada, headed by Don Andrews; the Church of the Creator,
which originated in the United States, and the Aryan Nations,
headquartered in Idaho.
Older white supremacists in Canada have regarded the Skinheads as
potential recruits to bolster their flagging numbers. Performances
by Skinhead bands have drawn young fans to rural rallies at which
they have been lectured by such longtime extremists as John Ross
Taylor (who died in November 1994) and one-time Canadian Nazi Party
leader John Beattie.
Some of the rally sites have been provided by right-wing extremists,
as in 1990 when 200 white supremacists, most of them Skinheads,
gathered at Ian MacDonald’s farm in Metcalf, Ontario. There they
were treated to the music of the British Skinhead band No Remorse,
while armed Skins in military fatigues stood by. In other instances,
land has been rented without signaling its intended use, as at Des
Laurentides, Quebec, in 1992. The event, “Aryanfest ’92,” was
sponsored by a Canadian unit of the Ku Klux Klan and attracted 70
Skinheads, including members of the Montreal neo-Nazi group, White
The leader of the Canadian branch of the Aryan Nations, Terry Long,
organized a 1990 event billed as the “First Annual Alberta Aryan
Fest,” near Provost, Alberta. Neo-Nazi Skinheads, some of them
armed, scuffled with Jewish protestors and assaulted a reporter.
Canadian Skinheads have been particularly active in the Heritage
Front. The Front was formed in 1989 following a visit to Libya by 18
members of the extreme-right Nationalist Party of Canada. (The
Nationalist Party members, jointly with 25 mostly left-wing Canadian
activists, participated in a conference hosted by Libyan strongman
Musmmar Qaddafi.) Some of the 18 subsequently broke away to form a
new organization. About six of the original 18 were Skinheads,
including Peter Mitrevski, Jim Dawson and Max French, who have since
assumed elevated roles in the Heritage Front. The leader of the
Front, Wolfgang Droege, is a former Ku Klux Klansman who has served
time in U.S. and Canadian jails for drug and weapons violations and
assault. Over the course of the group’s six-year existence, it has
sponsored numerous rallies and demonstrations.
White Aryan Resistance (WAR), led by Tom Metzger of Fallbrook,
California, has exerted influence over Canadian Skinheads through
direct contact, propaganda and speeches. Metzger and his son, John,
traveled to Toronto in June 1992 to address a Heritage Front rally
of some 200 people, many Skinheads among them. In February of that
year, Metzger’s associate, Dennis Mahon of Oklahoma, appeared at a
Heritage Front rally attended by a similar number of Skins. Both the
Metzgers and Mahon were deported from Canada. The name of an Ontario
gang, the WARskins, suggests it has drawn inspiration, if not
direction, from Metzger.
WAR’s newspaper has promoted the activities of Vancouver Skinhead
Tony McAleer, who has run a telephone message hotline in connection
with an operation he calls Canadian Liberty Net. In April 1994, a
Los Angeles radio station tried to send McAleer and John Metzger –
anti-Semites both – to Germany for a broadcast on the Holocaust.
German officials refused them entry. McAleer’s Vancouver-area
confederates include the Aryan Resistance Movement Skins and the
Skinhead rock band Odin’s Law. The two groups share a Surrey, B.C.,
post office box.
Racial Holy War
George Burdi, the leader of the Skinhead rock band Rahowa
(short-hand for Racial Holy War), has recently created a record
company, Resistance Records, devoted exclusively to the recording
and distribution of “White Power” Skinhead rock music. Although
Burdi is from Toronto, his company utilizes a Detroit, Michigan,
post office box in order to avoid Canada’s law against racist
Also known as “Reverend” Eric Hawthorne, Burdi, 24, has been a top
figure in the Church of the Creator. The “church,” whose late
founder, Ben Klassen, dressed a package of racist, anti-Jewish and
anti-Christian hatred in religious garb, has had several hundred
members in the United States, Canada, Sweden and South Africa.
Evidence suggests many of these Skins remain active white
supremacists despite the recent disintegration of the American
parent organization. Burdi now heads the youth wing of the Heritage
Resistance Records has released a professionally produced CD and
cassette by Rahowa, featuring such songs as “Third Reich,” “Triumph
of the Will,” “Race Riot,” and “White Revolution.” Burdi boasts of
having signed a number of other Skinhead bands, including Aryan,
from London, Ontario, Bound for Glory, and Max Resist & the
Hooligans. The label is aggressively marketing its product through a
telephone hotline and a professional-looking publication,
Other publications produced in recent years by Canadian Skins
include _Canada Awake_, from Ottawa, and _The White Warrior_, from
Canadian Skinhead music has inspired countless acts of savagery by
angry (and often drunken) Skinheads against minority group members.
On June 6, 1993, shortly after attending a Rahowa concert at a
Toronto area bar, Skinhead Jason Hoolands and some comrades went
looking for a victim. They found Sivarajah Vinasithamby, 45, an
immigrant who had taught math in his native Sri Lanka but was
working as a dishwasher in Canada to support his family. Hoolans
assaulted and repeatedly kicked his victim in the head in what the
sentencing judge called a “totally unprovoked, vicious, cowardly
attack” that left the victim brain damaged and partially paralyzed.
Testifying in court, Hoolans described how he was drawn to the
neo-Nazi Skinheads at age 14 by their appearance of pride, their
military-style bearing, and the anti-Semitic and racist beliefs. He
pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to four years
Canadian Skinheads have crommitted scores of other crims as well, a
sampling of which follows:
While jogging in a Montreal park in November 1992, Yves Lalonde, 51,
was beaten to death by a group of Skinheads who thought he was a
homosexual. Four Skinheads between the ages of 15 and 17 pleaded
guilty to second-degree murder and received three years of
detention, the maximum sentence for offenders under the age of 18.
(Three of the Skins received two additional years of probation; the
fourth, one year.) The killers’ names were withheld because of their
ages, in accordance with Canadian law. One of them was described in
court as the “vice president” of a Montreal racist Skinhead gang.
Timothy Russell Biscope, 19, a Skinhead from Calgary, received a
19-year sentence for his part in the killing of a fellow Skinhead in
northern Idaho in December 1992. Two Skins shot Johnny Ray Sharbnow,
29, a Michigan native, and enlisted the help of a third to dump his
body in a remote location. The third accomplice, who led authorities
to the site of the killing, said Sharbnow was shot in an argument
that resulted when the car the four were driving to the Aryan
Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, got stuck in the snow.
Keith Rutherford, a retired radio broadcaster, was confronted at his
suburban Edmonton home in April 1990 by two Skinheads angry over a
30-year-old broadcast in which he had exposed an alleged Nazi war
criminal. Rutherford was kicked in the groin and struck in the face
with a club, causing serious damage to his eye. Charged in the
attack were Daniel Sims and Mark Swanson, both 19 at the time. Sims,
who appeared in court in an Aryan Nations T-shirt, received a 60-day
sentence after pleading guilty to assault; Swanson got eight months
for aggravated assault. The Crown Attorney later appealed Sims’
sentence, and it was augmented to 18 months.
A Toronto Skinhead, currently serving prison time in the United
States for a killing, is a suspect in a February 1991 robbery and
assault on a fellow Toronto Skinhead that left the victim crippled.
Jeffrey Paul Juczel allegedly beat and choked his victim, robbed him
of cash and credit cards, and dragged him naked through the streets
while continuing to beat him.
Daryl Sutton, A Toronto area racist Skinhead, was sentenced to
prison in 1994 for the murder of David Murray Quesnel, 18, in a
Toronto roominghouse after a night of drinking.
Concert Turns Violent
In May 1993, a planned concert by Rahowa in Ottawa brought out
several hundred protestors. Following dispersal of the
demonstrators, running battles broke out on Parliament Hill,
resulting in assault convictions against a number of Skinheads,
including Rahowa bandleader George Burdi, who was sentenced to one
year in jail.
Canadian courts have held Skinheads responsible for a synagogue
defacement in Toronto and the desecration of a Jewish cemetary in
Hamilton, Ontario. Skinheads have also been linked to attacks on
synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish institutions in Montreal,
Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Calgary and Moncton.
(Anti-Defamation League, 19-23.)
Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
Subject: ADL: Skinhead International: Canada
Summary: The ADL’s “Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey
of Neo-Nazi Skinheads”