IMPACT: The Soldiers of Odin are an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant group founded in Finland. The group has numerous chapters across North America and is known for acting as unwanted street-patrols and spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric across their social media pages.
Soldiers of Odin was founded in October 2015 in response to the increasing number of asylum seekers from neighboring Sweden. The group was established by Mike Ranta, a local resident of border town Kemi, with the aim of aiding police fight crime through street patrols by means of their own vigilante efforts. The group blames “Islamist Intruders” for increased crime and harassment rates in Finland.
In Canada, there are multiple chapters of the group that vary in the levels of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric they engage in. The Canadian chapter of Soldiers of Odin, occasionally named Sons of Odin, was established in 2016. It consisted of groups from cities across Canada before a split in 2017. The Canadian group has critiqued the racist nature of the Finnish group and claimed a commitment to anti-racism. In response to statements suggesting they want to “keep Canada white,” a member stated, “What they do over in Finland and in Europe, they have all sorts of different issues altogether. That’s not really what we are. We’re an independent charter of Soldiers of Odin; we’re a community watch group.” However, their social media pages have engaged in similar anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric and refer to being “Finland approved.”
The Quebec chapter remains connected to the parent group. It broke off from the Canadian chapter in 2017 after the Canadian chapter president called the Finnish group “‘racist, unorganized, reckless’ thugs”.
David MacKinnon, the President of the Ontario chapter of Soldiers of Odin states they continue using the name because “some of us want to keep the name for spite, because Finland is mad at us, they don’t want us using it.” He also alludes to non-white/European members joining the group as evidence of their anti-racist position.
Joel Angott, the Canadian national president of Soldiers of Odin, has also attempted to emphasize the differences in ideology between the Canadian and Finnish groups by stating that members who did promote a “white-supremacist” intent were not welcomed.
Soldiers of Odin also established a chapter in the United States in 2016. A report by Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concluded that “though not all such adherents of the group are white supremacists or bigots, so many of them clearly are, that the Soldiers of Odin can easily be considered a hate group.” The report concluded that the group’s members came “together for the purpose of expressing hostility towards refugees and Muslims in general.” The report also states that the 4000 members of the group are dominated by four types of subcultures; white supremacists, Norse pagans, anti-Muslim bigots and Anti-government extremists.
The Soldiers of Odin Canada’s Facebook page includes posts such as there is “No Maple Leaf in Islam” and “we will not change our laws, traditions and culture to suit Islam”. The page engages in anti-Muslim discourse as it shares articles from the anti-Muslim website, Jihad Watch. On a post published on November 9, 2018, the group stated that its Facebook page had been “shut down for 30 days.”
Soldiers of Odin has been applauded for their volunteerism such as park cleanups and feeding the homeless initiatives. Included in their course of actions are also street patrols which have been less welcomed by neighborhood community members. They have also provided security detail alongside the “militant” Jewish Defense League (Canada) and anti-Muslim activist, Sandra Solomon.
Soldiers of Odin have been involved in violent clashes with anti-racist protesters in Vancouver where three members were arrested by police. Likewise, the Edmonton chapter of the Sons of Odin held protests in support of British anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson.
In January of 2019, Ty Hunt posted a video of him and another man confronting people entering a Mosque in Edmonton. In the video footage, Hunt is wearing a hat that says “Infidel,” as commonly seen on Soldiers of Odin symbols and images. However, Hunt claimed to no longer be part of the group.