A group of anti-racist activists held a demonstration at the Canada Post in Grimshaw, Alta., Saturday in response to reports of a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style hood there earlier this month.
About a dozen people from the Alberta Humanitarian Initiative, a collective of different Alberta groups that have been working together for about a year, travelled to the town about 500 kilometres north of Edmonton to try to engage the community in a discussion about racism.
"It was a good half-and-half mixture of people supporting and people not wanting us there," said Taylor McNallie, a member of Inclusive Canada, which is part of the initiative.
A photograph, shared widely on Facebook in early January, shows a man in jeans, a reflective work jacket and a pointed white hood with eye slits cut into it.
The hood resembles the head covering worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), an infamous white supremacist hate group.
McNallie said they were planning to go to the post office and town hall, and leave letters for Mayor Bob Regal that were written by both locals and people from across the province about the hood incident.
They also hung pictures up on the post office, which McNallie said were torn down by a woman who told them the town was not racist and that they shouldn't be there. She said the RCMP attended and told them to ensure they wear masks but that it was fine for them to be there.
"It's just a lot of white fragility is what it is. It's hard to be learning all of these new things that you've probably gone your entire life not knowing about," said McNallie, who grew up in the small Alberta communities of Cremona and Didsbury. "If you're not a racialized person, racism is not something you often have to talk about. These are new ideas, these are new things challenging an entire system."
The group has posted some calls to action for Grimshaw, including asking the man who wore the hood to come forward and make a public apology, and for the mayor and town council to engage in anti-racist training and to make those resources available to the wider community.
"This isn't about creating a divide because there's been a divide there for hundreds of years already," she said.
RCMP confirmed earlier this month that they are investigating a complaint after a photo of the man wearing the KKK-style hood surfaced on social media.
On Sunday, Cpl. Terri-Ann Bakker said an individual has been identified but that the investigation remains open. She added that police are still hoping to speak to anyone who may have witnessed what happened.
Better known for its presence in the United States, there has also been a well-documented KKK presence in Canada and Alberta. Some of the Klan's ideas are reflected in the ideologies of other far-right and white supremacist groups operating in Canada today.