Hundreds of notes linked to white supremacist scattered outside Vernon schools on Orange Shirt Day

Racist flyers condemned

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

Local leaders are condemning the distribution of leaflets promoting white supremacist David Duke outside Vernon schools on Orange Shirt Day.

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis said it's up to everyone to not tolerate hate speech and that the best way to combat such behaviour is through education.

"It's reminiscent of a similar incident a few years ago," Louis said Wednesday, after the notes were found scattered outside at least five schools in the Vernon School District this morning.

"I don't believe for a moment that those views are shared by the majority of the people of Vernon," he said. "But, at the same time, these people on the fringe can do a lot of damage ... they don't just hurt me, they hurt everyone with their attitudes."

The move comes the day after a fractious U.S. presidential debate in which President Donald Trump avoided condemning U.S. far-right groups that have been implicated in racial tensions south of the border.

Referring to the debate and the spread of racist views, Louis said: "The U.S. sneezes, and we catch a cold."

Meanwhile, School District 22 Supt. Joe Rogers issued a statement on the incident.

"It is very disturbing that white supremacist website information was distributed on the streets around some of our schools this morning," he said.

"Today, on Orange Shirt Day, we are recognizing the injustices and racism our Indigenous students and families faced in the past and continue to face today. Our SD 22 vision is to create a safe, healthy and respectful learning community that enables each student to build a bright future. Most of the offensive materials were picked up by parents and staff prior to school starting.

"We will continue to work with community partners and staff to create a school system and community that values and respects the dignity of each person."

UPDATE: 2 p.m.

Outrage is growing online over the distribution of hundreds, if not thousands, of leaflets promoting a known white supremacist and former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan across Vernon.

The fortune-cookie-sized notes were scattered outside several local schools Wednesday morning.

The action comes on Orange Shirt Day, which commemorates Canada's dark residential school past.

Since this morning, Castanet has learned leaflets were also scattered near Kidston Elementary in Coldstream, as well as at least four schools in Vernon.

The story and social media posts are fuelling outrage in the community.

"I picked a bunch up, too, outside my house and seen this (man) in a silver car ... brown hair, Caucasian. Said 'was this you who did this?' and he said, obviously," Cassidy Marchand posted in the Vernon and Area Community Forum Facebook group.

"For those who are offended by this, please take the time to make your thoughts known. By being silent, these cowardly, stupid, misguided, hateful, dangerous people interpret it as being on their side of this issue. Please talk to your kids ... there are people out there who can expose these idiots. Let's see how cowardly they really are," Susan Watt said on the Vernon Rant and Rave (uncensored) Facebook page.

Castanet has reached out to the local RCMP, Okanagan Indian Band, and School District 22 for comment on the situation.

ORIGINAL: 11 a.m.

Fortune-cookie-sized notes linked to a known American white supremacist have been scattered outside several Vernon schools on Orange Shirt Day – a day to commemorate and educate about Canada's residential school history.

According to multiple sources who have contacted Castanet, the notes have been scattered along streets by the hundreds outside at least four schools.

So far, we have heard of them being found near Vernon Secondary School, as well as three elementary schools – Harwood, BX, and Alexis Park.

"Rant to the f****wit who left 200 of these fluttering down the road in front of my kids' school," said one parent in the Alexis Park area, who posted photos to the Vernon Rant and Rave (uncensored) Facebook group.

The woman says she picked up and recycled the notes.

The paper slips give a web address to David Duke's website.

The American hate-monger is a known white supremacist, far-right politician, convicted felon, and former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

From 1989 to 1992, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He has advocated neo-Nazi and antisemitic conspiracy theories such as Holocaust denial and Jewish control of academia, the press, and the financial system.

This as Canadians mark the nation's dark past with First Nations on Orange Shirt Day, with its theme this year of Every Child Matters.

Orange Shirt Day was founded in 2013 by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a student who in 1973 had a new item of clothing — an orange shirt — taken from her on her first day at a residential school when six years old.

This is not the first time hate literature has been found in the area near Alexis Park.

In 2016, residents along 43rd Avenue and Alexis Park Drive were stunned to find racist flyers strewn about their neighbourhood.

Those flyers also contained web addresses to hate groups and anti-semitic organizations.

Similar flyers were also found in the Mission Hill area and near the downtown core.

“They are all over town. The message they are trying to send is very troubling," said one woman at the time.

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