Radicalization has been documented as a process that occurs when “individuals are destabilized by various environmental factors, exposed to extremist ideology, and subsequently reinforced by members of their community.” It’s hard to think of an event in Canada’s recent history more destabilizing than the ongoing pandemic. Public health measures put in place to save lives and reduce demand on taxed health care infrastructures did more than disrupt the financial security of millions of Canadians. It eroded daily social routines and networks that people relied on and amplified the importance of online spaces.
Ottawa has become a hotspot for extremist gatherings this year, with the January-February Freedom Convoy being the most notable example.
How do we take this moment as a harbinger, address the threat it represents and prevent a broader sea change that makes Canada more amenable to radicalized views?
When we examine how right wing spaces are becoming increasingly radicalized, it is critical to also create space to explore the impacts that this radicalization is having on marginalized communities.
Recognizing that the work of addressing radicalization is long and complicated, how do we centre the communities most affected by hatred and violence? How can we create spaces of safety, even in moments of uncertainty?