Oct 12, 2023

Police seek to assure Sask. village residents that cult camped there poses no imminent danger

RCMP held town hall in Richmound Tuesday


Dayne Patterson

CBC News

October 11, 2023


The people of Richmound are tense and anxious about members of a cult who are living at a former school in the village, according to the Saskatchewan RCMP.

But police say that despite issuing threats of public execution, the group does not pose an "imminent threat."

The group is led by Romana Didulo, who is known as a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist but has dubbed herself the "Queen of Canada," among other titles, including the national Indigenous leader.

Didulo has amassed thousands of followers through social media, particularly on Telegram, a messaging app that has grown in popularity with the far right. She has also published hundreds of what she calls decrees, which cover topics like immigration, vaccine mandates and sexual education — with penalties that range from fines to death. 

"The emotional climate in the community was escalated just in terms of opposition to the presence of this particular group," Chief Supt. Tyler Bates of the RCMP's south district management team told CBC Wednesday. 

He spoke from inside a mobile detachment that was brought to the village on Friday in response to the group's presence. 

The RCMP expected that rising tension could lead to conflict, which is why they located the mobile detachment there. Bates said their predictions were correct, and police are now investigating an alleged assault "associated to this particular issue and the tension that exists." 

On Tuesday, there was a town hall at the Richmound Community Centre where RCMP tried to assure residents their safety was a priority as they investigate criminal complaints.

An extremist cult leader and her followers have set up camp in a small Saskatchewan town near the Alberta border. The group has called for public execution of elected officials and other members in and around the community. We hear from a journalist who’s been covering the issue in Richmound and has gotten swept into the controversy.

Richmound is located less than 20 kilometres from the Alberta border and is home to 118 people. Without the mobile detachment, the nearest RCMP response would come from Leader, Sask., about a 45-minute drive away, according to Bates. 

"We are here and we are present and we are responsive immediately," he said.

Didulo's group arrived about a month ago. Residents in Kamsack forced the cult out of their town in mid-September before the group was invited by the owner of the former Richmound School building to settle there.

Richmound villagers tried the same tactic those in Kamsack had used, protesting with signs and parading their cars near the school. They hoped to force the group to leave, but were unsuccessful.

Last week, followers of Didulo sent village administration at least four "cease and desist" emails, according to Richmound Mayor Brad Miller. 

They accused the mayor, village councillors, members of the fire department, RCMP and others of corruption, bullying and stalking — and threatened public execution for those found guilty of "crimes against humanity" or "treason."

"Whenever you have opposing perspectives and factions that escalate into threats and violence, there's always the possibility of escalation of criminality, so certainly we're taking that seriously," Bates said.

Bates said no charges have been laid but investigations are continuing.

Bates also said he couldn't comment on how long the RCMP would be in Richmound because it depends on different factors, such as ensuring the village is safe and completing ongoing investigations. 

Death threats, hotel rooms left empty for supposed visits by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and hours upon hours of the song Rasputin by Boney M. These are the conditions former followers say they endured on a cross-country RV tour with Romana Didulo, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Canada." Didulo became a well-known QAnon conspiracy figure, with claims she was the rightful ruler of Canada, but she originally didn’t appear in public. Now, she’s touring the country with supporters in RVs, including a stop in Peterborough, Ont., last month where her followers tried to arrest the city’s police. Vice World News reporter Mack Lamoureux spoke to former tour “staff” members, including some that Didulo reportedly abandoned in the middle of Newfoundland. Today, what they allege about the abuse they suffered, and why both Lamoureux and some experts increasingly believe the group has the makings of a cult.

Dayne Patterson is a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan and is based in Saskatoon. He has a master's degree in journalism with an interest in data reporting and Indigenous affairs. Reach him at dayne.patterson@cbc.ca.




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