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Richmound, Sask., begins weekend-long protest to urge QAnon cult to leave village

The village of Richmound held a protest on Saturday, in hopes of spurring a cult led by a woman who has declared herself the "Queen of Canada" to leave the southwestern Saskatchewan community.

Self-proclaimed 'Queen of Canada' held meet-and-greet at the same time

A small group of people stand beside a truck, with an orange sign reading "get out" in large letters.

The village of Richmound held a protest on Saturday, in hopes of spurring a cult led by a woman who has declared herself the "Queen of Canada" to leave the southwestern Saskatchewan community.

A group calling itself the "Kingdom of Canada" has set up camp in the small village — about 65 kilometres northwest of the city of Maple Creek, near the Saskatchewan-Alberta border — and called for public execution of elected officials and other members in and around Richmound.

The group held a meet-and-greet for potential new followers and their supporters on Saturday.

Leader Romana Didulo is known as a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist. She has declared herself the "Queen of Canada," among other titles, including calling herself the national Indigenous leader.

Didulo and some of her followers have been travelling around the country for some time.

They were forced out of Kamsack, Sask., following a peaceful protest by residents there on Sept. 13. The group then made its way to Richmound on Sept. 15, and has been staying at the former Richmound School, having been invited by property owner Rick Manz.

Manz is facing an assault charge after RCMP received a report of an assault following an altercation in Richmound last Friday.

On Wednesday, Richmound Mayor Brad Miller shared a Facebook post inviting people to join the community's "peaceful protest" on Saturday and Sunday. He urged others to share the post around.

"Things are still escalating and we are desperate for help with another protest rally to keep conspiracy theorist, cult leader and pretender queen, Romana Didulo, from settling into permanent residency in our town. WE NEED HELP AND CANNOT DO THIS ALONE!" the post read.

Miller called for people from neighbouring communities to join in the demonstration, saying it will be respectful and legal.

Those calls were answered by leaders of neighbouring communities on Saturday.

Aaron Wenzel, the mayor of Leader, Sask., and Sean Checkley, mayor of Fox Valley, came to Richmound in show of solidarity, along with Doug Steele, the member of the Legislative Assembly for Cypress Hills.

The MLA and the three mayors held a joint news conference on Saturday, ahead of the planned protest.

"The area isn't just, you know, community by community — we are a region and work very closely and collaboratively with with each community," said Fox Valley's Checkley.

Many Richmound youth go to school in Fox Valley, he said, so the communities have close ties.

Recently, the playground in Richmound was shut down due to safety concerns because of the group's presence.

"We are gathered here, I guess for one thing and one thing only," said Miller.

"As a community of Richmound, I'd like to say we're standing together as one and our focus is to move her [Didulo] out of Richmound and hopefully back into the United States."

The Richmound mayor said he tried to meet with Didulo to get a better understanding of why she was in the village, but she refused.

After a previous protest against the group on Sept. 24, the cult threatened village administration with "cease and desist" letters, Miller previously said, accusing them of corruption, bullying and stalking, and calling those behaviours "dangerous," "illegal" and "immoral."

The cult threatened "publicly broadcast execution" if the village did not follow Didulo's decrees.

Miller said Saturday that more cease and desist letters have been emailed to community members, including him. He also said Didulo's followers have been walking around taking videos and pictures of residents.

A Richmound resident, whom CBC has agreed not to name, said on Thursday that she is scared of having Didulo and her followers in the village.

"I'd really like to see these people leave," said the resident.

"At the same time, I don't want to see another community have to deal with this. I really don't. It's not fun. It's not fair. Like, who starts putting cease and desist orders and execution lists out? How is that a thing that can happen?"

Miller said Saturday he wants more government intervention to push Didulo and her followers out.

"I think for the provincial government and also the federal government, I think they should be getting in this so we don't have this problem anymore and we can work together."

RCMP presence

RCMP sent a mobile detachment to Richmound on Oct. 6 in response to the group's presence.

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

In an emailed statement to CBC on Friday, Saskatchewan RCMP said that the safety and security of the community of Richmound is a top priority.

"We are aware of the potential events scheduled for this weekend. Saskatchewan RCMP will maintain a 24/7 police presence for the foreseeable future, which will include regular patrols in the community. This will include Saturday and Sunday," RCMP said.

On Saturday morning, RCMP set up checkpoints on each side of the village.

In his Facebook post, Miller encouraged protesters to drive around the village on Saturday and Sunday with respectful signs. He encouraged "noisemakers."

"We understand people are very emotional and at wit's end but we must not engage," Miller said in the post. "We only want to irritate them and let them know we have not given up!!"

The village protest was scheduled to continue until 7 p.m. CST on Saturday, and resume from noon to 5 p.m. CST on Sunday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Sciarpelletti

Journalist & Radio Columnist

Laura is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories and host of the arts and culture radio column Queen City Scene Setter, which airs on CBC's The Morning Edition. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. Laura specializes in human interest, arts and environmental coverage. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

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