An RCMP spokesperson hopes the arrests made in Flin Flon, in relation to hateful social media posts, will remind people how serious hate speech can be.
Several individuals took to a local Flin Flon Facebook page to vent about mischief to property, which escalated into hateful and threatening language against residents of First Nations communities.
RCMP Spokesperson Tara Seel explains a quick post on facebook can have serious consequences.
"When people post on social media they need to be aware they're not in a bubble, even if they're on a private page, someone who's on that page can share it widely," said Seel.
Seel says what it boils down to is that social media isn't a private space.
"When you publish thoughts that are hateful or racist, those types of things, there are serious consequences. You will be held accountable for what you type, there's no hiding behind a keyboard."
Dr. Steven Kohm at the University of Winnipeg says hate speech is a very complex area of the law. In a nutshell, Kohm says that "my freedom of speech ends when I publicly advocate violence against a particular person or 'identifiable group.'"
Section 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines detailed rules for this behaviour. Seel says there is a difference between comments being hurtful and hateful.
Under Criminal Code 319, the 'Public Incitement of Hatred' section states, "Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction."
An 'identifiable group' is considered to be any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.
"The fact that there are serious consequences shows how deeply impactful some words can be," Seel said. "You are accountable for what you put out there."
Two of the three female suspects in the Flin Flon case, a 32-year-old female from Flin Flon and a 25-year-old female from Denare Beach, SK, have been arrested by RCMP for Uttering Threats and Public Incitement of Hatred. A third arrest is pending for the same charges.