Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia – The QAnon Queen of Canada leans so close to the windshield of her motorhome her face is almost pressed against the glass when she screams into her walkie-talkie.
“Ignore them!” her voice crackles over the radio. “Ignore them!”
The small collection of Romana’s Didulo’s ragtag group of cult followers-turned-servants who populate a rural Nova Scotia property look at me with a mix of horror and apology. One man, wearing a security hat straight out of a dollar store costume section, tries to take control and meekly tells me I need to leave the area. Another follower, a bit bolder than the security guy, coldly says “absolutely not” when I ask if we can speak to their so-called “queen.”
There are three motorhomes strewn across the front lawn of the property and our conversation has to be loud in order to hear over the cacophony of the dozen or so dogs barking and fighting. Here is where Didulo and her followers, who have been proselytizing her unique brand of QAnon conspiracy-cum-alien stuff-cum-soverign citizenship beliefs across Canada for the better part of a year, stayed over the winter. Here is where Didulo made her most loyal followers sleep on the floor of RVs so her dogs could sleep on the bed, and made people sit in their filth for weeks, eat expired food, and face torrents of abuse.
Marching from the motorhome housing their spiritual leader, Didulo’s second-in-command comes storming towards us. Pointing her phone at us she begins to take control of the situation.
“No comment,” she screams repeatedly. “No comment!”
That night, after spending months on this property, becoming the talk of the little town just a few kilometers to the north, many of whose residents were worried about scams and possible violence from a quasi cult, Didulo decided to pack up and once again hit the road.
The Queen and her subjects
For reasons only known to my editor and therapist, I’ve been reporting on Didulo and her QAnon following for over two years now.
The story has led me to get the worst sunburn of my adult life on a B.C. beach as I heard former followers tell me about how they were locked in a motorhome as she played Boney M’s disco hit “Rasputin” for nine straight hours; dive deep into legal documents of a woman who lost her home because the Queen of Canada said she didn’t have to pay her bank; and waste hours upon hours of my life watching the cult’s bizarre live streams.
It has now led me to the village of Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, home to about 700 souls according to the latest census, although it swells in the summer months due to its proximity to water and parks. I had long known that Didulo had set down somewhere for the winter in Canada’s Ocean Playground, but didn’t know exactly where until a concerned local tossed me an email. Armed with this knowledge and knowing the flights would be cheap in the offseason, I convinced my boss to let me expense a ticket to once again try to meet the QAnon Queen of Canada.
Despite writing over 20 stories about her, breaking almost all of the news about her cult, and speaking to former victims, this Albertan hidalgo has only managed to speak to the person at the heart of the story once. It was on the cold streets of Victoria in January 2022 when she left to start her cross country tour. As she marched towards her RV I matched her pace and tried to ask her questions but was quickly shut down. Since then I’ve done my best—my due diligence as I would tell the company lawyers—to make contact. I’ve emailed every spokesperson she’s had and tried to talk to her through multiple channels but with no luck. Once again I was packing my bags and making a long journey to prove to myself that this is something worth covering and I’m not just tilting at windmills.
It would be a journey that would take me across Nova Scotia, make me question journalistic ethics, visit a village devastated by a hurricane to meet a “demon of a man,” cause a minor bit of drama in a lovely small town, hear stories from people who escaped an abusive cult compound, and share beers with many a friendly Maritimer. All to answer the a variety of questions—like is this a real cult, a scam, a mental health issue, or a mix of all of this, and why did they pick Nova Scotia?—that at its heart boils down simply to: what the fuck is going on here?
For those who don’t have similar, life-damaging brain worms as me, Didulo is best described as a QAnon cult leader and is truly one of the most bizarre conspiracy figures to come out of the pandemic. She’s somehow convinced a not-insignificantly sized group of people that she’s not just the “Queen of Canada” but she’s also a being from another dimension in touch with an “intergalactic alliance.” Her “lore” is deeply confusing and ever-changing but the starting point is that Didulo, alongside former U.S. President Donald Trump, is waging an international war against a global cabal of pedophiles. She squeezes as much money out of her followers as she can in an effort to keep the cult leader party going and, for now at least, it’s working.
Romana isn’t the most imposing figure. She’s a tiny Filipino-Canadian woman with a slight accent and short gray hair. She’s not young, likely in her 50s or 60s, but it’s hard to know as there is shockingly little background information known about her. However, what she lacks in stature she makes up for in grandiose statements—some of my favorites being she has an armada of spacecraft watching her at all times, and that she and Vladimir Putin talk on the regular—and an absolute unwavering dedication to keeping up the notion she’s Canada’s true leader.
It’s important to note that while the entire Didulo situation is bizarre and at times can be the source of laughs, the damage she does to her followers is very real and in some cases, extreme. She’s threatened to kill health care workers and just recently told her followers to “shoot to kill” anyone they think is starting a forest fire or sabotaging the power grid—taking in mind her follower’s paranoid worldview and seemingly tenuous grip on reality, the command could have serious consequences.
People have lost homes and gone into financial ruin because they believed Didulo’s “royal decrees” that utilities and mortgages don’t need to be paid. Others have completely ostracized themselves from their families because they essentially live in a different reality from their loved ones. One sad group of Didulo disciples deluded themselves into thinking the dumbest plot of all time could work and attempted a citizen’s arrest of an entire police force with the backing from “Didulo’s military.” But in turn they were arrested, rather violently, themselves.
So while, yes, it’s a somewhat outlandish subject, at least as far as extremism goes, it’s also one that causes great pain that needs to be taken seriously. Didulo may be giving us a dark glimpse into the future. The media ecosystem has melted many a brain over the past few years and nothing is more emblematic of that than this woman building an audience willing to destroy themselves because they believe she’s the true Queen of Canada. Didulo and her merry band of followers are a harbinger for a future reality where misinformation becomes so normalized that many can’t tell fact from even the wildest fiction.
At least that’s what I convinced myself as I boarded the plane to Nova Scotia.
So with a backpack full of notes on the “Queen,” and a gutless rental car acquired, I set off from the Halifax airport. Driving a few hours to the north side of the peninsula I soon arrived in the area where I would be spending most of my time—I couldn’t help but go and do a drive by where I was told Didulo was staying. My source wasn’t wrong. Just hours after touching down in Nova Scotia, I got my first glimpse of the QAnon Queen of Canada. It was just a glimpse of a RV with her face on it, and it was a perfect set up for what would become a bizarre journey into the world of what happens when a QAnon conspiracy camp sets up outside a cute little town.
I slowly drove by and took a quick video on my phone which I excitedly sent to my boss.
“There she be, the white whale,” I say in the video for some reason. The frigid waters of the North Atlantic are out there unseen, miles and miles away.
On the property
Didulo’s followers aren’t one size fits all.
In my time covering her, I’ve seen large handymen fall for her rhetoric and older women who have fallen down a hippie coloured conspiratorial rabbit hole. I've seen truckers, businessmen, former cops, and even some folks who formerly worked in media.
Owing to the secretive nature of the cult, and how strictly they control the narrative they put out to their audience, it's very difficult to ascertain what actually goes on inside it. I’ve been granted a bit of insight from a few former members who were willing to share stories of their time with Didulo with me both on the record and off.
Kim Churchill, an Ontario woman, used to work at a radio station but that was many years ago. She first learned of Didulo from a mutual acquaintance in 2021 while the crew were on their nonstop Canadian road trip. Churchill came to believe in Didulo rather quickly and eventually reached out to offer her aid. To gain access to the queen she had to do a video call with two of Didulo’s most diehard followers— “Kaven,” a young man from Quebec who is Didulo’s driver, security guard, and French translator, and “Darlene,” a woman from B.C. who has become her “chief of staff” and is essentially Didulo’s personal assistant, to be generous.
I first came across Churchill when she was presented on one of Didulo’s live streams as a media whistleblower who came to stay with the cult. A few months later she would once again come across my radar when she began speaking out about her time with the cult in chat rooms dedicated to former members who are fighting back against Didulo.
“It was very cultish,” Churchill told VICE News with an embarrassed laugh as we talked over the phone some weeks after she left the group. “I’ve never been in a cult, but that’s a cult. It’s definitely a cult.”
When Churchill first showed up in Nova Scotia she was taken aback. She was expecting a cute little conspiratorial community, led by a benevolent but powerful leader. What she found was a kingdom covered in trash and dog shit, ruled by a tiny dictator making her closest followers’ lives a living hell. Nevertheless they quickly put Churchill on a livestream to talk about how the media “lies,” and further poison Didulo’s followers against news outlets and other mainstream sources of information.
Didulo, while primarily an online figure with roughly 40,000 followers on Telegram, has surrounded herself with a small contingent of her most loyal subjects who have given up their lives to serve her every whim—often “working” up to 16 hours a day. This group is extremely protective of their queen, and exceedingly paranoid; they live with Didulo in an RV and typically wear lanyards marking their loyalty or, in some cases, all white outfits with QR emblazoned over the heart. It’s not just me and Churchill who clearly identify this as a cult: Several experts described Didulo’s following similarly and upon viewing this group in particular, it’s hard to argue.
The group fluctuates in size as people are constantly coming and going, but typically sits between six and 12 die-hard Didulo-heads. For months they lived on the front yard of a local Didulo fan—a woman who runs a holistic health store in Tatamagouche—in a collection of RVs and trailers that appear to be barely winter-proofed. They didn’t have enough food, and much of what they did have was rotten because of lack of proper storage.
What Churchill found only reinforced how shitty life is for a roving Didulo acolyte. Multiple former members of the cult have told VICE News those who stay with Didulo face neverending abuse and threats, poor sleeping arrangements, limited and unhealthy diets, and have their lives micromanaged by Didulo. Churchill was no different.
While she said the leader seems personable and nice initially, she’s quick to snap and scream at her followers. She’s incredibly paranoid, worried about infiltrators and ex-followers out to get her, and set up several security cameras on the property that two of her crew needed to watch at all times—and those living there were expected to stay within the camera’s sights.
“Everyone has to say their whereabouts if they had to go off camera. Like if someone was going to the shed to get a shovel they had to announce ‘they’re going to the shed,’ then ‘they’re in the shed’ then ‘they’re getting the shovel,’ then ‘they’re leaving the shed.’ Now ‘they’re on their way back to the trailer.’ Like it was step by step, like micromanaging, like on a level I’ve never seen before,” Churchill said.
“If she said you have 15 minutes, you have 15 minutes,” she added. “If you take 16 minutes, you’re hearing about it. She’s yelling at you.”
A typical day at the Nova Scotia campground starts with the group getting up around 7 a.m. and clearing out the blinding security lights they set up the night before. Then there’s a “safety check of all the vehicles,” once everything is copacetic they pile into Didulo’s RV, AKA the “command center.” When Didulo is finally ready to address her audience they all stand, some craning their heads so as not to hit the roof of the trailer, as she exits the RVs bedroom area into the kitchen. She then launches into her daily speech and the day’s tasks are assigned.
For the most part the group would always be busy with Kafkaesque projects such as switching out batteries that don’t need to be switched out, doing work on a vehicle no one is qualified to do, sorting Didulo’s fake currency, researching and producing a daily livestream exalting Didulo, and so on. She would keep her followers busily unproductive all day. This is another common refrain from those who traveled with Didulo, that she keeps her crew so busy they have no time for themselves—or to fight back.
Like with many hierarchical communities, the abuse trickles downwards. Didulo will lose it on her second-in-command, who will scapegoat another person, and so on.
The group wasn’t just dealing with abuse from a controlling cult leader who they believe is a royal alien. They’re also living in filth. The trailers are occasionally full of rotting food and tracked in mud and dog shit. Even though they lived only steps away from a sizable ranch-style home, Didulo forced her followers to go days and even weeks without showers or doing laundry. Didulo, meanwhile, had a private bathroom on her RV, and when it broke, she kicked followers off the second RV and turned it into her own private toilet.
There’s a feeling of paranoia among those staying with Didulo. They routinely rat each other out for forbidden behavior and get others in trouble with their queen. They were told to keep secrets from the other people who lived on the property and were constantly at each other's throats. The worst job of all was that of Didulo’s personal assistant, which is currently held by Darlene.
“If Romana wants coffee, [Darlene] makes coffee. If Romana wants lunch she makes lunch,” said Churchill. “Darlene is doing everything. She can’t take a shower and she has no time to herself. She can’t even go for a walk if she wants to de-stress or leave Romana’s side. She even does her laundry, makes the bed, like everything.There was one time on the radio where Darlene said ‘Queen Ramona, I’m requesting 10 more minutes for my shower time. And Ramona said ‘10 minutes granted.’”
“ Disorganization and wasted energy proliferates the group, multiple members told VICE News. For example, they would invite people to stay with them but not plan where they would sleep. When one man arrived, Didulo told Churchill she “hadn’t received a download for that yet” and just forced everyone to cram together in one trailer, meaning three women were holded up in a small trailer with a man who no one knew. The man eventually ended up sharing a single bed with one of the women.
In many ways, the dogs on the property—and there were many—were treated better than Didulo’s people. The Queen certainly seemed to care about the two dogs she adopted—they were dubbed the “royal puppies”—although she also recently said she fed them ivermectin, the veterinary dewormer drug that became the COVID-denier drug de jour during the pandemic. At one point Darlene told her followers that Didulo exorcized a demon from one of the puppies who was being lethargic. In one case Churchill said she was told Didulo made Kaven—who is, remember, one of her most important followers—sleep on the floor of an RV while the puppies slept on the bed
Over the course of ten days with the group, Churchill just couldn’t keep the cognitive dissonance going and began to sour. She could see that Didulo was creating a “digital fantasy” for her online audience and bullying those who live with her. That what was presented didn’t match reality.
When Churchill told the group she was planning on leaving, Didulo gave the order that she had an hour to vacate the area. As a result, everyone who was staying in Churchill’s trailer had to unload all their stuff onto a tarp on the ground in a mad rush.
Didulo immediately attacked Churchill as a traitor and spy and turned her audience on her. All of Churchill’s former friends in the group have blocked her and excommunicated her from the community.
As she was leaving several members were crying. One actually decided to go with her to escape the abuse. But there is one friend Churchill still thinks about, a woman she knew as “Joanna.” This woman was on the bottom of the hierarchy and was taking a lot of abuse from the group. As Churchill was leaving she offered her a lifeline.
“Joanna was crying when I was leaving and I said, ‘Joanna, I’m going to stay in Truro overnight because you are on the line. I really don’t want to leave you here,’” she said. “‘So if you change your mind, just text me and ‘'ll come and get you.’”
She never received that text.
A cute town with a weird neighbor
Almost everyone and their grandmother in Tatamagouche, the village just a few minutes drive away from the QAnon campsite, knew of the little compound. But few, if any, knew what was really going on there.
On my first night in the area I made my way to a local BBQ spot to tuck into some dinner. Saddled up to the bar I was quickly set upon by a kind local who had obviously partaken in some libations. With a broad grin, the man, asked what my name was and what my business was in town. When I told my whole deal, the smile didn’t leave his face but some confusion did enter his eyes.
“You came all this way to write about her? Really?”
The incredulous man had a point, there is an argument to be made that by covering her I’m doing more harm than good. In all honesty, it’s a constant refrain that has long echoed inside of my head: why am I doing this?
“God, I hope this is the last time I write about her,” I thought more than once on this trip.
Upon hearing that Churchill was willing to bring them goods and a trailer—and used to work in media—Kaven and Darlene gave her the OK to come on up and she traveled to Nova Scotia to join the group full time
I’ve been an extremism reporter for several years and in that stretch of time I’ve broken a few stories I’m rather proud of about dangerous fringe groups which have ultimately helped expose them and protect people. My entire journalistic philosophy can be boiled down to a line from the Bruce Cockburn classic Lovers in a Dangerous Time: “(you’ve) got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.” So I have a lot of questions I want answers to: Where is this all headed? What happens when she runs out of money? Does she really believe this? Does she feel bad about the lives she ruined? Can the information I gather help family members who have people sucked into this group?
“Well, it’s dumb, for sure, but she’s legitimately hurting her followers,” I explained, as much to the drunk man as to myself. “Anyways, it’s interesting to see what it’s like in a small town when a cult leader sets up shop just outside.”
My man, seemingly happy with this answer, then went around the BBQ joint and asked other patrons for their thoughts of “their new queen.”
“You mean that woman in the fucked-up RV,” his friend, an older man with a big white mustache and leather vest, chimed in.
When Didulo first arrived in the town late last summer she set up camp at a local motel. Few people saw her “fucked-up RV” before Claire Fralick, the motel’s cleaner. Like many Canadians who first see the vehicle, which features a massive picture of Didulo on the side and the words “mobile government,” Fralick was confused and a tad concerned at the mental well being of those who resided inside.
Fralick was warned not to interact with the group but nevertheless saw lots of them. They were hard to miss. She watched the group serve Didulo “hand and foot” going “from the camper to the room with trays of food and her coffee” and “doing everything for her.”
“They guarded this place like Fort Knox,” she told me. “They would pace up and down the driveway.”
If anyone dared approach the RV holding their queen they would spring into action and intercept them. They used the motel as something of a home base, Fralick said. ”They’d be gone for a while and then they come back again for a couple of days and then they would go.”
Soon enough the locals noticed their presence and realized they weren’t your usual tourists. Photos of the motel were posted on local Facebook groups—a few of the posts even had to be moderated because the comments were so rude to Didulo. An individual who helps with one of these pages, and wanted to remain anonymous so as to not become the topic of gossip themselves, told VICE News it was “a big topic and it’s quite controversial in our community.”
“Everybody knows everybody’s business,” Fralick said. “So if you have anything private, you don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t say anything.”
The town gossiped among themselves about Didulo while she was there and worried she was going to give the town—whose economy relies partially on tourism—a bad name. One resident shook his head when I told him what I was there for and told me “we’re all going to look like a bunch of yokels.” So they all sighed with relief when Didulo left in the fall.
But like a conspiratorial cat in the hat, Didulo came back.
Fralick, in particular, couldn’t shake the queen. When the group left the motel she was relieved—they never did any harm but she didn’t like being around them. Then one day, a month or two later, she was heading home when she crested a hill two minutes from her place and was blinded by security lights. When the spots cleared from her eyes, she saw a big RV with a familiar face parked on a neighbor’s property.
“They gave me the heebie jeebies,” she said. “They made me uneasy and they were only two minutes away from my house all winter. I didn’t go there because I wanted nothing to do with them at all, because they gave me the creeps. They made me nervous.”
Despite staying there all winter, it appears Didulo and her followers were mostly left alone. Being nice to outsiders is a bit of a cliche across the Maritimes, especially as wealthy Americans, Europeans, and *shudders* people from Ontario have bought summer properties, bringing in desperately needed dollars (a recent report found Nova Scotia to be the Canadian province with the most out-of-province land investors). But Didulo would find out the hard way that not everyone in Nova Scotia was going to be chill with her.
Hurricane, what Hurricane?
While I was in Tatamagouche talking to the locals I continuously heard one story about how Didulo was chased off an island.
“This isn’t a town that is going to chase somebody off,” one local, who like many others who spoke to me preferred to be anonymous to protect their reputation among their neighbors, barely hiding the jealousy on her breath, told me. “I guess Cape Breton did that, and I was kind of thinking, well, maybe that might happen here, but it didn't.”
So, to learn more about the subtle differences in Nova Scotian hospitality I loaded up in my rental car and made the three-and- a-half-hour drive north to Cape Breton, a large island attached to the Nova Scotia mainland by the nearly mile-long Canso Causeway. Home to more than 100,000 people, the island is arguably one of the most stunning places in eastern Canada, with its highlands in particular being the sort of thing you plan an entire vacation around.
While known for the hospitality associated with its ceilidhs, golf courses, and the Rankin Family, Cape Breton was not in the most welcoming of moods with Didulo’s convoy rolled in last fall—just weeks after a devastating hurricane made landfall.
As I made the journey northeast in my incredibly underpowered rental car, it was easy to see the ravages of Hurricane Fiona—the costliest hurricane to ever smash into Canada— passing by my car window. Six months later, trees remained downed, some homes had their sidings stripped off, and I spotted others with no roof to speak of.
Despite the obvious devastation, Didulo arrived in Cape Breton on a mission to “prove” the hurricane wasn’t real and that local news and the government were misleading the people. Her journey took her to Glace Bay, a town on the northernmost tip of the island that was smashed by Fiona. Many of the homes were severely damaged, some quite literally having their roofs torn off by the 105 miles per hour winds.
It was an area still reeling from the pain, with pent up emotion she would soon try to take advantage of—and then feel the consequences from.
Didulo pulled into the hurricane-ravaged town planning to convince people that the hurricane was fake, but she soon found a new mark, a man she found sitting on the stoop outside a dilapidated building with his head quite literally in his hands. The man, who neighbors told me suffered from mental health issues, was set upon by Didulo and her followers, who halted their RV, got out, put him on camera and used him to fundraise.
Raising money to keep the party going is, essentially, the group’s little mission. Kaven and Darlene—the two most public facing members—host the group’s daily livestreams, Darlene in English and Kaven in French, and after ranting about various conspiracies for 25 or so minutes they without fail ask for cash. Didulo, who according to several former followers doesn’t like to use her own bank account, uses Kaven’s as the repository for her followers’ electronic money transfers. Churchill added that followers are also expected to give Didulo money, pay for everything, and max out their credit cards. Recently Darlene said that everyone living with Didulo owes their leader in excess of $10,000.
Since emerging as a QAnon figure, Didulo has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for her exploits. Before becoming that, Didulo lived in a boarding home in Victoria and, by all accounts, had limited financial resources. Having her followers keep her afloat is the only way forward. They had now found yet another way to gin up some money from her audience, the sad man sitting outside a dilapidated home in Glace Bay.
Folks didn’t take kindly to this.
The “Demon” of the North
Enter Robert Nolan, a large, jovial man with an easy laugh. This Nova Scotian trucker would become, to quote Didulo herself, an absolute “demon” to the mobile cult.
I set off from my hotel in the nearby town of Sydney, which months after Fiona was still full of displaced residents. When I pulled up on the gravel road, just a row of houses away from a steep cliff leading into the North Atlantic, I saw a large man with a still-steaming cup of Tim Hortons coffee chatting to another man riding a quad.
With my long hair and camera hanging over a West Coast Brazilian jiu-jitsu hoodie, I stand out, and Nolan quickly spotted me. With a smile and a call he ushered me over and with the cadence of a well-practiced tour guide showed me the damage done to the nearby properties—mainly which roof flew off what home and where it landed. As we walk up to one empty lot—next to it stands a garage and a trailer—but where a house would exist only dirt. Nolan points to a line in the ground and for the first time I see his face fall.
“We’‘re standing where my home was,” he told me. “You’re actually in my downstairs bathroom now.”
The hurricane ripped the roof off his home while he and his wife were hunkered down inside. Nolan told me they could feel “the pressure” in the home change and water flooded in. In the end, despite trying to save the home they raised their kids in, they were forced to demolish it. So when Didulo and her staff pulled in, not two weeks removed from the storm, he was not in the best of moods.
Nolan knew who Didulo was—her statements about putting health care workers to death were well-covered in Canada—so when he first saw her, he pulled up in his semi-truck and emptied the air horn on them during a live stream.
“I never thought about pulling in the driveway and laying on my horn, but it just happened,” Nolan told me. “It was spontaneous. I knew who she was. And I knew what she said about health care workers. I knew she was here to prove that Fiona wasn’t real. That’s a hard slap in the face when you lose everything. It’s somebody coming here to make a fool out of us."
Didulo and her crew, always desperate to raise money, persisted with their, as Nolan put it, grift. Via livestreams on the location, they told their followers to donate money to repair the old man’s home (he never would see a dime.)
The Queen of Canada wasn’t prepared for the pushback they were going to receive. While it wasn’t exactly the gunpowder plot, it was a neighborhood affair.
Nolan honked his horn from his big rig, and made them move their vehicles if they were parked on his property or in front of his driveway. At one point Didulo’s convoy drove up the street to have a private conversation so Nolan launched his drone and flew it above them. Nolan said he turned himself into the “town crier” and encouraged people driving by to share their thoughts about the convoy leader he called “Queen Dildo.”
“I couldn’t help what they were saying out of their window,” Nolan said with a sly grin. “A lot of it wasn’t nice.”
In an inverse of Didulo torturing people with her non-stop playing of “Rasputin,” Nolan’s neighbor Pat, who lives across the street, blasted Slayer and death metal whenever he saw them filming.
“I was just trying to get on their nerves,” Pat, who did not want his last name used in this story because he feared it would impact his employment, told me outside of his home, near a massive divot in the ground made from when a roof smashed into it during the hurricane. “Like playing Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood.’ I just backed my car up, pop the sunroof, every window, pop the back hatch, and let ‘er rip.”
The group got extremely agitated and Didulo herself would hide away in her RV. At times, though, Nolan did try to help the cult members, in the passive aggressive way you can only find in Canada (and perhaps the Midwest, so I hear). At one point he offered to pay for Kaven’s way out of the cult, offering to buy him a ticket home to Quebec. Nolan said that he would have happily followed through on the offer and even showed the man the cash he would have used to pay for it.
But the rest of the neighborhood made it their business to make sure Didulo wasn’t welcome. Some even came from nearby Sydney to help out. Mike Thomey told VICE News that he learned she was in Glace Bay via social media and went to help shut down her efforts to raise money off the man. He knew of her from the group’s previous visits to Sydney in the past.
“These are friends. These are our neighbors. This is our community. These are our seniors. You don’t come into a place as hard as Cape Breton and try to rip off our friends,” said Thomey. “People weren’t having it. Fiona just hit. Everybody was suffering.”
“I hope that people can learn from how we handle it here in Cape Breton and they can apply that in their own areas,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think that people should engage Didulo and her cult if they don’t need to, but should certainly stand up if they’re targeting someone in your community.
The neighborhood fighting back led to some tense moments and Didulo and her crew called the cops several times. Needless to say, no arrests were made.
“She said I was a demon and my eyes turned red or some foolishness like that. She said that it was a corrupt neighborhood with police corruption. I have no doubt in my mind that if I was doing anything wrong, Trevor (the local cop) would have hauled me away,” Nolan said.
This went on for days until Didulo and her crew just gave up. They were able to raise $10,000 from Nolan’s neighbor—money Nolan believes was used to pay for them to take a ferry to Newfoundland—and hit the road shortly after they convinced the man to say he didn’t want the money. All he was left with by Didulo and her team was a broken TV.
Nolan isn’t shy to let people know what he thinks of the “scam artist.”
“I think she’s a parasite. I think maybe they might have scraped everything that was sticky, smelly, bad up off the floor and made her out of that,” said Nolan. “Because you can’t spend your life duping people, stealing from people. These are the things that break up families. They break up relationships. There’s no good that can come of it.”
While Nolan doesn’t like to admit it, he and his neighbors chased Didulo out of Cape Breton. In a livestream Darlene was livid about the pushback they received and Cape Breton’s lack of respect for her queen.
“These individuals were very disruptive and intimidating,” she said. "They were gathering a gang from the neighborhood and they were non-stop, incessantly harassing, bullying, and intimidating.”
So southwest Didulo went, eventually finding her way back to her safe haven outside of Tatamagouche. And that’s where she would stay all winter and where I would find her on a cloudy afternoon in late April.
“Can I speak to the queen, please?”
Kim Churchill, the former member of the Tatamagouche compound, had long left the group by the time I arrived to check out the scene. While she doesn’t think Didulo’s group was likely to get violent, she’s unsure of what they’re capable of and said the queen would often say violent things, like that thieves should have their hands cut off and people who speak poorly of her should be imprisoned.
"They told me not to come back and they threatened saying ‘don’t come back, it’s a bad idea,,’” said Churchill. “They made it sound like there's going to be consequences, like they’re going to shoot me or something. I didn't know what I was dealing with so I didn’t go back.”
I talked to Churchill after my trip so I was blissfully unaware of all of this as I planned my introduction to the queen. My entire trip to Nova Scotia was based around going up and seeing if Didulo would talk to me. The VICE News security team didn’t want me going alone in case Didulo used her alien powers on me— there might have been more earthly concerns too—so I was with a coworker at the time, a large man originally from the Maritimes. After getting a nice lunch at a local establishment called Big Al’s, we loaded up the rental and drove down the rust-colored rural road that led to the property.
We had to make contact that day. I had heard the group mention on livestreams that they were hoping to possibly get back on the road ASAP, so we knew our window to speak to them was small. In fact, just days prior the group made a test run of the RV (it quickly broke down and had to be towed back to their home base).
As we did a flyby of the property we were greeted with a view of the monarch atop her RV duct taping security cameras to the roof. “She’s on the roof!” I exclaimed in a vertical video that you’ll never see, and we parked a few hundred feet down the road. As we pregamed our approach, we watched a neighbor walk a few hundred feet down his driveway to come speak with us, as he thought we might have broken down.
After reassuring the neighbor that we were fine, we trudged over to the property, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit anxious. I had flown across a continent for this—what if she, or her followers, didn’t talk to me? I wanted the kind of answers you can only get from speaking face-to-face, did she really believe she was a member of an intergalactic alliance? Did her followers really believe that? Could we even have a civil, normal conversation about the last two years of QAnon-inspired madness?
When we got there we discovered the Queen had removed herself from the roof of the RV. What we did find was two older women loading up a vehicle. They were curt, not wanting to speak to us.
“Can we speak with the Queen?” I asked the one who was giving off “clearly in charge” energy, after introducing myself.
“Absolutely not!” she snapped back. I pressed back politely, hoping they’d eventually just start talking to us, because it’s kind of hard not to talk to a person who is right in front of you.
But they didn’t, and we schlepped back towards our underpowered rental.
Disappointed with the anti-climatic ending to our trip,I began to plan how I could somehow sell this as the climax of my story. As my co-worker and I discussed our next plan of action outside our vehicle, we saw Kaven, who had put on his little security hat, peering at us from the property. I waved. He did not wave back but continued to stare.
That was a good enough invitation for me! So once more we walked back to the property’s driveway, fingers crossed Didulo would talk to us.
This time, we came across not only the two women loading the vehicle, but the faux-security guard, the woman who owned the property, and about a dozen or so dogs running about, barking, and fighting with each other. (It didn’t help that my co-worker had repeatedly said that poorly-trained dogs were the biggest security threat on this deployment.) We told them we just wanted to talk and this wasn’t an ambush, but they were having none of it.
We made a little bit of small talk and it actually seemed the woman who owned the property might speak to us—she had a quibble with a previous story I had written—but then we heard the telltale sound of a motorhome door slamming shut.
Turning towards the sound, we could see a serious-looking woman with her shoulders set like a boxer storming at us, phone out to film us, and screaming “no comment!” She spoke loudly over everyone, but she wasn’t what I noticed. Above the shoulder of this rapidly approaching cult follower was the RV, and there she was—my white whale and the scourge of the Cape Breton—Romana Didulo, leaning so far over her dashboard her face was almost touching the windshield, staring at us intensely and barking orders, which we could clearly hear emanating from the walkie talkie her driver/security guard kept on his belt.
This moment of recognition only lasted a brief second as Darlene, her assistant, quickly swooped in and no-commented us till we left. Anything we said was either shouted over or ignored, so with at least the knowledge that Didulo had seen us we admitted defeat.
For whatever reason, Didulo and her crew decided to hit the road that very evening, to once more begin her never-ending tour of Canada.
They broke down almost immediately.