This piece was previously published in the life-after-hate journal (www.lifeafterhate.org), 2012:
My life of hate began as a boy. From incidents of child abuse, to life on the streets. The east side of Vancouver was a breeding ground for violence and hate. Hate which I carried for many years to come.
I left the street life behind while an organized crime group, which led me to a darker path, employed me. In the mid-nineties, I moved away from Vancouver after nearly becoming the first person charged with a hate crime in British Columbia (BC). I retreated to northeast BC, the beautiful Peace River district, I carried a network of hate and violence with me. Bridging western hate networks from the south, to the east, and to the north.
I had introduced many youth to extremist groups, and doctrine, contributing to fueling their hearts with hatred. Including a northern BC man who is now in prison after multiple convictions for explosives. Peter Houston. All in the name of hate. Extreme hatred. There were three major events in my life that transpired and initiated my process of liberation—freedom from the life of hate.
First, was the birth of my last child, my son. All of my previous children were girls. Though I tried to love each and every one of them, I was unable to reach inside of myself to a depth that permitted true love and humanistic connection: the girls were fatherless.
I was detached with anger, hate, and rage.
The day my son was born, August 11, 2001, a profound realization came; I had been creating a world filled with pain and violence for my children. This boy, my saviour son, was born into my reality. I wanted to protect him from the pain ahead. He was not going to endure a childhood of abuse, like I did. His tiny body was a reflection of my being. He was my mirrored child, representative of my rebirth. I wanted to protect him. I wanted to protect myself.
If I did not change my hateful ways and my addiction to drugs, alcohol, and violence; then my son would surely be led down a similar path. I did not want to be responsible for destroying a little boy, as had been done to me. I felt like I was damaged and destroyed. Worthless. I did not want to live in an abusive world any longer. I hated life and all of the pain I endured. I had dreamed of a good life for my children, but the path to achieve these dreams was not apparent. Surely my path would destroy my son, and daughters.
(for Kieron Gallant)
familiar sadness spiraled inward
sneaking smiles index logical wit
freckled essence of ancestors splattered
chiseled features of a lively boy
demeanor displayed through daily interaction
ancient respect offers delicate soft requests
fervor anticipates emotional swells erupt
advice sought from fathers, grandfathers and men
you are soft surrounded by women
dimpled giggles with protective eyes
small toned Celtic warrior reminisces
pent energy needed direction
your natures images reflected
you stand mirrored in my eyes
After seeing myself reflected in my son’s tiny body, my last ultra-violent incident occurred. I beat an aboriginal man with a hatchet. For the first time I felt a guilt that I had never experienced before. There was no alternative but to turn myself in. Once again, for a moment, I knew this life of hate could not continue.
It was shortly after this that my second epiphany came to fruition. Presented with childhood flashbacks of repressed memories the term crisis became very apparent. I had never gone through something so torturous, as when I had experienced those memories that revealed horrific scenes from my childhood. In hindsight those memories were a metaphysical breath offered to my inner-being, awakening my spirit which had been drowned in hate. A breath that led to a path of redemption.
The third epiphany was the 9-11 tragedy. I was convinced that a race war was about to erupt, believing that the twin towers were the world’s most powerful financial institution, which was operated and controlled by Zionists. Engaging in preparation for the race war, I watched the towers crumble, I ensured that all the weapons I had cached in the hills were loaded and operational.
Gathering enough provisions and weaponry for a small army, I informed my trusted friends to prepare for the racial holy war also. As the information came out that 9-11 was not the work of white supremacists, my compatriots and I were horribly disappointed.
Discouraged, I began to question our collective dedication to a race war. I spoke with my peers in the network of hate leadership, and all seemed to be avoiding a prime opportunity for war. This was the first epiphany for my exit: the ‘movement’ was a fallacy.
For the next several years a process of change led to a pathway of liberation. But before freedom, there were feelings of being shattered and hopeless. I finally quit drugs and alcohol. After a few months of self-harm and fighting with others, while sober, a decision was made to seek help. I attended a men’s residential addiction treatment center.
After a couple of months I was prepared to leave the treatment program. A counselor made a suggestion to me for my continued path of hope and recovery from a life of hate. He informed me that he saw my intelligence, but there was still a problem. I was filled with hate and right-wing-extremist doctrine. He suggested a route to recovery that involved attending a social work school program. My counselor said that social work education could challenge my belief structure in a logical manner. I followed his suggestions, as there were no other viable options for my healing, then began college with a grade seven education. This initiated my life-after-hate.
In 2012, I graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) with a degree in First Nations Studies (Indigenous Studies), then started working on a Master’s degree in social work. As a successful anti-racist activist, my work includes having initiated several interventions, including exposing a white supremacist bombing, preventing hate group recruitment, and facilitating presentations to youth, professionals, post-secondary institutions, law enforcement and public events that educate people about racism, hate groups, and the realistic threat of right wing extremism in western Canada. As well, the racism we see from extremists is merely a reflection from the larger social consciousness.
I have completed several manuscripts of poetry that outline aspects of my journey. Writing saved my life. Ever since the age of fourteen, my writing has been my lifeline. My first manuscript is offered to honor those who have helped me on my healing path: academics, professionals, community members, the red road, twelve step groups, and my fellow global citizens. My first publication has been done in an editing partnership with my writing mentor. Aboriginal poet Garry Gottfriedson, has helped me to sharpen my poetic voice, in order to tell my story.
In my professional life I have worked as an addictions counselor, group home manager, researcher, and child advocate. I have many more roles in the community that are fulfilled on this travelled path of social justice. I do this work to respect all human life in a network of hope, diversity, and compassion. I consider myself, and my path, a miracle to have the opportunity to live this life-after-hate.
In compassionate and creative solidarity,
 LifeAfterHate (LAH)
Tags: 9-11, Aboriginal, addiction, after, Anti-racist, axe, BC, bombs, child, counsellor, Daniel, extremism, fight, First Nations, Gallant, Garry Gottfriedson, hatchet, hate, kieron, kieron gallant, Liberation, Life, lifeafterhate, Mirror, mirror child, movement, Poetry, race war, Racist, recovery, right wing, september 11, Skinhead, sober, social service, terrorism, transformation, UNBC, Vancouver, zionism, zionist