I wrote this set of pieces in 2013. In 2014 some of the following was published in my masters in social work. This series was included in a manuscript competition I won on indigenous topics relating to culture, law and land in 2013.
Dr. Cindy Blackstock is one of the most important Canadians that walks among us. She is one of my heroes. Her work is beyond important to all Canadians.
Doctor – I
I have read articles. books. your research. offered solutions. people before profit. children before. money. first people’s children. all children. the platform.
Black-stock’d – II
state of lived experience
First Nations’ children
incredulous human rights violation
repeated, perhaps blatant
our nation, our short history
politicians cannot afford
housing, education, food, language
and equitable social service
commodify, accept, tolerate, perpetuate, perpetrate
profitable margins, of mainstream dominant class
ignored, suppressed, push down, down, and done
at the cost
of injustices served
extended Canadian apartheid
Child, Family and Community Services Act
into group homes
kicked out of hospitals
without family, community, ceremony, language, land
words of Duncan Campbell Scott
culture and gatherings
speak mother tongues
babies in the night
like a mongoose snatches eggs
from robin’s nest
150 years, kidnapping
I cry – III
non-First Nations children
are someone’s babies
without parents, families, or community connections
watch, observe and learn
Canada penetrates deeper, deeper and
imperialists take babies
under, and for, ‘the law’
British law rules
as children watch and learn
we teach snatched babies
ripped families hearts bleed screams
helpless, hopeless, I cry
all children learn
Problematic – IV
white faced suits deny, discourage, dishonor
and then disrobe
their captive indian princesses
with Olympic feathers and buckskin Ramsey rooms
judges disrobe, cops turned blind eyes
as highways cry missing women
girls, children, exploitation
sexual domination cropped and farmed
sex and violence
in systems built in
built on fortification
power bases cry babies
women’s blackened eyes
men staggering alone
hitting each other
Poisonous Plates – V
lateral violence deserts
blamed for crying alcohol
and dining, whimpers
Governments Words – VI
these are the things I grew up hearing
I borrowed these views
now returned to their rightful owners:
pull up your fucking socks
lazy dirty ‘Indians’
these are the things I grew up hearing
I borrowed these views
now returned to their rightful owners:
worked jobs, twenty seven years
fed brown children
these are the things I grew up hearing
I borrowed these views
now returned to their rightful owners:
killed, selling two dollar assholes
these are the things I grew up hearing
I borrowed these views
now returned to their rightful owners
Witnessed – VII
Wall-street suited economics
oppressive governing neo-cons
damn any-and-every-one, deemed differentiated
divided by privilege
antithetical under-grounded scholars
research, observe, compile, articulate, write and write
and write right words righteous
smudge, pray in honor
to your journey
sweat prayers, for your momentum
requests ability carried out
mother natures’ will, assist support
witness, this revolution
Cindy B -VIII
I want to thank you
on behalf of all
all non-First Nations Canadian peoples
us immigrants. the ignorant. the mean. the killers. the rapers. the homophobes. the racists. the powerful. Dominant. and sickened. superiority complexified society.
I, thank you. for articulation. research harvested ceremonial. produced in language. and understood structures. by masses. Now. who can deny?
success. teaching the government. how to treat children. people and community. my nechi-nehiyewan. Cree. Salteaux. Secwepmc. Anishinaabe. my friends. lovers. Partners. Colleagues. and comrades in academia. my brethren on the streets. homeless. and those of us who moved on. Survived. your praxis. a revolution. this. my honor. honorary shout-out. for you. for the kids. and families. the world. country. and nation
Reflections about misuse of Terrorist Legislation and ‘Indigenous Extremism’ from a Canadian Former Violent Extremist: “Picking fights will likely get you punched in the face”
Daniel Gallant is a BC writer, researcher and social worker. Gallant is identified as an expert media consultant and has presented both nationally and internationally to national security teams relating to extremism and terrorism. As an identified expert on deradicalization from violent extremism Gallant bridges his personal experience as a former violent extremist, professional counselor/social-worker and academic researcher. Gallant now has undertaken the study of law to compliment his activism and academic work in order to identify possible issues pertaining to terrorist legislation and indigenous rights in Canada. Daniel Gallant has been described as a fierce advocate who frequently and passionately writes and speaks about topics relating to his research and scholarship that others tend to shy away from.
In the last week there have been two Canadian terrorist attacks. The first on a military base in Quebec where two armed forces members were run-over with a car driven by terrorist, Martin Roleau, who was then subsequently shot and killed by RCMP. The following day soldier Patrice Vincent died as a result of the attack.
Within 48 hours later there was a tumultuous attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. A gunman jumped from a car then shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo where he stood on guard at the War Memorial grounds. There are a lot of questions being asked in media reports about the past investigations on these particular terrorists, who they were and why there was not extra measures taken to ensure public safety.
As security and law enforcement have stated repeatedly these attacks are different because they are ‘lone wolf’ attacks and these types of attacks are harder to track due to the fact that people are allowed to think and say what they want without impingement of those inherent rights in Canada. However, this response from Canadian leaders and security teams opens up other lines of inquiry that seem to be put on the backburner as our nation is mourning these horrific terrorist attacks.
The same day that Martin Roleau attacked a Quebec military base the Aboriginal People’s Television Network reported that Clayton Thomas-Muller, a First Nations activist with the Idle No More movement has been put under surveillance by Canadian national security teams. The same national security team that indicated they could not infringe upon the rights of Martin Roleau who was arrested and questioned last summer. Yet, it seems that government and national security teams are drawing their focus to First Nations groups without the same restraint that they are offering real terrorist threats.
I, the author of this article, also wear the hat of an academic researcher. In my research at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) I initiated an exploration into the question if there was an inappropriate application of terrorist legislation being evoked by government and national security teams against indigenous peoples in Canada. We must remember that Louis Riel, the leader of an indigenous rebellion who is now been recognized as a leader, was once labeled a terrorist and was convicted and sentenced to death for what was labeled “treason”. Legislation is consistently applied to indigenous peoples in an abusive and oppressive manner. The misapplication of terrorist legislation against indigenous peoples could be said to date back to the 1885, and likely even before that.
Oct. 23, 2014, BC’s Provincial Premier Christy Clark has publicly addressed an exoneration of six Tsilhqot’in war chiefs who were hung in the interior region of BC. In 1864 the Tsilhqot’in demanded that a road crew who were building pathways to the gold fields were attacked and killed over 20 people non-aboriginal people. The attacks were in response to the non-indigenous invaders who initiated a racist attack upon Canada’s first peoples, which included a purposeful use of biological warfare in the form of smallpox. Canadian Supreme Court Justice David Vickers acknowledged that the landmark land title case of the Tsilhqot’in, which ruled in favor of indigenous land title rights, was attributed to the stance that these war chiefs took and were later hanged. Premier Christy Clark made a speech that in BC’s legislature that these men were not treasonous traitors and exonerated them for the crimes they were hung for. These war chiefs are historical hero’s, not terrorists.
I was able to identify reports from 2012 that indicated many First Nations people, groups and communities were added to terrorist watch lists. Moreover, it was reported to me by an RCMP superintendent that local officers were being trained by national security teams in order to deal with local First Nations extremists and their anti-industry allies. It was this conversation with RCMP that flagged initial concerns about the possibilities of the misapplication of terrorist legislation by the Canadian government that would, at minimum, synthesize attributes of further systemic racism and suppression of indigenous rights.
It also became apparent in this research and noteworthy that the federal government had put indigenous scholar Dr. Cindy Blackstock under surveillance as well due to her vocal and substantiated and valid Human rights claim against the federal government for it’s mistreatment of indigenous children in child welfare care. According to the 2006 wen;de research report the mistreatment in question has resulted in nearly an average of 400 child deaths each year. Historical oppression and genocidal programs have happened in Canada, and according to experts and scholars it is evident that it is still happening. Justice Murray Sinclair indicated that in recent years Canadian governments were involved in genocidal program against indigenous peoples in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being openly chastised for his failure to respectively act on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. With a not-so-distant past we know that the Canadian legal system was forced to respond when a BC Judge was convicted and later died in prison for his abuse against vulnerable indigenous women. More recently RCMP are being openly scrutinized due to a report issued by an international Human Rights group that alleges RCMP members are raping and abusing aboriginal women in northern BC. The same region of the province where national security teams were training local RCMP members to respond to what they are labelled as extremists and potentially terrorists in the area.
This can be a very troubling dynamic for any person who understands systemic racism, oppression and human rights. The United Nations have recently reported that Canada is falling short in regards to issues relating to levels of trust with all levels of government. The reasons for the mounting distrust with our current government is due to the systemic abuse and ongoing disregard for indigenous rights to land title, indigenous education and a lack of response to systemic racism which does include the mass amounts of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
When looking to the historic track record of government and law enforcement in Canada there is insurmountable evidence of violence, systemic racism, oppression and genocidal programs launched against indigenous peoples. This is still continuing today. According to indigenous scholar Bonita Lawrence First Nations peoples are the only group in Canada who face a constant threat of military force for asserting their inherent rights. With all of these issues in consideration is it really appropriate to apply terrorist legislation to indigenous peoples who are merely attempting to assert their legal rights?
It appears that terrorist legislation is likely to start being applied and abused as another form of systemic abuse against indigenous peoples. There are practical and real ways that we can resolve political issues rather than attempting to utilize terrorist legislation as a colonial weapon against indigenous people, groups and community.
Concerns with Terrorist Legislation
It seems there is substantiated evidence to facilitate a conclusion that this is already in process. Clayton Thomas-Muller is but only one of many concerned citizens asserting indigenous legal rights in Canada while the government is attempting to label him as an extremist and or terrorist. Muller is not alone in these seeming misapplications of terrorist legislation. The BC Civil Liberties Association, which is a team of legal professionals who advocate against systemic abuse, have indicated the blanket investigations by CSIS and RCMP against normal citizens include First Nations and anti-industry protestors violates Constitutional Rights of Canadians. This is becoming an increasingly contentious issue since the attacks on Parliament Hill.
Twenty minutes after the attacks Prime Minister Stephen Harper purported that national security teams will soon receive expanded powers. Security specialists are now criticizing this response. Professor Roland Paris at the University of Ottawa said that Canadians should be on guard when it comes to their own government after the recent attacks.
Reflections of a Former Extremist
What has become concerning for me as a former extremist engaged with counter-extremist-narrative initiatives, as an academic and a current student of law is that our government may utilize terrorist legislation in an inappropriate manner, and perhaps even abusive application of terrorist legislation.
Researchers indicate that aggressive tactics will result in further entrenchment of extremist mindsets and this may result in the opposite effect than what was originally intended. If we want to decrease violent attacks the solution to further the tensions between government and active extremists, according to experts and critics, would be foolhardy and contradictory.
One thing to consider is that if we begin to utilize Canadian terrorist legislation against indigenous peoples and their socio-political allies there is a possibility of breeding extremists. Indigenous peoples have been under attack by colonial governments since European contact. They were imposed upon by a government entrenched in racial, religious and legal supremacist doctrines that are still in place today. Yet, it seems the collectivity of First Nations only intends to rightfully walk towards healing for all Canadians.
First Nations have proven to be respectful cultural groups that are more than willing to share land and resources. First Nations peoples have not declared war, nor does that seem to be an intention of any indigenous group. Indigenous peoples are participants in Canadian government, universities and law as professionals and human rights advocates. First Nations are also teaching Canadians how to heal, even in the most extreme cases such as myself.
Entire First Nations communities have embraced my path as a former white supremacist simply because healing is possible. I believe it is time for Canada to consider that the perhaps our government and national security teams should consider:
- a) that First Nations are at the heart of Canadian society and we need not attempt to criminalize nor be threatened by their inherent legal rights, which result in illegal surveillance and misapplication of terrorist legislation
- b) that perhaps First Nations culture holds a key to what the government considers to be counter-violent-extremist initiatives
- c) reconsideration of aggressive national security tactics and to consider safeguards of misuse of terrorist legislation against indigenous peoples
Perhaps First Nations culture should be embraced by the Canadian government as it is inherently non-violent, unlike the insurmountable evidence that suggestions Canadian government is abusive and violent. Perhaps First Nations could teach Canadians how to develop strategies against a violent abuser or terrorist. I do not suggest that First Nations should be leading national security, what I am suggesting is that we as a nation should consider our own actions and behaviors especially in regards to First Nations issues and national security. What can we do as a nation to offer our own citizens what they need in order to decrease the violence that is surely going to erupt if we continue down an aggressive path, do we really need to create enemies within our own borders?
I believe that Canada’s relationship with our First Nations peoples reflects and represents the direction that we are going as a country. The first relationship to exist in Canada was the European colonizers and indigenous peoples. This state of this respective first Canadian relationship will determine the direction of our national identity. The world is watching and the UN has responded. If we as a nation decide to apply a fear mongering approach and reject the inherent rights of indigenous peoples and remain determined to make them feel like an enemy within, then it is unlikely that the Canadian government will not be able to treat any citizens in a manner that is conducive with Canadian values. We do NOT need to create enemies. It is time our government works on improving relationships by listening to the people they are in relationship with. Grievances that violent extremists have will become more legitimate if Canada continues to trample on the inherent rights of Canadians, and this is especially true for First Nations.
Picking fights will likely get you punched in the face.
First, I want to introduce you to my teacher and brother Gary Moostoos.
Before I tell you about the incident that screams discrimination against Gary Moostoos on behalf of OXFORD Properties Group Inc., I want to offer you a quick bio about myself, which will make more sense by time you get to the end of this article.
My name is Daniel Gallant and I am a former violent white supremacist. I was a street kid for many years in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. I suffered sexual and physical abuse as a child. I was angry and lost. Since that time I changed my life. At the age of 26 I started post-secondary school with a grade seven education. After my first year of school is when I met Gary Moostoos, which was about 12 years ago. Since that time I have worked as a frontline human services worker, group home manager, counselor, researcher and advocate. I now have a BA in First Nations Studies and a Masters in social work, which Gary Moostoos is included within. I am currently a student of law in Kamloops, BC. My public work can be found in the media throughout the world. I am currently the director of Exit Canada, which is a non-profit that assists other violent extremists to leave violent lifestyles.
I tell a story of how Gary and my other friend Jerry have taught me lessons. This story called Scars of Past won a writer’s award at the UNBC Weaving Words National Indigenous Storytelling festival in Prince George during 2013. This is attributed and dedicated to Gary and Jerry.
…so basically my point is that without the support and love from people like my teacher and brother Gary Moostoos I would likely have continued on with my violent rampages and not experienced the profound degree of change that I have been gifted. Now more about OXFORD, Gary and the issue at hand…
Gary Moostoos is a First Nations Cree Elder in Edmonton, Alberta; Gary is from Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.
Gary’s work is recognized across Canada and he worked along with Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings across the nation. Media, Edmonton Police Services and the community of Edmonton have recognized Gary as an elder, teacher and healer.
Gary Moostoos has dedicated his life to assisting and supporting indigenous peoples who are in need. Gary’s commitment to helping people started over a quarter century ago. He worked in a hospital supporting people whom were sick, then as a youth worker for many years he assisted youngsters in connecting with cultural practices and spiritual teachings. Gary currently is employed as he works with homeless populations and survivors of the residential school system.
Instead of recounting his words I am going to offer you Gary’s facebook post of an incident he faced this week at the downtown Edmonton City Centre:
“Oh my gosh I was eating noodles at City Center food court & a couple Security approach & stand over me as I eat. They asked for my name I asked Why? The one says that I looked suspicious & look like a person they banned. I asked who was this person & that they see me every day as I shop there & have to walk through there everyday to get to work. They then said I had to go. I asked to speak to the supervisor. Then she came with another fellow. She took a picture of me and said that I was associating with people who are banned & known criminals. I said I worked for the homeless and an Elder & I associate with whom ever needs support. Soon there was 8 of them & they asked me to leave my meal & go. I kept my composure I did not swear or was rude. 12 security escorted me out and said I was banned for 6 months. People were telling me they were banning native people all day. So when they approached me I turn my video on my phone. I wanna cry with all sorts of emotions running through me mostly NOW I feel how my inner city folks feel when they are targets. I don’t even wanna listen to the video. What should I do? I made a few calls but it leads back to one of the security that escorted me out… “
Aside from the racism Gary faces everyday in Edmonton, which I have witnessed first hand, he is now being condemned by a security team for merely doing his job. This is gross application of discriminative property rights in quasi-public areas conducted by a team of individuals who appear to have little regard for vulnerable populations and indigenous peoples.
I want to add a few more pieces of information about Gary Moostoos [see bottom for links to Gary’s work]. I include this link to my master’s thesis in social work because Gary has been monumental in my personal transformation from a violent white supremacist to a social justice advocate and practitioner. Gary has been instrumental in my life and the change therein. Moreover, I have gone on to help many people, which would not have been possible without Gary. Not only is Gary a healing practitioner for aboriginal peoples but he is also a practitioner for assisting all Canadians heal from racism and violence.
The conduct of the security team that works for OXFORD Property Group Inc. who manage the majority of the downtown Edmonton core has made a huge mistake by seemingly conducting themselves unprofessionally and abusing their powers as property owners, whether legally and or morally and ethically. Whether this conduct was manifested due to racial profiling or whether it was due to affiliation to ‘undesirables’ is merely seen as a minuet discrepancy or syntax. Either way OXFORD are reportedly attacking vulnerable peoples, Edmonton indigenous peoples and vulnerable people living in poverty, in the downtown Edmonton core who often access particular shops in the City Center Mall.
A direct and public apology to Gary Moostoos would be appropriate. A political gesture to show support for Edmonton’s homeless community from OXFORD Properties Group Inc. would also seem appropriate in response to this awful scenario. A gesture of this sort from OXFORD would both compliment and assist Gary Moostoos in his work of helping our society change. We as a society need to collectively move away from discrimination and abuse of powers. OXFORD should recognize the amount of work and the degree of Gary Moostoos’ commitment and work that he embodies.
Gary deserves more respect than this from those employed by OXFORD Property Group.
Here is a list of articles about Gary Moostoos’ work:
For related blogs written by Daniel Gallant please click below:
I sit here, tonight, feeling and thinking and reflecting. I am celebrating that my blog has surpassed another goal; to surpass my readership record. I am glad that the most popular article on my blog is not a negative controversy; rather it is an inspirational transformation.
I am, however, left with remnants of facts from the past. Hard realities. Here is a sample of what that can look like.
Tonight I am unable to shake the memories of a conversation I had with a friend last year. It is more like an internal haunting. The conversation I had with my friend (R) reminded me of two other conversations I had with other friends (f) and (D).
Conversations about the tormenting ongoing agony of experiencing victimization. The child physical and sexual abuse that we all shared, perpetrated by different people in different spaces. Our experiences so different but the spiritual scars so similar. Every one of these three friends and conversations is about life and death. Tragic stories. My friends dead.
I am left with so many questions…
First the back story:
I was 17 (21 years ago) and nearly completed an 18 month sentence in juvenile detention. My friend (R) called me at the center to tell me our close friend (F) hung himself. My friend (F) who killed himself told me several times when we were younger why he wanted to die sometimes, we both trusted one another with our secret suicidal ideation and the abuse and pain that wouldn’t go away.
(This poem was written when I was 17, then edited and added to in 2012)
(R) and I never talked for years, and years. Then last year (R) called out of the blue. He wanted to change his life. And he said “Daniel you are the only one in our circle of friends who climbed out of the hole we grew up in. You understand me and I trust you like a brother. I want to kill myself. I can’t live like this another day.”
We talked about sex abuse and beatings and the crazy violent years we shared. He was hurting so badly, and secretly so was I. He was drunk, and I was sober, for twelve years. I invited him to get help and then he could come stay with me and clean up instead of suicide. “ok. I will be there in a week,” (R) said excitedly.
He never did show up.
(R) called again a few weeks later pissed drunk and said “I am finished. I can’t keep living like this anymore. With this. I am done Daniel. I had to call you because I know you are the only one who really knows me and understands me. We been through the same shit.”
He reminded me of the conversation we had years ago after he was convicted of raping a girl.
“Daniel, you were the only one who sat with me and told me to my face what you thought of it honestly. You did that without telling me I was a piece of shit. You understood why I did it. If I even did it. Hell I don’t even remember if I did. But I do know I could have done it. It was done to me. You know that Daniel. You know what those bastards did to me. When you told me our friendship had to end but you will always love me. You were the only one who ever did that.”
I couldn’t lie to (R) because I loved him, and I sure as shit could not lie to him last year when he called me on the phone disclosing that he could not continue living anymore. I did know in my heart why he wanted to die. It made sense. It was logical.
When you live with the memories of being a victim of child sexual abuse and physical abuse, which we both suffered and cannot trust anyone, or feel close to anyone, life feels pretty pointless. Its awful feeling like the world is pitted against you and the pressure inside the skull hurts so much you just want to die for relief. I understood the issues and thoughts (R) was describing. All of the stress from dealing with perpetrating abuse on top of all the abuse he had endured must have been way to much to deal with. I know I would have killed myself if I had to deal with that. I am glad I never did those ‘things.’ I was sad and hurt that he did. I watched my mother get beat and raped. That was an unforgivable act. I knew (R)’s spiritual tearing was very deep.
I couldn’t lie to him.
“Dude, you know I won’t lie to you. I love you. I often think sometimes that dying would have been easier than what I’ve had to live through in order to get to where I am. I lived for years on end in sheer emotional and mental agony, and suicidal, just to get to a place where I do actually want to live everyday. It would have been easier to die, but I had chosen to live. It does get better. It takes a long time, but it can happen. It ain’t easy bro.”
We talked a little longer. (R) said he had to end it all. I told him that I would miss him and that he knew I trusted him to do what he needed to do out of necessity and not malice. He just wanted the pain to stop. Me and (R) understood each other deeply. We both cried and said “goodbye.”
Soon after (R) was gone. He died blue, in a house that I used to party in when we were young.
When I got the news that (R) was gone, I was instantly reminded of a time when I was (D)’s twelve step sponsor. He was a former white supremacist skinhead. He would often call me upset that he couldn’t stay clean. He was proud he was not being violent or racist. That was a big accomplishment for him. But the benzos had him by the balls. Then one night he called me and said he was going to get high instead of meeting me like we planned the week before. I gave him alternatives. He declined. We got off phone.
(D) called back later that evening, he told me that he was going to kill himself. We talked awhile. He said that I understood him like no one else had. (D) said his hatred burns so deep because of the abuse he suffered and he couldn’t continue living and putting his parents through more hell with his addiction. I had to be honest with him. I was sad about his decision, but I could relate to his feelings. I explained to him that I could be there for him as long as he lives to the best of my ability. But we both knew I could not relieve what ailed him. He was calm cool and collected. I know why he felt he had to do it.
I told him I would miss him and asked him not too do it. But he had too.He said good-bye and hung up the phone. I was standing there in my kitchen crying. I knew he was slipping away.
He overdosed hours later in a hotel room. That was eight years ago.
Why did I survive?
How did I end up being the go-to “goodbye” friend?
Why am I still alive?
Will living get easier when I am in a silent room alone?
Will the memories of my screaming bloody raped mother ever leave my mind and body?
Will the pain of my childhood bruised face ever heal?
Will my bruised ribs ever heal, so I do not have to continue breathing memories of constant short breathes?
Will I ever dream in peace?
Will I ever be loved enough that someone wants to be next to me everyday in the most vulnerable ways?
Will it be possible to find a person to be a constant in my life every night?
Is it possible to meet someone who does not intentionally or inadvertantly hurt me?
Where are my three friends now?
Will I see them again?
Or is it only in my words that I am able to help them heal through my healing?
Do I miss them?
Or do I miss the connections I shared with them?
…so many questions, but the biggest one…
How and why have I survived this long?