Tag Archive | BC

FIREARMS, GANGS, EXTREMISTS AND THE INTERNET

About

This blog article is the first known publication in Canada related to Firearms, Gangs and Extremists that specifically comments on the intersections of gangs, extremism, firearms law and Internet in Canada.

This article is written with knowledge (of the author) that national security teams across Canada have failed to address the alarming fact that para military extremist training camps have emerged all over western Canada in the last two years. These training camps use both firearms and improvised explosives.

Also, gang units and national security teams are aware of the connections between gangs and extremist groups throughout Canada but choose to not address the interplay between gangs and extremists.

This article is written with the intention to contribute to a momentum of  ideas for addressing a real problem: Firearms, Gangs, Extremists and the Internet.

The Back-drop

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In Canada there are stringent licensing requirements for issuing firearms licenses and buying firearms. Canadian governments (federal, provincial and municipal) started a national discussion on banning all handguns, along with other changes to existing firearms laws.

In recent years, extremism and terrorism has become a concerning reality in Canada. There have been numerous attacks, and depending upon who you talk to there have been more attacks than we are able to count and track. Some extremist and terrorist attacks in Canada have included firearms, however, I have yet to see any data on whether these firearms were legally owned or not.

Gangs have also wreaked havoc with gun violence in communities across Canada for decades. There is little data, to my knowledge, that evidences legal firearms are used in these attacks, rather, it appears that the majority of gang gun violence is perpetrated with illegal firearms. That being said, there seems to be a growing trend that somehow active gang members and extremists are able to acquire gun licenses; none of the proposed changes to firearms law address this matter.

Recent Media Coverage

Vice media has recently covered a story of Vernon resident Kaz Nowlin who has been a member of several right wing extremist organizations, including Soldiers of Odin (“SOO”) and III% (“3%”). Kaz and others openly advertise online that they are legal firearms owners and demand that their membership engages in training to protect Canada from, primarily, Muslim terrorists. Kaz and his crew have been engaging in combat training, while attempting to deceive media into believing they only use ‘air soft’ guns. SOO and 3% are not the only ones engaged in para military training in western Canada; and there are groups that are even more concerning (this will be saved for another day).

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The SOO have garnered fame within media as being debated as a community interest group. The first Canadian SOO President was an employee of the Manitoba Provincial-Government who was publicly known to be connected to the Hells Angels. SOO is a right wing extremist group that has gained permissions to fly gang colors by the Hells Angels. Other members of SOO are known to have close affiliations with Hells Angels as well.

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Journalists have contributed to recruitment campaigns of the SOO and similar groups. Since then, SOO has experienced a high turnover in members. Many SOO members have defected and became 3% members in western Canada. The 3% is an American right wing militia group that now intends to stand as a vanguard against Islam; both SOO and 3% are groups rooted within a movement that targets and promotes hate against an ethnic and religious minority in Canada.

Extremist groups and gangs now recruit and advertise online. The Internet is the primary tool to access mouldable minds, and is often an effective recruitment tool for dangerous people. Social media platformsare riddled with pictures of gangs and extremists in Canada who brandish their illegal firearms (aka weapons) without fear of reprisal.

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While Vice has highlighted an issue with para military training, the article is only meant as a spring board for further enquiry. There are many things that the article does not address, nor expose. It merely ricochets off the target.

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Firearms

There is much to say about firearms law, and this article is not intended to dive into this murky and often nonsensical area of law and regulation.

It is important to highlight that Canadian Governments are intending and hoping to make Canadians safer by decreasing the amount of legal firearms, which in effect does not achieve the governments stated goals. Rather than approach the issue by speaking to real experts in the areas of gangs, extremism and firearms law to determine how to best prevent further gun violence and attacks, the governments are targeting legal firearms owners. This is wholly unfair and seems to be motivated by the political aspiration of optics, to make it appear that the government of the day is sufficiently upholding public safety.

There are more effective methods to approach gang gun violence, extremism and terrorist attacks than by taking measures against law abiding firearms owners.

Ancillary Issue

Across Canada, both federal and provincial governments have sanctioned the legitimization of gangs and extremists by allowing them to take forms byway of incorporated companies and societies. Several of these legitimized criminal and extremist groups are known to be engaged with gun violence or para military training, yet authorities do not act on this. Some examples of government sanctioned gangs include groups mentioned herein: Hells Angels and Soldiers Of Odin.

Solutions

Governments should be addressing the root of gun violence and extremist/terrorist attacks by responding more diligently to the behaviors of those responsible for much of the gun violence: gangs, extremists and terrorists. Legal firearms owners are not the root of the gun violence.

There are accessible, tangible and practical methods to curbing gun violence in Canada. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Regulation and Rules may be established to prevent and revoke registration of federal and provincial incorporated companies and societies that are gang and extremist affiliated. Governments need to cease the sanctioning and legitimizing criminal and extremist organizations.
  2. Deny or revoke licenses to anyone who engages in any para military training with extremist groups (whether right wing, left wing or religious) for activities contrary to Canadian social policy including human and civil rights.
  3. Create Firearms Act Regulation that prohibit intimidation, threats or appearance of taking arms, or engaging gun violence, against any other citizen, group or nation; apply this to both community and cyber spaces.
  4. Create an effective reporting system for the Chief Firearms Office (“CFO”) and RCMP online that allows users to provide links and photo uploads of identifiable extremists and gangs who are brandishing weapons online; if not an online system, one that is more effective than the mere telephone system operated by CFO, as it is too logistically complicated to report online activity via telephone.
  5. Empower communities to effectively and legally respond to gangs and extremists. Create Canadian Internet Regulations that will deter gangs and extremists from using cyber spaces as recruitment and promotion because these groups pose dangers to our communities. Provide citizens, communities and incorporated non-government organizations with legal mechanisms to pursue injunctions and torts where gangs and extremists are brandishing firearms and other threatening behavior online.
  6. Develop checks and balance system to report police and authorities who refuse to investigate or take action when credible reports of gang or extremist activity are not acted upon. This can include tort liability, or any other mechanisms available to legislators.

Conclusion

If the root of the gun violence problem in Canada are criminals, gangs, extremists or terrorists, we should not be taking punitive measures against legal firearms owners, we ought to be focussing on those who are the problem.

I am one of a few people in Canada who have collected a small database of known extremists and gang members who do advertise para military training and brandish weapons online. To date, interest of authorities related to firearms brandished online by gangs and extremists is nil. This needs to change.

If the governments are serious about tackling gun violence they ought to address the roots of the problem.

Big Mistake: Dawson Creek & Soldiers of Odin

It has been brought to my attention that Right Wing Extremist group, namely Soldiers of Odin (“SOO”), have been gaining publicity in Dawson Creek, BC.

Some community members are bothered by this, while it seems that local media,  at least one non-profit agency and local RCMP appear to be responding  in a way that exhibits their ignorance on right wing extremist groups, or even worse that they may support SOO. There are many reasons that the RCMP and the community ought to be concerned about right wing extremist groups that are recruiting new members.

I was born in Spirit River, Alberta, and lived in Rycroft as a young child. I spent much of my life at Moberly Lake and Chetwynd, BC. In fact, I began my academic career at the  Dawson Creek Northern Lights College campus. I now hold a Masters in Social Work and Juris Doctor (Law) Degree. I am a registered professional with both the BC College of Social Work and the Law Society of BC (Decision).

I care about the communities in the Peace River District, which is my home. Members of the Peace River District communities helped me crawl out of a personal hell related to addictions, gangs and violent extremism. I understand hate groups and their strategies very well, as I have been there.

For those who do not know, I have been doing work for many years countering hate groups and white supremacist groups. In recent years, this has including contending with right wing extremist groups that claim they are not extremists and tout themselves as community interest groups, and more specifically the SOO. Anyone, including the RCMP, who state there is no reason to be concerned about this group has obviously not inquired into the activities of the groups members. The SOO have been linked to, and gained permissions from, the Hells Angels.

My sources report that the Hells Angels in BC, Manitoba and Ontario have established a network of affiliations with right wing extremists; this of course is not new information as the Hells Angels themselves have historically touted neo-nazi views and symbols. In recent years, it has become known that the Hells Angels are refortifying their links and granting permissions to right wing extremist groups and gangs to wear gang patches within the Hells Angels’ claimed territories (turfs); this is because these groups are often involved in drug dealing and their violent tendencies, which is good for biker business.

My academic research was centred on right wing extremist groups in western Canada, which has been cited by world leading scholars. Additionally, I have been consultant for media, governments around the world, law enforcement, academics and experts who work in the field of counter terrorism and counter violent extremism work. My work has been presented around the world to communities and world leaders.

Most recently, I was commissioned by the Canadian federal government to publish a paper for UNESCO about issues related to right wing extremists groups. In this paper written for policy makers, I address the increase of hate group activities, which include SOO. I address issues such as media being duped into essentially promoting groups like the SOO as community interest groups, rather than what they actually are. Also, how community professionals and agencies are also mislead about the nature of these groups who rely upon media for information.

Groups like the SOO utilize a recruitment strategy that garners controversial media discussions and then the group’s representatives tactically present themselves through rhetoric and what they call evidence of their good will. These tactics for recruitment are not foreign to right wing extremist groups. In fact fascist governments and hate groups have relied upon this sort of public image for a long time, This is what we call propaganda.

UNESCO has stated (in this report), and reiterated in my paper for UNESCO and others, media plays a role in perpetuating speaking platforms for hate groups, extremists and terrorists [also this report and this one have relevant materials too].

For those who do believe that Soldiers of Odin are inherently a ‘good will’ organization, I suggest you take the time to read this analysis of the group that I have provided and in this one (here). Experts have labelled SOO as a hate group (including Dr. Ryan Scrivens, Dr. Barbara Perry and myself). In spite of SOO’s statements that they are not a hate or extremist group, the origins and the banner of this group is inherently hateful. Additionally, SOO as an organization and it’s individual members have been at the very least affiliated with organized crime groups and do engage in harassment and intimidation campaigns. All of this plus they are actively promoting and disseminating hateful messages about immigrants, Muslims in particular.

I am very disappointed in the Community of Dawson Creek that includes non-profits, RCMP and local media for the public statements that present as supportive of this right wing extremist group.

I believe the citizens of Dawson Creek, and in the Peace River District, ought to take note that this group is not as it claims it is. It is possible that members of the community have joined the group with good intentions, however this group has been engaged in para military training and has been known to hold war preparation training camps based upon the paranoid view that Canada is under attack of a Muslim invasion.

The Soldiers of Odin are a hate group in the opinion of leading experts, including myself.

**For those who are interested in learning strategies of how to effectively respond these types of organizations, you may contact me for further information and support.**

Here is a list of all the articles from the Dawson Creek newspaper The Mirror (note that not one of these articles offers an in-depth analysis that provides a balanced enquiry of the criticisms of the Soldiers of Odin). For whatever reason The Mirror seems to be providing the extremist group with a recruiting platform.

  1. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/absolutely-disgusting-dozens-blitz-beatton-valley-for-spring-cleanup-1.19255763
  2. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek-news/why-are-the-soldiers-of-odin-marching-in-dawson-creek-1.23463016
  3. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek-news/soldiers-of-odin-chapter-operating-in-peace-region-1.23463601
  4. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/opinion/editorial/i-don-t-know-is-the-last-bastion-of-the-ignorant-in-an-iphone-information-heavy-2018-1.23178371
  5. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek-news/spcrs-to-re-examine-volunteer-standards-and-procedures-wants-public-feedback-1.23467505
  6. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek-news/spcrs-to-re-examine-volunteer-standards-and-procedures-wants-public-feedback-1.23467505
  7. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek-news/peace-region-soldiers-of-odin-talk-with-the-mirror-1.23468983
  8. https://www.dawsoncreekmirror.ca/dawson-creek-news/dc-rcmp-aware-of-soldiers-of-odin-no-concerns-for-safety-nor-about-recruiting-efforts-in-mile-zero-1.23474365

Taking foot: Soldiers of Odin

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(Picture from Prince George Citizen)

I was recently interviewed about the Soldiers of Odin taking foot in BC. I see this as very problematic, in spite of the groups desire to claim they have no ties, nor intention, similar to that of the group they claim to be a part of. This, of course, is illogical; and in my opinion demonstrates how full of shit these guys are.

I decided to write this first letter to my fellow Canadians, and the latter to Soldiers of Odin as a whole.

Author’s Bio

Daniel Gallant is a registered Social Worker who studies law, and has been acknowledged as a leader on topics pertaining to right wing extremism in Canada. Daniel spent nearly ten years trapped within the white supremacist movement in western Canada, and has since dedicated his life to undoing violence, racism and hatred. His work has been presented to, acknowledged by and referenced by world leaders, governments, leadings scholars, global organizations, and law enforcement.

PART I

Dear Fellow Canadian Citizens,

Don’t believe the hype.

Soldiers of Odin (S.O.O.) are not here to protect you, nor your communities. This group claims, and may even believe, they are working for the greater good. But, this is clearly not true. I would like to tell you a few things about their organization.

First, S.O.O. is the by-product of the European white supremacist network. The group was designed in Northern Europe by hate mongers that aim to ‘cleanse’ neighborhoods from ‘immigrant hordes’. The group’s primary purpose is to engage in war and instill terror into its enemies, as that is a nature of war; for furthering context Soldiers of Odin were formed to target immigrants, Muslims and Islam. However, the Canadian leaders of this group want us to believe they have nothing to do with, nor are they alike or kin to, the hate group that birthed their organization, a little over one year ago.

Basically the Soldiers of Odin will do whatever it takes to hide behind every mask they can. Plainly speaking, if the group has no kinship with its white supremacist roots, then why did they join under the flag, and trademark, of the Soldiers of Odin. There does not appear to be any logical and rationale that could make this a plausible truth.

Soldiers of Odin began in Europe, formed by white supremacists, about a year ago. Now under that same flag, Chapters of the organization have spread throughout Europe and North America; all hailing anti-immigration sentiments and embracing right wing rhetoric. But, the Canadian chapter wants the citizens of Canada to be permissible and complicit in their inherently racist organization. This way they can both hide and fulfill their organization’s purpose. Hiding in plain sight.

WHAT IS IN A ‘NAME’

Soldiers of Odin are making claims that do not hold up to even the most basic logic testing.

For instance, let’s for a minute consider the name of the organization, “Soldiers Of Odin”, in itself demonstrates what the group is, and sets out to do. Odin is the god of war that honors those who die in battle to protect their race and soil. This is the odinist way. Anyone who claims otherwise, either is lying or does not understand the narrative they are supporting, which in itself demonstrates inconsistent messaging of this organization, or perhaps lies. These tactics are only utilized by those who have something to mask and hide.

ODINISM

Additionally, the term “odinism” was the construct of WWII era theorists, who were Nazis. The Nazis developed and branded odinism out of an ancient Nordic Pre-Christian Religion. The ancient pagan ‘religion’ was not called “odinism”, it is Asatru (and other variations of the like).

The Nazis created a new branch of neo-paganism, odinism, that had erupted into a real threat all over the world in the 1980s, which disguises itself as a cultural heritage ideology. Yet, just another way for extremist racists to hide their true ‘color’ (pardon the pun).

In our era of contemporary right wing politics and global issues pertaining to extremism and terrorism, these sorts of groups are emerging everywhere. And without a doubt, they are a threat to those that fall into identifiable categories. By this dynamic alone, is kin to the same way that racism plays out in our communities; it is schismatic in nature.

The main difference between Astatru and odinism, in a very rudimentary explanation, is that odinists worship the Nordic god of war. Odin is set out to protect soil and bloodlines. By this logic alone, Soldiers of Odin are there to protect their own race and land. This alone should be understood as racist in two ways:

  1. a) Soldiers of Odin was created as an anti-immigration organization to fight against the Muslim community, and
  1. b) which seeks to protect its (O.O.) own kind, and the S.O.O. membership is primarily ‘white’ people.

There is another discussion to be had about Soldiers of Odin and their impact upon indigenous peoples as well. But that is a more complex area of discussion to have in the future. But let me assure you, this is also an area where this group demonstrates pure ignorance and inconsistent messages. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to many people the S.O.O. will disguise itself, and it’s true purpose, function and structure by convincing members of the public otherwise.

SKINHEADS AND RACISTS

Soldiers Of Odin’s leaders claim they have purged out the racists from their organization. This is, flatly, a lie.

I was a part of the white supremacist movement in Canada for ten years. I have been engaged with online monitoring of white supremacist organizations now for nearly 12 years. I assure you that there is evidence that proves the S.O.O. are soo full of poop, on this point alone.  This is actually a ridiculous claim. They are flatly denying the presence of racists in their midst to the Canadian Public, while on the other hand have embraced white supremacists within their ranks; and remember that they were also founded by white supremacists.

White supremacists and racists have been praying to odin before beating and killing people on our streets, for decades. Some of you may even remember David Bowie’s 1987 album Tin Machine warning us about racist odinists in his song entitled: Under the God. This is not a new issue.

Not only do the Soldiers of Odin have white supremacists in their ranks, but the leadership does engage in many forms of rhetoric that synthesizes the nature and conduct of, and is derived from, white supremacist groups.

ANTIFA

S.O.O. has engaged in social media attacks against those who oppose or critique their organization; and this is why I have chosen to speak out.

Community leader and long-time anti-racist Alan Dutton has been interviewed about his opinion of Soldiers of Odin Chapter that was recently started in Vancouver. Soldiers of Odin members and leadership has began referring to the opposition as enemies and then referring to their critiques as “antifa”.

This is precisely what fascist, nazi and white supremacists do. In fact, the rhetoric and dynamic of attempting to discredit someone, by labelling them as antifa, is birthed out of the white power movement.

Antifa are people who are anti-fascist. Already, Soldiers of Odin have launched social media attacks against those they label as antifa, which surely they will label me. This is very problematic for a couple of reasons:

First, when did we as a society begin to say that Anti-Fascists are a bad thing?

Second, did Canada not take a formal position against the fascist Nazi Regime in WWII?

How can Soldiers of Odin claim to be upholding Canadian law and values when they are attacking those who stand up against racism and fascism. It seems that Soldiers of Odin are working contrary to our legal system.

The fact that S.O.O. is attacking antifa online, is indicative of the similar conversations found on white supremacist websites. This is a core contradictory element of their organizations discourse. This does demonstrate the ideological lineage of Soldiers of Odin’s members. I do not think, nor expect, most Canadians can easily identify these issues. But, I can, as I spent nearly a decade immersed in that lifestyle; and more than a decade of unlearning the doctrine.

Conclusion

My years within the white supremacist movement in western Canada, to my profound social change, and now my current role as an educator, researcher, advocate, Social Worker and future career as a lawyer, compel me to express to you that this group, in my opinion, are a threat to safety of ALL Canadians. Especially to minority groups and vulnerable persons.

It has been demonstrated to me, through my research on the Soldiers of Odin that there is a grave concern that emerges in the influx of their membership, and the fact that many people who are not attracted to white supremacy, are being duped into this new organization.

I will support any group that keeps our streets safe for ALL Canadians. However, not only are the Soldiers of Odin unsafe because they are inherently racist and war-minded as an organization (as is demonstrated by evidence found in their organizations founder and group name), they have also proven to be comprised of liars, racists, extremists and bullies who belittle immigrants and anti-racists. This alone should raise flags about who and what the Soldiers of Odin are.

Canadians should be concerned with this group that is reminiscent of the Heritage Front.

 

Sincerely,

Daniel Gallant (MSW, RSW)

Juris Doctor Candidate – 2017

PART II

Dear Soldiers of Odin,

It has come to my attention that you have now ‘set up shop’ in Canada, by rapidly expanding Chapters of your ‘organization’ across Canada. Let’s not waste time, nor mince words.

Your organization has already demonstrated dishonesty, incongruence and hatred against your fellow citizens. Your politics are divisive and the evidence is found in your online campaign, organizational conduct, onslaught of misinformation and the fact that you have members who are members of various Canadian hate groups (both past and present). Heck, even your organization’s name speaks to the violent nature of your organization’s intent: war for the sake of ‘blood, soil and honor’.

There are several things I would like to hash out with Soldiers OF Odin and air publicly, some of which is in this letter, and more in my letter to all Canadians. We will surely engage more discourse as time moves forward, as I have a wealth of knowledge, insight, education and stamina.

Your ‘respective’ leader (Joel Angott) indicated (in Metro News article) that you all uphold Canadian law, and our collective Constitutional Rights. Obviously your organization does not understand what a Constitutional Right is. There are only a few ways in how S.O.O. could possibly frame the façade that you all uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution. However, we both know this is complete bull-pucky.

If you had any clue what a Constitutional Right was, then you would not be attempting to claim your neighbourhood patrols protect Constitutional Rights in Canada. Let me explain further.

Canadian Constitutional Rights, are guarantees, in law, that Canadians receive to empower us as citizens. Guarantees that protect us of from the conduct and actions of government, police and authorities of certain variety. Moreover, Constitutional Rights are engaged as a legal protection that are sorted out through the legal system, not by walking through neighborhoods creating an environment of fear and intimidation.

I am sorry to inform you that you do not, in fact, nor law, protect Canadians’ Constitutional Rights. You are a group of self-appointed, not democratically elected, thugs who ‘patrol’ streets against our own citizens. These actions, even if righteous, are in no way connected to upholding our Constitutional Rights.

If S.O.O. were in fact upholding our Constitutional Rights you all would be working within legal strategies against the government and authorities, where there were Constitutional failings and pitfalls. You would not be involving yourself in right wing extremism and organized crime circles.

I do want to acknowledge, however, that we do agree on some matters. Our laws do not protect citizens well enough from pedophiles, rapists and other social ailments. But to be frank, I do not believe you are our solution to these matters. In fact, quite the contrary. This is where I find your organization very similar to white supremacist groups. Your group appeals to those people who are rightfully angered about the abuses and grievances they and their loved ones may have suffered. Soldiers of Odin capitalizes upon these vulnerabilities, and exploits citizens by doing so, while fooling un-suspecting people into your ranks. However, this mere tactic to garner public attention and community support is bound to fail because it is not transparent and congruent; rather it is coercive and manipulative.

Fortunately, there are those of us who have a deeper understanding through personal experience, education and formal research of how organizations like yours get started; and then move onto becoming a threat to Canadian public safety.

I hope that you take this input, how it is intended. My intention is to show you that your organization is publicly speaking out of line, on matters it knows not; and that the rhetoric you are attempting to sell is exposed for what it is: abusive.

Additionally, I do hope you become aware that there are those in our communities who care about sustainable public safety. Organizations like S.O.O., albeit believe they are righteous, are actually creating more divisiveness in our communities and are spreading hatred and fear in the very communities you claim to protect. The very fact that organizations of minorities are expressing concern, and your leaderships response is defensiveness and offensive rhetoric, both demonstrate and exemplifies your organizations nature; the intent of the Soldiers of Odin, hence, your organization’s name that pays homage to the god of war.

Let us, in summary, cut to the chase.

Soldiers of Odin membership includes racists, white supremacists, criminals and liars. S.O.O. was created to instil fear and conduct acts of violence in a war, that odin would adore. It is unfortunate that your predecessor, odin himself, would probably be very disappointed in your tactics and dishonesty.

Perhaps the next time you want to sell the Canadian public a stench ridden pile of steaming crap, you may want to consider a re-brand that does not overtly emulate the true nature of your group’s purpose: abuse, war & racism.

 

Sincerely,

Daniel Gallant (MSW, RSW)

Juris Doctor Candidate – 2017

My First Book: Bruise Faced Child

 

(Photo by Brent Braaten – Prince George Citizen)

As many of you know, my childhood and youth were fraught with abuse, violence and adversity. For the last fifteen years, I have worked my ass off and completed 2 degrees, including a Masters in Social Work; now near complete a Law Degree.

Recently I published my first book: Bruise Faced Child (Click on link to purchase a copy in USA).

Or this link to buy from Canada.

 

The Prince George Citizen has published this article about my book.

 

 

 

A Decolonial Perspective on ‘Indigenous-Extremism’ and State Supremacy

Forethoughts

This essay will explore the nature of a cultural collision that I am experiencing during my first weeks of law school. A collision of cultural supremacies that I am left to unravel and make sense of, while processing my own visceral responses to a grotesque and abusive legal system. This is an exercise to explore incongruent and sometimes conflicting aspects between Canadian society and the legal system. I publish this piece in hope to get feedback from anyone who reads this blog article.

It is my intention to do all that I can in this life to decrease harm, abuse, marginalization and oppression. My motivation is partially due to the fact that I was abused and suffered as a child, and also because I became a perpetrator and a recruiter of a supremacist network; thus, I owe it to myself and to others to do what I can to contribute to a better world. Without this motivation I would surely have joined my friends who have either committed suicide, rot in prison or suffer through addictions. Sometimes the act of putting a conversation out to the world helps me, and that in itself serves the purpose for such articles as this. I know I cannot save the world, but at the same time if I do not walk towards the end of effecting change then there would seemingly be no point in continuing to suffer within an abusive system founded upon supremacy.

My attempt to reconcile my experience as a marginalized and abused child within a system founded upon supremacy and power-over through the practice of “othering”; then becoming a perpetrator of supremacy myself; then moving into an ‘upper’ class that consists of supremacy and privilege as I completed academic career and now have entered law school; I am left to reconcile the direction I will walk…and wonder if I should even bother ‘joining’ such an elitist culture; as many people say that the system is unchangeable.

This working essay will touch on my life experience, education as healing, indigenous rights, doctrine of supremacy and my projected anticipation of a misuse and abuse of terrorist legislation in Canada against indigenous peoples. Thus, how law will likely be used to harm First Nations peoples in a new legal war that is still rooted within racial superiority.

Transitioning from White Supremacy

I joined the white supremacy movement as I was essentially tired of being an abused victim; thus, I became a perpetrator who believed my hatred and violence was justified through a complex web of half-baked conspiracy theories along with a fact pattern that was filled with logical fallacy. I then left the movement as I was exhausted by the hatred and violence within my life. I was unsure if it was even possible to live without a head exploding stress, but I attempted it and overcame many of my demons.

What I found was that taking my personal issues and turning them into political meaning and purposes I could then reconcile and resolve some of these demons. I utilized education as a partial form of personal and political healing. Now, decidedly, I entered law school in order to further challenge and advocate systemic oppression, marginalization and abuses that are often found along with systemic racism. I must now navigate through my own inner-workings while trying to maintain functionality within the Canadian legal and political system in context to both my personal life and professional roles.

Right Wing Canada and the System of Law

Law is a complex system. Although the legal system is not fundamentally illogical, there are areas that do leave to question whether the system itself is a matrix of contradiction that betrays it’s own standard.

As I am merely in the first weeks of law school, therefore not an expert nor a scholar of law; but I am a researcher that has published on systemic racism and do have some credible merits relating to the topic. Moreover, I have been identified by several entities as an expert-of-sorts relating to systemic racism. Mostly my experience comes from unlearning the fallacies of the extreme-right-doctrine, which is not so ‘extreme’ when compared to and in consideration of the cultural context of both contemporary and historical Canadian law, governance and history; especially where indigenous peoples are concerned.

As we see in this framework, a description of right wing ideological categories that are part-in-parcel of a larger system that operates within a racist structure and function.

Berlet

If we put this framework into Canadian context we can surmise that the current Conservative government and Harper administration would fit well within this right-wing-framework. Moreover, I will note that there is irrefutable evidence that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has had direct interactions and alliances with convicted white supremacist terrorist and other right-wing-extremists; whom co-founded a pro-South-African-Apartheid organization with Harper in the 1980s.

Personal Decolonization

Examining my past in detail is not necessary for those who have read my articles in the past. But, for those who have not here is a quick description:
1. Homeless at 12-13 yrs. old
2. Lived on Indian Reserve at 13 by a family who culturally adopted me
3. First hit the streets of east Vancouver at the 14
4. Spent years hitch hiking around western Canada
5. At 15 yrs. sentenced to two years in juvenile detention
6. Media identifies my group as friends as gang
7. 17 yrs. back to the streets of east Van with no family and one friend left over
8. 18 yrs. introduced to right wing extremist Nazi skinheads
9. 22 yrs. left East Van to the north and introduced to the internet
10. Utilized the internet for networking and recruiting and thus built a reputation
11. Violent tendencies increased, less frequent but greater degree
12. Recruited a bomber (terrorist)
13. Entered in war with old friends who were First Nations
14. 26 yrs old homeless and broken with kids left behind
15. Reach out for help and life changed over the course of the following 13 yrs.
16. Began started social work education
17. Started working frontline social service work
18. Re-introduction to traditional ceremonies and healing circles
19. Became a counselor and researcher
20. Became a public activist within media
21. Complete Bachelor degree in First Nations Studies
22. Completed Masters in Social Work, partially funded by Public Safety Canada
23. Recognized as primary resource for intervention work that interrupted right wing extremist recruitment
24. Completed research on right wing extremism and decolonization through education as healing
25. Founded Exit Canada (a non-profit that assists former violent extremists) and entered law school at age 39

After achieving a Bachelor Degree in First Nations Studies and Masters in Social Work, I now walk through the halls of a new-to-me university while attending law school. I am now the founder and Director of a non-profit society that assists active and or former-extremists to develop exit strategies out of extremist behavior, ideology, networks, lifestyles and identity. For nearly ten years I worked in the human services field in groups homes, addiction treatment and aboriginal social programs as a frontline worker, counselor and researcher. Throughout this time I also maintained the practice of writing, which I began during the first time I was incarcerated in psychiatric ward after being apprehended for numerous suicide attempts at age fourteen. Needless to say, life was very different.

I lived as a white supremacist for nearly a decade, which did have similar dynamics to the supremacist doctrine within colonial law and could arguably be identified within the same ideological roots that branched into systemic racism throughout the fabric of Canadian society as a British Colony; my research on education as healing through decolonization speaks directly to this assertion.

Questions of Supremacy in Law

I’ve found the culture within law school very challenging on several fronts.

First, the curriculum is based in a doctrine that is rooted within the legal concepts of supremacy; constitutional supremacy, legislative supremacy, and the supremacy of God. The particular fact that our colonial history legally declares “supremacy” is rather difficult for me to wrap my head around. We are a nation that values Human Rights, Multi-culuralism and democratic voice, yet we maintain these archaic legal principles. Throughout the historic legal documents in Canadian history the concept of supremacy is reiterated. It is understood that in the historical context that is the way things were, but is it really relevant to the way things should be in a multi-cultural and more equitable society?

The real question for me becomes:

“Do I want to live in a nation that abuses a group of people solely based upon the color of their skin as a means-to-the-end that results in the government hoarding natural resources at the cost of perpetrating further atrocities?”

Supremacy Over Indigenous Peoples

I find it very challenging to sit, listen and accept that the mechanical system of supremacy is the guiding light that leads a society to be ‘better’.

Actually, I feel frustrated and disappointed that we live within a society that proclaims itself as supreme over the people it is allegedly accountable to represent as a democratic nation. Moreover, in context of indigenous peoples it is unarguable that the Canadian Colonial government sanctioned a genocidal program that continues today against the first peoples of Canada, or formerly known as Turtle Island. All while our democratic nation either turns a blind-eye to these happenings and or supports the abusive treatment of First Nations peoples; even though within the law itself there is an inherent fiduciary responsibility to indigenous peoples.

Canada has attempted to wipe out the indigenous peoples through biological warfare, imprisonment, assimilation programs, experimental sciences, racist social policy and industry development. These facts are indisputable and unarguable. These are legal and scientific facts. For any of these points many sources can be referenced.

Our society has become more aware of the lengths Canada has gone to interfere with the sustainability of First Nations culture, but very few people take the time to understand the degree and depth that we as a nation go to continuously damage First Nations peoples.

We see the Supreme Court has been making some strides in in recent years in regard to legal acknowledgement of aboriginal epistemology as seen in the Delgamuukw case, and aboriginal title as seen in the recent Tsilhqot’in case. However, we must not forget that these cases are still made from the supremacist doctrine of a racist legal system. There is no refuting that Canada maintains a racist legal system.

In fact, Canada even has even refused to sign on with the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, thus having an international reputation of dismissing aboriginal rights. Moreover, the UN is also calling Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples a genocide, which Canada refuses to acknowledge. Moreover, Canada refuses to address other issues relating to blatant systemic racism i.e. murdered and missing indigenous women.

The Living Tree

We maintain social policy that determines aboriginal citizenship through a paternalistic framework that measures blood quantum, which in fact is a non-scientific construct that is rooted from eugenics-like-pseudo-science at it’s core and is definitively and absolutely racist. Through the process that the legal system utilizes to interpret Canadian statutes and legislation the concept of a living tree is heavily relied upon. Law is created, interpreted, implemented, and enforced through the framework of a living tree.

All statutes and laws interact with one another, unless explicitly indicated within said statute; thus, by the framework utilized to interpret and implement law the Indian Act, which is the most racist law in Canada does in fact act as a central part of the Canadian legal system that impacts nearly all law. The fact that the Indian Act is central to Canadian law results in a legal fact that systemic racism is integral to the Canadian colonial legal system. All of this is justified within the legal doctrine of supremacy.

When we look to the authority of the state we, Canada, are declared to be governed under Constitutional Supremacy. The key word, supremacy, may not be an alarming concept to those who are of privileged classes; socio-politically privileged classes are, comparatively, identified as non-indigenous. Indigenous peoples are the only people in Canada who are racially segregated through racist social policy. All non-indigenous people gain a socio-political benefit of privilege at the cost of the historic, and the continuation of, injustice served unto indigenous peoples in the name of racism and supremacy.

The doctrine of supremacy is irrefutable as it is written within the rule of law itself.

Summary of an Indigenous Legal Perspective

Dr. John Borrows, an indigenous law scholar, states that Canada as a nation was founded upon supremacy, which now both proclaims and maintains the position of power-over as a nation of constitutional supremacy; we as a nation have already demonstrated legal fallacy in Canada in regards to fundamental principles and values we proclaim when contrasted to the treatment of indigenous peoples. Further to Borrows, it does not seem that we can claim to be an inclusive and equitable society, and laws therein, if we are maintaining an archaic measure of race i.e. Indian Act. This fundamental concept of racial segregation through “Indian” citizenship is not just an indigenous issue; it is relevant to every Canadian our government represents us. Thus, those we elect to govern continue to perpetrate these policies against every person in Canada. We, as a nation, cannot legally claim to believe or affectively be one way but continue to do another; incongruence results in a lack of integrity.

According to Borrows, Canada is falling short in regards to constitutional legitimacy due to the treatment of First Nations peoples. Essentially we are turning our law into a weapon against a particular group that we legally identify through what the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (RCAP) referred to as Apartheid, namely the Indian Act.

The reason I utilize the phrase “perpetrate these policies against every person in Canada” is because it seems most people do not believe that we should treat people differently nor abuse them simply because of their skin color, as that is racist. So why is it ok for our government to continue doing so?

Indigenous peoples must endure this oppression simply for being born. Being indigenous is a political fact. Canadian law determines who is legitimately indigenous and who is not; the measuring tool that is used is a racist schematic utilized by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime to determine who was Aryan or not. This is abhorrent.

I am by no means suggesting we abolish the Indian Act, as that would result in the government’s plan to wipe out indigenous rights. Indigenous peoples in Canada were not conquered, in fact it is quite the opposite and that’s why we have peace treaties throughout the country. It is time Canada recognizes these treaty relationships and honor them.

Recently Prime Minister Harper refused to endorse the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, this is an example of how forthright our current government is resisting better relations with indigenous peoples; without going into further detail there exists a plethora of other relatable legal issues i.e. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Aboriginal Land Title, historic treaties, education policies, Human Rights violations against indigenous children in child welfare.

In 1969 Prime Minister Trudeau attempted to abolish the Indian Act in a policy called the White Paper; interestingly enough is the same name that South Africa used in Apartheid era. It appears he was attempting to act in the best of intentions, however that is when indigenous legal arguments really came to the forefront in our society. Trudeau’s attempt was squashed, thankfully. What we as Canadians should be discussing honestly is allowing First Nations to be self governing within their own determined process of governments; within reasonable contexts that does respect Canadian law.

First Nations should have a right to utilize cultural and traditional practices to determine who is or is not a member of their respective bands. Self determination of citizenship should be primary discussion point for non-aboriginals, so we can decidedly have a democratic voice to say whether we want a government that maintains racist policy that synthesizes Nazi Germany, or do we want to support a government who allows a community to determine who their own members are without being oppressed through racist and genocidal agendas.

If we as a nation want to address these issues of racist policy, we first need to look at realistic ways that we can empower those who are oppressed, indigenous peoples, while honoring historic treaties and determining a workable and sustainable relationship between the colonial law and government with indigenous peoples. As a non-indigenous person who has studied racism and systemic racism for a decade it seems like a logical solution to ensure the government employs indigenous peoples self-governance and self-determination of citizenship, rather than being forced to live within the archaic colonial confines of racist and paternalistic schematic that still racially enslaves indigenous peoples today.

Terrorism

Incongruence of words and actions results in a lack of integrity, and incongruence is a political reality for the Canadian government and legal system. This became clear to me over a year ago when I attended a counter-terrorism-summer-academy and one of the underlying themes was about indigenous peoples resistance. The way that this was presented was not only concerning to me, but alarming. It presented as that the application of counter-terrorism is going to utilized to further oppress First Nations peoples. I knew that I could not sit idle and do nothing, but also had to practice some patience to get more effective tools; now I hope I can survive law school so that i can contribute to countering this misapplication of counter-terrorism.

The current relationship with indigenous peoples is deteriorating while Canadian government executive and administration perpetuates, knowingly and or unknowingly, systemic racism against indigenous people. This is a sure way for the government and legal system to create a pressurized atmosphere that will continue to antagonize, instigate and coerce indigenous peoples into resistance, which the government may now, in a post-9/11 world, have the ability to launch an assault on First Nations peoples through terrorist legislation; as it already has began to do.

With all of the government experts on terrorism and extremism in a post-9/11 world it seems that the Canadian government is knowingly beginning to antagonize indigenous peoples into becoming more aggressive through applying militaristic force while simultaneously using the legal system to attempt to dismiss or push aside indigenous issues like the truth about residential schools, Canadian child welfare, murdered and missing women, land title issues and UN Indigenous Rights.

As a former violent right wing extremist who is involved in several government affiliated projects and research, it is disturbingly apparent to me that the government in mobilizing such brutal force while subjugating First Nations children, families, elders, men and women to systemic racism and attempts to silence their inherent legal rights.

First Nations have inherent rights that are not necessarily understood by most Canadians. This is a complex aspect of Canadian society, but it is our obligation as a democratic nation that proclaims to instill Human Rights that we begin to honor our legal obligations to indigenous peoples while simultaneously honoring ‘our’ own proclaimed humanistic values and offer self-determination in contexts of citizenship to indigenous peoples.

First Nations are the only group of people in Canada who continuously face threat of military force. Canada has been exercising its archaic form supremacy over First Nations people through misuse of terrorist legislation by:
a) adding specific communities, groups and individuals to terrorist watch lists
b) engaging in illegal surveillance of First Nations and their allies in peaceful protests opposing industry
c) mobilizing military force against aboriginal asserting their legal rights

The misapplication of terrorist legislation will continue and will likely be asserted more aggressively as indigenous groups gain more public support. It is our role as non-indigenous Canadians to voice concern over these abusive misapplications of legislation.

We need to understand that First Nations have legal rights to oppose industry and government encroachment on traditional lands. We as non-indigenous peoples must recognize that our system is hell bent on hoarding natural resources while maintaining supremacy over land, resources and people. This can be contested and should be in a lawful and legal manner, until the state decidedly infringes upon our rights by excessive application of force; whether that force is police or militaristic. With the misapplications and corrupt ways that government is utilizing terrorist legislation, we as Canadians need to step forward and not allow this escalation to fuel a boiling point, which the government seems to be instigating.

The government has funded research on counter-terrorism for the last five years and is well aware that the more they legally antagonize and apply abusive force against indigenous peoples, by means of police and military, that WILL result in further entrenching First Nations groups whom are merely asserting there rights, and will result in forms of what Canada will label as extremists and terrorists. The government can then attempt to justify extreme militaristic responses while reigning supremacy against and over indigenous peoples through the means of terrorist legislation. These dynamics are now brewing and it is not a leap to suggest that Canadian government is knowingly, if not unbeknownst, engaging with indigenous groups in a manner that is hoped will fuel further civil disobedience of First Nations so that the government can coerce indigenous groups into legitimately being viewed approached as extremist-terrorist.

We can be assured that in a day and age of post 9/11 realities that the government will attempt to assert it’s supremacy over indigenous peoples and lands through the mis-application of terrorist legislation. This is one of the core reasons why I entered law school. I hope to bring this idea to the forefront of consideration as a future line of inquiry; as I indicated in my past research, if Canadian government is serious about counter-terrorist processes then we should be including decolonial contexts in order to avoid the imposed and perceived projected claim that indigenous groups are in process of radicalization while engaging in legitimate First Nations assertion of rights.

I have personally heard and participated in conversations with both RCMP and academics who qualify themselves as national security experts about the dangers of indigenous activists that are ‘radicalizing’ youth and should be dealt with as extremists and terrorists.

Conclusion

It is my hope to contribute to counter-terrorist dialogue in a manner that will breakdown this misapplication of terrorist legislation and enforcement while also educating the public in how we can democratically exercise changes to law in order to resolve the core issues and not end up in a situation where inevitable atrocity results from militaristic responses ordered by Canadian legal system. There are legal processes and changes that Canada can employ in order to avoid war-like conflicts with indigenous peoples.

A mere, yet complex, change to Canadian law that rightfully eliminates racist policy and offers self-determination, as was promised in treaties, and reflects the values of what it means to be Canadian and a human-being engaged with basic-human-goodness is NOT too much to ask for; from a government who persists on mistreating and abusing a particular group of people. This is a Canadian issue.

Shapeshifting Images: Manifested Transformative Tattoo of Realism

From Edm Journal

(picture by Edmonton Journal ~ Canwest Media Works)

Full of anger and hatred I pounded people’s faces into the pavement with a twisted drive of relentless energy.

Daniel (6 of 22)

(picture by Peter Rudge~ DuckRabbit)

The Scars of Past that remained on my body are symbolic of the power hungry mechanism of hate that I bore in order to tunnel my inner turmoil and fear into the eyes, hearts, and centre  of my victims being; until I was forced to look at my self in a spiritual reflection within my son’s eyes. The day he was born I saw a mirrored child. He was a reflection of myself. I did not want him to be raised into a world of abuse and hate.

Daniel (5 of 22)

(picture by Peter Rudge~ DuckRabbit)

After years of self-reflection, personal development through dialogical post secondary studies, Cree-Saulteaux-Sioux cultural influence, and meaningful activism through writing, intelligence sharing, protests, and media interviews I have been able to contribute to the progressive advancement of a society I was at utter war against.

This last summer I completed writing my Masters thesis that reflected on my past extremist violence and compared my personal transformation with the social change of three other former-white supremacists. I found so many more commonalities than I had anticipated. I thought I was different than everyone, boy was I wrong. I thought each story would reflect utter differences but what I found was that the four of us, in the study, were very similar. We were actually more like everyone else than I had ever anticipated, our challenges and epiphanies did not seem a far stretch from normal experiences (of course minus the extreme violence and propaganda). This retrospective perception has brought me to further consideration of who I am, at the core of my being.

A small town kid who loved going to kohkum’s house every summer. My home, Moberly Lake, had nothing but fond loving memories for me. My mom’s parents, may auntie Linda’s house, and kohkum’s place. The smell of drying moose meat, tanned hides, horses, and the autumn paths that lead to the rocky beach which was joined by a year round icy water that we swam in. My home. My boy body was a temple of happiness that could not be defeated by physical and sexual abuse when we returned each year to Moberly Lake, the safest place in the world.

Years later I returned to Moberly Lake seeking refuge. I found refuge. Kohkum gave me my own cabin after I ran away from my home in Toronto at age 12. Then I began drinking and smoking drugs. By age 14, I was on the downtown east side of Vancouver. After spending nearly two years in juvenile detention centres, from 15-17, I returned to the streets of east Vancouver. I then began scarring my body with symbols of hate. A confederate flag then a swastika; a celtic cross; another swastkia with a fist in the centre of it; then an Odal Rune. I declared war through symbology and language, as I spat at people, and engaged in acts of terror and war against the society I was born into. I engaged in acts of warfare against minorities and First Nations peoples.

I directed my own pain and fear at those who reflected the very things I hated about myself. It took years to learn this about myself. I had great teachers though: kohkum, auntie Muriel, Pastor Ed Sukow, counsellor Darren Wilks, Neil Meyer, Chris Rosebrugh, Dave Mcdonald, former Chief Jerry Goodswimmer, Gary Moostoos, Garry Gottfriedson, Dr. Ross Hoffman, auntie Linda Nichols, cousin Josh Nichols and Elenora Joe and so many other pivotal people; of course the longer I am on this path the more people join the list of my teachers.

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(picture from Global 16×9 show)

I returned to Vancouver, for the filming of the TV show 16×9, after years of needed separation from a city that I was at war with nearly two decades ago.  I was only in Vancouver for a few days for the filming. I had to return several times in order to connect with the streets I was battled. I needed to move further away from my not-so-distant propensity of violence by confronting the demons that haunted me on the streets. I was homeless abused youth who sought refuge in the war mind of the white supremacist movement. In the summer of 2013 I returned to Vancouver after spending  few weeks in Edmonton, Alberta.

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I had gone to Edmonton as a guest speaker at the 2013 Hate2Hope rally that was organized an aboriginal youth named Chevi Rabbit. He was the target of a hate crime and has turned this horrific experience as a tool to speak against hate. I attended the speech and two of my close friends attended the rally, both Gary Moostoos and Jerry Goodswimmer. Both of these men were instrumental throughout my personal transformation from a life of hate. After the rally both Jerry and Gary agreed it may be time to consider removing my tattoos. In the past I was provided with the opportunity to have my white power tattoos removed through laser surgery. This was offered by the Canadian Jewish Congress. I did several sessions. However, between advice from my friends and the overwhelming pain and lingering healing process due to flare ups of my skin disorder I had decided to stop the laser surgery. I was still carrying my scars of past. In 2013, I was prompted to finally consider getting these tattoos either removed or covered.

While visiting Vancouver I visited my old stomping grounds. I walked down Commercial Drive as a man, not an angry and violent youth, and concluded that the tattoos I was still carrying in my skin had to be removed, or at least covered up. I walked into a convenience store to buy a bottle of water. I was wearing a t-shirt and the swastika on my forearm was visible. When I paid for my drink I twisted my forearm inwards in order to hide the offensive tattoo. The cashier lady looked at me in the eyes and smiled. When she looked down she saw the swastika on my arm.

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The cashier then looked scared and did not look into my eyes again. Saddened by the fact that the swastika on my arm was still visible to everyone, I wondered what I could cover it with. I then passed a corner that I used to walk past when I was a young angry white supremacist soldier. I then reflected back in my life, to a time before my hateful days. I was just a sad and angry street kid. I remembered how much I loved a pocket watch I used to carry. I never used the pocket watch as a watch. The watch always stayed closed. I only cared about the vibration of the ticking. Each second that passed manifested with a tick.

Sometimes the click would vibrate through my pocket into my leg. When I took the pocket watch out of my pocket and carried it in my hand I could feel every passing second in the palm of my hand. When I think about walking down the street holding the pocket watch in my hand, I used to think I am seconds ahead from where I was, just moments before. When I was distraught the clicking offered me a security that I was making it through this life without exploding. The ticking-clicking sensation would distract my mind and feelings from the intrusive reminders of devastation from my childhood that still incessantly haunted me. I also felt relieved I made through another second that brought me closer to the end of my life. Each vibrating second was a moment closer to death. That brought me solace.

I recalled what it was like being a child and locked up for nearly two years. The clock in my cell would tick away no matter what happened. Even when I would beat on another kid or smash the furniture the clock always ticked when I was put into isolation. As  rage poured out my eyes in violent fits of exacerbation, the clock would tick comfort until I fell asleep. I would think to myself “Why did I need to live in this world of pain?”

As I reached the crest of the hill on Commercial Drive that morning, I found my answer. I would cover the swastika on my arm with a pocket watch. The time reads 11:03 as I was born on the 11th of March. My only demand was that the person who tattoos me had to be a gentle woman. Never again would I let a man who promotes violence tattoo me.

Every tattoo on my body was etched by men filled with angered and abusive natures. But then again, the culture of North American men is built upon dominance and violence. It was finally time I let women help me heal some more. I know so many beautiful women who live compassionately and remind me why non-violence is necessary. This was my personal way to symbolically resolve a new connectivity to women, who are supportive as I walk further away from the tumultuous path of abuse.

My first cover up, the pocket watch, flew by with some nice relaxed conversation between the artist and myself. I barely felt any discomfort or pain. It was a fairly pleasurable tattoo session. That is not how I remembered tattoos. When I recall getting tattoos, years ago, I cringed at the non-stop pain. I hated pain. I hated tattoos. I hated myself.

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After the tattoo session, I sat with my cousin Josh debriefing about how I felt relieved. He suggested I get my stomach tattoo covered asap. He recommended a reputable shop. We looked at the website and portfolios of the artists. I was excited, “shit Josh! these artists are crazy good”.

Both Josh and I were instantly impressed with Rene Botha’s art work. The website for the tattoo shop had what I would call an application process; Liquid Amber Tattoo, located in the downtown east side of Vancouver’s gas town. While surfing the website it felt right as we looked at the art. “Josh, they would want me to wait too long. I need them gone now. The website says I got to wait a year for an appointment.”

He looked at me with stern compassion, “go and tell them your story and why you want them gone, you never know.” His confidence gave me hope. Our dialogue taught me something. He loved me and only wanted the best for me. I trusted his input, as I often do. The only reason I finished my second university degree was because of Josh’s encouragement. He was the only one who believed I needed to continue with my degree. Most of my friends and families thought university was a waste of time and that I should spend my time working in the oil fields or working as a counsellor. He knew what I did not know, which was that there was a progressive education for higher learning out there that would challenge me and result in further personal growth. My education would bring me to a realization of understanding hope as a motive to contribute to social change.

I walked into Liquid Amber Tattoo. The receptionist Jessie told me that they would be booked up for months in advance and the only possibility of getting me in was if one of the guest artists could do my stomach cover up. I thanked her and emailed her my ideas for a cover up and some links of media work outlining my personal journey.

The following day Jessie contacted me to set up an appointment the day after with an artist named Rene. I met with Rene Botha and she quizzed me about my ideas for an image. I told her that I wanted a raven or a crow because of the blackbirds in east Vancouver. It is said to have the largest murder (crow population) rate in the world. At least that is the word on the street. I emphasized that the raven represents shapeshifting and transformation, but not just an individual level but also collective and cultural transformation. I learned these lessons from Cree cultural teachings. But I insisted that the image must be reflective with a horizon of the city or something. I also requested that the image does not borrow or synthesize ‘native art’ that reek of cultural appropriation. I preferred the natural representation, or close to it.

Rene spent the weekend designing my piece and emailed me a photo of the sketch the following business day.

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(the image is an ambiguous and abstract interpretable piece [what is it?])

As soon as I looked at the image I was taken aback. I was more than impressed. I felt honoured that her art would be on my body. We arranged a start date for the following week. I wanted to complete the piece in one week. Rene indicated that if I was able to sit under the gun that long she would have no problem doing so. I was excited.

I wanted to have a friend of mine use my DSLR camera to record video footage and take photos to document the progress. A couple of years ago I won an award at the Weaving Words Aboriginal Storytelling Festival for a piece I wrote called Scars of Past. I wanted to develop a video piece on my tattoos and transformation. I had no video recording experience, but I was determined to find a way to make this happen. My friend was unable to come to Vancouver and operate my camera for me.

While I was in Vancouver in the summer of 2013 I connected with a filmmaker I had met three years ago at UNBC. I had just started my Masters’ in Social Work. There was a presentation that I attended on fracking, which is a natural resource extraction process. I was familiar with tracking because of two reasons. First, I had worked in the oil field many years ago as a truck driver. Second, my parents had illegal waste dumped on their property in Chetwynd, BC. It just so happened that the film, Fractured Land, was about the same territory that I was from.

During the presentation it became clear that the subject of Fractured Lands, Caleb Behn, was familiar with my personal story and my family’s experience with fracking. In fact, it was frack fluid that was dumped on my parents’ land mixed with human sewage. The illegal dump has most likely resulted in my auntie’s sickness. The day of the dump she was hospitalized due to, what I will refer to as, chemical burns in her lungs. She now has cancer and is trying to live her days in a loving and caring way. Needless to say I have a lot of anger towards the oil industry. In fact, I left the oil field because of corruption. I had exposed a case of environmental abuses that resulted in an Oklahoma based company operating in the Fort St john area being fined over $200,000. Of course that is pocket change. But for me, it was representative of my saying “fuck you” to the system that damaged my auntie, cousins, and siblings. The Fractured Land film crew was definitely doing good work.

They were interested in interviewing my aunt who now has cancer. I arranged for the film crew to speak with her. My aunt Linda is a brave mother. She is one of the strongest women from my biological family. In fact she is one of the only people from my mother’s family whom I trust and can whole heartily say I love. Many other members of the family can easily be referred to as abusive. I had chosen to not be involved with those family members.

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The first day went well. I was at the shop for ten hours. I sat under the gun for seven and a half hours. After the first day I felt as if I had been run over by a truck. I felt completely broken. I walked out of the shop, got in my car, and drove away. I was driving down East Hastings leaving the city to go to my cousins house. This was the same road that I took my first time I went downtown Vancouver.

At age fourteen I hitchhiked from northern BC to Vancouver. I continued thumbing it from the highway down Hastings. I was not familiar with the community.I was not aware of all of the prostitution and drugs. I was oblivious. I was a child. The man who picked me up wanted me to suck his dick. I was confused. He saw my confusion. He looked at me and said “you really have no idea about this area, do you?”

I explained it was my first time in the city. He told me to never hitchhike there unless I was working. “ohhh! no I do not have a job. I left home.”

The john shook his head and explained to me that I had a lot to learn and to be careful or someone was going to hurt me. I am grateful he was empathetic and compassionate. In hindsight, my first trip to Vancouver was a blessing.  I was definitely out of my league.

Twenty five years after my first trip of hitchhiking down Hastings while being mistaken for a male prostitute, I was recalling these events. I reflected on why I left home i.e. physical abuse, sexual abuse, and verbal abuse. I curiously wondered why anybody would treat a child the way my parents did. I wondered why nobody came to save me. I wondered why teachers, social workers, and police blamed me for my families’ problems. They blamed the victim. I thought about the racism I was taught. My mind was consumed with flashes of all of the people I had hurt. I was overwhelmed with sadness for all the pain I caused. I did not want to finish the tattoo process because I did not want to feel pain anymore, but I knew I had to get through it. The least I could do was to go through a bit of pain in order to stop offending people with my tattoos. I felt shattered and broken from all the pain I had experienced. My eyes filled with tears.

I choked them back and felt my rage creep in. I wanted to stop the car and smash the windows in my vehicle. I wanted to  kill someone. I felt like I wanted to kill myself. I was sick of the world. Then I told myself to “stop!”

I pulled my car over. I was feet away from a spot where I had once beaten a black man into unconsciousness. My eyes streamed out tears. I did not want to be angry. I embraced my sadness. I embraced the questions of why I was so angry. I embraced the fact that I have transformed my identity and built a new life. I felt the compassion of people involved in my healing journey. Rene and the film crew came to mind. I decided in that moment that I would see these people as my family. That they were my mainstays. My rocks. I decided that I would allow them to be there for me on this journey. My body was hurting, and it was self-inflicted. I had to focus on the end result. I would get rid of these hateful symbols that restrict my ability to swim with my kids and that I will no longer offend people if I am shirtless. I found strength in my sadness and vulnerability.

I went to my cousin’s house and both he and his wife were there for me. I got a hug. I got to talk and share what was going on for me. I was heard!…finally after all of these years people would hear me. My cousin reminded me that these filmmakers and others believe in me; and that he believes in me. I continued to cry, but I was ok. A friend once said to me “maybe you’re not falling apart, maybe you’re falling together.”

The First Session Set

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(*day one @ 7.5 hrs.)

My first day of tattooing lasted all day long. I was at shop ten hours. I was booked in for four days straight. After day one we realized I would not be able to complete the tattoo in one week like I had originally hoped. I rested after the first day. I was sore as hell. But i looked forward to being tattooed by one of the most impressive people I have met, Rene Botha. Not only has she been a cultural edge walker, but she was absolutely beautiful both inside and out. It made going back to the shop so much easier.

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(back to back ~ day 2 @ 4 hours)

After day two I could not last more than four hours. I had passed out twice, which I did not tell the tattoo artist. I was afraid this would damage our relationship. My mind felt overloaded. I was consumed with physical pain.

The Second Session Set

I was still in Vancouver. I was crashing at my cousins and sleeping in my van from time to time. I came back to the tattoo shop partially healed and ready to experience more physical pain, reluctantly.

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(day 3 @ 4.5 hours)

I came back six days later to do two more back to back sessions. I was still raw and sore.

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(day 4 @ 4 hours)

After this session I was ready to get out of the shop and never return. As the tattoo gun got close to my arm pit it triggered a memory from fifteen years before. I recalled when one of my uncles had attacked me. He rammed his thumb nail into my arm pit leaving bruising from his huge hands that gripped my entire chest muscle. He pinned me against the wall while holding me by two of my pressure points and banging my body on the solid brick wall. I had no choice but to either find a way to fight back or to be beaten. I overcame incredible pain in my armpit and punched him straight in the face. He dropped me. I was free. I then stepped forward and combination punched him in the face until he was unconscious then I jumped on top of his limp body and continued beating his face until my step-dad and cousin pulled me off. He was left with a swollen face and six boxer cuts from my knuckles. As the tattoo needles went near my armpit tears streamed down my face. I felt a pity for my past self. I grew up in a violent home. I grew up being that violence and abuse were the most solid resolve to conflict. I felt grateful to be a different man today.

The Third Session Set

While I was in Vancouver I found out there were some issues with my thesis committee. I had to return to Prince George in order to ensure the issues were dealt with in a timely fashion. I returned to Prince George in September, 2013. Earlier that year in April, I had sold my home because I was informed I would defend my thesis by September 1st, 2013. That did not happen. I then had to move back to Prince George, after a summer of living in my 1978 VW Van I enjoyed the summer mountain biking; now it was time to go north and deal with university politics.

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I had to fly from Prince George to Vancouver for each session. The plan that was proposed by Rene was to do two separate four hour sessions back-to-back during each trip. The running joke amongst the staff team at Liquid Amber Tattoo and the film crew was that I had a low threshold for pain. “Not so tough now eh?”

I explained I was never tough. The only reason I could fight is because I was willing to bite, stab, poke eyes, or anything else I needed to do to control a fight. I was good at fighting in order to avoid getting hit. I did not target weak people; that is not to say I never hit anyone who was not vulnerable, because I did. I did not shy away from fighting five guys at a time who had weapons, and equally so, I did not shy away from hitting nearly anyone who made me angry. I was never physically strong. I am a small man, and when I was violent I was an even smaller person. This tattoo process has literally brought me to my knees. I had cried. I had given up. But I kept showing up. I did what I had to do. I wanted to do this to avoid hurting others and to offer my children an opportunity to enjoy me without these racist scars from my past.

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I arrived in Vancouver and we began more sessions while filming.

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(Adam filming tattoo)

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(day 5 @ 4hours)

The second day was brutal. I could not stand the pain. I was unable to last the full four hours. We were able to get a small section on the belly done. Rene was more than accommodating. I left the session and walked straight to my hotel room and cried myself to sleep. I was sick of the physical pain. But even more than the stress of the physical pain, I felt completely alone. I just wanted to have somebody with me.

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(day 6 @ 2.5 hours)

This last session was intense but short. It took a lot out of me. I had to quit, there was no possible way I could have lasted the full four hours. The back to back days were too much on this trip.

The Fourth Session Set

This trip was my favourite trip. I drove down with a dear friend. We had met through her family. I love her parents, and they love me. It felt like everything just fit. All of us agreed with that. I felt like I belonged in their family. After meeting their daughter who was the same age as me, I felt absolutely blessed. She is a hilarious writer with a smile that cannot be replaced. She drove down to Vancouver with me. We laughed and had a blast. Until we got to the city. It became clear to her how difficult the tattooing process was for me.

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Rene’s plan for the seventh session was to re-do the ink on the sun. Again I was triggered to remember some past violence. This time I was getting flashes of past physical violence perpetrated by my second step-dad. When I was eleven years old I started getting my ass kicked hard by him. Those ass kickings left bruises all over my body including my ribs and face. The sun brought those memories back, perhaps I had some more ‘personal-shit’ to work through. At least this time I had “her” beautiful embrace.

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(day 7 @ 3 hours)

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(my favourite photo)

The gal I started seeing had a cousin who lived in Vancouver. Her cousin was out of town and invited us to use their condo for a couple days. The picture below is my old stomping grounds. I worked at two bars in the buildings below around 1995. I was a violent racist skinhead. Now nearly two decades later, I was looking down at my past as I was looking towards my future. It was surreal. On the street below I had committed countless hate crimes. Her cousins’ husband was a man who left the racist skinhead network many years ago. We had past mutual acquaintances. Here I was in a condo with another person who understood me, as we looked down towards my old stomping grounds. I was getting rid of my hateful scars. I had her arms wrapped around me as she murmured “I love you.”

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(day 8 @ 3 hours)

The next day, I got more done. Again, I could not last the full four hours. I was able to make three hours though. I knew that I had her embrace. That night we went to her friends for a dinner party. I was pretty silent and not thinking right. My mind was trying to be where I physically was, but I kept zipping back to my childhood. Each twinge of pain on my chest exacerbated my social skills. I sat in a room full of her friends. Inside I felt less than. I felt like I did not belong. Here I was, a former Nazi skinhead, with a loving woman. I was unable reconcile how I got to where I am in life. Completing my second university degree and abandoning a life of violent extremism. On the drive back to her cousins condo I exposed my raw thinking. Thoughts I maybe should have kept to myself. My triggered negative thinking became apparent. I was in midst of physical pain, intrusive memories of abuse, and a thesis supervisor who was inconsistent and irrational. Everything seemed to be coming down hard on my mind and heart. I silently cried myself to sleep with her wrapped around me.

The Fifth Session Set

In January 2014 I had the fifth session. I flew down to Vancouver…alone!

During the xmas holidays I struggled in a way I have not struggled for many years. I have not allowed myself to enter a relationship because of the way I had handled being emotionally hurt in the past. It seems that when I am emotionally hurt I withdraw, isolate, and internally beat the shit out of my own spirit. Then I am left trying reconcile my intrusive  demons. I wish this was not my struggle, but it would be untruthful to present it as anything else but…

Over the holidays I was under a deliberate attack by my children’s mother and her new found love, my cousin. This dynamic has impacted my relationship with my children. These social attacks force me to re-visit old feelings of childhood abuse. At the same time I was dealing with a delay in my graduate studies. My thesis process was put on hold for more than seven months while having to pay tuition. I was in limbo without any movement. I was so frustrated I nearly quit school. I was dealing with these life situations and facing my normal holiday demons that were also compounded with the intrusive triggers onset by the physical pain of the tattoo process.

I am surprised I actually made it through the xmas holidays as well as I did. I remembered one thing, no matter how bad shit feels, I am doing a lot better than I did when I lived on the streets. However, my demons impacted this new found relationship. It definitely took it’s toll on her. It seems my demons instigated and summoned her dragon that then set my world on fire. She had to separate herself. I accepted this.

I had no choice but to accept and sit still for weeks. I sat still during the holidays in -30 degrees Celsius winter. Isolated and alone…looking forward to only one thing…having this tattoo completed. No matter how much pain was coming I was willing to make it through this. If nothing else, I would ensure I made it through the tattoo process. I was not completely alone. I had my cousin, my auntie, my friends from UNBC First Nations Centre, and new friends I continue to make…but friends and family cannot fill this kind of absence. I am faced with having to let go, not only of the person I got so comfortable with so fast, but also the idea that I fit within their family. Saddened, I continue to walk my path and face my demons.

Much like the tattoo process I had to feel the pain and go through it. I now know that the best way to to take pain, is to taste the pain. To embrace the pain. To lay back and breath, then when it becomes unbearable and my limit is reached, take a break. Then come back another day and taste the pain.

I made it through four hours. Progress!

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(day 9 @ 4 hours)

Finally the old swastika was concealed. Now for the following day. The belly button area hurt real bad.

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(day 10)

The last official session! The only thing left was one more trip to do four hours of touch ups. When I returned home I was waiting for the final touch up session I had another film project I was working with. DuckRabbit is a film company from London, UK. They were contracted through the Kanishka Project that is coordinated by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.I was invited into the film series as a member of a steering committee. I was then approached to be a subject of one of the films. This counter violent extremist film series is to be shown in public schools all over Canada. Working with DuckRabbit reminded me that my story is important and I must keep pushing forward. I had also made some headway with my thesis committee. Things were looking up a bit more…although I still feel an vacancy in my heart.

The Sixth & Final Session Set

Two weeks before the final touch ups on my new ink, my daughter Madisson phoned me. She was laughing her ass off. She said she was at home showing her boyfriend family photos. She came across a picture of me (shirtless) and my two daughters when they were young. Apparently her boyfriend was shocked, and rightfully so.

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I was disheartened by the imprint I left in my kids’ minds. I polluted them when they were young. I corrupted them; but I have also taught them people can change. I have kept this tattoo cover up process a secret from my kids. The reason for keeping it a secret was in hopes that when I see them next I would take them to the beach and take off my shirt and see their expression. But after my daughter sent me this picture of me with two of my daughters I felt obligated to tell her…but I did wait till the day after my last session.

During the last session me and Rene shared some laughs. She may have even been happier than I was to finish the piece. She designed the piece. It is her art. Plus, when I reflect on my low pain tolerance, I think I was probably a challenging client. I winced and cringed. At least thats how I feel…perhaps I am a little hard on myself though.

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(day 11 @ 3.5 hours)

This is the final product!

Post Tattoo Session

ME ON BEACH

About three years ago my friend Rhonda Lee McIsaac challenged me to a bet. I do not recall the bet, but I know I lost. I owed her.  The agreement was that one day if/when I cover up my stomach swastika tattoo that I would send her a specific picture. She always loved the above picture of me when she saw it posted on my Facebook account. I promised to send her a picture of me flexing my muscles, like I did when I was goofing around at Moberley Lake as a kid.

So…even if I look like a fool…here you go RLM.

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I do risk a lot posting these goofy pictures, and my vulnerable truth, but here is the thing…this tattoo is more than about erasing hate. It is about reconnecting to the child I once was, the boy who was beaten and abused. I am allowing myself to share with my friends and the world the declaration of my vulnerability. I know how to love well. I know how to be loved. In moments it can be a very difficult state of being, especially when faced with demons…but I am doing it.

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(Adam Myhill)

We spent the following day in Adam’s film and photography studio in downtown Vancouver. We did some final interviews and photo shoot. When the shoot was over Damien and I walked down Granville Street, where I was recruited into the white supremacist movement many years ago. Damien indicated he had enough footage for a online teaser and a twenty minute documentary short film. Damien has indicated he is very interested in pursuing my story for a feature film . He wants to follow my successes. To date that includes a Bachelor degree in First Nations Studies, published writing, Masters in Social Work, and a life after hatred. After we walked and talked, we parted ways.

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(film maker Damien Gillis with the one and only beautiful Rene Botha)

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(Adam)

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The Final Chapter

I sent my daughter a text picture message of my new tattoo. I had to show her, that things changed and I want her to show her boyfriend that her dad got rid of that old hate shit. My daughter responded:

“holy shit…is that a tattoo?…or marker?”

I laughed so hard. I guess it would be hard to imagine her dad without that old tattoo, especially after sixteen years. Here next responses meant the world to me. While I write this blog post I can hear her voice.

“fuuuuqqqqq…I love you.”

One thing a Cree elder taught me was not to say good bye…we should always say see you soon or that is all for now till later…

ekosi maka

Biography in Cree

My undergraduate degree took eight years to complete. I took two years of Cree language at the University of Alberta. The reason I took Cree as a second language was two-fold.

(picture of me in 2004)

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First, it was necessary to take a second language course in order to meet the perquisites for the Criminology program I wanted to apply for. I did not want to take the second bi-lingual language of Canada, French, because in my youth I used to hate French class. I was forced to learn French in elementary school. I did not know any French people or anyone who spoke French. I felt I was being forced to do something I did not want to do. That was in my first four years of elementary school. I would sit in class hungry all the time.

Throughout my childhood I was chastised by my parents for eating to much. I was always hungry. I would eat the food they provided and still feel anxious with hunger. Perhaps that is because we were constantly fed boxed food with little nutritional value; or perhaps it was because I was a “bottomless pit” and a “big mouthed biaffron,” as my step-dad liked to call me. Nonetheless, the food I ate left me feeling empty, hungry and anxious. So to quench my hunger I relied on sugar. I became a sugar addict at a young age. In between classes I would take packets of sugar out of my pocket and dump it into my hand. I would throw the sugar into my mouth and then I would chase it back with water from the fountain in the school hallways. I remember being resistant and outright angry that I had to sit in that “stupid class.” My heart would be racing as I licked my lips in search of any left over grains of sugar. The only thing that got me through my classes was the sugar I kept in my pocket; sometimes white sugar, other times icing sugar.

Since I had no interest in French language I decided I would take Latin courses to meet the prerequisites for the Criminology program I wanted to apply to. After registering for Latin class I had an epiphany: “why was I wanting to take  Latin?”

I considered Latin because the white supremacist organization I was a member of, World Church of the Creator (now called the Creativity Movement, due to a legal battle over trademark infringement of the name) utilized Latin within their higher ranking members i.e. reverends and supreme leader. As I was only two years out of the grips of addiction at that point and only a year from when I had separated from white supremacists and racist skinheads; I was still facing many issues. I was in midst of an identity crisis. My intuitive thoughts and feelings were that I was best off to avoid Latin as it was to close to the the white supremacist doctrine. If I had truly wanted to leave that life behind me, I had to distance myself from that type of thinking. I grabbed the University of Alberta’s school calendar and looked to see what other options they had for second language courses.

I went through a long list of languages I did not have any interest in. Spanish was the only real interest I had because I had developed a deep attraction to several women with South American accents. After considering that motivating factor for taking a class, I had decided that my attraction of a women’s accent was probably not the best reason to base my decision on. I continued through the list and came across the Plains Cree language. A light went on. I lived on a reserve up north. I stayed in a cabin with two elders in their 90s who barely spoke English, they spoke Cree and Saulteaux (Anishnabe variation [Ojibiway, Oji-Cree]).

As I was not very insightful, and quite ignorant of the depth of my racist programming I thought to myself: “If I took a primitive language like Cree it may benefit me. I am trying to change my thinking. What better way than to challenge myself to take a primitive language with very little words. Maybe I could learn to connect to my more primitive self in order to simplify my intellectualism.”

I was quite full of myself. I was very ignorant. In retrospect, I had an abhorrent and archaic racist worldview that was riddled with paradoxes, oxymorons and contradictions. My thinking that Cree was “primitive” was grossly misinformed. I am ashamed of myself when I think back to that type of thinking, which I had for most of my life. It is embarrassing to know that I had even lived on Indian Reserves, my close friends had been First Nations, and yet I still viewed ‘them’ as wild indians that hunted with bow and arrows and barely able to speak. I was programmed by the society I was raised in to have an inherently racist perspective of indigenous peoples. After considering my thoughts at the time, I also had another pivotal consideration that led me to selecting Cree as a second language.

(picture of me in 2004)

From Edm Journal

When I was thirteen years old my Kohkum took me in. She gave me a home. She had never abused me. Neither did her daughters. The women in the Lalonde family were the most caring women I had ever known. They loved me, even when after I had dedicated my life to right wing extremism. I was not biologically attached to the family, but they treat me like they do the rest of the family. Even though I am not in close contact anymore the community network they have spreads across western Canada. Everywhere I go, I meet and see people tied to the Lalonde family. They know my personal story, or at least general pieces of it. I had even gone to a friends family christmas dinner in another city only to find out that one of my Auntie’s from the Lalonde family was close with the people I was dining with. I was, and am, welcomed and loved by people all over western Canada due to the fact that Kohkum took me in when I was young and loved me like no one else would.

Decidedly I enrolled in the Cree class. I ended up taking two years of the Cree language classes at University of Alberta. The class began by conversations between students and teacher; first we learned about one another. We did not even engage with Cree language until we got to know one another first. We got to know and trust each other. Even people from my class knew  Kohkum, who lived in another province. She is a respected Elder and Matriarch.

As the class went on, I realized and experienced many profound personal and social transformations. The lessons I received from the Cree class are too long to list. I will emphasize these lessons within my future studies and autobiographic writings. For now, I am going to share with you one of the first assignments I was able to put together within the first year of my Cree studies.

Please take into consideration that I am NOT fluent in Cree language; I am not a Cree speaker; I do not represent the Cree language, culture, nor people; I am not claiming that this is a perfectly contextualized example of Cree language or literacy…but…

This is something I am proud of accomplishing. It took everything I had to not cry in gratitude when I stood in front of a class of indigenous students who welcomed me, even with my hateful past, and to give me the opportunity to grow and learn and unlearn my racist ideology. The students, professors, language holders, and Matriarchal Elders who taught me in those two years have profoundly affected my life today; more than a decade later. The work I do would not be possible without the inherent lessons I had learned from the students and teachers and the beautiful structure of inherent teachings built into a dynamic and complex language system of the Cree peoples. Throughout my learning process I had two close friends, who are my brothers now. They supported me and helped me throughout my time in the Cree language courses. These men are spiritual support for me.

Everywhere I go both Chief Jerry Goodswimmer and Gary Moostoos walk with me. I can hear their lovingly teasing comments about my learning and bastardizing their language. I can hear their laughs and see their beautiful smiles. These two men have profoundly impacted my life. They taught me love and had more patience for me than I think I have had for anyone or anything. They worked with me and mentored me to unlearn my racist mind. They also know I am still on this path, and I am doing the best I can. Gary had gifted me with the most valuable gifts I had ever received in my life.

(picture of me in 2005)

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He showed me the truth about love and acceptance. My Kohkum, my Aunties, Gary, and Jerry…all of you…I love you and respect you. I thank you with deep gratitude for the roles you played in my life and the lessons you offer me even when you are not physically present.

hiy hiy

Cree Language Biography

by

Daniel Gallant

June 2, 2004

Nitisîyihkâson Daniel Clayton Gallant. Nîya nîstotanaw kekâtahtosâp kayâ sihaskiya. Nikînihtâwikinihk Spirit River, Alberta.

Nikîwîkinihk nisto provinces. Nohtâwiy Geoffrey Stanley Thomas, kikînipin. Kînihtâwikiw Walesihk. Kînipiw kekâmitâtahtosâp kikîhitahtopiponew. Kikînipiw Spirit River-ihk, Alberta. Nimihtatnipihâw nohtâwiy nipimohtehon.

Nitayâwâwak newo awâsisak. Peyak nitânis, Jessica Amy Rex, ohci nistosâp itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw White Rockohk, British Columbia. Peyak nitânis, Madisson Lynn Gallant, nikotwâsik itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw Fort Saint Johnihk, British Columbia. Peyak nitânis, Daryan Patricia Gallant, newo itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw Chetwyndihk, British Columbia. Nikosis nîso itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw Dawson Creekohk, British Columbia. Mâka epeyakoyân ekwa nimihtâtâwak nitawâsimisâhak. Nikîhayâwâw peyak atim, kitisîyihkâson Tyrus, nikotwâsik itahtopiponew.

Nikîhitohtân peyakosâp kiskinohamâkot’kamikwa pâmayes ayinânew ehayamihtâyân. Pâmayes nikîtitahtopiponân tepakohposâp nikîwîkin ohci nîso askîya kipahotô kamikohk. Nikamaciapacihtânminihkwewin ekwa nikîmâcikon’tamisiwepayihcikewin pâmayes ehitahtopiponeyân nistosâp. Papâmi nikîtitahtopiponân nîsotanaw nikotwâsikosâp nikîmâcihiyinîhkah. Nikîwâpamâwak mistahihowîcihtâsowak.

Nikîmôniyâwohpikin, nikîtâpwewakeyimâw môniyâwak ayâwewak sôhkisiwak ekwa tipeyihcikâte nehiyawaskîwin ekwa nehiyawayisiyiniwak. Ninisitaweyimâw nipakwatamawâw. Nikocîkweskînâw. Nikakweskînâw. Nikîkweskînâw. Nitatamihâw, nikahawîyakmâmawôhkamâton. Nikehtinâw ekosi ayisiyinîw.

Nikatahkamnehiyaw’kiskinohamâkosin. Nicîhkesten nikiskinohamâson. ay ay.

English Translation

My name is Daniel Clayton Gallant. I am 29 yrs old. I was born in Spirit River, Alberta. I lived in 3 provinces.

My father is Geoffrey Stanley Thomas, he had died. He was born in Wales. He died at age 19. He died in Spirit River, Alberta. I grieved the loss of my father through my life.

I have four children. My one daughter, Jessica Amy Rex, is 13 yrs old. My 1 daughter, Madisson Lynn Gallant, is 6 yrs old. My one daughter, Daryan Patricia Gallant, is 4 yrs old. My son, Kieron Geoffrey Joseph Gallant, is 2 yrs old. But I live alone and I miss my children. I had one dog, his name is Tyrus, and he is 6 yrs old.

I went to 11 different schools by grade 8. Before age 17 I lived in jail for about 2 yrs. I started to abuse alcohol, and I started to abuse drugs before age 13. About the age of 26 I started to heal. I saw many social workers.

I grew up like a white person. I did believe white people had power and controlled Cree land and Cree people. I recognize my hate. I try to change. I have changed.  I am indebted to helping all people. I respect all people.

I will continue to learn Cree. I enjoy my teacher thank you.

Glossary

Môniyâwohpiki: AI- grew up like white person,

Pimohteho: VA-travel through life, live one’s life

Mihtat: PRE-V PART.-grieved

Tâpwewakeyim: TA-believe in

Môniyâs: AI- white people

Ayâw: TA- to have plural

Sôhkisi: AI-power or powers

Tipeyihcikâte: II-to control or govern-ii

Nisitaweyim: TA- recognize

Pakwatamaw: TA- hate,dislike

Kweskin: TA-change

Nikakweskinâw: TA-I will change

Nikîkweskinâw: TA-I have changed

Atamih: TA- indebted

Mâmawôhkamâto: AI- help

Nikahawîyakmâmawôhkamâton: AI- I will help anyone

Kehtin: TA-respect

Ayisiyinîmwak: TA-people (plural)

Nehiyaw’kiskinohamâkosi: AI- to learn cree

Nikatahkamnehiyaw’kiskinohamâkosin: AI- I will continue to learn cree.

cîhkesta: TI-enjoy

Kiskinohamâso: AI- to be taught

Who Am I: A Declarative Narrative of Citizenship in Canadian Apartheid

I throw this declarative poetic narrative out there for all those who continuously ask me my background and to the institution I am studying in and all of their silly little ticky boxes. They are missing a ticky box for me. Tonight after a talk with my auntie Audrey I decidedly post this piece.

This piece is unpublished at this time but was one of 30 pieces that I submitted and won award for as an emerging writer about land and aboriginal issues.

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Chicken Slaughter House (DTES)

This year has been filled with travel all over BC and Alberta. Currently visiting the DTES of Van City aka East Van (downtowneastside of Vancouver). This morning I was driving to go for a coffee on Commercial Drive before meeting a documentary film crew I have started working with this month.

The documentary piece is a promotional story pitch to present to funders about my journey in life. I left home first at age 12 from Toronto to northern BC. By 14 I hitch hiked to East Vancouver and began my street involvement on the DTES. This resulted in struggles with addiction, gangs, right wing extremism, homelessness, criminality, and extreme violence.

In the work I do in the last twelve years I share many stories about my experiences. My introduction to my dear friend Garry Gottfriedson, who is also my writing mentor, was the first person I ever shared a poem I wrote. He asked me to. I trusted him. We then forged a strong bond. Now, with Garry’s guidance I am a published writer in both poetry and creative non-fiction.

That first poem I wrote was edited down into three smaller poems in a series. It was about the DTES prostitution, Johns, and feminist based social justice issues. I wrote the poem in Dr. Si Transken’s class, who later became my thesis supervisor for my Masters degree.

In 2012, Dr. Transken invited me to read a poem at the Art-ivism event which was largely feminist based activists and artists. I was honoured. So I honoured her by reading the first of the three poems I read. It was called God Is Dead.

This year, 2013, I was invited to be a return reader. This year I read part three of the poem, Pickton’s Princesses. Perhaps next year I will read the third called Chicken Soup.

As I was driving to commercial drive today, on the corner of Commercial Drive and East Hastings there was a chicken slaughter house. I could not remember where the slaughter house was, but I recall the smells and images from when I was living on the streets. But today there were signs in front of the slaughter house. Along with the signs were two beautiful social activists.

I had to stop. I was in tears for a moment sitting in my car. It was a surreal moment as often happens when I am reminded of my past and where I am now in life. It is a miracle. I got out of my car and went and talked to one of the gals. She invited me to email her my poetry. I then told her I would write this blog, link their website, and post my poems.

They are doing important work. She talked about how the abusive raising of chickens in an urban area through cruel practices is abhorrent, then went on to talk about the contrast of the prostitution in the neighbourhood that is still going on; twenty years after I had been down there, both the slaughterhouse and the prostitution and poverty. She was a beautiful mind. I wanted to hug her, and I would have if she was not soaking wet from the Vancouver rain. They have been out every week protesting for months. Good job people.

I find it interesting how the majority of social justice advocates I come across are women. From First Nations communities, to organized protests, and rally organizers. I guess there is truth in the concept that women can be more connected to self and the world then their counter-parts downtrodden by institutional hyper-masculinity; much like I was for a long time. But, we do recover when we work at it.

I am thanking Liberation BC for the work they are currently doing.

The first poem is called God is dead which was published in SFU’s West-Coast-Line No. 72 in 2012; also was read at the Aboriginal Weaving Words Storytellers festival and Artivism event at UNBC in 2012.

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The second poem, Chicken Soup, was never read publicly, nor published yet. I did however read it to Garry Gottfriedson’s family in his living room on Boxing Day in 2011.

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The third poem, Pickton’s Princesses, was also published in West Coast Line No. 72. It was read at Artivism event in 2013.

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Always Was Silent

This poem is currently unpublished.

The morning was as crisp as my sharp tears. I was reminded of haunts from my childhood. The feeling I had when I walked down a dark cold November winter highway at 4 am. Further and further into the the darkness only guided by the glowing ice crystal snow banks on the side of the highway. Always alone, always silent. There was only one thing that had reminded me of these times, that was being in the cold. I overcame the cold by putting myself out in the cold.

My tears bled through my lacerations of hope. My tears cut through my eyelid thin heart, I saw red sadness. I looked to my left. Alone and silent, both of us. I was passing by watchfully. The other, she sat on the bus bench wrapped in a perfect blue wool to match the seasonal despair. She sat alone, as did I.

She sat as she always did, as did I, silent.

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