(Photo by duckrabbit)
My childhood and youth was fraught with abuse, violence and adversity. For the last fifteen years, I have worked hard and have completed 2 degrees, including a BA in First Nations Studies and Masters in Social Work. I am now near completed a Law Degree.
One of the tools for my survival and recovery include creative expression through the writing. This book is a collection of autobiographic poetic narratives.
This manuscript was put together under the guidance and mentoring offered to me, by indigenous writer Garry Gottfriedson.
Here is the first review of my book.
You can purchase my first title, Bruise Faced Child, from:
There is an old battle, between poets and law. This battle has not disappeared. Plato represents Law, and legal educators are proving to me that poetry is still perceived as a threat.
(Please play this song and read the lyrics provided, and then replay while you read this blog article; I whole heartedly recommend that people put this song on loop for your own enjoyment. This song is still one of my all time favourites.)
In an ancient time Plato threatened to force out, BANISH, all of the poets out from the city. Here is a quick summary of the battle between LAW v POEtry:
“Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, was a student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle. Writing during the mid-4th century, BCE, he founded an academy in Athens, Greece. His philosophical writings are primarily in the form of dialogues (the form became known as the “Socratic dialogue”), where truths are revealed by a series of questions and inferences based on the questions and their responses. In simplified terms, he believed that abstract ideas and truths exist in a place beyond the material objects of the world. The term “platonic” has come to mean pure or lofty. In Books III and X of the Republic, Plato addresses the problem of poets. He deduces that they are imitators of the world, and therefore far from the truth: “the tragic poet is an imitator, and therefore, like all other imitators, he is thrice removed from the king and from the truth.” The other dangers of poets are that they corrupt youth and incite the passions instead of the faculties of reason. The poet, “with his words and phrases,” is able to convince listeners that he knows what he speaks of: “such is the sweet influence which melody and rhythm by nature have.” Poetry, including the narratives of others’ lives, appeals to the emotions; it “feeds and waters the passions instead of drying them up; she lets them rule, although they ought to be controlled, if mankind are ever to increase in happiness and virtue.” In Book X, Plato concludes that poetry must be banished from the hypothetical, ideal society; however, if poetry makes “a defense for herself in lyrical or some other meter,” she may be allowed to return from exile.”
Here was my response written in 2012 when I was a social work student doing research on the use of poetry in scholarship:
POE = Product Of Environment + try = POEtry = survival through writing
This was written before I applied to law school. As it turns out my law school seems to dislike my poetry. There exists an ancient cultural-ideological divide between those who hold legal-power and those who use creative expression.
All of this reminds me of these events:
This is a paper I wrote in my first semester of second year law (2L). It has gained quite some traction on academia.edu
First I reached the top 5% of reads within 48 hours.
Then a few days later it reached the top 4%
Then the top 3% (I will add updates as they come)
I was quite pleasantly surprised at the amount of reads, so now I thought I would make this paper more accessible by providing it on my blog as well. This paper is the second piece I posted on the academia site, the first was my thesis.
The law school paper was written as a response to the environment I am studying in and my experiences, which I will be publishing about soon.
I will soon be publishing a small series of blog articles about my experience in law school, including the discrimination that I have witnessed and read about. It will also include some updates on the status of my legal actions I started against the law school.
For now, here is my preliminary offering to law students, especially law students who have experienced bullying from faculty and administration for speaking out and going against the grain, and for anyone else who is interested.
Click on the following to access the paper:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.