Tag Archive | Skinhead

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.

 

 

 

Cherry Docs

I have written many blog articles, academic pieces and many declarative poetic narratives about my time in the white supremacist movement. I have also read and watched the work of others related to their experience with the white power networks around the world. I have not ever been so profoundly moved by an artistic piece as I have, to date, by the play written by David Gow called Cherry Docs.

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(Photo by Jenifer Norwell CBC)

The Director of the play in Kamloops, Glen Cairns, featured Nigel Beardwood who played Michael Downy, a neo-nazi skinhead on trial for racially motivated murder. Todd Sullivan played Beardwood’s Jewish lawyer.  Glen Cairns, the Director, is a survivor of a violent hate crime in Toronto back in the 1990s. The beating so severe his face had to be reconstructed. We were brought together by suggestion of a mutual friend, to whom I am grateful.

The play was moving. It was delivered with a vulnerable emotional connection, by a production and acting team that is passionate about life and the real social issues we face in society. This play is worth seeing.

Albeit, my boots are not Cherry Docs they are Oxblood Gripfast (used to be gettagrips) Rangers, which were one of the two main choices of boots selected by nazi skinheads since the 1980s. Both pairs are symbolically linked and represent the same thing, while also acknowledging there do exist some branding and functional differences. I will not discuss these distinguishments as I do not want to contribute to a promotion of the reasons why I selected these boots, but I will say that I always had a pair of Docs for one violent purpose and this style of boot for another violent purpose.

I could write a very long article on what I experienced but instead I encourage you to see the play that runs until Jan. 24 2016 in Kamloops. I also encourage you to read this article by CBC and listen to this interview with Glen, Nigel and Myself as we discuss our intersection, Cherry Docs (boots), in the theatre of life.

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(Photo by Jenifer Norwell CBC: Right to left: Nigel Beardwood, Daniel Gallant, Glen Cairns)

The only sad part about this experience is that in response to the CBC’s article (as seen here) is riddled by comments by white supremacists. One particular individual, who is a member of a specific skinhead organization and is responsible for cowardice beatings of our community members and was charged with a hate crime, took to the internet to express his rejection of the healing nature of our collective cathartic experiences.

It is a good reminder for me to know that there are still people who are lost and cling on to the grips of power-over others through violence/intimidation, while riddled with denial and false consciousness about our shared humanness (as I once was)…there is still much work to be done…but at the very least even those who are where I once was are now discussing and engaging on the forefront (or at least periphery) with the work of deconstructing hatred in our communities.

I challenge any and all persons who believe in the things I once did to reach out and have civil dialogue in order for us to grow collectively, rather than holding onto to abusive ways that defeat the thing that we all similarly strive for: survival and a better life. I do not condemn those for believing what they do, but I do openly challenge the not-always-so-apparent logical fallacies and conspirators perceptions of those who dedicate themselves to a movement fuelled by hatred, fear and denial.

There is a better way to live.

Book Review: Race Traitor: The True Story of the Canadian Intelligence Service’s Greatest Cover-Up

This Book Review is now published on Violent Extremist Exit Resources website.

http://exitresources.wordpress.com

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Introduction

“We’ll tear her to shreds.”

~ CSIS Toronto Region Investigator speaking of eighteen year old Elisa Hategan, whose affidavits implicated CSIS agent Grant Bristow in criminal activity. CBC’s The Fifth Estate, October 1994~

Race Traitor: The True Story of the Canadian Intelligence Service’s Greatest Cover-Up was a pleasure to read. Elisa Hategan has delivered an upfront account of her personal lived experience that definitively checks out with other sources within the public body of knowledge on this topic. A true account of government corruption, and security and law enforcement cover-up. The blatant role that the Canadian system had in establishing what could be said to be the most notorious neo-Nazi organization since WWII. It is noteworthy that Elisa starts her autobiography by explaining the difficulty she had in attempts to publish her book.

Publishing companies shy away from stories like this. In my own personal experience, publishing companies were resistant to my autobiography as a former violent racist skinhead. I am inspired to consider self-publishing, in a no-holds-barred way, much like Elisa. I want to start off by saying to Elisa directly:

“Thank you for your honest and courageous modeling, you are a living inspiration of true change. Your path is unique and beautiful. I commend you, and hope to honor your work.”

This story includes the detailed ins-and-outs of a CSIS conspiracy that involves the planted agent, Grant Bristow, within the Heritage Front. In fact, Elisa does what no one else would do. She brings together many of the fragments of facts to tell ‘the’ story in its most comprehensive form to date. Her facts are hard. Her sources are solid. She does a fantastic job of calling out poignant politicians, security agencies and law enforcement for their role in establishing one of the largest neo-Nazi organizations since WWII. This is a true account of CSIS and politicians who were involved in, and with, a Canadian domestic terrorist group. This book leaves many questions that should be asked in public spaces:

“How deep does systemic white supremacist ideology run in Canadian society?”

It could be said that former Heritage Front members are still at the center of the Canadian white supremacist movement. Many of its members are still in operation. The fact that CSIS funded, at minimum, some of the operations of the Heritage Front is troublesome, although, Hategan’s story reveals a grotesque abuse of Canadian tax dollars. Moreover, Elisa’s exposé on the cover-ups ordered by those at the top of security operations is very troubling. Her lived experience, combined with both her writing and research skills, presents an enthralling story that is raw.

Elisa’s ability to include comedic interludes throughout the story was superb. I have never literally laughed out loud while reading, until I read Race Traitor. Elisa captures the reader with her vulnerability. She is real. An authentic voice that is amplified through her fact based presentation of Tory corruption within the Canadian government, security forces and law enforcement.

In my opinion the most important facts embedded this story include the following points:

  • insights into the process of radicalization and deradicalization
  • most people in the movement come from fairly ‘normal’ lifestyles and backgrounds
  • in the highest ranks of hate groups and white nationalist movements there are working relationships between violent right-wing extremists and other ‘non-white’ groups and individuals, which may result in a lack of perceived threats from ultra-right factions by the general public
  • the most important people who supported and assisted Elisa’s exit were anti-racist activists, a journalist and members of the American Indian Movement

 Book Review Author’s Bio:

myself had spent nearly a decade in the white supremacist movement, shortly after the Heritage Front fell apart. Little did I know that an 18-year-old girl, a journalist and a handful of committed anti-racist activists would dismantle the terrorist group that the Canadian government funded and helped to create. Since leaving the white supremacist movement well over a decade ago, I have achieved two university degrees and have researched the historic relationship between the Canadian government and what we now call violent right wing extremist networks. My area of research also includes the analysis of former violent white supremacists autobiographies. It is my opinion that Elisa Hategan’s autobiography is the most important autobiography of this category to date.

The grim reality is that white supremacy, racism and anti-Semitism runs deep within our Canadian Society, and Race Traitor reflects how deep that is. This is a must read for every counter-extremist/terrorist scholar and researcher in North America; especially for those who are studying extremist/terrorist disengagement and deradicalization in the North American context. Scholars who are studying right wing extremist networks need to focus on the context that our society breeds right wing extremists, quite literally. This is not only my opinion, but is shared and reflected through several North American scholars who specialize on this subject; furthermore, this point is driven and exemplified through Elisa’s story. Elisa Hategan deserves national attention and acknowledgement for her sacrifices that resulted in dismantling the largest terrorist network in Canadian history, which was in part funded and founded by the Canadian government and CSIS.

Race Traitor is a must read for anyone concerned with CSIS’s operations, systemic racism in Canada and corruption of both government and law enforcement. I believe that every First Nations activist and like-minded allies would benefit greatly by reading Elisa Hategan’s story. Further insights into structural racism could be gained from this story.

 General reflections

I have recently established an organization that works towards developing deradicalization resources for those who have disengaged from violent right wing extremism. Deradicalization means to unlearn and re-constitute one’s worldview and self-identification; moving away from a violent right wing ideology to a non-violent and less schismatic worldview. Challenging the fundamentals of right wing worldview is a long process, one that I know intimately. My work and life are centered around educating the public on how deep white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology run within Canadian society and culture. I believe this book, by Elisa Hategan, is a powerful contribution into the conversations that need to be had amongst those involved within counter-violent-extremism. Elisa Hategan is a primary example of true deradicalization that supersedes any other current former white supremacist autobiography I have read.

Scholars should take note of this autobiographic story as a poignant insight into gaps within scholarship on right wing extremist networks; we as scholars often buy into the myths and stereotypes of what a white supremacist is and does; like the general population. Race Traitor gives us an insight that breeches the common perspectives of who is in and around the ultra-violent right wing. Elisa’s literary contribution offers us some core challenges to re-consider from what is commonly believed about white supremacy and anti-Semitism.

This book is also great for anti-racist activists who want to learn more about the twisted, manipulative and coercive nature of the extreme right ideology and networks that plague North American society. Progressive critics of Canadian society, security services and the overall establishment may benefit from reading this book. The contentious facts contained within the book are verifiable. The facts Ms. Hategan presents can be cross-referenced with other sources. As I have already had a working knowledge on the topic at hand, both through old personal contacts and research experience, I know the facts in this book are solid. The book is clearly a ‘tell all’ about Elisa’s experience and dynamic relationship between CSIS and the white supremacist network in Canada. Elisa offers a state of vulnerability and authenticity, which reflects her resiliency, self-reflective and reflexive nature. She is a bold strong woman filled with courage that is only contended by her own demons.

Lastly, while reading Race Traitor, I thought to myself it is no wonder why the Canadian government and intelligence communities focus their counter-extremist/terrorist efforts towards both First Nations and Muslim communities. Looking at the ideological connections and direct social networks shared between the Canadian government and the extreme ultra-violent-right-wing may just be ‘too close to home’. Perhaps with more digging, Canadians will see how deep the roots of archaic and schismatic worldviews of our society go; views and behavior that contradict our stated policies of inclusive multiculturalism and human rights.

The Story

Elisa was sixteen years old when she was recruited into the Heritage Front, one of Canada’s most infamous white supremacist groups. As Elisa points out, the HF was infamous for trying to change the brand and face of the white supremacist movement in Canada. People such as David Duke, Wolfgang Droege and others were strategically changing the identifiable brutish reputation of the extreme far right. A new face to the white supremacist movement was being promoted in order to manipulate recruitment into the violent and racist network. The newer face of the violent right wing movement claims to be made up of revolutionaries fighting a courageous war of ideals; the author does a great job at showing that this self-righteous and self-imposed proclamation is just yet another white lie.

CBC

This brings to surface another core issue I discovered halfway through the book. This story reminded me of an old ‘made for TV’ movie I had watched several years back. It was called White Lies (1998). Elisa’s book reminded of the movie. I hadn’t never thought about the movie since I had seen it years ago. The movie was a poorly written and failed production. The tale of a young middle class ‘white girl’ who was recruited by a white supremacist organization as a magazine writer. From my recollection the only differences between Elisa’s lived experience and the story of the girl in the movie, played by Sarah Polley, was that the character in the film came from a middle class home and had sex with white supremacist skinheads. Other than that, this movie was Elisa’s story. After further inquiry, I discovered that the CBC produced TV movie, White Lies, was loosely-based on Elisa’s lived experience. Moreover, the CBC had not compensated Elisa in any way. I discovered that CBC fictionalized a lot of things in order to avoid paying for the story rights.

I send out a big boot to CBC for exploiting this woman’s, or at the time might I say “girl’s,” story. I appreciate the CBC in many regards and value the news provided by the semi-progressive broadcast network, but this is an abhorrent scenario that should be resolved. I was thoroughly disappointed when I learned about this history.

Recruitment

Elisa’s experience as a young recruit brought her into the heart of the Canadian white supremacist movement. She hung around Wolfgang Droege, who was born in Austria and had previously spent time in a USA prison for a failed attempt to overthrow the Dominican government. In 2005, Wolfgang was shot to death by a drug-using associate, not a surprising end for a man who lived a violent and hateful life.

Elisa also spent time in the home of Ernst Zundel, who has been on the run in almost every country he has lived in. He is a hate-monger who considers himself a ‘revisionist scholar.’ A revisionist who constructs a fictional argument that attempts to claim the number of people who died, as the result of the totalitarian Nazi regime in WWII was false. Unfortunately these holocaust deniers are grotesquely fueled by a perverted sense of direction that propagates hateful anti-Semitic propaganda. Young Elisa forged close relations with these grotesque people; she was a socially isolated child and they were emotional predators that spoon-fed her hate.

Elisa tells her story of being lost and alone, a child who was marked by these manipulative and coercive leaders. Boldly, Elisa informs us that her case was not common within the circle she ran with. In fact, she tells us that her experience was the anomaly. She was the only street kid she had met, especially to be groomed for leadership. The majority of the members of this extremely racist movement were people who lived relatively ‘normal’ lives prior to joining the Heritage Front; this is an important insight for those academics familiar with the radicalization process and hate crimes stats. Of course she tells stories of brutish, violent and ignorant skinheads, crusty old hateful people and the manipulative and abusive nature of men who operated like a cult; The Heritage Front was a political cult.

A Lighter Flavor

Elisa talks about some of the inner workings of the Heritage Front. I was glad to read that she included that there was a color-coded system used by the racist skinheads. Bootlaces and suspenders codified their self-identified standing within their gangs, along with racist tattoos. Elisa also offers some comedic pun elements that lighten up the heavy load of the books content. As a reader this brings in some humor in order to make the reading journey of her horrible experience a little more palatable.

First Nations Community

Interestingly enough, Elisa did not initially seem to buy into the lies that were being fed to her when she was recruited at sixteen years old. She was bold enough to question the information that these de-bunked leaders were throwing at her. This speaks to Elisa’s resiliency and the strength of her character, which is echoed at the end of the book.

I was astounded to learn that she stood in solidarity with First Nations during the injustices of the Oka Crisis, prior to her recruitment into the Heritage Front. I believe this further speaks to Elisa’s inherent progressive thinking, which through my own perceptual lens considers is probably due to the fact that she, like me, understands what it means to be beaten down; thus, can at least in part empathize with people who have been systemically abused by the colonial racist Canadian government.

Identifying with the political plight of First Nations peoples has been poignant in my own process of transformation, after leaving the violent white supremacist movement in Canada. Of course, the chief manipulators in this story prey upon Elisa’s young mind and try to convince her that First Nations peoples are drunkards and losers. Interestingly enough, the climatic point of the book for me was when the American Indian Movement (AIM) were the only people who offered her effective protection and support. In both my own personal story and Elisa’s story it seems that the people who were abused the most by the Canadian government and RCMP were rescuers who had a deep understanding of structural racism. Thus, in my experience I know there is a lot of respect offered to people who reflectively consider their role as an overt oppressor and work towards making a profound change to expose racist corruption and to engage public conversations about historic and contemporary racism in Canada.

Counter-Extremism

Elisa’s account of the Heritage Front’s involvement in the global context is what I consider to be one of the most profound aspects of her literary contribution. She explains that the white supremacist movement was directly tied to Khadafy’s regime. Most people would not understand, know, nor even heard of this. The Libyan dictator seemed to adore the Canadian white supremacist movement, most likely due to anti-Semitic ideology. Khadafy was responsible for inhumane treatment of Jews in Libya, like his predecessors who implemented laws that identified the Jews as a race, and then systemically abused them. To most people this is shocking to learn about, but those who have an intimate history with violent right wing doctrine and networks know that there are many relationships forged in the name of anti-Semitism. I argue that the core thread of right wing ideology is the fictionalized Jewish conspiracy that the world is led by an alleged ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government). Most people do not understand the historical roots of the information they are taught that leads to anti-Semitism. Elisa’s autobiography reflects that indeed, anti-Semitism is at the core of the white nationalist movement.

Elisa tells us that Ernst Zundel had a young Orthodox Jewish boy, David Cole, visit him every couple of weeks. This broaches that very important misconception people have of the white supremacist movement. What most people believe about neo-Nazi, and white nationalist, networks is not the way these groups actually function. Hitler’s Nazi regime had many alliances with Japan, some Muslim militias and other armies; all of which were anti-Semitic at their core. Moreover, the current right wing extremist network is fraught with seemingly contradictory connections that confuse most people, until they learn how these ideological threads of anti-Semitism operate as alliance vehicles. These are an insidious and very real threat that threads extremist and terrorist organizations together all around the world. Elisa offers her insights into the inner workings of the Heritage Front and how this CSIS funded domestic terrorist organization was connected to a global network of anti-Semitism.

Conclusion

The white supremacist narrative at its core is anti-Semitic and is built upon a legacy of racist stereotypes that blame Jews for the problems of the world. Scapegoats are necessary because the ideology of the extreme right wing is built upon deception and coercive information that does not withstand the application of progressive critical lenses. The archaic racist science and ideological lineage of the far right wing doctrine is reinforced by contemporary mainstream belief structures. This can be seen throughout Canadian history and the foundations of the Canadian government. Canada has a long historical function of applying racist social policy, which is still a contemporary mainstay, and relationships with what are now referred to as extremist right wing groups.

Elisa Hategan’s book Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence Service’s Greatest Cover-Up offers an invaluable perspective that does effectively counter all of the hate she previously promoted.

Elisa Hategan

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

Tangled in Hair

This poem was not previously published. This blog article is written intentionally with poor grammar and references.

As I return to the city I was homeless in, where we filmed the documentary piece for Global’s 16×9 Brotherhood of Hate.

I am reminded of where I have been, what I have seen, and what I have done in the past.

I remember the security I felt in a Scarved Embrace when recalling the realities of God is Dead. I recall that my Letter to Matthew was inspired by the same aspect of myself that allowed my Mirrored Child to come forth. As I step forth in this city I am Bleeding Tears Pores Sting thick while battling the truth about how Gossip is Personal. Blue Life brings me to My Daughter Loves to Joke in a way that makes Totalitarians Scurry. I have Prism Tears remembering She Danced with Ancients Fade.

She was As Real As I, but she stays clad in the Iron Forest where she recalls that the Minus the One on a Cryptic Night. I am left fraught with What to do with a small fox who carries an albatross. i hope to tear down Cold Brick Walls, which cannot be achieved without Existential Liberation from Emotional Rape. I feel Stiff as the Beat and Rape and Pound sows Rape’s Seed deep in my work, as Await(s), Shethe Bee.

My heart is heavy and my hair is tangled. 

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A Public Reference: Links to media interviews with Daniel Gallant

This is a list of articles and profiles for public reference.

TV/Video Links:

2013

Global National, 16×9, Feb. 2013

Brotherhood of Hate Online Story

Brotherhood of Hate Show (16×9)

Behind the Story Interview with Krysia Collier (Producer) 

 

Newspaper Links

2006

Edmonton Journal, January 6 2006

Ex-skinhead seeks path of redemption

by Graham Andrews

 

2011

Prince George Citizen, Feb. 9 2011

Are Prince George white supremacists gaining momentum?

by Frank Peebles

 

Prince George Citizen, Letter to the Editor, Feb. 11 2011

Many kinds of metal in the mix

by Sam Wright

 

Prince George Citizen, Letter to the Editor, Feb. 18 2011

Don’t disparage black metal scene 

by Leah Coghlan

 

Prince George Citizen, March 9 2011

Sharpeville remembered in P.G.

by Frank Peebles

 

Prince George Citizen, March 20 2011

The Powar of Love

by Frank Peebles

 

Prince George Citizen, March 21 2011

Anti-racists march on Monday

by Arthur Williams

 

Free Press, March 22 2011

Rally held to end racism

by Joe Fries

 

Prince George Citizen, March 22 2011

Bigotry still thrives, gathering told

by Frank Peebles

 

2012

Prince George Citizen, June 27 2012

An education in the extreme: Daniel Gallant turns to learning as he moves from white supremacist to anti-racism crusader

by Ted Clarke

 

2013

Windspeaker, V. 31 Issue 33, 2013

Reformed neo-nazi skinhead UNBC masters student calls residential school system institutional white supremacy

by Deborah Steel

 

Prince George Citizen, May 16 2013

Former skinhead speaks out against residential schools

by Frank Peebles

 

Prince George Citizen, May 31 2013

What’s Happening Prince George

by Citizen Staff

 

Prince George Citizen, June 5 2013

What Chances did the farmers have if the Axis powers lost?

by Frank Peebles

 

Outwords: queer views, news, issues, July 2013

Turning hate into advocacy

by Danielle Cloutier

 

Prince George Citizen, Nov. 4 2013

Former extremist brings anti-racism message to NY

by Frank Peebles

 

2014

Prince George Citizen, May 23 2014

What Happening

by Citizen Staff

 

Magazines

2013

Thompson Rivers University: Paper Trails Magazine, On campus racism and vandalism, 2013

by Nigel

2014

Decibel Magazine Blog, May 5 2014

Ex-Skinhead: “This was never just about Inquisition”

by Justin M. Norton

 

Decibel Magazine (In-Print), July 2013 Issue #113

Interview with Daniel Gallant

by Justin M. Norton

 

Newsletters

AVE [Against Violent Extremism], Feb. 2013

Video Corner

 

 

University of Norther British Columbia, First Nations Studies Newsletter, Fall 2013

FNST Graduate Invited to Speak at Google Ideas Summit

First Nations Newsletter

 

AVE [Against Violent Extremism], May 28 2014

Formers & Survivors take centre stage in Far Right workshop

 

 

Radio:

2004: CBC Radio: Edmonton: White Supremacist Bombings

2010: CBC Radio: Edmonton: Hate Group Activity

2011: CBC Radio: Edmonton: Recent Hate Crimes

2011: CBC Radio: Calgary: Recent Hate Crimes

2012: CBC Radio: Prince George: Healing from Hate through Writing

 

Blog Articles:

Feminist Blogger

 

Daniel and Inquisition:

Shamelessnavelgazing Blog article: Inquisitions and black metal’s fascism problem

 

http://www.metalinjection.net/latest-news/rumors/black-metal-band-inquisition-are-probably-nazis

 

http://www.decibelmagazine.com/featured/inquisition-frontman-dagon-im-not-a-nazi/

 

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2014/05/black_metal_ban.html

 

http://www.metalinsider.net/updates/inquisition-frontman-im-not-a-nazi

 

http://shamelessnavelgazing.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/inquisition-and-black-metals-fascism-problem-clarification-and-follow-up/

 

http://www.metalsucks.net/2014/05/02/analysis-inquisitions-weak-denial/

 

http://www.metalinjection.net/editorials/so-inquisition-arent-nazis-i-dont-know-who-cares#comments

 

http://www.decibelmagazine.com/featured/ex-skinhead-this-was-never-just-about-inquisition/

 

http://www.metalsucks.net/2014/05/05/inquisitionwhite-supremacy-controversy-continues/

 

http://www.metalinjection.net/latest-news/drama/ex-skinhead-who-labeled-inquisition-as-white-supremacists-speaks-out

 

http://www.nocleansinging.com/2014/05/06/the-inquisition-inquisition/

Poem: Would You Believe Me

This poem is currently unpublished. I thought it was appropriate following the 16×9 show “Supremacy: Brotherhood of Hate”.

ps. I am looking for a publishing house for my biography and poetry that follows suit with the genre I write.

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Mirrored Child

This piece was previously published in the life-after-hate journal (www.lifeafterhate.org), 2012:

My life of hate began as a boy. From incidents of child abuse, to life on the streets. The east side of Vancouver was a breeding ground for violence and hate. Hate which I carried for many years to come.

I left the street life behind while an organized crime group, which led me to a darker path, employed me. In the mid-nineties, I moved away from Vancouver after nearly becoming the first person charged with a hate crime in British Columbia (BC). I retreated to northeast BC, the beautiful Peace River district, I carried a network of hate and violence with me. Bridging western hate networks from the south, to the east, and to the north.

I had introduced many youth to extremist groups, and doctrine, contributing to fueling their hearts with hatred. Including a northern BC man who is now in prison after multiple convictions for explosives. Peter Houston. All in the name of hate. Extreme hatred. There were three major events in my life that transpired and initiated my process of liberation—freedom from the life of hate.

First, was the birth of my last child, my son. All of my previous children were girls. Though I tried to love each and every one of them, I was unable to reach inside of myself to a depth that permitted true love and humanistic connection: the girls were fatherless.
I was detached with anger, hate, and rage.

The day my son was born, August 11, 2001, a profound realization came; I had been creating a world filled with pain and violence for my children. This boy, my saviour son, was born into my reality. I wanted to protect him from the pain ahead. He was not going to endure a childhood of abuse, like I did. His tiny body was a reflection of my being. He was my mirrored child, representative of my rebirth. I wanted to protect him. I wanted to protect myself.

If I did not change my hateful ways and my addiction to drugs, alcohol, and violence; then my son would surely be led down a similar path. I did not want to be responsible for destroying a little boy, as had been done to me. I felt like I was damaged and destroyed. Worthless. I did not want to live in an abusive world any longer. I hated life and all of the pain I endured. I had dreamed of a good life for my children, but the path to achieve these dreams was not apparent. Surely my path would destroy my son, and daughters.

Mirrored Child

(for Kieron Gallant)

familiar sadness spiraled inward

sneaking smiles index logical wit

freckled essence of ancestors splattered

chiseled features of a lively boy

demeanor displayed through daily interaction

ancient respect offers delicate soft requests

fervor anticipates emotional swells erupt

advice sought from fathers, grandfathers and men

you are soft surrounded by women

dimpled giggles with protective eyes

small toned Celtic warrior reminisces

pent energy needed direction

your natures images reflected

you stand mirrored in my eyes

After seeing myself reflected in my son’s tiny body, my last ultra-violent incident occurred. I beat an aboriginal man with a hatchet. For the first time I felt a guilt that I had never experienced before. There was no alternative but to turn myself in. Once again, for a moment, I knew this life of hate could not continue.

It was shortly after this that my second epiphany came to fruition. Presented with childhood flashbacks of repressed memories the term crisis became very apparent. I had never gone through something so torturous, as when I had experienced those memories that revealed horrific scenes from my childhood. In hindsight those memories were a metaphysical breath offered to my inner-being, awakening my spirit which had been drowned in hate. A breath that led to a path of redemption.

The third epiphany was the 9-11 tragedy. I was convinced that a race war was about to erupt, believing that the twin towers were the world’s most powerful financial institution, which was operated and controlled by Zionists. Engaging in preparation for the race war, I watched the towers crumble, I ensured that all the weapons I had cached in the hills were loaded and operational.

Gathering enough provisions and weaponry for a small army, I informed my trusted friends to prepare for the racial holy war also. As the information came out that 9-11 was not the work of white supremacists, my compatriots and I were horribly disappointed.

Discouraged, I began to question our collective dedication to a race war. I spoke with my peers in the network of hate leadership, and all seemed to be avoiding a prime opportunity for war. This was the first epiphany for my exit: the ‘movement’ was a fallacy.

For the next several years a process of change led to a pathway of liberation. But before freedom, there were feelings of being shattered and hopeless. I finally quit drugs and alcohol. After a few months of self-harm and fighting with others, while sober, a decision was made to seek help. I attended a men’s residential addiction treatment center.

After a couple of months I was prepared to leave the treatment program. A counselor made a suggestion to me for my continued path of hope and recovery from a life of hate. He informed me that he saw my intelligence, but there was still a problem. I was filled with hate and right-wing-extremist doctrine. He suggested a route to recovery that involved attending a social work school program. My counselor said that social work education could challenge my belief structure in a logical manner. I followed his suggestions, as there were no other viable options for my healing, then began college with a grade seven education. This initiated my life-after-hate[1].

In 2012, I graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) with a degree in First Nations Studies (Indigenous Studies), then started working on a Master’s degree in social work. As a successful anti-racist activist, my work includes having initiated several interventions, including exposing a white supremacist bombing, preventing hate group recruitment, and facilitating presentations to youth, professionals, post-secondary institutions, law enforcement and public events that educate people about racism, hate groups, and the realistic threat of right wing extremism in western Canada. As well, the racism we see from extremists is merely a reflection from the larger social consciousness.

I have completed several manuscripts of poetry that outline aspects of my journey. Writing saved my life. Ever since the age of fourteen, my writing has been my lifeline. My first manuscript is offered to honor those who have helped me on my healing path: academics, professionals, community members, the red road, twelve step groups, and my fellow global citizens. My first publication has been done in an editing partnership with my writing mentor. Aboriginal poet Garry Gottfriedson, has helped me to sharpen my poetic voice, in order to tell my story.

In my professional life I have worked as an addictions counselor, group home manager, researcher, and child advocate. I have many more roles in the community that are fulfilled on this travelled path of social justice. I do this work to respect all human life in a network of hope, diversity, and compassion. I consider myself, and my path, a miracle to have the opportunity to live this life-after-hate.

In compassionate and creative solidarity,

Daniel Gallant


[1] LifeAfterHate (LAH)

Scars of Past

This Piece was Published by lifeafterhate.org

http://lifeafterhate.org/2012/06/scars-of-past/

As well this piece was published by University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in 2012 as the winner of the Weaving Words Aboriginal Storytellers Festival:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Utloo-Noye-Khunni-Weaving-Words-Celebration/258820110802888?fref=ts

Image[1]

Scars Of Past

scribed deep outlining definitions

identity established through hate

crooked crosses baring attacks

ancestors retribution, clanging metal in the void

fulfilling communication pinned in flesh

knuckles crack and crunch, smack downward

upward into fatty boned pillows of vilified foes

who collapse and crumble to tarry asphalt beds

pointed protrusions scarred on hand

tummy injected with scorn

configured protector a watchful back

swift limbs with writs of violence

manuscripts flame, unforgotten torment

tempered in retreat as forged fires strengthen

secured fortification, embedded in offense

skirmished symbology skinned

violence – a safe place[2]

Abuse and torment can take many forms. The scars from damages done can transpire in countless ways. Some scars are inflicted by others. While many other scars are inflicted upon ourselves. My deepest scars, inflicted by others in my childhood, are those that are not visible to the eye. However, my most noticeable scars are self-inflicted.

I dedicated my life to a right-wing-extremist cause. I am reminded of this every day as I look at my tattoos. These are my scars. Reminders of where I come from. More importantly these self-inflicted inked scars are reminders of where I do not want to return to. Scars of a hateful and treacherous path walked by a man who was lost and utterly alone.

These tattoos, that I bear, serve as reminders of my twisted conviction that these scars were once considered badges of honor. Each one strategically earned, conceptualized and inscribed with scorn into my body, my temple. Scars from my past reflect the intense negative energy harbored for the majority of my life. These scars reflect who I was and who I wanted to be.

In the mid-1990s the commitment to a life of hate was voluntary. I dedicated two years of my life to perpetrating violence every day. Romantic-ultra-violence was my code, which had tumultuous consequences for many people. These people that were injured, damaged and abused are carried within me throughout all areas of my life. Etched into my skin.

After fifteen years of violence and chaos my life changed. I started college with a grade seven education. I then began working in the social service field. Having worked as a community worker with minority groups, marginalized/oppressed peoples, and persons with acquired brain injury has helped me understand the depth of some of the damages that I have perpetrated. Counseling men with addictions and gang involvement has allowed me to understand myself and others more. This results in a deeper sense of self-acceptance, and the acceptance of others. The advocacy, activism and intervention work that I have done in several communities has taught me that compassion, empathy and understanding are imperative for my continued growth.  These inked extremist scars remind me of where I come from and the miraculous life graced upon me.

The first racist tattoo that I ‘earned’ was a confederate flag that was etched into my right hand. On my stomach is a large swastika which is circled by a chain. This symbolism was borrowed from the hateful-nazi-party with a ‘white-man’s’ fist utilized to symbolize ra-ho-wa, a racial holy war[3]. This fist was first used by the founder of the shameful american-nazi-party[4] and later adopted by the World Church of the Creator; now named the creativity movement due to a trademark infringement[5]. The crooked-cross (swastika) corners have each of my four children’s initials placed around the outside of the chained circle. At the time I believed this was honoring my ‘blood- line’, namely my children. Now I carry these horrific symbols as a reminder of my obsessively twisted past. While never refusing to inform those who inquire about these tattoos, of the transitions to my life-after-hate[6].

After leaving the streets and working for an organized crime syndicate in the lower east-side of Vancouver, I came to possess a small gargoyle statue. This carving was acquired through a violent robbery in an act of retribution.  Encouraged by the belief that this gargoyle represented my spirit and acted as my guardian it was tattooed on my shoulder. The other shoulder has a perverted hateful symbolic rendition of a celtic-cross. I believed this was an honor to our Irish family, the Collins clan. Our family shares genealogical lineage with the ‘Big Fella,’ Michael Collins. Michael’s father was my great-grandfather’s brother. I now understand that this tattoo is a disgrace to my ancestors.

The second ‘badge-of honor’ that I had ‘earned’ was a cover-up tattoo. The original tattoo was done by my brother/friend Jason Gladue when we were seventeen. Jason was a skinny metis kid. The tattoo he pinned onto my arm was the outline of a 3D swastika with a bullet hole in the center of it. This anti-racist tattoo was dichotomously transformed into a symbol of my hate a few short years later. The new swastika tattoo placed on my forearm became a deadly weapon. My hands abused many people. Assaulting over 500 people in a two year period was symbolized by this ‘badge-of-honor’. Violence was my refuge. Hateful rage was a horrific misdirection of my human and spiritual energy. Inside my temple was a boy drowning in hate. I had ostracized myself from all who loved me. On my leg is a nordic rune that references odin, the god of war. It represented my commitment to warrior ancestors and my willingness to die in battle. Another ‘badge’ of hate.

A few years after remaining drug and alcohol free, I met my friends Gary Moostoos and Jerry Goodswimmer at a local coffee shop in Edmonton. They offered me love and refuge without judgment. Both of these men are from Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, in Alberta. These men were instrumental in the decision to keep these tattooed scars in order to honor myself, and others. Especially those I abused.

After my first newspaper interview with the Edmonton Journal, about my path of redemption, written by Dakota journalist Graham Andrews[7]. The Edmonton Police Service’s Hate Crimes Unit requested a meeting with me. Dave Huggins, the units coordinator, then offered me a gift.

Huggins informed me that Gayle Tallmanfrom the Canadian Jewish Congress[8] wanted to meet me and offer an opportunity to get rid of the scars of my past. Gayle then arranged for Dr. Groot[9], in Edmonton, to do pro-bono laser surgery to remove my tattoos. I obliged and was so relieved to have these scars removed from my body.

After a year of attending First Nations’ ceremonies on the Enoch Cree nation, I was in discussion with my friend Gary Moostoos about this opportunity for tattoo removal. As a community worker, activist and healer Gary openly indicated that he thought erasing these scars of my past was a bad move. I did not agree. I contended and challenged his points with denial and anger. He suggested that these tattoos would serve as a constant reminder of where I have been and how easy it could be to go back to that life. He encouraged me to not erase these tattoos until I was ready to leave my hate behind. I nevertheless continued with the laser surgeries generously offered by the community of Edmonton.

The tattoo removal offer came while I was working as an addictions counselor at a men’s residential treatment facility. I became worn out and tired from living several months with painful blisters and burns induced by the laser surgery. My psoriasis began to attack all of my healing wounds. The healing process of these laser burns was hindered due to my skin disorder that was running rampant.

I sat with my good friend, who I consider family, Jerry Goodswimmer. Jerry a former Chief of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation and a First Nations leader and scholarly activist indicated to me that he, like Gary, disagreed with removing my tattoos this soon. He blatantly said “you hurt my people now you need to sit with that”. Inside I knew he was correct. I had more road to travel on this healing journey before I could erase these tattoos.

These scars are carried with me every day as a reminder of where I have been, where I do not want to go, and to honor those I had perpetrated abuse against. These scars of past are self-inflicted writs and scribes of a hateful past that motivates me every single day to live a life motivated by compassion, empathy and love.

In compassionate and creative solidarity,

Daniel Gallant


[1] Photo by  Shaughn Butts, from the Edmonton Journal: City Plus Cover: Ex-skinhead seeks path of redemption, January 6th 2006.

[2] Poem written by Daniel Gallant. Edited by Daniel Gallant and Garry Gottfriedson. Scars of Past poem printed in West Coast Line No. 72, 2012, Winter Edition & published on http://www.lifeafterhate.org

[3] Ra-Ho-Wa: Racial Holy War, declared battle cry from the Creativity Movement excerpted from Nature’s Eternal Religion (Klassan, 1973) published by the Creativity Book Publisher.

[4] American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell wrote book entitled White Power (1967) that used a white fist as the logo on cover.

[5] World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist/Neo-Nazi organization founded by Canadian Ben Klassan, now named The Creativity Movement due to civil litigation pertaining to a name/trademark infringement (Chicago-Illinois Civil Docket Case # 00-CV-2638).

[6] Phrase life-after-hate adopted from Arno Michealis’ book My Life After Hate and non-profit organization Life After Hate (www.lifeafterhate.org).

[7] Edmonton Journal, City Plus cover story, January 6, 2006: Ex-skinhead seeks path of redemption by Graham Andrews.

[8] Gayle Tallman employed at Canadian Jewish Congress now named The Center for Israel & Jewish affairs.

[9] Groot Dermasurgery Centre located in Edmonton, Alberta.