I was recently interviewed about the Soldiers of Odin taking foot in BC. I see this as very problematic, in spite of the groups desire to claim they have no ties, nor intention, similar to that of the group they claim to be a part of. This, of course, is illogical; and in my opinion demonstrates how full of shit these guys are.
I decided to write this first letter to my fellow Canadians, and the latter to Soldiers of Odin as a whole.
Daniel Gallant is a registered Social Worker who studies law, and has been acknowledged as a leader on topics pertaining to right wing extremism in Canada. Daniel spent nearly ten years trapped within the white supremacist movement in western Canada, and has since dedicated his life to undoing violence, racism and hatred. His work has been presented to, acknowledged by and referenced by world leaders, governments, leadings scholars, global organizations, and law enforcement.
Dear Fellow Canadian Citizens,
Don’t believe the hype.
Soldiers of Odin (S.O.O.) are not here to protect you, nor your communities. This group claims, and may even believe, they are working for the greater good. But, this is clearly not true. I would like to tell you a few things about their organization.
First, S.O.O. is the by-product of the European white supremacist network. The group was designed in Northern Europe by hate mongers that aim to ‘cleanse’ neighborhoods from ‘immigrant hordes’. The group’s primary purpose is to engage in war and instill terror into its enemies, as that is a nature of war; for furthering context Soldiers of Odin were formed to target immigrants, Muslims and Islam. However, the Canadian leaders of this group want us to believe they have nothing to do with, nor are they alike or kin to, the hate group that birthed their organization, a little over one year ago.
Basically the Soldiers of Odin will do whatever it takes to hide behind every mask they can. Plainly speaking, if the group has no kinship with its white supremacist roots, then why did they join under the flag, and trademark, of the Soldiers of Odin. There does not appear to be any logical and rationale that could make this a plausible truth.
Soldiers of Odin began in Europe, formed by white supremacists, about a year ago. Now under that same flag, Chapters of the organization have spread throughout Europe and North America; all hailing anti-immigration sentiments and embracing right wing rhetoric. But, the Canadian chapter wants the citizens of Canada to be permissible and complicit in their inherently racist organization. This way they can both hide and fulfill their organization’s purpose. Hiding in plain sight.
WHAT IS IN A ‘NAME’
Soldiers of Odin are making claims that do not hold up to even the most basic logic testing.
For instance, let’s for a minute consider the name of the organization, “Soldiers Of Odin”, in itself demonstrates what the group is, and sets out to do. Odin is the god of war that honors those who die in battle to protect their race and soil. This is the odinist way. Anyone who claims otherwise, either is lying or does not understand the narrative they are supporting, which in itself demonstrates inconsistent messaging of this organization, or perhaps lies. These tactics are only utilized by those who have something to mask and hide.
Additionally, the term “odinism” was the construct of WWII era theorists, who were Nazis. The Nazis developed and branded odinism out of an ancient Nordic Pre-Christian Religion. The ancient pagan ‘religion’ was not called “odinism”, it is Asatru (and other variations of the like).
The Nazis created a new branch of neo-paganism, odinism, that had erupted into a real threat all over the world in the 1980s, which disguises itself as a cultural heritage ideology. Yet, just another way for extremist racists to hide their true ‘color’ (pardon the pun).
In our era of contemporary right wing politics and global issues pertaining to extremism and terrorism, these sorts of groups are emerging everywhere. And without a doubt, they are a threat to those that fall into identifiable categories. By this dynamic alone, is kin to the same way that racism plays out in our communities; it is schismatic in nature.
The main difference between Astatru and odinism, in a very rudimentary explanation, is that odinists worship the Nordic god of war. Odin is set out to protect soil and bloodlines. By this logic alone, Soldiers of Odin are there to protect their own race and land. This alone should be understood as racist in two ways:
- a) Soldiers of Odin was created as an anti-immigration organization to fight against the Muslim community, and
- b) which seeks to protect its (O.O.) own kind, and the S.O.O. membership is primarily ‘white’ people.
There is another discussion to be had about Soldiers of Odin and their impact upon indigenous peoples as well. But that is a more complex area of discussion to have in the future. But let me assure you, this is also an area where this group demonstrates pure ignorance and inconsistent messages. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to many people the S.O.O. will disguise itself, and it’s true purpose, function and structure by convincing members of the public otherwise.
SKINHEADS AND RACISTS
Soldiers Of Odin’s leaders claim they have purged out the racists from their organization. This is, flatly, a lie.
I was a part of the white supremacist movement in Canada for ten years. I have been engaged with online monitoring of white supremacist organizations now for nearly 12 years. I assure you that there is evidence that proves the S.O.O. are soo full of poop, on this point alone. This is actually a ridiculous claim. They are flatly denying the presence of racists in their midst to the Canadian Public, while on the other hand have embraced white supremacists within their ranks; and remember that they were also founded by white supremacists.
White supremacists and racists have been praying to odin before beating and killing people on our streets, for decades. Some of you may even remember David Bowie’s 1987 album Tin Machine warning us about racist odinists in his song entitled: Under the God. This is not a new issue.
Not only do the Soldiers of Odin have white supremacists in their ranks, but the leadership does engage in many forms of rhetoric that synthesizes the nature and conduct of, and is derived from, white supremacist groups.
S.O.O. has engaged in social media attacks against those who oppose or critique their organization; and this is why I have chosen to speak out.
Community leader and long-time anti-racist Alan Dutton has been interviewed about his opinion of Soldiers of Odin Chapter that was recently started in Vancouver. Soldiers of Odin members and leadership has began referring to the opposition as enemies and then referring to their critiques as “antifa”.
This is precisely what fascist, nazi and white supremacists do. In fact, the rhetoric and dynamic of attempting to discredit someone, by labelling them as antifa, is birthed out of the white power movement.
Antifa are people who are anti-fascist. Already, Soldiers of Odin have launched social media attacks against those they label as antifa, which surely they will label me. This is very problematic for a couple of reasons:
First, when did we as a society begin to say that Anti-Fascists are a bad thing?
Second, did Canada not take a formal position against the fascist Nazi Regime in WWII?
How can Soldiers of Odin claim to be upholding Canadian law and values when they are attacking those who stand up against racism and fascism. It seems that Soldiers of Odin are working contrary to our legal system.
The fact that S.O.O. is attacking antifa online, is indicative of the similar conversations found on white supremacist websites. This is a core contradictory element of their organizations discourse. This does demonstrate the ideological lineage of Soldiers of Odin’s members. I do not think, nor expect, most Canadians can easily identify these issues. But, I can, as I spent nearly a decade immersed in that lifestyle; and more than a decade of unlearning the doctrine.
My years within the white supremacist movement in western Canada, to my profound social change, and now my current role as an educator, researcher, advocate, Social Worker and future career as a lawyer, compel me to express to you that this group, in my opinion, are a threat to safety of ALL Canadians. Especially to minority groups and vulnerable persons.
It has been demonstrated to me, through my research on the Soldiers of Odin that there is a grave concern that emerges in the influx of their membership, and the fact that many people who are not attracted to white supremacy, are being duped into this new organization.
I will support any group that keeps our streets safe for ALL Canadians. However, not only are the Soldiers of Odin unsafe because they are inherently racist and war-minded as an organization (as is demonstrated by evidence found in their organizations founder and group name), they have also proven to be comprised of liars, racists, extremists and bullies who belittle immigrants and anti-racists. This alone should raise flags about who and what the Soldiers of Odin are.
Canadians should be concerned with this group that is reminiscent of the Heritage Front.
Daniel Gallant (MSW, RSW)
Juris Doctor Candidate – 2017
Dear Soldiers of Odin,
It has come to my attention that you have now ‘set up shop’ in Canada, by rapidly expanding Chapters of your ‘organization’ across Canada. Let’s not waste time, nor mince words.
Your organization has already demonstrated dishonesty, incongruence and hatred against your fellow citizens. Your politics are divisive and the evidence is found in your online campaign, organizational conduct, onslaught of misinformation and the fact that you have members who are members of various Canadian hate groups (both past and present). Heck, even your organization’s name speaks to the violent nature of your organization’s intent: war for the sake of ‘blood, soil and honor’.
There are several things I would like to hash out with Soldiers OF Odin and air publicly, some of which is in this letter, and more in my letter to all Canadians. We will surely engage more discourse as time moves forward, as I have a wealth of knowledge, insight, education and stamina.
Your ‘respective’ leader (Joel Angott) indicated (in Metro News article) that you all uphold Canadian law, and our collective Constitutional Rights. Obviously your organization does not understand what a Constitutional Right is. There are only a few ways in how S.O.O. could possibly frame the façade that you all uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution. However, we both know this is complete bull-pucky.
If you had any clue what a Constitutional Right was, then you would not be attempting to claim your neighbourhood patrols protect Constitutional Rights in Canada. Let me explain further.
Canadian Constitutional Rights, are guarantees, in law, that Canadians receive to empower us as citizens. Guarantees that protect us of from the conduct and actions of government, police and authorities of certain variety. Moreover, Constitutional Rights are engaged as a legal protection that are sorted out through the legal system, not by walking through neighborhoods creating an environment of fear and intimidation.
I am sorry to inform you that you do not, in fact, nor law, protect Canadians’ Constitutional Rights. You are a group of self-appointed, not democratically elected, thugs who ‘patrol’ streets against our own citizens. These actions, even if righteous, are in no way connected to upholding our Constitutional Rights.
If S.O.O. were in fact upholding our Constitutional Rights you all would be working within legal strategies against the government and authorities, where there were Constitutional failings and pitfalls. You would not be involving yourself in right wing extremism and organized crime circles.
I do want to acknowledge, however, that we do agree on some matters. Our laws do not protect citizens well enough from pedophiles, rapists and other social ailments. But to be frank, I do not believe you are our solution to these matters. In fact, quite the contrary. This is where I find your organization very similar to white supremacist groups. Your group appeals to those people who are rightfully angered about the abuses and grievances they and their loved ones may have suffered. Soldiers of Odin capitalizes upon these vulnerabilities, and exploits citizens by doing so, while fooling un-suspecting people into your ranks. However, this mere tactic to garner public attention and community support is bound to fail because it is not transparent and congruent; rather it is coercive and manipulative.
Fortunately, there are those of us who have a deeper understanding through personal experience, education and formal research of how organizations like yours get started; and then move onto becoming a threat to Canadian public safety.
I hope that you take this input, how it is intended. My intention is to show you that your organization is publicly speaking out of line, on matters it knows not; and that the rhetoric you are attempting to sell is exposed for what it is: abusive.
Additionally, I do hope you become aware that there are those in our communities who care about sustainable public safety. Organizations like S.O.O., albeit believe they are righteous, are actually creating more divisiveness in our communities and are spreading hatred and fear in the very communities you claim to protect. The very fact that organizations of minorities are expressing concern, and your leaderships response is defensiveness and offensive rhetoric, both demonstrate and exemplifies your organizations nature; the intent of the Soldiers of Odin, hence, your organization’s name that pays homage to the god of war.
Let us, in summary, cut to the chase.
Soldiers of Odin membership includes racists, white supremacists, criminals and liars. S.O.O. was created to instil fear and conduct acts of violence in a war, that odin would adore. It is unfortunate that your predecessor, odin himself, would probably be very disappointed in your tactics and dishonesty.
Perhaps the next time you want to sell the Canadian public a stench ridden pile of steaming crap, you may want to consider a re-brand that does not overtly emulate the true nature of your group’s purpose: abuse, war & racism.
Daniel Gallant (MSW, RSW)
Juris Doctor Candidate – 2017
I spent years in the DTES (downtown eastside) Vancouver. I committed a lot of hate crimes there. Blood Alley was a place I frequented.
Now, at times, I am bothered by the recall of the feel, smells and tastes of blood soaked into my skin and clothes. I am reminded of the sputters and chokes and gags and screams and cries of the abuse I perpetrated. I am reminded of waking up with swollen hands and infected gashes on my knuckles. I am reminded of my fingers sticking together due to the dried syrup blood. I remember the adrenaline hang overs that made me puke…or maybe it was a spiritual rejection of my disgusting behaviour.
…now after years, education, social transformation and a whole lot of healing…I am still haunted by my own deeds and the pain I caused for others, in moments that likely linger for their whole lives…I remember…
I dedicate this story to those who were my friends and family by choice.
When I was a young boy my family gave me the nick name “Goober Pea.” I was always listening to my grandpa Clay’s favourite singer, Burl Ives. I would put ol’ Burl on the turntable and listen to his vinyls for hours on end. I would sing along with Burl to many songs: Frosty the Snowman, Mr. In-Between, and Goober Peas.
“Peas, peas, peas, peas, eating Goober Peas. Wouldn’t it be delicious eating Goober Peas.”
Burl sang this song and my grandpa would tell me that it was about World War I and how the soldiers just wanted to come home, so badly, to eat their delicious big beautiful green Goober Peas cooked for them by their moms. I loved my granddad, and I loved eating peas. I loved the color green, it tasted so great.
My auntie Linda made me a handmade stuffed felt Goober Pea. Every time auntie Linda would see me she would grab my face and kiss my cheeks and say “I just love you so much Goober Pea.”
I would smile inside. Auntie Linda always made me feel so loved. I was filled with green Goober love. Auntie would pick peas from her garden and we would sit their joking and laughing and eating peas while singing the anthem: Goober Peas. But, i will let you in on a little secret, Goober Peas were not exactly as I was told what they were. They were not actually green, nor were they peas.
Goober Peas are more accurately described by Johnny Cash when he sings with Burl Ives. They are Peanuts.
But life was not always so great. I had experienced many abuses at home. I was exposed to grotesque physical and sexual violence, drug addiction and alcoholism in our family home. My step dad’s beatings got so bad I had to leave home.
After I had left home at age twelve, I ended up living on an old Metis settlement community and two Indian Reserves. I was a white boy rejected for being an indian, and accepted by the Indians because I was an indian; at least an indian by heart.
I hate myself so badly I had been hospitalized several times for suicide attempts. By the age of fourteen I was hospitalized a total of six months for three separate overdoses. After my second hospitalization I was released into my parents custody. I hated them and did not want to be near them. When I was released it was early December, 1989.
One night as I was sitting in the basement alone, I was hurting inside so bad that I just wanted to die. I was alone with a room full of Christmas lights. I took one of the strands of lights down from the window. I pulled out my knife and cut off the end and stripped the wires bare. I took out every single light bulb and smashed them with my closed fist against the wall. One light bulb at a time. The shards of glass embedded warmly into my knuckles. One of my favorite feelings was the burning sensation I would get, as I would pick out the glass from my knuckles. That was a habit, I started at the age of thirteen.
I turned on the radio to listen to my last song as I truly intended to die that night. It was a Testament song called Envy Life playing on the midnight metal show. Chuck Billy, the lead singer was a fucking big Pomo indian.
“Make sure your reach does not exceed your grasp. All that is to be done before you act. In a pact of invoking spirits from your past. You’re as good as dead. The lost souls of time. Envy life. Envy life.”
I took the end of the Christmas lights and plugged it into the wall, the other end I slowly put into my mouth. Then a bright blue spark snapped and bit my lips and the music stopped, lights went out. I heard the breaker in the wall above me slam. Then I heard my parents moving about upstairs. I quickly jumped up and turned the breaker back on. I touched the burnt end of the wires together and there was no more juice. I knew it was time to leave again. I packed my stuff and vanished into the wind.
After years of roaming the northern parts of BC and Alberta, I made my way down to the big city of Vancouver. I had many adventures. Some of these escapades ended me up in juvenile facilities for two years. When I got out I was 17 years old.
I headed back up north for a short visit so I could go get my friends from Moccasin Flats, the Metis settlement, and bring them to Vancouver with me. I had been placed in an apartment by child welfare after getting out of juvvy.
I was feeling more rebellious than normal, because I had decided to be ‘straight-edge’ when I got out of juvenile facilities. I was drug and alcohol free for a little over a year. I was angry and pissed off. I was not going to be held back, beat up, pushed around, nor told what to do by anybody. I was rebelling.
I wore 14 holed doc martins. Green Army short and pants, usually shorts. Long sleeved black shirt that was a few sizes to big for my skinny frame. I had chewed holes into the sleeves in order to wear my sleeves like gloves, that way when I was skateboarding and wiped out, I would have a little protection on my palms. When it got cold my fingers and knuckles would swell up. I had gotten frostbite when I was about fourteen from hitch hiking highways in the north in the middle of winter. I think I permanently damaged my hands. I still have pain in my hands today when its cold. I shaved my long thick hair into a Mohawk that I dyed green.
The night I dyed my hair green my friends and I got into a huge fight with my neighbors. My friends had come down with me to the Vancouver area; to my apartment in Surrey. My neighbors were gang bangers. We ended up beating a guy severely. Then later that night him and his gang attempted to do a home invasion on us, at my apartment. The end result was that me and my skinny Metis friend Jason, who was like a brother to me, ended up getting arrested for shooting one of the guys.
There was news cameras and police all over our yard. That next day when me and Jason were back at the apartment with everyone else,we watched the news and burst out laughing. “A party in North Surrey got out of hand last night when this man was arrested for shooting another man.”
There was me getting put into the police car with my long green hair, green doc martins, green army shorts and black long sleeve shirt. I looked like a hoodlum. Obviously Jason did not look as crazy as I did because he did not make it into the news that day. Robert was laughing so hard as he sat there with his arm around his girlfriend Amanda, “hahaha there is Dan Green the electric indian.”
After that day for the following months, years and decades I was known as Dan Green ‘the electric indian.’
Many of my friends like Robert have died while suffering from abuses that they lived through. Only a few friends have gone on to be successful in their careers. Jason is a respected cook, artist/artisan, and an amazing musician. Me, well I have become a writer by my own rebellious virtue.
To this day I can be seen wearing green shirts, shorts, hoodies and pajamas. I ride a green bicycle and I love eating peas. I still hum the Burl Ives tune in my head some days. I love visiting my auntie Linda who still calls me Goober Pea. All while, back on the rez there are still a buncha people still thinking about that crazy electric indian named Dan Green.
This year has been filled with travel all over BC and Alberta. Currently visiting the DTES of Van City aka East Van (downtowneastside of Vancouver). This morning I was driving to go for a coffee on Commercial Drive before meeting a documentary film crew I have started working with this month.
The documentary piece is a promotional story pitch to present to funders about my journey in life. I left home first at age 12 from Toronto to northern BC. By 14 I hitch hiked to East Vancouver and began my street involvement on the DTES. This resulted in struggles with addiction, gangs, right wing extremism, homelessness, criminality, and extreme violence.
In the work I do in the last twelve years I share many stories about my experiences. My introduction to my dear friend Garry Gottfriedson, who is also my writing mentor, was the first person I ever shared a poem I wrote. He asked me to. I trusted him. We then forged a strong bond. Now, with Garry’s guidance I am a published writer in both poetry and creative non-fiction.
That first poem I wrote was edited down into three smaller poems in a series. It was about the DTES prostitution, Johns, and feminist based social justice issues. I wrote the poem in Dr. Si Transken’s class, who later became my thesis supervisor for my Masters degree.
In 2012, Dr. Transken invited me to read a poem at the Art-ivism event which was largely feminist based activists and artists. I was honoured. So I honoured her by reading the first of the three poems I read. It was called God Is Dead.
This year, 2013, I was invited to be a return reader. This year I read part three of the poem, Pickton’s Princesses. Perhaps next year I will read the third called Chicken Soup.
As I was driving to commercial drive today, on the corner of Commercial Drive and East Hastings there was a chicken slaughter house. I could not remember where the slaughter house was, but I recall the smells and images from when I was living on the streets. But today there were signs in front of the slaughter house. Along with the signs were two beautiful social activists.
I had to stop. I was in tears for a moment sitting in my car. It was a surreal moment as often happens when I am reminded of my past and where I am now in life. It is a miracle. I got out of my car and went and talked to one of the gals. She invited me to email her my poetry. I then told her I would write this blog, link their website, and post my poems.
They are doing important work. She talked about how the abusive raising of chickens in an urban area through cruel practices is abhorrent, then went on to talk about the contrast of the prostitution in the neighbourhood that is still going on; twenty years after I had been down there, both the slaughterhouse and the prostitution and poverty. She was a beautiful mind. I wanted to hug her, and I would have if she was not soaking wet from the Vancouver rain. They have been out every week protesting for months. Good job people.
I find it interesting how the majority of social justice advocates I come across are women. From First Nations communities, to organized protests, and rally organizers. I guess there is truth in the concept that women can be more connected to self and the world then their counter-parts downtrodden by institutional hyper-masculinity; much like I was for a long time. But, we do recover when we work at it.
I am thanking Liberation BC for the work they are currently doing.
The first poem is called God is dead which was published in SFU’s West-Coast-Line No. 72 in 2012; also was read at the Aboriginal Weaving Words Storytellers festival and Artivism event at UNBC in 2012.
The second poem, Chicken Soup, was never read publicly, nor published yet. I did however read it to Garry Gottfriedson’s family in his living room on Boxing Day in 2011.
The third poem, Pickton’s Princesses, was also published in West Coast Line No. 72. It was read at Artivism event in 2013.
This poem is currently unpublished.
On a chilly evening walking around Vancouver, BC, in January 2013 I wore a silk scarf given to me by a close friend. I walked around the streets that I lived on as a homeless child in the 1990s.
I was doing my first TV filming for a national production. I have always avoided TV interviews. It was a big step for me to accept this TV appearance. I was in Vancouver reluctantly. I had other plans of how and when I was to go to Vancouver, but they fell through.
As I walked through the battle grounds where I damaged hundreds of people in the past, and where I felt utterly lost and damaged as a child and young adult. I was now walking these streets a loving and compassionate man. I returned to the lower main land base where I proclaimed my war against society. I was once an over-zealous-fanatic demented by my commitment to engaging in a race war with my fellows. I walked these streets in 2013 feeling many things and left to process my return the streets. Alone.
I wore the scarf in solace. I walked. I cried. I experienced dialogues with street kids. I heard a story that crushed me. A girl in the same situation I was in when I was her age. I do not know her name. My life changed maybe hers will too, but most likely she will die. I processed these things alone, which made me sad. It seemed that decades later I walk the same streets that I lived on as a homeless youth utterly alone. This time, I am not utterly alone. And most importantly I have myself.
I have overcome many horrible things in my life, but there are somethings that can not be healed. People come and go, sometimes unnecessarily, the only constant is my own being. Sometimes the only thing I can do is find a way to embrace myself. With memories and solace from a scarf.