A former neo-Nazi skinhead who left that world to become a lawyer says people should be more concerned with the rise of hate speech in Canada.
But Dan Gallant isn’t surprised by the lack of concern because he believes white supremacy has always been part of the Canadian identity.
“We have a system based on white supremacy, that’s founded on white supremacy and continues the effects of white supremacy and continues racist law,” he said.
In the 1990s Gallant roamed the streets of East Vancouver looking for his next victim.
Violence was so routine for him that he was determined to do a violent act a day for a year.
“That continued on past a year,” he says. “At the time I was counting. The most amount of assaults and fights I had in a day was nine.”
(Dan Gallant was a violent Nazi skinhead in the 1990s and even dedicated himself to violence everyday for a year. Submitted photo)
Gallant now denounces white supremacy and is troubled with the growing acceptance of extremist voices.
“Right wing extremism has always been here. It’s still here. It’s not growing,” says Gallant. “What is growing is that it’s becoming more OK to be openly racist, whereas people before would wait until the brown guy left the room.”
And Gallant has experienced that personally. He spent a good portion of his youth living in an Indigenous community. He believed he had an Indigenous father from the community until a DNA test he had done when he was an adult proved otherwise.
He fought alongside First Nation and Métis youth against non-Indigenous youth but eventually got fed up with violence and moved to Vancouver.
“I was introduced to this whole doctrine that explained who to hate and why,” he says. “It became really easy to justify hurting people. I then started taking on this identity that I was fighting against our society, fighting against our government, fighting against this Jewish supremacist that I believe was going on. And it was real easy for me to jump ship from being part of the First Nations community where I lived into what I was doing because I was white.”
(Gallant today in his office. ‘It’s becoming more OK to be openly racist,’ he says. Photo: John Murray/APTN)
Gallant now practices law in Prince George, BC and has helped others exit the hate movement.
Elisa Hategan is also a former white supremacist and shares Gallant’s concerns.
“The alt-right isn’t on the rise. White supremacy and racism has always been part of Western society and North America,” she says.
“What’s on the rise now is the mainstreaming of these racist conversations.”
The First Nation Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) and the Assembly of First Nations launched a complaint in 2007 alleging that Canada discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding the child welfare system on reserve – compared to the system off reserve.
In January 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal agreed and ruled that Canada discriminated against First Nations children.
Thirteen years after the case was first launched, Canada is still fighting it.
(The head of the FNCFCS Cindy Blackstock in federal court where the government asked for a stay in the tribunal’s compensation ruling on the discrimination case. Photo: APTN)
Cindy Blackstock, director of the FNCFCS said it’s simply another example of Canadian racism.
“So I think Canada, if it wants to set an example that forms of extremism, forms of discrimination are wrong and that nobody in the population, either as an individual or a group, should be perpetuating that type of disgraceful conduct that itself, [the Canadian government] should be stopping that behaviour,” said Blacksock. “They should not be saying everybody stop discriminating.
“It’s bad but don’t look over here because we are doing it. That can’t be the message.”
For more, watch APTN Investigates: Inside Hate Part 1 in video above.
Watch for Part 2 next week when APTN Investigates speaks to a reporter who went undercover in to the extremist group The Base.