Ex-white supremacist tackles 'spike' in B.C. extremism
B.C. law student Daniel Gallant used to hate. But after turning his life around, he has a warning for us all.
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Daniel Gallant isn’t your typical law student.
The 41-year-old Kamloops resident came to study the justice system after having been involved in it — as a self-described former white supremacist recruiter in B.C.
“I spent 10 years within the right wing,” he told Metro in a phone interview. “I did all the street stuff.”
Gallant may have long left hate behind, and today is part of an international campaign to “counter-recruit” extremists away from white supremacy and religious extremism alike.
But with residents of several Lower Mainland cities finding packages labeled “Ku Klux Klan” on their doorsteps this week and controversy over a fledgling Vancouver chapter of the street patrolling Soldiers of Odin, Gallant said British Columbians should wake up to a resurgence of dangerous campaigns.
“These campaigns are a way to instil terror and typically to further inflate racialized tensions within communities, which already exist,” he told Metro.
However, the president of Soldiers of Odin B.C. told Metro in an earlier interview that the group — originally co-founded in Finland last year by a white supremacist jailed for violence — are completely non-racist and purely charitable.
“I don't care what they do in Europe, us and the U.S. (chapters) don’t care about racism, it has nothing to do with us,” Bill Daniels said.
But Gallant said he has no doubts about the racist origins of the group, and doubts the group’s claims to be unaffiliated with white supremacists.
“Odin himself is the Norse god of war — the whole context of Odin has to do with conquest, war and protecting bloodlines,” he explained. “I’ve been monitoring them online, and what I’m seeing is people who are not of the right wing joining who don’t understand the context of the organization itself, nor are they aware of the doctrine behind its philosophy.
“It’s disappointing that people are being dragged into an organization that they obviously don’t know much about, and are emulating the same rhetoric coming from the right wing.”
He said that given the Soldiers of Odin’s Finnish origins, the group’s more “charitable” approach in North America should fool no one.
“White supremacists founded it in order to capitalize on anti-immigrant sentiment, and to literally beat Islam out of Finland,” he said. “They literally beat the life out of at least one person — that we know of.”
Gallant’s own personal doorway to hate was through a group called the White Aryan Resistance, or Warskins, in East Vancouver, he said. Eventually he joined the National Alliance and the Church of the Creator, groups that were less street-violence oriented, and more focused on recruitment and spreading ideas.
“When I was introduced to the Internet, I began recruiting and networking … all over Canada and in Washington area,” he said. “Things started ramping up.
“One guy I recruited did a bombing up in Fort St. John that was unsolved for a bunch of years. He was arrested later with another box of pipe bombs.”
After completing degrees in First Nations Studies and social work, Gallant is finishing his law degree at Thompson Rivers University.
He left the white supremacist movement after having a child, he recalled, as well as feelings of intense guilt after violently assaulting a First Nations man with the blunt end of an axe.
Today, he’s involved with Extreme Dialogue, an anti-extremism network attempting to recruit people away from terrorist and extreme groups.
“It’s about countering the narratives of extremists and terrorists,” he said. “That project has now morphed into a global project.”
‘KKK’ packages dropped on B.C. doorsteps
Police are investigating after residents in the Fraser Valley reported receiving pamphlets on their doorsteps claiming to be from the “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” Some in Mission, Chilliwack and Abbotsford reportedly contained white rice, seen as an anti-Asian message.
Gallant, a former white supremacist involved in recruitment, told Metro such campaigns aren’t new — but that there appears to be a “spike” in coordinated activities.
“This has happened several times in recent years around western Canada, and for many decades,” he said. “In fact I used to do these sorts of things.
“Pamphlet campaigns in one area typically spike within close times as other areas, which has been happening as of late in western Canada.”