UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Reformed white supremacist Daniel Gallant holds old photos of himself. Photo by Duckrabbit, courtesy of Extreme Dialogue

Putting white supremacy behind him

By Douglas Tindal

Daniel Gallant spent almost a decade as a white supremacist. In his 20s, he decided to show his devotion to the cause by committing an assault every day for a year. He has since turned his life around. In Extreme Dialogue, a 2015 series of videos he helped create to inoculate students against hate groups, the 41-year-old Kamloops, B.C., man lists in chilling detail his many methods of assault: “my fists, bar stools, beer bottles . . . walls, bricks, blackjack billy clubs, pepper spray, steel pipe, baseball bat . . .” The recitation continues for almost a minute.

Gallant had a traumatic childhood, an unknown father and many stepfathers. He left home at 12. The white supremacy movement recruited him when he showed a willingness to commit violence. It gave him a sense of belonging, a group of people to hate and a narrative to explain why things were so bad (international Zionism). Ironically, Gallant, who now identifies — and is accepted — as Cree through his maternal grandmother, spent much of his time targeting First Nations. 

What prompted him to leave hatred behind? It wasn’t a single moment, and it was anything but a smooth path. A critical point was the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. “We thought it was our guys. We thought it was the white supremacy uprising. We went and got out all our guns. Then the order came to stand down, and we were confused. Didn’t we have common cause with al-Qaida?” Intense internal conflict led to a breakdown, and Gallant sought help.

Yet his hatred remained deeply rooted. After months of rehab, a counsellor told Gallant he needed to go back to school and become educated. “My response was, ‘I’m not going to be sucked in and brainwashed by the leftist communist Zionist feminists.’” 

Looking back, Gallant, now a social worker and law student, recognizes that many factors eventually steered him toward a better path: “transformative education,” acceptance by compassionate and loving communities, participation in Cree healing practices with elders both Christian and traditional, and focusing his social work on assisting individuals from the very groups he had targeted in the past. “All these things made me feel I was actually doing something in my life and helping people.” 

The flawed thinking of his youth has convinced him that children need to be taught to think critically, “to help them deal with all the foolishness that’s out there on the Internet, whether it’s the international Zionist conspiracy or some nonsense about the Illuminati controlling the banks.” 

He was also sustained through the worst times by a powerful memory of his grandmother’s unconditional love. “My Kokum made it clear that, no matter what, I would always be her grandson.” 

Douglas Tindal is a writer and communications specialist in Toronto.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

Outrage is the new normal

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: A Tale of Two Cancers

by Observer Staff

Catherine Gordon's October 2017 feature for The Observer, 'A tale of two cancers,' recently caught the eye of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and his Washington, D.C.-based team, and inspired a short documentary. Gordon talks about the experience of writing the article and participating in the film.

Promotional Image


October 2017

Fall from grace

by Justin Dallaire

Don Hume was a United Church minister nearing retirement. Then he tried crack cocaine.


September 2017


by Jane Dawson

Restless longing is at the core of the human condition, urging us onward through life. What happens when it veers off course?


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Promotional Image