June 2, 2020

22° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Winnipeg Free Press


Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

'The 24-hour-a-day reliance on trying to hate people... becomes very tiring'

Former white supremacist says to question hateful ideologies

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/8/2019 (283 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The following is a conversation with Brad Galloway, who, for 13 years, was a fixture in Canada’s organized racist community. He was associated with Toronto’s skinhead movement and later became the national leader of the British Columbia-based Volksfront white-separatist group.

He has since left the movement and now conducts research on violent extremist movements.

Brad Galloway: started questioning ideologies


Brad Galloway: started questioning ideologies

Following its investigation into a Canadian soldier’s efforts to establish a neo-Nazi paramilitary group in Winnipeg, the Free Press reached out to Galloway in an effort to gain better understanding of life inside a hate organization.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.


WFP: How did you get involved with right-wing extremism?

BG: I had a friend who had joined up with it and he introduced me to it in my late teen years. I was looking for something, as we all are, for some sort of identity or belonging in life. So I guess it presented itself at the right time when I didn’t have a lot going on. And then over the years with the internet, and meeting more people in person, it sort of became a way of life.

WFP: What groups were you involved with?

BG: When I moved to B.C. in the early-2000s it was Volksfront.

WFP: What can you tell me about that group?

BG: It was a white separatist group looking to create a European homeland within the Pacific Northwest.

WFP: What is it, do you think, that attracts a lot of, particularly younger people, but just people to the movement, in general?

BG: I think there are a lot of different things that might attract someone towards it, depending on a lot of different factors, be it gender or political ideologies, some grievance they may have about some part of society.

There’s this idea of brotherhood and belonging to a group of some sort. And then, perhaps, there’s this idea of masculinity. The majority of the far-right movement are going to be males. Over the last few years there’s been a significant increase of older members, but in the past I’d say it attracts younger white males.

WFP: What is life like in this movement? You said it really did become a way of life for you.... Can you explain the psychological impact of being so heavily involved in a movement like that?

BG: Movement exhaustion is what I refer to it as. There’s again a varied experience that people may have with it. A lot of the infighting, with the 24-hour-a-day reliance on trying to hate people and being angry with society, becomes very tiring.

I think also that a lot of the ideologies, or concepts, that are built in these movements are very easy to poke holes in, too. So you end up sitting there questioning what you believe in.

WFP: When did you start questioning what you believe in?

BG: When I was in it still. As time went on it just became more and more obvious that there were some big problems with a lot of the different ideologies and a lot of the different things that were going on.

WFP: Can you give me a sense of what your de-radicalization process was?

BG: That word de-radicalization or radicalization even, is something I have a lot of trouble with. It is so different, so referring to a process, it’s not a linear process, and it’s a different process for everybody.

My way out away from it, I talk about three things usually. Having a child, and also questioning and movement exhaustion, so questioning the ideologies. And also this whole idea of negativity. It’s so negative, living in negativity all the time.

There are so many more positive things you can be doing with your time. And then attaching yourself to those positive things, whether that be school, a job, getting married, having a child. These are all positive things that take up your time in a much better way than spending time just hating everything and living in this negative sphere.

WFP: What kind of a message would you give to folks who still might be in the movement to some capacity but may be undergoing that process of questioning that you mentioned?

BG: Continue to question things. Work on yourself. Continue to try to build relationships with people outside of your community. Continue the journey of educating yourself. Perhaps read about some of the things you do question. Get yourself away from the echo chambers of these hate movements. Try to broaden your life and create new things in your life.

Often I tell people to travel, try to see places, meet new people, visit some of these communities that you have built this ideology about and learn what’s good about them. There’s good everywhere. We can’t live in these echo chambers of judgment and hate. It doesn’t get us anything.

WFP: At what age did you leave the movement?

BG: Late-20s, early-30s.

WFP: What’s your life been like after?

BG: It’s been good. It’s been a journey getting away from it. I did spend about 13 years of my life there. It’s been an interesting journey away from it, but very good, positive.

WFP: Do you believe that each and every person has the capacity to step back and radically reorient their lives in the way you have?

BG: I think so. I know people who have left, and of varying degrees — people who were involved for a month up to people who were involved for 20 years. There are a lot of different people who have been able to leave this lifestyle behind and I think that anybody can do it.

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

Read full biography

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.