The “Movement”


We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.-- David Lane, the fourteen word mantra for the White Supremacy movement

In what ways can the existence and the future of Canadians be insecure? Dwelling in beer-soaked basements, surrounded by walls decorated with German, Nazi, and Canadian Red Ensign flags, Neo-Nazi Skinheads have formed underground sects all over Canada. As a photographer, I’m drawn to marginalized and alienated groups. Unlike other communities I’ve photographed, however, my interest in this group was and is complicated. I am intrigued by the Neo-Nazi lifestyle, rather than its ideology or politics: the ways in which this underground community voluntarily alienates itself completely from mainstream society.

How and why do some Canadians become Neo-Nazi Skinheads? Moving past ideological responses, what interests me most are the communities that spring up, the ways in which a segregating group fulfills its human need for support and acceptance. The symbol of white skin is penetrated and marked with the black inks of Nazi symbols. Crime becomes the bullet point to their alternative résumés. Their existence requires a distinction between themselves and mainstream Canadians, people they understand and reinscribe as “the enemy.” A self-fashioned minority who believes they should be the majority, the Neo-Nazi enclave animates the tensions of a culturally-diverse Canada.

The violent, intoxicated lifestyle of the young skinhead survives the night to become the everyday: children are born, couples are wed, families are created. Despite their opposition to the ethical and social norms of Canadian society, Neo-Nazis enact the same communal rituals and work as hard to craft the next generation. Mirroring the small ethnic communities they disdain, skinheads form identical social foundations and relationships; this is alienation as assimilation, an othering that isn’t othering at all.

“We all talk a lot about a lot of stuff, but sometimes you just got to shut up and do the time,” said Kyle McKee as he lightly shrugged his shoulders. Talking through a phone behind shatter-proof glass in January, 2010, McKee was in the Calgary remand centre facing two charges of attempted murder. “I just want to see my daughter.” Family connection is social connection.

Radical perspective does not quell the desire or need for connection. All human existence is fundamentally insecure without community or relationships, especially when so far beyond the tolerance of Canadian ideology. The Neo-Nazi drive for segregation ensures its precarious existence in the diverse Canadian landscape.

And yet the “Movement” continues.

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