“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.
Dwelling in beer-soaked basements, surrounded by walls decorated with German, Nazi, and Canadian Red Ensign flags, Neo-Nazi skinheads have formed several underground sects across Canada.
As a photographer, I’m drawn to marginalized and alienated groups. This group though, is more complicated than any other I’ve photographed. I am intrigued by the Neo-Nazi lifestyle, rather than its ideology or politics — by the ways in which this underground community voluntarily alienates itself completely from mainstream society.
I was first introduced to these skinhead groups while covering the Aryan Guard’s first White Pride March in Calgary. Before that point, I’d had no idea that these groups existed in Canada. I approached the Aryan Guard and proposed this in-depth project about their group. It took a while for them to grant me access to their lives, but after spending large amounts of time with them I began to gain their trust.
In these communities, crime becomes the bullet point to their alternative résumés. White skin is penetrated and marked with the black ink of Nazi symbols. Their existence requires a distinction between themselves and mainstream Canadians, people they understand and describe as “the enemy.” A self-fashioned minority who believe 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 hard to craft their next generation.
“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 shatterproof glass in January 2010, McKee was in the Calgary remand center facing two charges of attempted murder. “I just want to see my daughter,” he said.
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 mainstream ideology. And yet their “movement” continues.
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Brett Gundlock is a professional freelance photographer. He works as a photojournalist and pursues his own documentary photography. He is a founding member of the Boreal Collective. instagram.com/brett_gundlock
This week of Narratively stories is a collaboration with Boreal Collective, which is the common ground between ten internationally-based photographers. From August 14-16, they are presenting the 3rd “Boreal Bash” in Toronto, featuring workshops, speakers and portfolio reviews.