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Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

I Know What It’s Like Not to be Believed

Posted by E on February 1, 2016

woman-gagged

In light of the Jian Ghomeshi sex scandal and the burgeoning public epiphany that sometimes women don’t speak of abuse not because they’re not truthful, but because they fear ridicule, public mockery, further abuse and being disbelieved in the court of public opinion (as well as actual courts), I must write this.

Over the last year I put aside my blog and focused on generating media interest in my book, which is based on my experiences as a teenage girl inside a domestic terrorist group spear-headed by a CSIS (Canadian Intelligence and Security Service) agent, Grant Bristow.

After releasing my book at the end of March, there was a flurry of interest, but none from traditional media outlets. I quickly discovered that if you are not published by a large press, i.e. Random House or Penguin (who I walked away from back in 2011 for various reasons), nobody will believe you.

My experiences cruelly paralleled what happened to me back in 1993 – upon a secret mandate issued by CSIS to all provincial police forces to dismiss all my signed affidavits and eyewitness evidence (discussed in a 1993 episode of The Fifth Estate), I was denied entry into the RCMP Witness Protection program and forced to go on the run for my life.

It didn’t matter then that everybody knew a CSIS agent had gone rogue and established the violent paramilitary white supremacist group you might remember as the Heritage Front.

It didn’t matter that Brian McInnis, a cabinet aide to the Attorney General who leaked an internal confidential CSIS report about said rogue agent, was dismissed from his job and charged under Canada’s insidious Official Secrets Act.

It didn’t matter that assaults, hate-mongering and even two particularly vicious sexual assaults had been connected to the Heritage Front (and many believe, to the leadership).

It didn’t matter that said rogue agent encouraged others to join the conservative Reform Party (and served as bodyguard at Reform conventions), thereby leading to the destruction of this political party when the Toronto Sun broke that violent HF members were encouraged to join Preston Manning’s Reform party as a way to sway them to the far right.

No investigation was to take place.

The rogue agent would be cleared – because to clear him was to ensure CSIS’s good name, along with the name of the agent’s handler, one connected to the RCMP intelligence unit that preceded the inception of CSIS – the same RCMP unit responsible for dirty tricks against the FLQ that included breaking into offices and blowing up barns under the guise of being “French separatists”.

Grant Bristow CSISIt didn’t matter that neo-Nazis with criminal histories were taught by this CSIS agent how to stalk and gather information against political opponents, how to harass and threaten them over the telephone and even in person with impunity, while at the same time gathering a seemingly-endless cache of weapons to be used in what they believed was an impending Race War.

It didn’t matter that my credibility on the witness stand had already been established after my testimony was crucial to the convictions of three prominent Heritage Front leaders back in 1993.

In the end, I was just an impoverished, homeless, abused eighteen-year old girl and they….well, they were CSIS.

I was a nobody, and Grant Bristow was deemed enough of a hero to receive a standing ovation at a Toronto synagogue after an event hosted by the Canadian Jewish Congress – albeit they were among the same people who were targeted for attacks by violent skinheads and neo-Nazis who looked up to Grant Bristow, who worshipped him as their hero.

Although I was a lesbian, although my father was Jewish, although I sent three neo-Nazis to prison, I was not credible enough for ANY police division in Canada to open an investigation.

I was worthless.

I was a nobody.

Scores of weapons ranging from automatic rifles to M16s are still on the street because nobody bothered to sign off on a warrant to raid premises that stored illegal weapons intended for future terrorist actions.

But here we are, exactly twenty years later, and I have a book in my hands that details everything I saw and accounted for in my affidavits.

Hategan articleI thought the media were my friends. Upon the advice of my former lawyer Paul Copeland, I contacted various prominent members of the media, including Linden MacIntyre (before his retirement) – who I presume didn’t think much of my heartfelt plea to discuss the events I had witnessed, because he didn’t grace me with a single acknowledgement message.

I sent a message to a woman who had filmed a documentary about me for It’s About Time, a Vision TV program where she had worked before she climbed up the media ladder and eventually became DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING AT THE CBC. She had been one of the few people concerned about me, back in the day. Or so I thought, because of the care she took during my interview in the 1990s. Then again, back then she was a hungry, inquisitive recent film school grad with a vested interest in doing the right thing, not Director of Programming at the CBC. She hadn’t rubbed elbows with the elites yet, she hadn’t had a taste of what Canadian media is really like.

She assured me that she would send my manuscript and story throughout the ranks of the CBC – Canada’s taxpayer-funded Broadcasting Corporation. Surely someone there might be interested in speaking with me, even for a mere sound bite, in light of all the controversial CSIS operations in the Muslim community (where people with questionable guilt and motives are pushed into illegal actions by people who cannot, in good conscience, be described by any words other than agent provocateurs).

NOBODY bothered to contact me again.

FINALLY, I heard from a journalist at the Globe & Mail who is very familiar with political columns and often writes articles about the over-reaching grasp of our country’s shadowy intelligence agency.

We met for coffee in the Annex and had a conversation which lasted over an hour. He was interested, even flabbergasted, by what I had seen. And then came the punchline – when he asked me if the book was self-published. When I told him it was, it was clear that his mood had shifted.

Somehow, by the sheer fact that someone like Random House wasn’t behind me, he was never going to cover the story. In fact, it seemed like he lost interest and questioned whether what I had told him was in fact, factual.

I am used to being disbelieved by the police, but it was a first – to encounter this from people who are entrusted with impartiality.

It was in that moment when I experienced a visceral sense of deja-vu – the sensation of feeling like no matter what I said, or did, that nobody would believe me. That I was worthless. That I was a whore who was doing this for attention.

I felt dirty. I felt ashamed. I felt exactly as I did when Wolfgang Droege, leader of the Heritage Front and best buddy of Grant Bristow, hit on me when I was sixteen, and when a knife was held up to my neck and I was threatened with death on suspicions of turning against them.

Yes, I know what it’s like to be treated like a rape victim. I know what rape feels like, and I know what it’s like to be alone in the world, to feel ashamed and dirty when everybody around you prefers to look the other way.

Back in the 1990s, I possessed enough information to send at least ten Heritage Front and Northern Hammerskins individuals to jail. Probably more, but it hurts too much to start thinking about all the What Ifs. Aside from learning how to hack into telephone systems and how to push people to the brink of suicide, I was taught another important lesson by CSIS – that the weight of truth depends on the perceived worth of those who speak it.

To the OPP and RCMP officers who had been advised by CSIS to disregard my statements, the intrinsic value of my evidence was judged by my worth as a human being – and as an abused, impoverished teenage girl with no education, family or powerful clique of good old CSIS boys to back me up, what I had to say meant absolutely nothing.

Thanks to Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service, millions of dollars were sank into ugly, bottomless pit that was Operation Governor. Falsehoods were spun to assert that Bristow had somehow “prevented” crime from happening, though the fabrications included in the SIRC Report tell us just how much their words are worth. And when I brought real, concrete evidence forth to prosecute dangerous individuals, they buried it.

And yet somehow, being that it is 2014 and I am a university-graduate and professional writer, I never expected this treatment from the supposedly-liberal, “bleeding-hearted” media. From journalists who work for the CBC and Globe & Mail. From people who are not supposed to make you feel like garbage for TELLING THE TRUTH.

But then I think, they too must be scared. Scared to offend, to push the wrong buttons, to stick up for someone who was victimized.

Not when the men in question are powerful. Not when the victim is a teenager, a piece of trash. Not when our government has bought an agent’s silence with a quarter million dollars.

And not when a book is self-published.

For further research, I have an extensive media library and traditional press documentation available to anyone interested in what really happened in Canada during the early 1990s: https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/race-traitor-reference-media-library/ 

READ MY BOOK HERE: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00JA05FYM

 

Posted in grant bristow, media, press, truth, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Race Traitor – the media library

Posted by E on November 3, 2014

Hategan article

Hey guys,

after twenty years of telling people what happened in our own country, I’m tired of the BS I occasionally encounter from people who are so shocked by my story that they would rather deny it happened instead of doing due diligence and actually researching what is freely in the public domain. See how the denial haunts me to this day and parallels my experience as a victim of sexual assault: https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/i-know-what-its-like-not-to-be-believed/

Yeah, I know that the info is out there, but in this day of anonymous derogatory quips and an attention span that makes a fruit fly’s seem genius, I doubt the naysayers will actually take the time to investigate the facts and realize that everything I wrote in my book Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-up is rooted in hard, undeniable fact.

The denial ends today.

You will also find this list in the References section of my book. Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list of resources, but it should suffice to convince even the most ardent nay-sayer that all this actually took place in a free and democratic country.

I have quite a few affidavits made public in 1993 that I can provide upon request to anyone who is interested in further documentation of what is without a doubt one of the most ruthless and insidious, yet well-documented cases of an intelligence agent gone rogue.

Not included in this list is a transcript of my testimony against three notorious leaders of the Heritage Front, a testimony which resulted in convictions and prison sentences. Also not included (though mentioned in the articles below) is a transcript of my testimony in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in 1994, where I spoke to a Senate Subcommittee on National Defence about the illegal actions of CSIS agent and group co-founder Grant Bristow – actions that I witnessed first-hand while being a teenager inside the domestic terrorist group that was the Heritage Front.

If interested in further research, there are also quite a number of articles in the press regarding the shocking treatment received by Brian MacInnis, a Parliamentary aide who leaked a secret CSIS report to the prime minister detailing the controversial actions of a spy gone rogue. For his effort to expose the cover-up, (this was in the days before the Julian Assanges and Edward Snowdens of the world made leaking documents cool) MacInnis was charged under Canada’s insidious Official Secrets Act and his career was permanently ruined.

Furthermore, there is extensive coverage of the more-RECENT (as in 2010!) illegal actions of Bristow’s new persona, “Nathan Black” in targeting the Jewish former mayor of Edmonton Stephen Mendel for harassment using his old spy tricks. I’ve compiled some of those articles in this post: https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/old-habits-die-hard-the-dubious-adventures-of-grant-bristow-or-how-csis-taught-me-everything-i-know-about-phone-hacking/

 

VIDEOS

CBC, The Fifth Estate, October 4, 1994.

Excerpt from the Toronto Star, October 5, 1994, describing the content:

The government-appointed CSIS watchdog, called the Security Intelligence Review Committee, wrote a top-secret 1992 report to Mr. Gray’s Conservative predecessor, Douglas Lewis, warning that Mr. Bristow was involved in ‘unlawful activities’ that could ‘generate controversy.’”

“CSIS is scared Grant will blow his lid,” one police source tells The Fifth Estate.

“What they’re scared of is Grant’s going to say: ‘Yeah, we desecrated Jewish synagogues. We threatened people’s lives. We were throwing rocks through windows and we were manufacturing (violent) incidents and we were doing all of this on the instructions of CSIS’.”

The program says CSIS not only did nothing to prevent these incidents but allowed Bristow’s handler, whom it identified as Al Treddenick, to get Bristow out of trouble with police on several occasions.

It says Treddenick is a former officer of the discredited RCMP security service, disbanded in the early 1980s after it was found to have committed illegal acts against Quebec separatists and other domestic dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s. CSIS was created to replace the RCMP security service.”

FIFTH ESTATE QUOTE: “When Elisse came out and said she was going to tell the truth, CSIS was saying they were going to get out and discredit her because at least Hategan was pointing the finger at Grant Bristow… we’ll tear her to shreds”.

White Pine Pictures, “Hearts Of Hate: The Battle For Young Minds”. Peter Raymont, 1995.

It’s About Time, VISION TV. “Racism, Sexism and Belonging.” Sadia Zaman, 1994.

 

ARTICLES

Dunphy, Bill. ” STIR IT UP. Spy Unmasked: CSIS Informant ‘Founding Father’ of white racist group,” Toronto Sun, 14 Aug. 1994.

Dunphy, Bill. “Turncoat spied on racist group,” Toronto Sun, 16 March 1994.

Dunphy, Bill. “Ex-racist’s despair,” Toronto Sun, 17 March 1994.

Dunphy, Bill. “We’ll Squash ‘Em! Manning fears plot behind racist infiltration of the Reform Party”, Toronto Sun, Feb. 29, 1992

Dunphy, Bill. “Reformers boot out ‘infiltrators'”, Toronto Sun, March 11, 1992

Dunphy, Bill. “Top racist in welfare scam,” Toronto Sun, Nov. 29, 1992.

Dunphy, Bill. “White rights groups readying for racial war.” Toronto Sun, 1992-11-29. Includes description of HF leader Grant ‘Briston’

Dunphy, Bill. “Canada’s Neo-Nazis”, Toronto Sunday Sun, November 29, 1992 Includes description of HF leader Grant ‘Briston’

Swanson, Gail. “Fire guts rights activist’s house”. Toronto Star, 92-11-09. involving arson of Jewish community leader’s home

Deverell, John. “Metro constable facing charges”. Toronto Star, December 17, 1993. involving metro Toronto cop member of HF

Mascoll, Philip. “Public mischief charge dropped”, Toronto Star, March 8, 1994 – involving an HF sexual assault on a black woman

Platiel, Rudy. “Front played dirty, court told.” Globe and Mail, 17 March 1994.

Platiel, Rudy. “Front tried to thwart agency, court told,” Globe and Mail, 16 March 1994.

Oakes, Gary “Woman’s hate-crime charges withdrawn,” Toronto Star, 24 Jun 1994.

Salot, Jeff, Henry Hess. “Memo leaker questions CSIS conduct,” Globe and Mail, 27 Aug. 1994.

Swainson, Gail. “Elite soldiers members of racist group, leader says,” Toronto Star, 6 May 1993.

Speirs, Rosemary, David Vienneau, “Commons panel to probe CSIS,” Toronto Star, 25 Aug. 1994.

Speirs, Rosemary. “CSIS told to ‘clear its name’ publicly,” Toronto Star, 24 Aug. 1994.

Speirs, Rosemary, David Vienneau. “Who’s watching whom?,” Toronto Star, 27 Aug. 1994.

Vienneau, David. “Spy agency kept watch on CBC,” Toronto Star, 19 Aug. 1994.

Vienneau, David, Rosemary Speirs, and Shawn McCarthy. Ex-aide admits leaking spy note,” Toronto Star, 26 Aug. 1994.

Cal Millar and Dale Brazao, Parliament set to probe secret actions of CSIS spy Committee to see if Grant Bristow was a spy or racist. Toronto Star, September 12, 1994.

Derek Ferguson, “Report ‘whitewash’ of spy agency mole. Toronto Star, June 14, 1995

Toronto Sun, October 1995 MPs rip Bristow spying scandal: CSIS broke the law, leaked report says”

Clayton Ruby, Fighting racism going out of fashion. Toronto Star, December 13, 1995

Toronto Star, September 10, 1994. “Exclusive: CSIS spy snapped in Libya: Portrait of the vanishing spy: Grant Bristow was a man with great contacts and plenty of money to spend.”

Dale Brazao, “Star finds Grant Bristow”, Toronto Star, Apr 20, 1995.

ONLINE ARTICLE that also discusses what I covered in my book regarding Stephen Harper’s roots in the Northern Foundation, a radical far-right group whose members included skinheads, neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, Airborne Regiment soldiers, radical anti-abortionists and Reform Party members: Agora Cosmopolitan

BLOGS

Anti-Racist Canada Collective, A History of Violence, 1989-2011.

http://anti-racistcanada.blogspot.ca/2011/10/history-of-violence-1989-2011.html

Elisa Hategan, Incognito Press. Old Habits Die Hard

https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/old-habits-die-hard-the-dubious-adventures-of-grant-bristow-or-how-csis-taught-me-everything-i-know-about-phone-hacking/

Grant Bristow’s hit list of people to be targeted for stalking and harassment:

hit list grant bristow

Posted in activism, canada, cbc, csis, history, media, news, ontario, politics, press, racism, truth, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

I Know What It’s Like Not To Be Believed

Posted by E on October 30, 2014

woman-gagged

In light of the Jian Ghomeshi sex scandal and the burgeoning public epiphany that sometimes women don’t speak of abuse not because they’re not truthful, but because they fear ridicule, public mockery, further abuse and being disbelieved in the court of public opinion (as well as actual courts), I must write this.

Over the last six months I put aside my blog and focused on generating media interest in my book, which is based on my experiences as a teenage girl inside a domestic terrorist group spear-headed by a CSIS (Canadian Intelligence and Security Service) agent, Grant Bristow.

After releasing my book at the end of March, there was a flurry of interest, but none from traditional media outlets. I quickly discovered that if you are not published by a large press, i.e. Random House or Penguin (who I walked away from back in 2011 for various reasons), nobody will believe you.

My experiences cruelly paralleled what happened to me back in 1993 – upon a secret mandate issued by CSIS to all provincial police forces to dismiss all my signed affidavits and eyewitness evidence (discussed in a 1993 episode of The Fifth Estate), I was denied entry into the RCMP Witness Protection program and forced to go on the run for my life.

It didn’t matter then that everybody knew a CSIS agent had gone rogue and established the violent paramilitary white supremacist group you might remember as the Heritage Front.

It didn’t matter that Brian McInnis, a cabinet aide to the Attorney General who leaked an internal confidential CSIS report about said rogue agent, was dismissed from his job and charged under Canada’s insidious Official Secrets Act.

It didn’t matter that assaults, hate-mongering and even two particularly vicious sexual assaults had been connected to the Heritage Front (and many believe, to the leadership).

It didn’t matter that said rogue agent encouraged others to join the conservative Reform Party (and served as bodyguard at Reform conventions), thereby leading to the destruction of this political party when the Toronto Sun broke that violent HF members were encouraged to join Preston Manning’s Reform party as a way to sway them to the far right.

No investigation was to take place.

The rogue agent would be cleared – because to clear him was to ensure CSIS’s good name, along with the name of the agent’s handler, one connected to the RCMP intelligence unit that preceded the inception of CSIS – the same RCMP unit responsible for dirty tricks against the FLQ that included breaking into offices and blowing up barns under the guise of being “French separatists”.

Grant Bristow CSISIt didn’t matter that neo-Nazis with criminal histories were taught by this CSIS agent how to stalk and gather information against political opponents, how to harass and threaten them over the telephone and even in person with impunity, while at the same time gathering a seemingly-endless cache of weapons to be used in what they believed was an impending Race War.

It didn’t matter that my credibility on the witness stand had already been established after my testimony was crucial to the convictions of three prominent Heritage Front leaders back in 1993.

In the end, I was just an impoverished, homeless, abused eighteen-year old girl and they….well, they were CSIS.

I was a nobody, and Grant Bristow was deemed enough of a hero to receive a standing ovation at a Toronto synagogue after an event hosted by the Canadian Jewish Congress – albeit they were among the same people who were targeted for attacks by violent skinheads and neo-Nazis who looked up to Grant Bristow, who worshipped him as their hero.

Although I was a lesbian, although my father was Jewish, although I sent three neo-Nazis to prison, I was not credible enough for ANY police division in Canada to open an investigation.

I was worthless.

I was a nobody.

Scores of weapons ranging from automatic rifles to M16s are still on the street because nobody bothered to sign off on a warrant to raid premises that stored illegal weapons intended for future terrorist actions.

But here we are, exactly twenty years later, and I have a book in my hands that details everything I saw and accounted for in my affidavits.

Hategan articleI thought the media were my friends. Upon the advice of my former lawyer Paul Copeland, I contacted various prominent members of the media, including Linden MacIntyre (before his retirement) – who I presume didn’t think much of my heartfelt plea to discuss the events I had witnessed, because he didn’t grace me with a single acknowledgement message.

I sent a message to a woman who had filmed a documentary about me for It’s About Time, a Vision TV program where she had worked before she climbed up the media ladder and eventually became DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING AT THE CBC. She had been one of the few people concerned about me, back in the day. Or so I thought, because of the care she took during my interview in the 1990s. Then again, back then she was a hungry, inquisitive recent film school grad with a vested interest in doing the right thing, not Director of Programming at the CBC. She hadn’t rubbed elbows with the elites yet, she hadn’t had a taste of what Canadian media is really like.

She assured me that she would send my manuscript and story throughout the ranks of the CBC – Canada’s taxpayer-funded Broadcasting Corporation. Surely someone there might be interested in speaking with me, even for a mere sound bite, in light of all the controversial CSIS operations in the Muslim community (where people with questionable guilt and motives are pushed into illegal actions by people who cannot, in good conscience, be described by any words other than agent provocateurs).

NOBODY bothered to contact me again.

FINALLY, I heard from a journalist at the Globe & Mail who is very familiar with political columns and often writes articles about the over-reaching grasp of our country’s shadowy intelligence agency.

We met for coffee in the Annex and had a conversation which lasted over an hour. He was interested, even flabbergasted, by what I had seen. And then came the punchline – when he asked me if the book was self-published. When I told him it was, it was clear that his mood had shifted.

Somehow, by the sheer fact that someone like Random House wasn’t behind me, he was never going to cover the story. In fact, it seemed like he lost interest and questioned whether what I had told him was in fact, factual.

I am used to being disbelieved by the police, but it was a first – to encounter this from people who are entrusted with impartiality.

It was in that moment when I experienced a visceral sense of deja-vu – the sensation of feeling like no matter what I said, or did, that nobody would believe me. That I was worthless. That I was a whore who was doing this for attention.

I felt dirty. I felt ashamed. I felt exactly as I did when Wolfgang Droege, leader of the Heritage Front and best buddy of Grant Bristow, hit on me when I was sixteen, and when a knife was held up to my neck and I was threatened with death on suspicions of turning against them.

Yes, I know what it’s like to be treated like a rape victim. I know what rape feels like, and I know what it’s like to be alone in the world, to feel ashamed and dirty when everybody around you prefers to look the other way.

Back in the 1990s, I possessed enough information to send at least ten Heritage Front and Northern Hammerskins individuals to jail. Probably more, but it hurts too much to start thinking about all the What Ifs. Aside from learning how to hack into telephone systems and how to push people to the brink of suicide, I was taught another important lesson by CSIS – that the weight of truth depends on the perceived worth of those who speak it.

To the OPP and RCMP officers who had been advised by CSIS to disregard my statements, the intrinsic value of my evidence was judged by my worth as a human being – and as an abused, impoverished teenage girl with no education, family or powerful clique of good old CSIS boys to back me up, what I had to say meant absolutely nothing.

Thanks to Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service, millions of dollars were sank into ugly, bottomless pit that was Operation Governor. Falsehoods were spun to assert that Bristow had somehow “prevented” crime from happening, though the fabrications included in the SIRC Report tell us just how much their words are worth. And when I brought real, concrete evidence forth to prosecute dangerous individuals, they buried it.

And yet somehow, being that it is 2014 and I am a university-graduate and professional writer, I never expected this treatment from the supposedly-liberal, “bleeding-hearted” media. From journalists who work for the CBC and Globe & Mail. From people who are not supposed to make you feel like garbage for TELLING THE TRUTH.

But then I think, they too must be scared. Scared to offend, to push the wrong buttons, to stick up for someone who was victimized.

Not when the men in question are powerful. Not when the victim is a teenager, a piece of trash. Not when our government has bought an agent’s silence with a quarter million dollars.

And not when a book is self-published.

 

For further research, I have an extensive media library and traditional press documentation available to anyone interested in what really happened in Canada during the early 1990s: https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/race-traitor-reference-media-library/ 

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00JA05FYM

Posted in abuse, canada, cbc, crime, csis, globe & mail, jewish, racism, rape, terrorism, truth, victim | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An open letter to Rita Atria

Posted by E on July 26, 2012

This is a love letter to the sister I never had.

On July 26, 2012, the twentieth anniversary of your death, I want to say that I will never forget you, Rita. I want to shout your name from the rooftops, and hope that somewhere in the echoes that bounce back, you are still there. I want to say that even though I never met you, I will always consider you a sister of my heart. You are my shadow self – a firefly in the darkest sky, a girl who never grew to be a woman.

We were born 3 months apart in the latter half of the same year, in the same part of the continent. We were both loud, vivacious, black-haired, brown-eyed girls endowed with a penchant for mischief. You were born into a small village of Mafiosos and I was a street urchin seeking out a family among a group of hateful extremists who envisioned that they would one day rule the country.

We were both seventeen years old when we saw our “family” for what it really was and tried to get out. We were both seventeen when we began to compile information on the men who we had once trusted, looked up to, even loved. We were little girls who wanted to pretend that we were soldiers in a war greater than ourselves.

In the greater scheme of things, we were little children. Disobedient children who spied on our families and turned against men who had once held us close to them and called us “daughters.” We sat in open court and pointed to such men, denouncing them for the vile criminals that they were. You testified against the Cosa Nostra, men responsible for murdering your father. I testified against the Heritage Front and helped shut down Canada’s largest white supremacist organization, bankrolled and condoned by Canada’s Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

We both betrayed the only family that had ever embraced us.

I am you, Rita, and you are me. We are no more or less than any other teenage girl who wants to make a difference in her life, who wants a better world for her unborn children. We are every girl who lives in fear today, yet holds within her heart the flicker of hope that she will one day be counted. That someday she might make a difference.

We both know the seclusion of safe-houses, the anonymity of a new haircut and a bottle of scalp-burning dye. The unfamiliar utterance of a new name in our mouths. We know what it is like to have an entire world hate us and call us traitors. We know the words grown men have spoken after us, the threats and hits that were placed on our heads. And the truth, Rita, is that we were both children. We were idealists with hardly any concept in our minds of the ugliness of the world, of the seclusion and loneliness that would come.

When you’re in hiding the sky is always starless, muffled by an oppression of perpetually-low clouds. There’s only the stillness of empty apartments, where the silence of incalculable whitewashed walls closes in on you. After a while, the danger is no longer as relevant as walking to the window to tear apart the curtains, regardless of who might be lurking below. Because all you can say to yourself is, When the gunfire erupts I will not duck, I will not retreat.

I wish I’d met you, Rita. I wish that I could hold your hand and call you Sister. When you climbed over that balcony and flew down to your death, broken-hearted after the Mafia assassinated your only friend, magistrate Paolo Borsellino, convinced that nothing would ever change, a part of me was there with you. A part of me has always longed to take flight too.

Every year that passes since your passing, after the great snowfalls recede and give way to the delicate beauty of new growth in spring, I think of the shadows of us two – two teenage girls who wanted to make this ugly, senseless world a better place.

You live in me, Rita. And I will never forget you.

Posted in activism, beauty, cosa nostra, csis, family, freedom, history, identity, innocence, italy, letter, life, love, mafia, media, news, paolo borsellino, politics, revolution, rita atria, truth, Uncategorized, violence, war, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

True courage will never be forgotten

Posted by E on July 19, 2012

Twenty years ago today, an Italian Magistrate was assassinated in cold blood via a car bomb in Palermo, Sicily. This murder provoked some of the largest anti-Mafia demonstrations ever held in Italy. It also set the stage for the suicide of Rita Atria, a seventeen-year old girl who was one of Borsellino’s biggest witnesses in a trial against the Mafia. After Borsellino’s death, Rita jumped from the building of her safehouse apartment only a week later, on July 26.

For those who may not be familiar with Borsellino, here is a quick summary. Paolo Borsellino (January 19, 1940 – July 19, 1992) was an Italian anti-Mafia magistrate. He was killed by a Mafia car bomb in Palermo, 57 days after his friend and fellow anti-mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone was assassinated. He is considered to be one of the most important magistrates killed by the Sicilian Mafia and he is remembered as one of the main symbols of the battle of the State against the Mafia. Both Borsellino and Falcone were named as heroes of the last 60 years in the November 13, 2006, issue of Time Magazine (Wikipedia).

I know I’ve neglected this blog for quite a while as I worked on my last two books, but I feel the need to write this today. I admire Borsellino’s work, because in my past I have encountered brave people like him, people who would risk everything and put their lives and careers on the line to do what is right. Every time I think of Rita Atria and Paolo Borsellino, an echo of my own past rises up in me.

Parallelling the Mafia crime wave on the 1990s, Canada had its own homegrown pseudo-terrorist group, the Heritage Front, a vicious gang of white extremists who were keen on piling up guns and infiltrating the right-wing Reform Party in the hope of one day coming to power.

Our spy agency, CSIS, had sent an agent provocateur to infiltrate, stir up shit and escalate aggression and targeted attacks inside the HF, and it was only as a direct initiative of several courageous anti-racist activists that I was able to hide out and eventually testify against several leaders of this group.

 

I consider Rita Atria not only a true heroine, but a spiritual sister of sorts. I was born only three months after she was, and at the same age we rebelled against powerful, violent men. In our late teens, we both spied on and testified in trials that led to convictions. We both lived in hiding at an age when our lives had only just begun.

There are very few people in this world who can truly say that they understand what it’s like to be seventeen, eighteen years old and on the run for your life. Who know the impossible loneliness and self-hatred that swells us inside you when you’re forced to abandon all trace of your own identity. When you live in the darkness of a series of apartments, always changing names and locations, when you know a whole network of violent, hateful people would rather see you dead. When you’ve been abandoned by the world and the thought of simply ending it all seems like the best prospect.

Neither Rita nor I held any hope that the world would change. We both stood, literally, on the precipice of a great height from where we wanted with all our might to end the suffering within. The difference was, I still knew that out there remained a growing mass of faceless activists dedicated to ending government corruption. Whereas for Rita, all hope ended when Borsellino was murdered.

That day, twenty years ago today, Rita (whose life story was told in the recent film The Sicilian Girl) wrote in her diary: “You have died for what you believed in, but without you, I too am dead.”A week later, right before she leapt to her death, her suicide note said: “I am devastated by the killing of Judge Borsellino. Now there’s no one to protect me, I’m scared and I can’t take any more.”

When I think of the early 1990s, I think of two teenage girls separated by a continent, who may not speak the same language or ever heard of one another, but who are determined to take on a fight that is greater than they ever imagined. It makes me wonder how many such teenage girls are out there today, fighting against oppression, poverty, discrimination, sexism, and organized crime, feeling hopeless yet continuing to pass a symbolic flaming torch of courage from one hand to another.

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