Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Heritage Front: The True Story in Race Traitor

Amazon (Digital):
OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE: Now for purchase at Amazon as a paper back: 

A few years back, we posted a link to Elisa Hategan's novel, Race Traitor. While it was a work of fiction, it was still very obviously based on her experience in the Heritage Front as well as her subsequent defection and testimony that ultimately helped take down the group. Many members of the Collective purchased the novel. One question that we often discussed was which parts were true and which parts were fictionalized for the sake of a compelling thriller? We all really enjoyed the novel, but we still hoped that one day a definitive history of the Heritage Front might actually be written (the closest thing that was currently in existence was Warren Kinsella's Web of Hate). Not knowing if there would be anything published, we started our own project, attempting to document the history of the racist movement in Canada (this includes our "History of Violence" which has become by far the most viewed article on the blog) paying particular attention to the Heritage Front. We thought this was a period in Canadian history that needed to be remembered, however we knew that what we could compile would be insufficient.

Thankfully, Ms. Hategan did continue her writing in this area and has, as of a few days ago, published her story about the Heritage Front. We downloaded it on KOBO two nights ago and completed it this morning. It is an incredibly compelling story and one that we think needs a wider audience.

Artwork by Nina Bunjevac

We'll provide the blurb from Amazon (links added by ARC):

Set in 1990s Toronto, RACE TRAITOR is the visceral true story of a teenage girl who becomes entangled in Canada’s most powerful white supremacist group, the Heritage Front – a domestic terrorist group later revealed to have been created and funded with the assistance of Canada’s spy agency, Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS).

To sixteen-year old runaway Elisse, the new friends she encounters in the secretive Heritage Front are the family she’s never had. They feed her when she’s hungry, watch her back, and Wolfgang Droege, one of the group’s charismatic leaders, introduces her to a trusted friend, notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, who provides her with shelter and work.

In less than a year, Elisse evolves into an extremist groomed for a leadership role in the far-right movement. Her loyalty earns her the attention and tutelage of Grant Bristow, co-founder of the Heritage Front, who is training a secret faction of skinheads and neo-Nazis in information-gathering and terror tactics targeting political opponents. Rapidly drawn into their web of hatred, Elisse witnesses an escalating campaign of terror from which there seems no way out.

Forced to confront her sexual orientation and secret heritage, Elisse realizes that she must fight back. But when she attempts to shut down the vicious organization that had brainwashed her and terrorized innocent Canadians, she learns that a darker force is behind the façade of the Heritage Front: Canada’s own spy agency, backed by the government that was supposed to protect her.

At only eighteen, Elisse’s testimony will lead to the criminal convictions of prominent white supremacists including Wolfgang Droege. Within months, Grant Bristow would be exposed as an undercover CSIS agent. Although Operation Governor never led to the arrest of a single Canadian racist, Bristow will be placed into the Witness Protection Program and given a package worth hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, while the teenage girl who had named him as a criminal will be denied police protection and forced to go on the run for her life.

We noticed that Ms. Hategan kindly also provided a page of resources which includes our "History of Violence" time line. For that we have to thank Ms. Hategan for the plug.

While a discussion of the history of the Heritage Front, from our point of view, is important in and of itself, Ms. Hategan notes that the story remains topical even today. In some way Race Traitor is less about the Heritage Front than it is a cautionary tale about government surveillance and the loss of civil liberties. While the Heritage Front might have existed without the help of CSIS, it seems clear that it became far more dangerous as a result of their involvement through their paid informant.

There currently is no hardcopy of the book, however you can download a digital version on Amazon for your Kindle or at the KOBO bookstore.

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