TRU subject of human-rights complaint by law student, a reformed white supremacist

Daniel Gallant, a reformed white supremacist and neo-Nazi who suffered an abusive childhood, became one of the university's most recognized students when he started law school at TRU in 2014. But he said his experiences inside TRU caused him to file the complaint against the university in September. A Thompson Rivers University law student has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the university, claiming it failed to accommodate his learning problems.

Daniel Gallant, a reformed white supremacist and neo-Nazi who suffered an abusive childhood, became one of the university's most recognized students when he started law school at TRU in 2014.

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He spoke freely about his past as a violent skinhead in media interviews and recently collaborated on the Kamloops production of Cherry Docs, a play about racial violence.

But the law student said his experiences inside TRU caused him to file the complaint against the university in September.

Gallant is seeking a declaration from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that the law school discriminated against him based on his disabilities.

He also wants "structural change so it does not happen otherwise."

Gallant said one administrator at the law school told him: "We don't want this [disability accommodation] to be the new standard.'"

A TRU spokesman said the university will not comment on Gallant's complaint.

Gallant told KTW that after he was accepted to law school at TRU, he realized he has learning disabilities related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

In addition, Gallant said other cognitive problems add to the difficulty in understanding and retaining material.

While he has a master's degree in social work, he realized before starting law school he would need help in some aspects of his legal education.

Gallant said he visited the university's disabilities office to ensure he got off to a good start in first year.

"I made arrangements to have academic accommodations put into place in order to ensure my success," he wrote in a blog entry on his website

"Soon after, it became clear that the law school did not intend on fulfilling their legal obligation [the duty to accommodate] nor their promised accommodations."

Gallant said he struggled in one class in particular, failing a mid-year practice exam.

Despite that warning sign, he claims he did not receive adequate help to overcome his disabilities until it was too late.

"The specific accommodation wasn't fulfilled until March of 2015," he wrote.

"My exams were two weeks later."

Gallant failed the course.

In an appeal, the senate determined he did not have to retake the course, but Gallant said administration subsequently "undermined" that decision.

Gallant was ordered to retake the first-year course at the same time as he completed his second year at law school -- a ruling he said only worsened his situation.

TRU has a dedicated disability-services office with a $500,000 annual budget. The university provided information showing the office assisted about 650 students in academics and trades in the most recently completed year.

Those services include allowing students to use a separate room or have extra time for exams, alternative formats for textbooks, interpretive services and assistance from peer note-takers.

Gallant said his cognitive problems include auditory processing, memory and concentration.

"The accommodations not being fulfilled before are now being fulfilled, in part, in a way they weren't before," he said, adding the assistance he is receiving now remains insufficient.

In his blog, Gallant has detailed what he claims is bullying and poor treatment at the hands of four unnamed law professors. He also criticized law-school administrators and ridiculed some of the university's public blunders, including a battle by law-school faculty to be paid more than others at TRU.

He said reaction to his difficulties has received mixed reaction from his classmates.

"I've got quite a bit of cold shoulders," he said. "Some have expressed support and are sorry I'm going through this."

He also argues in his blog "we do know that the Canadian legal system is racist" and based on "white supremacist-based legislation."

Despite his beliefs and relationships with professors and some classmates, Gallant said he is determined to continue and graduate. His goal is to work in human-rights law and child protection.

Gallant also continues his work to stop young people from falling into radicalization, whether joining ISIS or white supremacists.

Gallant was interviewed as recently as this week by an online publication on his views about radicalization of young people in Canada.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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