A new native gang growing in Saskatchewan is spreading the message that its members are nothing to worry about.
The “Crazy Indians Brotherhood” even claims the more members in more communities, the better. There is a chapter in Saskatoon, and now one in Prince Albert.
It all started back in 2007 in Winnipeg by a group of ex-gang members, many of them fresh out of jail. They decided they wanted a better life, and wanted to prevent other young aboriginal men from making the same mistakes they made. The membership has grown and spread, with chapters right across Canada.
Derek Gamble, from the Beardy’s First Nation near Prince Albert, is the provincial treasurer. He has never been in a gang and has never done jail time, but he has lived the kind of life that could have led him there.
“I grew up with drugs and violence and all that other stuff around me,” he said. “It kind of made me think, if I help out people in that same situation that will make me feel better because I get a better feeling giving rather than receiving.”
Gamble is a good provider, a good father, and he wants to be a good role model. He says there has been a lot of interest in the brotherhood. Gamble says he is proud to be called “a crazy Indian.” He says it’s a term that has been around for a long time, but now it has new meaning.
“You know back in the day, my grandfather told me stories about when they were out drinking, people would yell, ‘Hey crazy Indians, go back to your reserve, go back to your pow wow!’” he said. “Even when I was younger, before I was a dad and I wasn’t on the right path, people would call me a crazy Indian.”
The Crazy Indians Brotherhood does charity work, and provides direction and purpose to many lost young aboriginal men. It is evolving as well. In Saskatoon, about a half a dozen members are splintering off to form their own version, one that does not involve wearing gang colours.
It is looking to Elders for direction. One of their first projects is to provide free Halloween costumes to aboriginal children at the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre.