Mother of Indian Posse gang leaders hopes book is a teaching tool
by Barb Pacholik, Regina Leader-Post, September 18, 2016
Before the mother of Danny and Richard Wolfe — founders of the Indian Posse street gang — decided to share her story and theirs for a book, she first sought permission in a spiritual ceremony.
And when the answer came back that this could be a teaching tool, Susan Creeley agreed to open up to author Joe Friesen about the road that led her sons to lives of crime — ultimately ending with their deaths in prison.
“Everybody who reads it knows what I went through in residential school, and I pass it to my children,” she said recently. “My children experienced it, just like they went to residential schools themselves even though they didn’t.” At Richard’s sentencing in a Regina courtroom in January, a judge described him as a “generational victim” of residential schools, his mom’s abuse in that system leading to her later struggles with drugs and alcohol while trying to raise her sons.
Despite delving into some painful memories, Creeley is firm in her resolve that The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw can educate.
“Something in my heart tells me to do this, to help our people,” she said. “There’s so much of our people that are lost. They don’t know our traditional ways. And this maybe will open their eyes.”
Creeley will join Friesen and University of Regina professor Jason Demers in a discussion about the book and the issues it raises at the U of R on Monday. The free, public event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Lab Cafe, Laboratory Building on the main U of R campus.
Creeley, an addictions counsellor, is still grieving the recent death of her son Richard.
He died at the age of 40 in May this year after suffering a heart attack while serving time in the same Prince Albert prison where Danny, 33, was stabbed to death in 2010, mere months into a life sentence for murder.
Creeley said when Richard turned himself in on charges in 2014, she had an unsettling feeling: “I knew I wouldn’t hug him again.”
He seemed to have turned his life around after his release from a lengthy prison term and was even giving anti-gang presentations. But a series of personal losses, including his brother’s death, led him back into addictions and violence.
Friesen, a Globe and Mail reporter, interviewed the brothers extensively for the book. He was first drawn to Danny’s story when he became one of Canada’s most wanted after escaping from the Regina jail in August 2008 while awaiting trial for a brutal, gang-fuelled double murder in Fort Qu’Appelle. The initial curiosity gave way to a far more in-depth and complex tale about what drove the Wolfe brothers and other indigenous youths to forge a “family” in gangs — a story about poverty, racism, alcoholism, foster care, abuse and residential schools.
“I’ve always been so curious about figuring out what (the gang’s) purposes were, what its origins were,” said Friesen. “If I’ve contributed anything, it’s a little bit of explanation and understanding of who the Indian Posse is and the story of Danny’s life.”
Demers sees the book in the context of the truth and reconciliation process.
“It’s by understanding where these gangs come from, where this violence comes from, we can hopefully begin the healing process,” he said.
At the same time, he added, the book doesn’t shy away from the fact the gangs themselves have contributed to the trauma and destitution in indigenous communities, often preying on their own people.
Demers said the story also sheds light “into how prisons have been incubators that have allowed gangs to grow and spread across the country.”