Michael Balczer wants to dispel rumours there is a new motorcycle gang in Smithers.
Balczer is the founder of a new chapter of the Crazy Indians Nomads he is currently organizing in town.
“We are not a gang, we’re a non-profit organization,” he said.
“Our people need help out there, our people have been so desolated, so been put down by our governments; the Crazy Indians are here for First Nations people in Smithers.”
While by all reports, it is not a criminal enterprise, the organization does share many of the trappings that have come to characterize criminal motorcycle clubs including the leather “cuts” (vests) complete with colours (large back patch, in this case a stylized “crazy indian”), rockers and other patches indicating rank and chapter. Also, members must earn their way into the group by way of first being a prospect before being “patched in” formally.
But that, said Balczer, is where the similarity ends.
In fact, he said, the intention is prevent crime and protect vulnerable individuals, not just Indigenous people, from criminal elements such as drug dealers and sexual predators.
“We’re going to clean up this town,” he said.
Currently, Balczer said, the local group consists of himself and four prospects.
The Crazy Indians started in Winnipeg in 2007 when a group of ex-gang members decided they wanted to forge a better life for themselves and prevent other Indigenous youth from going down the road they did.
Adopting the moniker “crazy indian” was intended to reclaim a negative stereotype that has for decades been used as a pejorative term by non-indigenous people.
And while the organization grew out of Indigenous people wanting to help other Indigenous people, even membership in the group is not restricted to Indigenous individuals.
There are now chapters across Canada and down into the United States. The chapters engage in activities such as feeding, clothing and sheltering homeless people, charity fundraising and crime prevention.
In 2017, in Winnipeg, members of the group occupied public areas around the Portage Place Mall to disrupt drug trafficking and related violence the location had become notorious for.
A group in Saskatoon has been know to collect Halloween costumes for kids, hold raffles to raise money for Christmas hampers and roam the downtown area handing out bag lunches to people on the street.
Balczer is also known in town as the father of Jessica Patrick.
He said he will also be continuing to work toward obtaining justice for his daughter.