Over the years Gary had given a great deal of thought as to why certain
guards acted as they did; to his mind, a lack of respect for legal rights
was only part of the explanation.
In the Prince Albert SHU I had numerous conversations
with the other prisoners because of the little things that guards would
do which would send me and other prisoners into a rage. They'd come and
slam my tray slot shut and I would take it personal. And I used to say
to the guys, "Do these people take courses and learn how to fuck with
people's minds like this?" And I determined that they couldn't possibly,
that human beings couldn't possibly treat people like that on a regular
and consistent basis. I just don't think that human beings could learn
to and agree to go and treat people like that all day long. I don't think
they realized the damage they were doing.
A good example is when I was in the Prince Albert
SHU and I was in the hole and I had done about seventy days of hole time
and I had promised my mom, I gave her my word, that I would try and bite
my tongue because my mouth was getting me in a lot of trouble. One morning,
and I was very consciously aware and thinking what I had told my mom,
they passed me my breakfast tray and one of the guards had rubbed butter
all through my cereal bowl. I tried to take the butter out -- it was a
Styrofoam bowl -- but the bowl got cracked so I couldn't put my milk in
and I can't eat my cereal. I pushed the button in my cell thinking, "Stay
cool, remember what you promised Mom and just deal with this appropriately,"
and the guard comes over the speaker and says right away, "What the fuck
do you want?" And that set me off. I wanted to respond immediately but
I'm saying, "No, just be cool." I felt my voice shaking, but I said, "I
need a new cereal bowl." He said, "What's your fucking problem?" I told
him that somebody had rubbed butter through my cereal bowl and that I
had tried to get the butter out but the bowl had got cracked and so I
needed another bowl. He came back on the speaker: "Listen, you fucking
punk, you were probably eating out of garbage cans on the street and now
you come here and complain." I just went ape-shit. I kicked that door
until the goon squad came. And when they came, there were two hot coffees
on the tray and I threw both cups at them.
Looking back, do you think that the guard that was
standing there with all his buddies preparing the meal trays knew that
by rubbing butter in that bowl he was going to set the situation off where
I wouldn't give a fuck if they came in and killed me in the cell? That
guard was being a smart-ass, and he's trying to impress his buddies with
how much he hates prisoners and to get them snickering. I suppose it's
the camaraderie they try to impress upon each other and they bring it
into our arena. But I don't think they've got a clue what they're playing
with there. If they did, they wouldn't do it. I just can't see that human
beings would do that to other people. (Weaver interview, June 3, 1996)
In August 1996, Gary Weaver's case management officer, Stephanie Hronek,
prepared a progress summary recommending his transfer to William Head
medium security institution. The normal process of "cascading" for general
population prisoners at Kent is to Matsqui or Mission Institutions. Although
not unprecedented, because William Head is the most open of the mediums,
it is unusual, particularly for a prisoner with Gary Weaver's institutional
record. But Ms. Hronek was very impressed with the changes she had seen
in Mr. Weaver. Her summary read in part:
Mr. Weaver has been employed as the Grievance Clerk since 96-01-15.
His work supervisor was contacted and asked for her assessment of Mr.
Weaver's performance as Grievance Clerk. She stated that Mr. Weaver conducts
himself in a very professional manner and that she credits him with the
significant reduction in grievances that are being submitted because of
his good communication skills and calming influence with the general population
inmates. She further stated that Mr. Weaver has a real grasp of the skills
taught to him in the programs he has taken and that he uses these skills
in resolving problems. She believes that Gary Weaver is making a sincere
effort to make changes in his attitude and his behaviour.
The Facilitator for [the Anger and Emotions Management
Program] has had several discussions with the writer about Gary Weaver
and his level of understanding and commitment to learning the skills taught
in the Program. Seldom has she seen one so driven to challenging his attitudes
and beliefs; she was highly encouraged by Gary Weaver's effort and productivity.
(Progress Summary, kent Institution, August 14, 1996)
The warden of William Head rejected the transfer, recommending that
Mr. Weaver first spend time in a more closely controlled medium security
institution such as Mission or Matsqui. Mission had a six-month waiting
list due to overcrowding. As for Matsqui, both Mr. Weaver and his case
management officer felt the staff there would likely view him with suspicion
because of his reputation, and this could be easily fuelled by informant
information. However, Mr. Weaver was accepted for the Violent Offender
Program at the Regional Health Centre scheduled to begin in February 1997,
and so he accepted a transfer to Matsqui in the interim. After spending
six weeks there, he was transferred to the RHC.
Generally regarded by CSC staff and by prisoners as "the mother of all
programs," the eight-month Violent Offender Program at the RHC consists
of treatment modules designed to get to the roots of violence and to help
prisoners develop cognitive and behavioural controls to prevent future
violent acts. In April 1997, I met with Gary Weaver and asked him to describe
his first three months in the program.
When I first came here I couldn't even sit still.
I was just psyched, ready for action all the time, and in people's faces.
I thought a lot of the guys in the group [PC prisoners] were people that
I could never relate to, and now I genuinely care about these guys. When
we started this group there was a lot of fronts, and mine was one of the
best. "You f-ing rats and f-ing creeps, I'm unapproachable. Don't even
try it." Now I'm walking laps with these guys and thinking, How would
I ever explain this in a place like Millhaven as to where I used to be
then and where I am now? Then I said, What do I have to explain? I'm growing
as a human being and letting go of some of this stigmatized prison bullshit.
My life doesn't revolve around the prison scene, so to speak. I've been
straight for a long time and that feels super great, because my biggest
problem was dope and where that would take me. (Interview with Gary Weaver,
Regional Health Centre, April 21, 1997)
Gary was also deeply engaged in disciplining his mind and body during
his time at RHC.
I've been getting heavy into the martial arts. Every
day the stretching, the discipline, the meditation. I'm reading tons of
Buddhist literature and some stuff by Jung and Wilhelm Reich. Some of
the breathing exercises I'm doing are helping me to get in more control
of myself. I don't get so emotional and erratic and things that would
normally set me off are now under better control. I keep walking forward
and looking behind me at the same time, and every day is a new experience.
(April 21, 1997)
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