After tragedy and an early life of crime, Fort Smith man finds a new path

After the loss of his twin brother, Tracy Nadary fell into a life of crime and addictions. But he's looking for a fresh start after joining the Crazy Indians Brotherhood and is hoping to inspire others.

Tracy Nadary hopes to open a Fort Smith chapter of the Crazy Indians Brotherhood one day

A man wearing glasses, a ball cap and a vest that says "Brotherhood" on it leans against a white pickup truck.
Tracy Nadary wearing his Crazy Indians Brotherhood Kutte (vest). He is hoping to open a chapter in Fort Smith. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

Tracy Nadary had a tough start in life. With almost no healthy adult role models, he and his twin brother Trevor passed the time getting into trouble. 

Nadary characterized his childhood as "crazy," but having his brother with him made life a bit easier. In their teens, they started to break dance and were quite good, even teaching other youth how to dance at Uncle Gabe's Friendship Centre in Fort Smith, N.W.T.

"We used to go to the youth centre every day to break dance," said Nadary. "We even went to the Dreamcatchers youth conference to battle there — he was my teammate."

It was at the friendship centre that Nadary's life changed forever. In 2009, at 18 years old, he and Trevor were showcasing their dancing skills when, shortly after doing a head spin, Trevor collapsed and died.

Nadary said he was told his brother's heart had stopped.

It wasn't long before Nadary found himself back in a life of crime. In and out of jail for years, Nadary was behind bars when Uncle Gabe's named its youth centre T-Rev Youth Centre, after Trevor.

Two men smile broadly while standing outdoors beneath blue sky.
Tracy Nadary, left, with his twin brother Trevor. The two could be found break dancing at Uncle Gabe's Friendship Centre most days. (Submitted by Tracy Nadary)

At the time, Nadary was considering suicide. He remembers it was his cell mates that brought him out of that dark time, reminding him that his brother was watching over him.

"That kept me from hurting myself," said Nadary. "Every day, I think about him."

The heartbreak would continue, though. He lost his grandmother, and then his sister passed away in May 2020. Nadary felt like he'd lost everything.

He said he would look up to the sky for guidance from his brother, talking to him and reassuring him that he could get through the worst times.

Eventually, Nadary realized the lifestyle he was living wasn't healthy for him or his son, who was born in 2015.

"I don't want him to follow in my footsteps," he said. "I want him to be a bigger person."

He also wanted to get custody of his late sister's children, who are now in foster care.

Joining the Brotherhood

He knew he needed to become sober and find support, so he turned to the Crazy Indians Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood originated in Winnipeg in 2007. They now have chapters across Canada, including in Yellowknife.

Scott Yuill is the president of the Brotherhood's Yellowknife chapter. He said the purpose of the group is to help people trying to leave a lifestyle of crime, violence and addiction.

Yuill said all of their resources come from donations and fundraising. They use those funds to help people get off the street, find jobs and seek treatment. They also help families in need and organize toy drives and food hampers. Every Sunday, they host Feed the People, a community feast offered for free.

"People just want a chance — they don't want to be on the streets. That's what we're here for," said Yuill.

He said they are available for most situations, even if it's just to talk. "They call us in the middle of the night — 'I'm having a hard time.' We'll go sit with them," said Yuill. "Keeps people from relapsing." 

A new path

In the first months when Nadary was reaching out to the Brotherhood, Yuill contacted some people in Fort Smith. He said he heard only good things about Nadary's new path.

Eventually, Nadary went to Yellowknife to help out with a memorial barbecue. Yuill said he was impressed with Nadary's drive to help people.

"Tracy jumped right in and helped, full of ambition. This kid is on the right track," said Yuill. He is also eager to see what good Nadary can bring to Fort Smith.

Right now, Nadary is hoping to recruit more members and eventually start a Fort Smith chapter. He's also planning fundraising and youth speaking events, and would like to offer volunteer services for elders, such as cutting wood.

Nadary said he's been drug-free now for over a year and sober for five months.