Doukhobor Highlights – Spring and Summer 2007By Koozma J. Tarasoff. September 15, 2007. All rights reserved.
An overview of Doukhobor events in Canada, Russia and the Republic of Georgia provides a measure of assimilation and integration into the wider society. Here are a number of the major events in the spring and summer of 2007 that show there has been a healthy movement of activities amongst the Doukhobors worldwide.
1. ‘Sixty Years of Inheritance’ was the theme of the 60th Annual Union of Youth Festival held in Brilliant, British Columbia, Canada May 19 to 20th. Over 1000 people from across the country and abroad came to witness the living heritage of Canadian Doukhobors with their singing, music, food and philosophy.
And what have we inherited?” Ron Planiden expressed it this way: ‘We have inherited an incredible ethic — one that has been tested by governments, by wars and by changing times. And all through it we have stayed true to “Toil and Peaceful Life”. We have inherited a strong language, rich traditions, beautiful songs and that good for the soul (back for the waist) Doukhobor cooking. We have inherited everything in that box’ (Iskra, June 1, 2007: 9).
Vancouver visitor Dr. Fred Samorodin summarized the spirit of the weekend:
‘Some of the highlights of the (Saturday cultural) evening were by Ira Relkoff-Nedvega’s Russian folk song concerning a mother’s support of her daughter’s search for love, followed by a Russian pop song dedicated to us “youth of the 70’s”. The Victoria Choir’s staging of a Borscht [Borshch] Party as the setting for their choral pieces included some excellent and well-arranged singing of early Russian folksong. The arrangement was in a style that combined harmonies reminiscent of tonalities found in Doukhobor psalm singing and natural voice singing found in perhaps Ural Mountains Russian folk choirs — rich and unique. My Vancouver compatriots in the Lower Mainland Doukhobor Choir sang with energy pieces revived from the 1951 B.C. Doukhobor youth choir’s tour of the Prairie Provinces. They demonstrated the Doukhobor community’s inheritance of both the then future vocal and community leaders that that particular choir’s members have given our community. The rousing West Kootenay/Boundary Men’s Tri Choir grounded the concert with strong vocal unity and punctuated by the floating countertenor verkhi among them — well done! I squirmed through Mr. Soukoreff’s hilarious Nashville stand-up routine with his babe — the “lady in Red!”…while translating the Russian into English to my pre-teen daughter where decorum and language existed — it was still funny to my teen son, although he was out of earshot of my translations! But…and…the topper — may have happened on Sunday afternoon when the combined Vancouver and Victoria choirs ignited by the energy of Lorraine, Johnny and the gang struck a new high in Doukhobor spiritual singing with their encored rendition of “Arise new young spirits” (Вы вставайте новые силы). Technically, the exuberance of the choir was anchored in a solid beat while teetering on the soul-stirring edges of everyone’s vocal limits — what a way to earn their applause!’ (Iskra, June 1, 2007: 13).
2. The annual Doukhobor Peace Days or Petrov Diens were observed at the end of June in several western Canadian Doukhobor centres: Saskatoon and Verigin in Saskatchewan, Lundbreck in Alberta and Castlegar in British Columbia. The 1895 arms burning event reminds us all that war and violence continue to be the central problems of society. Our task is to persuade the powers that be that the way to peace is nonviolence, friendship, reconciliation, negotiations and peace itself.
Elder Mae Popoff described the Saskatoon event in this way:
‘We commemorate our ancestors who refused to bear arms against their fellowmen….
‘From the floor, we heard greetings from Multifaith Saskatoon, Saskatoon Peace Coalition, Quakers, Mennonites, Muenster Monks, and other guests. We welcomed Blaine Lake. During our prayer service, we heard prayers in different languages about hope, love and peace. Our hymns portrayed the suffering, the punishment, the convoys, and the humiliation. The hymns also portrayed that in spite of the historic treatment, our “eagles” were steadfast in their pursuit and vision of a universal peace where all soldiers will disarm. Spiritually inspired voices sang in the English language to honor peace and the assembly as one human family. With spiritual emotion, and in the Russian language, we honored our ancestral “eagles” with lifelong praises for their contributions to our lives in Canada….
[PHOTO: Img_3115 Ryan Androsoff , political activist. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: Img_3110 Dr. Nettie Wiebe, Mennonite professor, University of Saskatchewan. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: Img_3126 Women singing psalms and hymns at Peace Day in Saskatoon. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: Img_3127 Men sing at Peace Day in Saskatoon. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: Img_3135 Doreen Konkin (right) and her daughter Cam Konkin (left) who is a professional singer pose in the basement of the Saskatoon Doukhobor Home during the refreshment period. Photo by Mae Popoff.
‘The speakers Dr. Nettie Wiebe, Ryan Androsoff, Mitch Ozeroff, Fr. Lawrence DeMong and Norm Rebin expounded strategic and varying points of view to emphasize model peace behaviours. Dr. Wiebe said: ‘Your singing is so spiritual, you don’t need to understand the language to feel the intensity and power of the spiritual.’ Youthful Ryan Androsoff who has travelled widely as a political aide revealed that he was proud to be a Doukhobor. Ft. Lawrence DeMong suggested that that we should all ‘care then share your behaviours of peace and universal kinship.’ Norm Rebin paid tribute to our ancestors. Mitch Ozeroff spoke about world peace and how it is applicable to contemporary times. Chairman Mae summarized the day by saying: ‘the people were impressed and pleased with the meeting, especially with the classic values of love, peace and world citizenship.’ After the meeting, all enjoyed the Doukhobor hospitality, reported Mae, ‘with fabulous ethnic food downstairs’ (Report by Mae Popoff).
The event at the Doukhobor Home in Lundbreck, Alberta was attended by 35 people including two visitors from Chicago and Pittsburgh representing the Pastors for Peace Cuba Friendship Caravan. The congregation sang a cappella hymns in Russian. This was followed by greetings and messages from the guests at the meeting as well as from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ottawa, and Moscow. Dr. Jack P. Tarasoff of Calgary writes:
‘On a sad note, Michael Verigin announced he was relinquishing his position as Secretary-Treasurer of the United Doukhobors of Alberta. Mr. Verigin was a figure bigger than the position he held. His tireless on-going dedication to the Doukhobor community and the community as a whole in the capacity of leader, teacher and a historian is appreciated. His contribution in all these areas, which we are grateful, will long be remembered…’ (The Dove, July 2007: 26).
3. On Saturday June 20th, the National Heritage Doukhobor Village in Verigin, Saskatchewan hosted a guided motor coach tour of Doukhobor historical sites, landmarks and points of interest in the Good Spirit Lake and Buchanan areas of the province.
Approximately sixty people took part in the excursion, which travelled through the heart of the ‘Good Spirit Country’, visiting some of the original Doukhobor village and related sites, exploring surviving buildings and structures, and learning about the Doukhobors who inhabited them, their surroundings, and the events that took place within them. Fred and Eileen Konkin prepared and wrote a guide and souvenir booklet outlining the tour route, its various features and pictures of the settlements.
‘One of the primary objectives of the tour was to emphasize the historical significance of the Doukhobor contribution to the development and growth of the area,’ said Keith Tarasoff, tour organizer and chairman of the National Heritage Doukhobor Village.
The excursion proceeded to the Village of Buchanan, the main commercial centre in the area that once was a significant hub of Doukhobor activity throughout much of the twentieth century. A stop was made at Lois Hole Memorial Park, which commemorates the late Lois (nee Verigin) Hole, a former Buchanan resident of Doukhobor ancestry who became a successful market gardener, prominent book publisher and Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. ‘Afterwards, tour participants were treated to an extensive historic photo display and refreshments at the Buchanan Doukhobor Prayer Home, built in 1916 to serve the needs of the Doukhobors in the surrounding area. A stop was made at the foundations of the Independent Doukhobor Flour Mill and Elevator, which was built in 1916 and operated until the Forties, as well as the foundations of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Store and Warehouse which operated in the Twenties and Thirties
Throughout the five and half-hour tour excursion, expert tour guides Jonathan J. Kalmakoff, a Regina-based lawyer and writer and Lorne J. Plaxin, a Preeceville-based local historian, provided an informative and entertaining historical narration. Both have family roots in the Good Spirit Lake Annex area. As well, Fred Krukoff spoke about Blogosklonnoe while Margaret Hancheroff described Old Goreloe.
[Andy: I am awaiting two images or so from Saskatchewan to be placed here. They will be on Lois Hole’s memorial, and a view of the tour group.]
‘A lot of the people who accompanied the tour were amazed at what we were able to show them,’ said Kalmakoff, ‘Many presumed that there was nothing left to see, when in fact, there are plenty of existing historic sites, buildings and landmarks that people pass every day without knowing or appreciating their history or purpose.. Thanks to the tour, they were able to have an enjoyable visit, and most importantly, learn a little more about their Doukhobor heritage and culture’ (Iskra, August 3, 2007: 15-16. See also The Dove, July 2007: 6-7).
For additional information or inquiries about the tour and other historical sites in Saskatchewan, contact the National Heritage Doukhobor Village, Box 99, Verigin, Saskatchewan SOA 4HO or phone (306) 542-4441. Also see the Doukhobor Genealogy Website www.doukhobor.org.
JON: Item No. 3 - Good Spirit Annex. Koozma spends almost a page reporting on this. However, this information is already in detail at http://www.doukhobor.org/Annex-Tour.htm. So, in this case, I would suggest having only a single paragraph providing a general summary, and then linking to my site for the details. To the extent there are a few tidbits of information contained in this summary which aren't contained in mine, I can revise my to include them.
I’ve revised my page to include the extra details.
4. On Sunday July 15th the Annual Heritage Day was celebrated at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village in Verigin, Saskatchewan with a prayer service, a blini brunch and an afternoon program of speeches and song. During the day, loaves of bread, baked in the village’s clay oven, were sold. The weekend event was highlighted on Saturday night with a reception for the Six String Nation guitar. This guitar was constructed from 60 pieces of material representing the Canadian mosaic and includes pieces made from the historic Doukhobor community elevator which is now part of the Doukhobor village.
[PHOTO: Six String Nation Guitar, at the Heritage Day in Verigin, Sask. July 2007. Photo by Bill Kanigan.
Also include C1099_18A of 1908 Doukhobor elevator. Photo by Koozma J. Tarasoff.]
Some of the other pieces included: Pierre Trudeau’s canoe paddle; Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick; a buffalo skull from the Blood Tribe; wood from a Haida-Gwaii golden spruce; Nancy Green’s skis; the lighthouse that received the first distress call from the Titanic’ the deck of the Bluenose II; whale baleen; musk ox horn; the oldest rock in the world; a wooden nickel from the Maid of the Mist; copper from the roof of the Library of Parliament; shelving from the office of Sir John A. McDonald; seat No. 69 from Massey Hall; Paul Henderson’s hockey stick; a seat from the Montreal Forum; a caribou antler and a log from Jack London’s cabin.
Jowi Taylor, an Ontario-based musician, conceived the idea, acquired the materials and hired George Rizsanyi of Nova Scotia to construct the instrument. Taylor said that the intent of the Six String project is to connect people from all regions of Canada through music and by sharing our icons, images and stories. This guitar is at the heart of the movement because its pieces represent significant aspects of history and culture from across the country.
As visitors admired and strummed the guitar, Taylor talked about plans for a television program regarding the guitar and about his tour of the country with it.
‘A concert, with the guitar as the centerpiece, began at 7 p.m.
‘Among the performers were: Glen Leson and his band of Canora; Alex and Doreen Weinbender of Canora; Wilf and Jennette Stringer of Saskatoon; Sylvia and Peter Negraeff of Pelly and Sandy Soloninko of Rhein and Joanne Klimchuk of Donwell.
‘Leson’s performance of Ghost Riders in the Sky was a real crowd pleaser, Sonia Tarasoff of Canora, a member of the heritage village board, said.
‘The Doukhobor Heritage Choir sang and each of the performers used the guitar’ (Kamsack Times, July 19, 2007: 8).
5. Doukhobor Dugout House has had another successful season on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, according to Brenda Cheveldayoff, land owner and organizer of the project. The site was declared an official provincial site in 2005 by Lt.-Gov. Lynda Haverstock. The Shellbrook Chronicle, July 13, 2007, published a front page story of the 2007 program which featured 12 Doukhobor women in costume plowing in the manner of their ancestors who broke the land in 1899.
[PHOTO: Include illustrated story here from Shellbrook Chronicle, July 13, 2007.
The Doukhobor Dugout House site is located 10 km off Highway 12 south of Blaine Lake. For more information about the site, its hours of operation in summer, its special programs, and access to its gift shop, visit www.doukhobordugouthouse.com. See also a feature illustrated story in the Saskatoon Sun, July 1, 2007: 25.
[PHOTO: 07360012. Norm Rebin speaks at the Dugout meeting with the North Saskatchewan River in the background. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: 07360015. NDP Member of the Saskatchewan Legislature Eric Cline (left) and Saskatchewan lawyer Jonathon Kalmakoff (right) unveil Uspenie cairn. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: 07360018 Group view at the Dugout site. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: IMG_31452 Left to right: Saskatchewan Premier LorneCalvert, owner and organizer of the Dugout project Brenda Cheveldayoff, and chairman of the event Norm Rebin. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: IMG_3147 Peter Pereversoff and Premier Lorne Calvert, in the steel shed of the Dugout project. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: IMG_ Doukhobors Hazel and Peter Osachoff in the steel shed of the Dugout project. Photo by Mae Popoff.
[PHOTO: IMG_3153 Mae Popoff with Anna (Economics professor at the University of Saskatchewan) with the North Saskatchewan River in background.
JON: Item No. 5 - Doukhobor Dugout House. My comments above would apply here as well. This news item is already covered off at: http://www.doukhobor.org/Oospenia-Spring-Monument.htm and www.doukhobordugouthouse.com. You should provide a general paragraph summary and then link to these sites for more information. Yes, there is the Shellbrook Chronicle article, but it doesn't really provide any new detail that isn't already covered off, or which couldn't be incorporated into, the above two sites.
I’ve revised my page to include the extra details from the Shellbrook Chronicle article.
Re links: as mentioned, they relate to other past events associated with the Doukhobor Dugout house, so they might not fit, per se, in the Oospenia Monument release. But I can certainly post the links themselves.
photos: trust me – I realize how vitally important
it is to have frequent contributors. Its all I can do to get a handful
regularly contribute to the Doukhobor Genealogy Website. So, please
be offended when (in a separate email) I said the photos were poor
sure we could incorporate a few of them.
Namely to show that women
plowing was an event that pioneering Doukhobors on the Canadian
prairies were forced to do in 1899 for survival purposes. I thought
that the story of heroism provided this perspective quite well
including an excellent image. This picture and the story recalled an
important event in Doukhobor history.
6. New Book Traces History of Langham, Saskatchewan and District. A new local history book entitled Langham & District History, 1907-2007 traces the history of the community from its origins as a small prairie railway siding, to its incorporation as a town and now a modern centre.
The book, published by the Langham & District History Book Committee, outlines the early era of immigration, land surveying, and the settler groups that arrived here at the turn of the 1900s. It then follows the footsteps of dreamers, visionaries and entrepreneurs who established Langham and district. At the request of the Book Committee, I provided the details of my wider Tarasoff family group that settled near the Petrovka Doukhobor village at the beginning of that century. Many other Doukhobors provided biographies of their families, while Jonathan J. Kalmakoff outlined the history of the group from their origins in Tsarist Russia through to their settlement in the Langham district (see www.doukhobor.org/Langham-Local-History.htm).
The 703-page hardcover limited edition of 500 is available from the Committee for $50.00. Visit the Town of Langham website at www.langham.ca/html/centennial.html
JON: Item No. 6 - Langham History Book. This is closer to how (I think) you should format things. I think you could still summarize this into just one general paragraph and link to my site at: http://www.doukhobor.org/Langham-Local-History.htm
In the Langham book Item No. 6, I listed both the Town of Langham website as well as that of Jon's. Because the Langham people were the original source of the story (they produced the book), I believe it is important that they be given credit including a link to their website. In fact, that link should probably precede Jon's.
7. Doukhobor place names and genealogy research expands. Regina, Saskatchewan researcher Jonathon J. Kalmakoff has greatly enlarged his website (www.doukhobor.org) with new materials on Doukhobor genealogy on births, deaths, frequency of Doukhobor names in Saskatchewan in 1905, place names of villages, Doukhobor cemetery transcriptions, as well as select reprints on education, visits to the Doukhobors, a General Meeting of the Doukhobor Community in 1904, architecture, early Doukhobor exiles in Russia (1762-1892), interfaith relations in South Ukraine, and the military service. (See also The Dove, July 2007: 18-20, for a listing of the new materials.)
At the 76th Annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon on May 26 to June 2, Jon presented a paper on ‘Place Names of Early Doukhobor Settlements in Saskatchewan, 1899-1907). In his preface, Jon pointed out that these names reflect the diverse history and heritage of Canada. ‘They embody stories about the people and places to which they are attached and give us valuable insights into history and provide cues about the country’s cultural and social development. In this regard, a study of the place names of the early Doukhobor villages in Saskatchewan reveals the astonishing diversity and depth of the Doukhobor contribution to Canada’s historic cultural geography. The Doukhobor village names from this period can be classified into eight basic categories based on their mechanism of origin: commemorative, commendatory, connotative, transfer, descriptive, incident, possessive and language transfer names’ (The Dove, July 2007: 16). The rest of the paper is a listing of examples illustrating these categories.
In parallel to the Saskatchewan study, Mike W. Popoff recently collaborated with Jon Kalmakoff in gathering and compiling the family composition of historic Doukhobor settlements in British Columbia, 1930s to 1950s.
‘….Over a six month period, from Fall 2001 until the Spring 2002, Mike, together with the assistance of a number of Doukhobor elders from various localities…conducted extensive and painstaking fieldwork, interviewing literally dozens of persons regarding their memories, interpretations and recollections of the former CCUB and surrounding settlements. This groundbreaking oral history project collected a wealth of unique historical data, not available in official documents…’ (Iskra, August 3, 2007: 11).
In recognizing the importance of this resource for genealogical and historical research, Iskra has begun publishing Mike Popoff’s compilation of Family Names in the BC Doukhobor Settlements (Ibid. 11-14). A copy of this document can be fond on the Doukhobor Genealogy Website. The Introduction sets the frame for the study:
‘As more and more history on the Doukhobors has been written Mike W. Popoff of Castlegar, BC, who lived in Ootischenia, Brilliant, BC, from birth in 1928 to 1957 and then moved to Castlegar, BC, would like to add what he can remember with the help of others living the Grand Forks, Kootenays, Slocan Valley and outlying areas in the late 1930s, 40s and on how the Doukhobors came to live in British Columbia.
‘Living in Saskatchewan for over 6 years, after moving from Russia in 1899/99, the homestead laws changed for the Doukhobor people, where they had to forgive the communal way of life. They were forced to start filing individual ownership of the over 500,000 acres of land that they had cleared and developed.
‘A portion of the Doukhobors bought land individually but the rest of Mr. Verigin’s following bought land in British Columbia in 1908 and began settling in the Kootenay and Grand Forks area villages, that were being built and the land cleared and developed, from 1909 and on.
‘Water was being supplied to the residences by woodstove pipe made in Brilliant, BC (Kamenoe) and to some other areas by wooden flumes, of which remnants can still be found.
‘Again, a communal way of life was started in BC. Sawmills, planer mills, brick factories, grain elevator, general store and flour mills were built. Orchards were planted and fields developed for assorted grain crops.
‘The areas started to flourish and the Doukhobor people started to live comfortably.
‘In the 1930s came the depression years and under Mr. Peter P. Verigin’s guidance, the Doukhobors managed to survive the depression.
‘In the late 1930s things started to fall apart and the Trust companies foreclosed on the lands owned by the Doukhobors due to unpaid mortgages.
‘The Doukhobors kept living on the land and villages started to pay rent to the Trust companies. Soon after the BC government took over the lands and in a short time started to sell the land back to the Doukhobors that lived on them.
‘Starting with a thriving city with a population of approximately 4500, Grand Forks, BC is over 100 years old with mining and smelting being the major industries in the early 1900s.
‘Later, when the mining and smelting shut down the area relied on fruit and vegetable farming, and the Grand Forks, Midway and other small sawmills. For employees of the Sunshine Valley the city became the local shopping and meeting place (and still is).
‘Later the USCC community bought the former cannery in the city and set up offices, ISKRA printing and the Sunshine Valley Co-op was established with a retail outlet which flourished greatly with the support of the Doukhobors and others till 1973 when it was burnt down by arsonists.
‘The Phoenix open pit mine started operating and in the 1970s a parta board plant was built and became an employer in the valley.
‘The area where the Doukhobors settled and were living is shown in the Grand Forks map with the villages and families that lived in them’ (Ibid.: 11-12).
JON: Item No. 7 - I like the first paragraph - it provides a general summary and then links to another site for specifics. I think the paragraphs following the first paragraph should be renumbered as specific items. First, the 76th Annual Congress of the Humanities could be renumbered as Item No. 8 with a link to the detailed press release at: http://www.doukhobor.org/Congress.htm. Secondly, Koozma spends over a page describing Mike Popoff and my BC village name research - when this already appears in detail on my site. I think you could renumber this as Item No. 9 with a single general paragraph and then link to http://www.doukhobor.org/BC-Families.htm for more information.
8. Doukhobor Discovery Centre in Castlegar, BC is having its ‘best year yet on its 36th season’ according to museum curator Larry A. Ewashen. More than 1,000 visitors have visited the museum during each of the months of May to the end of September from over 70 destinations. Besides Larry, the staff includes two students, one computer programmer, two employees at the Restaurant and two Kitimavik volunteers. The adjacent Village Bistro Restaurant, featuring Doukhobor cuisine also had a great year.
At the opening of the season, Alex Atamanenko, NDP Member of Parliament for BC Southern Interior, said the museum is not just a place with artifacts or to look at the past, but something more.
‘It’s a testimony to the people that have managed to come to this country after facing many hardships and establish themselves here and show the rest of Canada what is able to be accomplished,’ he said, following the ceremony. ‘How do you bring culture forth? Not everybody knows about it. If you have something unique, you have to play on it….If you’re proud of your heritage, you’re proud of your community,’ he added (Iskra, June 1, 2007: 28).
BC Senator Pat Carney was a recent visitor to the Centre. Senator Carney has long been concerned with heritage sites and museums and on this occasion selected the Discovery Centre and one other museum for close scrutiny to determine how the Federal Government might assist important museums in fulfilling their mandates.
She said that the Center was a remarkable museum in many ways and all the more so because of its limited resources and funding support. She asked Curator Larry Ewashen to prepare a comprehensive status report of the Centre which will be presented to the Minister of Heritage. Senator Carney suggested that its proper designation as a National Historic Site would help it to attract further additions to its modest budget and insure its ongoing success. For more details, see www.Doukhobor-Museum.org.
The newest addition to the museum is the audiovisual exhibit, which are rare images representing pivotal points in Doukhobor history, Ewashen noted. For 2008, the museum will feature the Centennial of Doukhobor migration from Saskatchewan to British Columbia.
9. The Kootenay Columbia Seniors turn sod for a Housing Cooperative Grandview Heights on Saturday June 16, 2007. The Cooperative purchased 60 acres of property in Castlegar, BC with a beautiful view of the Columbia River valley. Dubbed as the facility for ‘Seniors Living on the Ledge’, this facility resembles the cooperative communities of the past, resurrected and renewed.
The ceremony concluded when Bruce Cassidy, Elmer Verigin, Katrine Conroy, and Mayor Lawrence Chernoff gathered to break ground, thereby launching the beginning of the construction process.
Already plans are underway for bungalows, duplexes and apartments, plus a senior’s complex and acute care wing. In addition there will be a common area consisting of recreational facilities and office space, with room for design alterations as needs arise.
‘A membership application fee of $250 is required by any seniors 55 years or older in order to join the Housing Cooperative. (Younger individuals may join but cannot take up residence in the community until they are 55). Co-Op members are being asked to loan the Cooperative $30,000 or $40,000 for 5 years at 5% interest, to finance construction of the infrastructure, such as water, power, sewer, telephone, gas, video, etc.’ (Iskra, August 3, 2007: 43). For more information contact Elmer Verigin (250) 305-1720 EMVerigin@shaw.ca, or go to www.grandviewhousing.ca.
From Elmer Verigin <EMVerigin@shaw.ca> (Sep 18, 2007)
The project is open to the public and not a Doukhobor only project.
The site is under construction and the volunteers are doing the best they can. I will try and answer the questions asw this project evolves:
A) Ground floor Life Leases
B) Residential Lots (not on Life Leases)
C) Care Complex
E) Property size
10. 2nd Annual Our Way Home Reunion was held at the Brilliant Cultural Centre, Castlegar, BC, from June 4-8, 2007 with impressive speakers from Canada, USA, India and Israel. The Reunion was launched one year ago in Nelson largely by former US army war resisters seeking sanctuary in Canada from the military in Vietnam. This year the focus was on courageous young men from US army who are seeking refuge in our country on the grounds of the illegality of the Iraq war and its violation of our conscience.
This year’s event featured the Arlington West exhibit, a visual dramatic display on the grounds of the Centre, of some 3,000 tombstones and crosses with the names of those US soldiers who have fought and died in Iraq. Included were also the names of 66 Canadian soldiers who have died in the war in Afghanistan. On stage, guest speakers eloquently presented the peace theme.
Peace activist Daniel Ellsberg’s plea for moral courage reminded us to speak from our conscience, to set fear aside and to put truth to power. California Senator Tom Hayden urged us to be vocal in our condemnation of US occupation of Iraq. Peggy Mason, former Canadian Ambassador argued that the Canadian government must focus on the 3 Ds: disarmament, diplomacy and development. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi embraced his grandfather’s philosophy of forgiveness and open dialogue. He also called on the young people to refuse to be bystanders to the illegal war (Report by Hannah Hadikin in Iskra, August 3, 2007: 36-38).
A participant from Nelson Margaret Hornby wrote a revealing letter to the editor of one of the local papers (Grand Forks Gazette, July 25, 2007:5), which critically examines the 2nd Annual event:
‘Peace loving people abound but, here where the Kootenay River meets the Columbia, a group of people who once fled their own country found refuge here and settled the shores of the great rivers to practice what was closest to their souls: their way of life. They were committed to pacifism. Which one of us has made peace his or her life-long goal?
‘The Quakers did, but in size and influence, it is the Doukhobor community that walks the talk. And yet there was not one Doukhobor speaker during the three-day schedule of the recent Our Way Home event held at the Brilliant Cultural Centre in Castlegar (I counted 39 speakers).
‘The history of Our Way Home began with the idea of a reunion of war resisters. Many Canadians are unsure of our position in Afghanistan and are very concerned about Iraq.
‘Our Way Home focuses on the past, and apparently will now go on in perpetuity.
‘Over 3,000 crosses were placed on the grounds of the Brilliant Cultural Center in memory of the American and Canadian soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. But where were the crosses for the roughly 700,000 innocent people who have died in those conflicts?
‘We cannot have peace without accountability.
‘If a major proportion of the local population boycotts events like this, we have to ask ourselves, “Why”?
‘Give the last word to Holly Near. At the end of one evening she said, “We love these fellows, but they do tend to go on and the women back here are about to mutiny’.’
[PHOTO: Arlington Northwest Display on the Brilliant Cultural Centre Grounds by photographer Walter Kangan.]
11. The Council of Doukhobors in Canada hosted by Fred Makortoff (email@example.com) of South Slocan, BC continues to hold periodic interprovincial meetings of representative Doukhobors from the three western provinces of Canada. Since 1999, it has collaborated with the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ, the Doukhobor Society of Canada, and local Doukhobor communities in working to create a united voice of Doukhobors in Canada. The most recent topics of discussion include:
(1) The Brilliant Bridge of 1913 vintage is being refurbished as a heritage footbridge.
(2) Toil and Peaceful Life – Then and Now workshop led by Dr. Jack P. Tarasoff of Calgary, Alberta and Mae Popoff of Saskatoon.
(3) Getting the youth involved in Doukhobor affairs is an ongoing project. The Council has inspired Tanya Shelestynski and Sara Kinakin to create a chat room website: www.breath.ca/doukhobortalks.
(4) Prepare for the celebration of the 2008 centenary of Doukhobor move from Saskatchewan to British Columbia.
(5) Do we need to create more Doukhobor museums? This is a question that will be discussed soon with the demise of the Doukhobor membership in the Cowley-Lundbreck area of Alberta. What is to be done with the Community Home? How is the Doukhobor cemetery to be looked after?
(6) Congratulations have been sent to the Vancouver Island Doukhobor Community Association for their successes. The VIDCA is an outgrowth of the Doukhobor activities on Vancouver Island. Contact: Andrei Sherstobitoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(7) Discussing the question of how to get back to the ‘spiritual meanings’ of our actions.
12. Russian Doukhobors are active in reclaiming their identity. The recent geo-political forces in the Caucasus and the move of 50 Doukhobors to the Tambov Region of Russia is an indication that Russian Doukhobors are on the move. Recent reports in Russian by Vladimir Vladimirovich Kuchin of Rostov-on-Don and others in Iskra provide Canadian Doukhobors a window into the history of their ancestors in Russia.
More recently, two new Russian Doukhobor websites have enlarged the audience to include the world. These are:
(1) The Духобор (http://duhobor.ru/about.html) is an animated site with useful sections including Home, History, Belief, Community, Songs, Forums, Contact and a facility for English language translation. Their logo is a mysterious image on a darkened background cloth, a large eye and a woman with flowers.
(2) Духоборческая Община (http://dukhobors.narod.ru) comes out of Rostov-on-Don and was launched in 2006. It consists of the Main Page, Psalms, Photo Gallery, Mail, Announcements and References. Their logo is a revolving globe with a peace dove circling it. Letters can be sent in Russian or English.
Dukhobory Poteryannyi Krai (Doukhobors. The Lost Land) is an informative film on the Russian Doukhobors which describes the attempts of the Caucasus and Chern Doukhobors to adapt to the new conditions in Russia proper. It was created in 2006 in two formats: 35 minute and 26 minutes with English subtitles. The producer Andrei Slastukhin was born in the Caucasus, but now resides in Samara, Russia where he has a publishing business. See http://spirit-wrestlers.com/films/index.html.
13. The Tarasoff / Oslopov Report on the State of Doukhobors Today is being prepared as a bilingual document. This will be largely based on a one-month western Canada tour May 2006, by me (Koozma J. Tarasoff) a Canadian Doukhobor and my 80-year-old Russian Doukhobor friend Alexei Oslopov formerly of Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. ‘We toured historic sites, interviewed young and old, spoke at the 59th Doukhobor Youth Festival in Castlegar, BC, answered questions at various sobranie meetings and recorded the project with photos posted on my website (www.spirit-wrestlers.com).’
In brief, this Report will serve as a reality check and resource for understanding the Doukhobor philosophy and their way of life. It will encompass Canadian as well as Russian perspectives. Look for it!
14. Last, but not least, here are several items that deserve to be listed as questions and possible resources that will help define the summer activities of the Canadian Doukhobors in 2007:
(1) Student Ashleigh Androsoff of the Vancouver, BC area is presently working on her PhD in history at the University of Toronto. In May she participated in the 76th Annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where she presented a paper on ‘From the Private Sphere to the Public Eye: “Redressing the Image of Doukhobor-Canadian Women in the Twentieth Century” ‘
(2) Constance Martin of Paris, France is working on her PhD thesis on Migration of Peoples. The theme includes the Doukhobors.
(3) The Whatshan Lake Music Festival was held in northern British Columbia July 20 to 22nd, with Connie Kaldor and other celebrities present. The Festival Committee Chair Allan Markin has informed the group that a weekend planning workshop is scheduled at the Retreat on October 12 – 14, 2007. See www.whatshan.com for more details.
(4) Russian ethnographer Svetlana Inikova of Moscow is rushing to complete a major study of the Doukhobors. It was in the summer of 1990 that Svetlana teamed up with Koozma J. Tarasoff for a three-month ethnographic study of Doukhobors in North America. She is the foremost scholar of the Doukhobor movement in Russia and the Republic of Georgia.
(5) Educator Jack P. Tarasoff of Calgary, Alberta has shared with us a niсe story of Doukhobor cooperation and unity. The time was June 14, 2007. The place was Lundbreck, Alberta. The occasion was to provide help to the local community in cutting the grass and doing upkeep of the United Doukhobor Cemetery and the Community Prayer Home. A group of five men from Calgary responded to the call for help from respected elder Michael Verigin of Cowley, Alberta, who for years has nurtured the Society but now with the passing of time has been forced by health to give it up. Half way through the work, the crew sat down on the ground and had their box lunches. Jack describes a feeling of camaraderie: ‘As we ate and chatted and looked over the work, we knew the mission would be accomplished that day. After our noon meal and a short respite, the machines roared into life and the work resumed. The weather was great, not too hot, some wind and the work never really seemed like work….This is what communal effort can do for the spirit, one for all and all for one’ (The Dove, July 2007: 25-26).
(6) The August 6th Hiroshima commemoration in Castlegar and Grand Forks BC was small, but significant. The Kootenay Branch of the United Nations Association of Canada held its 24th consecutive commemoration in Castlegar of the first use of atomic weapons with the participation of the USCC and others peace groups. The chairman, John J. Verigin Jr. was on hand to welcome the small gathering at the Zuckerberg Island park. It is significant that during the long weekend 35 people from a town of 8,000 inhabitants showed up on a hot, muggy afternoon. Of these, 10 were young people between the ages of 14 and 20. The keynote address was a message from the Mayor of Hiroshima, read by two people alternating paragraphs. Then several speakers followed by the ‘open mic’.
In neighbouring Grand Forks, with a population of 5,000, the event was organized by the Grand Forks Boundary Peace Initiative. A woman from Japan whose Mother is a Hibakusha from Nagasaki shared her story of survival with a focus on peaceful solutions including the total ban of nuclear, atomic or radiological weapons of mass destruction.
Participant peace activist Laura Savinkoff observed in an email: ‘Her speaking touched all those attending to the core and tears flowed freely among those gathered. The youth did react in a very positive way to the message of stopping the threat of global radiation beginning with stopping the imminent threat of Uranium Mining in our immediate area which makes us complicit in the proliferation of nuclear and radiological weapons and energy production. A young woman did a visual presentation on mining methods and their effects, the uses of Uranium in common products that expose us to radiation and how the uses of Uranium adds to the climate change problem we face in today’s world. We began with a traditional dance by a member of the local Metis Association and Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples as well as entertainment provided by young women of Arab, Egyptian and East Indian heritage and a man of Doukhobor ancestry. All in all this was a multi-cultural program with a multi-generational diverse participation.’
A petition with several dozen signatures from both events was presented to NDP Member of Parliament Alex Atamanenko for forwarding to the Canadian Parliament.
(7) The ties between the Doukhobors and the Molokans have continued from the 1700s when they lived together as one in Russia.
And even though they have lived apart since their split over ideology, these kindred pacifist groups have maintained cultural ties through the years.
One of the shining lights of the Molokan researchers and activists, Andrei Ivanich Colovaloff of Arizona, USA, has inspired the Doukhobors in setting up their own websites.
Since Janaury 2006 Andy has volunteered as Webmaster for the www.spirit-wrestlers.com website and for this we are all very grateful for his professional assistance and keen interest in our relationship. This past summer, Andy Conovaloff has spent three months in the Stavropolskii krai area of Russia studying the Molokans. He is presently assembling a directory of all Molokan congregations in the world. His website www.molokane.org is the most extensive on Molokans in the world. It includes select items on the Doukhobors.