Our Way Home Peace Event & Reunion
A review of the event and news about itby Andrei Conovaloff, web master, Spirit-Wrestlers.com, hosted by Koozma J. Tarasoff — Updated Aug 29, 2013
|2006 July 6–9 — The first annual Our
Way Home Peace Event and Reunion was held for 4 days
at the USCC
Doukhobor Brilliant Cultural Centre and the MIR
Centre for Peace at Selkirk College, Castlegar, BC.
It honoured the contribution made to Canadian life by the
U S war resisters who fled to Canada during the Vietnam
Musicians performed their popular anti-war songs, and USCC Doukhobor choirs sang. Historians and critics of U.S. foreign policy spoke, and films about American war resisters were shown. A memorial statue was proposed to honour Canadians who helped the conscientious objectors. Though the political speakers from the US focused more on the current Iraq war, the historians and CO leaders created an atmosphere of healing in their presentations and workshops. The second annual event was planned but not held.
Two USCC Doukhobor choirs performed — the USCC Doukhobor Men's Choir on Friday night, and a combined women's choir introduced by John J. Verigin Jr. on Sunday afternoon. The press about the Reunion got USCC Doukhobors mentioned in the promotional brochure, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Vancouver Sun, Nelson Daily News, and on many Internet blogs in a complimentary manner — "Christian pacifists", "peaceful ethnic and religious groups", "assisted U.S. war resisters". Though a lot of critical comments were cast, none were critical of the Doukhobors. Daniel Marshall of New York supports the event and fondly recalls how in 1967 Demoskoff's invited him and his bride int o their home and treated them to their banya and delicious borscht.
The following week David Beringer posts "I applaud the courage of the USCC membership for offering their hall and grounds for this somewhat controversial event." Two months after the Reunion, a September story in the Vancouver Sun announced that Selkirk College's Mir Centre for Peace will offer two new degrees in peace studies, and that these programs were related to the fact that the West Kootenays were "a historic sanctuary for pacifists", like the Doukhobor settlers. Hear David's radio show about the Reunion.
In response to news that the Doukhobor Village Museum (in 2007 renamed : Doukhobor Discovery Centre) will take the statue, Hephaestion posts: "I am sooo proud of the Doukhobors, who are placing this sculpture on their own land, thereby avoiding any similar gutlessness at Castlegar city council. ... the Doukhobors were also great sympathizers of the Japanese-Canadian "Nikkei", who were interned in numerous prison camp communities in the Kootenays during the '40s, and often supplied them with good fresh fruit, produce and meat that the Doukhobors raised on their farms ... Doukhobors made outright donations to the Nikkei, who they felt were done a great injustice." [In the 1950s, 170 Sons of Freedom kids were interned in the same camps in New Denver.]
Critical comments focused on the statue and the "cowards", the "draft dodgers", "activists", etc. In response to so many Americans calling their COs cowards, Canadian Darcey reasons: "They are your cowards ... to a large number of us up here." A blog by Drizzten in Texas accused the organizers of using the Doukhobors: "... you are simply trying to receive the recognition you want on the coattails of ... The Doukhobors ... stand on yours [sic] own two feet."
This press appears to show that Doukhobors are now known across Canada and the US for peace and universal brotherhood, and are no longer confused with acts of the Sons of Freedom. The "Douks"* as they were insulted in the press 50-75 years ago, like "Niggers" and "Japs", in this event are not being discriminated against or insulted. Instead the former American war resistors got pushed around and insulted. See summaries of, and links to, many complete news articles below, some with video and radio clips. If this Reunion continues as planned for next year, the Doukhobor message should spread more.
[* Regarding "Douk is derogatory and unjust", see: "UDC Spokesman Refutes Statements Made in the Vancouver Sun", by Peter S. Faminow, The Inquirer, vol. 4, no. 11, January 1958, page 17.]
Local high school students produced a short film — Bread, Salt and Water — in November 2006 showing that many of the kids of the resistors and Doukhobors do not know their parents' pacifist history.
The Reunion would not likely be possible if the USCC — Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ, the largest Doukhobor organization — did not offer their building and land. By joining with the Doukhobors, the Reunion organizers extended the historic burning of arms by Doukhobors in 1895 into the 21st century and used it as a model of a sacrifice for peace.
Interestingly, and a credit to their stance on world peace, the The Doukhobor Village Museum accepted the controversial statue, until the Castlegar city council said no. Then Nelson artist Ernest Hekkanen displayed the clay statue "in front of his home, which doubles as a small art gallery," with resistance from some Nelson city officials who tried to censure his free speech rights.
In 2004, when a reunion for COs was announced in Nelson, protests from veterans and expensive rent forced the Reunion organizers to look outside their city. Vietnam Veterans in Canada announced plans to have a competing conference in Nelson on the same weekend as the Our Way Home conference. Later that protest was boycotted by US Veterans who were also against the statue, so as not to attract more attention to the Reunion, and it would be costly to go to Canada to protest.
Though Reunion organizer Isaac Romano saw "over 2000 people come and go", he planned for 1000 participants, but the turnout for the workshops and panels was about 300 due probably to refugees still in hiding and the admission cost. Romano said prices to attend ranged from $275 for all events (late rate) to $40 for part of Sunday's events (early rate). The idea of a reunion and the statue planned for the event became unexpected political controversies generating overwhelming protests from veterans, especially from US veterans, which attracted major news in 2004. Relatively little news appeared until the statues were shown in early 2006.
Below are excerpts, summaries, and links to most all the news items.
Though an estimated 10,000 American COs live in the Kootenays who could have attended this Reunion, it is interesting that most (more than 95%) did not attend, for whatever reason — hiding, shyness, cost, interest. This brings to mind the irony of a popular Vietnam war slogan: "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" Here "they" gave a reunion of those who did not go to a war, and very few came to this event compared to the Festival of Freedom at the Forks held two weeks later which also promoted "peace ... human dignity".
Because the rental charge for Nelson's new arena was quite expensive and the Doukhobors offered in-kind financial support* for the 4-day event, the most suitable place for this large historic meeting was the Doukhobor Brilliant Cultural Center which is the largest private building in the area with a kitchen, auditorium and park, and is near Selkirk College and the airport. Also Doukhobors helped the newcomers, who they often called "KHEE-pees" (хиррис : Hippies), to be welcome as new citizens of the country, despite thefts from their gardens by the many homeless hungry kids. [* The USCC exchanged tickets for rent, allowing all USCC members who wished to attend.]
Russian Doukhobors as dissidents from militarism and war came to Canada in 1899 and settled in Saskatchewan, then Alberta and British Columbia. In the 1950s, during the McCarthy Era in the US, many Quaker conscientious objectors (COs) fled to Canada. In the 1960s and 70s, during the Vietnam war, the West Kootenays became a destination for the anti-war underground railroad due to milder climate, ease of camping in vast forests with ample water, a sparse rural population with small towns, and proximity to the US border.
As many as 14,000 US war resisters came to the territory of the Doukhobors, out of 125,000 refugees (maximum estimate) to have fled to Canada, during the largest out migration from the US in history. A few more girls fled than boys. About half returned to the US when President Carter declared amnesty in 1977 for US draft dodgers.
Among the keynote speakers were Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who represents the Gandhi Institute; and Phan Thi Kim Phuc of the Kim Foundation — ‘The girl in the picture’, who was seriously burned by napalm during the Vietnam War. Both came from different parts of the world, with a common vision for World Peace.
Several feature stories were reported in the August 2006 issue of Iskra. Singer Buffy Sainte-Marie performed her ‘Universal Soldier’. Former US Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern and former Congress man Tom Hayden also spoke. They were active in opposing US involvement in the Vietnam War. Most of the lead speakers addressed the current Iraq war rather than Vietnam at the Reunion.
The Reunion was generally supported until the Nelson politicians feared that US protests would damage tourism. Controversy took over. By joining with Doukhobors the event found a peaceful private location and could continue with no politician stopping it. In fact, several federal and provincial politicians attended to learn about the relevance of the 1960s to our present day when new American dissidents from the Middle East might wish to come to Canada, including Alex Atamanenko, Member of Parliament for the BC Southern Interior.
"The Welcoming" Monument
A lot of press concerned the proposed memorial statue first titled "Welcome Home", then "The Welcoming Peace Sculpture." Dennis Klein, a sculptor and teacher at Kootenay School of the Arts, and Nelson artist Naomi Lewis will design and construct the monument. It was initially planned to be put on public display in Nelson in 2004, but the city withdrew support after Vietnam veterans groups in the US and Canada protested. In May 2006 the Doukhobor Village Museum accepted the statue, but the Castlegar City Council who owns the museum land denied it. Finally the City of Nelson reconsidered the situation and found the statue would be a good way to attract tourists to the region if no public funds or land was used. A 3-foot clay model was presented in 2004 and the bronze casting uinveiled at the Reunion which is currently displayed at the art gallery of Nelson artist Ernest Hekkanen, the War Resister / New Orphic Gallery, 706 Mill Street, Nelson, B.C., V1L 4S5 Canada.
Permanent public sites are being sought for the proposed large statue — 2.7 meters, 9 feet tall: "The Welcoming" as envisioned, has a 60-foot Peace-Sign base of rock and pools of water, with the "3-fingered" end of the Peace-Sign indicating the journey from all parts of the US, and where the "Water Arches" indicate the US/ Canadian border, where there is an American man and woman being welcomed by a Canadian with outstretched arms and welcoming hands."
To raise funds for the reunion and monument, Klein and Lewis created the Peace Sculpture Series which was sold at the Reunion and can be ordered via the FOR USA website.
The next Reunion is scheduled for July 5-8, 2007 at the same locations. The following is a fairly comprehensive chronology of 80+ links to the event web site, the organizer, CO web sites, and most of the news coverage and comments still online about the event.
I you find any errors, broken links, have any missing comments or photos, or know a missing link which should be on this web page, particularly from the Doukhobor perspective, please send it to the web master and/or Koozma J. Tarasoff.
Mike Peters Editorial Page, 10/27/2006, grimmy.com
George McGovern: "I'm sick and tired of old men dreaming up wars in which young men do the dying." Hear his radio interview.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc and Arun Gandhi. Photo by Iskra.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc just burnt by napalm, 1972 Vietnam. Photo from Kim Foundation.
Posing with Kim are Anne Chursinoff, Castlegar (left), and Lucy Tarasoff, Crescent Valley (right), who performed in the Friends in Unity and Krestova Ladies Kootenay Doukhobor women’s combined choir. Photo from blog by Linda Lee Crosfield, 10 July 2006.
Detail of a drawing of the proposed monument. Published by Common Cause.
First clay model of "The Welcoming".
Second clay model.
Bronze model unveiled at Reunion.
Many took photos with the statues. L to R: Keith Mather, of Veterans for Peace, a facilitator in a writing workshlp; Tom Little, a peace worker; and Linda Lee Crosfield who posted the best photo story.
"Bronze three foot "The Welcoming Peace Sculpture," which will be placed in the garden and private gallery, at the War Resister / New Orphic Gallery [706 Mill Street, Nelson, B.C., V1L 4S5 Canada] and heritage home of Ernest Hekkanen (who came to Canada as a US draft resister during the Vietnam War). The sculpture will be outside a home that is on the official heritage tour of
homes in Nelson, BC." — Isaac Romano, July 24, 2008.
For news on current war resisters in Canada, see: Resisters.ca
|Our Way Home
Peace Event & Reunion
The home page announces next year's second annual event for July 5-8, 2007 with Daniel Ellsberg as Keynote Speaker, and Arun Gandhi returns among others. The Media Coverage page for 2006 is still online which includes a radio program interview with Romano, and a few other news articles. The 2006 program was resurrected on this site until the organizers post it, and we hope they also post more information what happened at the past event.
The Carpet For Peace & Roll Out The Resistance To
Common Cause brochure — Why Castlegar for this event?
The reunion will be held at the Brilliant Cultural Centre, a beautiful performance hall. The centre was founded by the Doukhobor population of the region, whose ancestors fled Russia in 1899 after destroying their weapons as a demonstration of their refusal to fight in the Tsar's army. Russian author Leo Tolstoy helped finance the Doukhobors' immigration to Canada. The towns of Castlegar and nearby Nelson, BC and the surrounding region of the West Kootenays were a leading terminus in what was known as the anti-war Underground Railroad. It is estimated that as many as 14,000 US war resisters came to the area at the height of the Vietnam war. New arrivals were frequently welcomed and assisted by members of two resident pacifist groups, the Doukhobors and the Quakers, the latter having earlier settled in the area after fleeing the US during the McCarthy period. ...
|Canada to remember U.S. War
Fellowship of Reconciliation, FOR USA.org, — "From 1965 to 1973, more than 50,000 Vietnam War resisters made their way to Canada. Their flight, and the open-armed welcome they received north of the border. Nowhere was the Canadian welcome more generous than in tiny Nelson, British Columbia (pop. 9,200), where thousands of young Americans settled and which today has one of the highest concentrations of former U.S. war resisters." The site introduces the event, features the fund raising Peace Sculpture Series, with links to the Reunion website and the Kootenay (FOR) Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Isaac Romano holds a Master of Science Degree in Education, Early Childhood Leadership Program, Early Childhood Education and Administration, Bank Street College of Education, New York, New York. Isaac is currently a doctoral student in Child Psychology at the Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio/Montpelier, Vermont. — From the Vancouver Sun: "The idea came to Isaac Romano one day while he was sitting in a cafe on funky Baker Street in Nelson. There should be an event and a monument, he thought, to remind Canadians of the presence of Vietnam War resisters in Canada. Romano, 57, ... granted a deferment during the Vietnam War. ..Romano held a news conference in 2004 to announce his idea for a large bronze monument in the form of a man and a woman greeted by a Canadian with outstretched arms. All hell broke lose. .."
CBC Archives — See video news clips from 1967 to 2004 — No one expected the Vietnam War to play out as it did. With thousands of young men fighting to the death overseas, another group of American sons fled their homeland and journeyed north to Canada. ... the antiwar movement divided the United States, draft dodgers and deserters struggled to forge new lives (in Canada).
|Vietnam War Resisters in
Canada: A Guide to Web Sites
100+ links by Joseph Jones — This web site complements an off-line annotated bibliography in progress since January 2000. The first section offers a selection of material listed in a browsing order of decreasing scope/ relevance/ interest. Following this are specific sections for archives, articles, bibliographies/ filmographies, books, people, other links of interest, and today’s situation.
|2004 Sept 8 — Draft-dodger
to be built in B.C.
CBC News — B.C. activists plan to erect a bronze sculpture honouring draft dodgers, four decades after Americans opposed to the Vietnam War sought refuge in Canada. The memorial, created by artists in Nelson, B.C., ties into a two-day celebration planned for July 2006 that pays tribute to as many as 125,000 Americans who fled to Canada between 1964 and 1977. — YOUR SPACE: Draft-dodger memorial to be built in B.C. — CBC News Viewpoint — 12 debating letters to the editors about the above story.
|2004 Sept 10 — A
Memorial to Draft Dodgers?
Weblog of Darren Barefoot — While I applaud pacifists, and respect anyone who chooses to resist a military draft, are these people really deserving of a statue? Protesters who remained in the US certainly do, as do the soldiers who fought and died in Vietnam. ... Draft dodgers fled. ... What part of that act is worthy enough to merit a statue?
|2004 Sept 13 — Monument
festival proposed to honor U.S. draft dodgers
Seattle Post-Intelligencer — NELSON, B.C. — Artists and activists in this picturesque lakeside town have announced plans for a bronze monument and festival to honor U.S. draft dodgers who fled to Canada. ... At a news conference last week, Romano said those to be honored range from draft-card burners during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early '70s to immigrants who have fled from military barracks to escape the current war in Iraq. ... "It would be nice to honor them and all those that actually took a step towards peace."
|2004 Sept 21 — Canada
Plans Draft-Dodger Monument
FoxNews — NELSON, British Columbia — After burning their draft cards during the Vietnam War, tens of thousands of Americans avoided jail by fleeing to Canada. Many settled in the small town of Nelson, British Columbia ... Now, 30 years later, the mayor of Nelson and some other Canadians are planning to honor the draft dodgers with a two-day festival and a larger-than-life monument depicting a Canadian helping two scared American men. — Comment to above posted 9/9/2004 by Steve: "Why not add a memorial to all the wars that Canada didn't fight in?"
|2004 Sept 22 — VFW
About Draft-Dodger Memorial
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States web site — Washington — Recent news coverage about a proposed memorial being built in Canada to honor Vietnam draft-dodgers has drawn the fury of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. "We urge the President and Congress to do whatever is necessary to communicate to the Canadian government that this exercise of free expression is an absolute slap in the face to every man and woman who ever served in uniform ... both in our military and theirs," ..."You can say what you want about the war ... but do not dishonor the warrior by memorializing cowards." — This article is also at About.com: Canadian Vietnam Draft-dodger Memorial Angers VFW
|2004 Sept 23 — Canada's
for Draft Dodgers
Blog by Drizzten: Magnifisyncopathological: The opinions of a libertarian anarchist in Austin, TX. — FOOTNOTE: After receiving such a negative response to erecting such a statue, it appears that you (promoters of the Draft Dodger statue) have approached the Doukhobor community to have a “peace memorial” erected instead, thereby circumventing the backlash against you. In my mind, you are simply trying to receive the recognition you want on the coattails of others, which is nothing more than being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Doukhobors are not sheep; stand on yours [sic] own two feet.
|2004 Sept 24 — Draft-dodger
CBC News — A community in the B.C. Interior has become a flashpoint for American anger over its plans to honour draft dodgers and deserters who fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War. ... Dennis Klein, a sculptor and teacher at Kootenay School of the Arts, and artist Naomi Lewis reportedly have been selected to design and construct the monument, depicting Canadians embracing the hands of American war opponents. — At the end find a link to a radio interview: The Early Edition's Rick Cluff speaks with Jerry Newberry of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
|2004 Sept 24 — Draft
memorial draws U.S. ire
By The Associated Press, Covallis Gazette-Times (Oregon) — NELSON, British Columbia — Plans for a bronze monument and festival to honor U.S. draft dodgers in 2006 in this picturesque lakeside town have generated a wave of anger in the United States, local officials say. Reports on the plan were provided to news organizations earlier this month by The Canadian Press and The Associated Press, and angry responses began pouring in after a feature was broadcast Monday by Fox News cable television. "We've been inundated with e-mails and phone calls,'' Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce manager Roy Heuckendorff said Tuesday. "With the exception of one e-mail from New York, they have all been very angry.'' Authorities said community and government Web sites also were swamped with bitter messages.
|2004 Sept 26 — Northern
Draft-dodger monument ignites rage among vets:
Americans beg Bush to oppose tribute to 'cowards' who fled
By Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily.com — Plans to build a memorial to draft-dodgers from the Vietnam War is sparking outrage from American veterans, and President Bush is being urged to oppose the project.
|2004 Sept 27 — MLA,
denounce draft-dodger monument
CBC News — The Liberal MLA for Nelson-Creston and the Conservative MP for Southern Interior have added their voices to the chorus of opposition to plans for a monument in Nelson to honour U.S. draft dodgers and deserters. ... inappropriate to build a memorial to people who "ran and hid" during the war, ... a "memorial to cowards." — With link to 2:44 minutes of CBC video news
|2004 Sept 27 — Cowards,
By Peter Prontzos, The Globe and Mail — When you have no reasonable arguments to make, throw insults. That's what some Americans, including the "national commander" of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, have done regarding the plan by residents of Nelson, B.C., to build a monument to the 125,000 men and women who escaped from the United States rather than participate in its invasion of Vietnam. These Americans call such war resisters "cowards." Canada is a "country of cowards," according to one American, and "Yanks" like him are "smarter than you, tougher than you, and we will kick your inbred ass." I hope that we Canadians will continue our tradition of accepting those who, today, "refuse to serve in a criminal war." — Peter G. Prontzos teaches political science at Langara College and is a member of the Peace and Justice Committee of the City of Vancouver.
|2004 Sept 27 — Thank
Vietnam Draft Dodgers
Robert, My Blahg — Who knew the secret to keeping rubbish out of your country could be something as simple as erecting a statue. "If you think a monument to yellow belly cowards is going to somehow give a sense of respectfulness to these shameful Americans, who turned their backs on their country, you are sadly mistaken," one angry American wrote in an e-mail to city hall. "I for one will never visit your town and spend a thin dime ever again, if this thing is built." — ... you're not welcome here" disinvitation. I for one hope Mr. Romano and his group proceed with this statue and I also hope that a similar memorial is erected in every other Canadian town and city. If one statue can keep out a few of the fascist right whingers, imagine what a stink free environment we'd be able to maintain here if thousands of similar statues kept us completely free of them.
|2004 Sept 28 — Northern
Draft-dodger tribute facing abandonment:
Controversial monument honoring Vietnam War evaders now in
By Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily.com — ... the project itself is facing abandonment. The bronze tribute slated for Nelson, British Columbia, sparked outrage in both the U.S. and Canada, and now the town's online community bulletin board indicates the project is expected to be dropped: THERE WILL BE NO MONUMENT.
|2004 Sept 28 — Monument
draft dodgers in small Canadian town draws criticism
from Vietnam vets and others
By Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press, SisgnonSanDiego.com — SPOKANE, Wash. – A small Canadian town best known for its welcoming ski slopes and artsy tourist trade has drawn sharp criticism for a proposed memorial to the Vietnam draft dodgers who fled to the area three decades ago. ... The Nelson City Council passed a resolution Monday to buy newspaper advertising saying it was not involved with the proposed memorial, which is a private venture. ... Mayor Dave Elliott said he has been deluged with e-mails and calls since he attended a Sept. 7 press conference announcing the memorial in his lakeside community about 45 miles north of the Canadian border. "Most of them were nasty," he said. Elliott, now the target of a petition calling for his resignation, ... believes the monument is a questionable idea but said he would not try to block it.
|2004 Sept 29 — B.C.
monument in limbo
CBC News — The leader of a British Columbia group planning a monument in honour of U.S. draft dodgers who fled to Canada says the controversial statue may not be located in the city of Nelson after all.
|2004 Sept 29 — B.C.
rejects draft-dodger monument
CBC News — Nelson city council has passed a resolution aimed at putting an end to the growing controversy over a proposed monument to American draft dodgers. At a special meeting on Wednesday, council decided that there would be no public money or public land for a monument unless it had broad public support in the community. B.C. activists plan to erect a bronze sculpture honouring draft dodgers, four decades after Americans opposed to the Vietnam War sought refuge in Canada.
|2004 Sept 29 — US
draft dodger statue sparks row
BBC News UK — A row has broken out in a small Canadian town over controversial plans for a memorial to US draft dodgers who avoided taking part in the Vietnam War. ... US veterans groups have criticized the proposal and asked US President George Bush to intervene to stop the project. ... the memorial was a "slap in the face to every man and woman who ever served in uniform". ... Nelson mayor Dave Elliot said he had been deluged with e-mails and telephone calls since plans for the monument were unveiled earlier this month.
|2004 Sept 29 — resistance
is not futile
mike tidmous blog — Resist the Draft! Stop the War! "Not all Americans heading to Canada during those years were conscientious objectors or pacifists, and not all Americans who resisted service in Vietnam left for Canada. Many stayed in the U.S. and used their family connections and wealth to avoid service. Notable among these : U.S. President George W. Bush ... Vice-president Dick Cheney ... Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ... House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ... Talk Radio, Rush Limbaugh... [columnist] George Will, and [blogger] Matt Drudge. ...Fox News ... skewed the facts insisting, “The Mayor of Nelson and some other Canadians are planning to honor the draft dodgers with a two-day festival and a larger-than-life monument depicting a Canadian helping two scared American men.”
|2004 Oct 1 — FNC
Reported by Nancy, News Hounds — On FNL this morning (10/1) at 10:49am (EDT), Dan Springer reported about a controversy over a statue in a little town in British Columbia. Please keep reading for the complete story behind this "controversy" & links to a very specific action you can take. ... Here's the story as reported by the CBC: ...[and]... Nelson's official press release ...
|2004 Oct 4 — B.C.
scraps draft-dodger statue
CBC News — Faced with widespread opposition ... for a monument to honour Vietnam draft dodgers. ... the Our Way Home committee is now planning a different statue in honour of "peace and refuge."
|2004 Oct 4 — Draft-dodger
CBC News — Faced with widespread opposition, a Nelson group has backed off its plan for a monument to honour Vietnam draft dodgers. Instead, the Our Way Home committee is now planning a different statue in honour of "peace and refuge." Spokesperson Isaac Romano says the original idea was very divisive – with angry response from many Americans, including veterans groups.
|2004 Oct 4 — Draft
Monument Ditched After Outcry
Fox News — Plans for a bronze monument honoring American draft dodgers in Nelson, British Columbia, have been scrapped. The mayor of Nelson, who initially said his town was the right place for the "Our Way Home" festival and statue, has changed his tune. "We don't want to do controversial monuments in the city of Nelson, that's the bottom line. If this does not have wide community support, then we don't want to create controversy within the city," Mayor Dave Elliott told FOX News.
|2004 Oct 5 — Do
Draft Dodgers Like Me Need a Monument?:
'I did both' The Nelson ruckus makes me wonder who is truly deserving of a memorial.
By Don Gayton, The Tyee — Don Gayton is an ecologist in Nelson, B.C., and the author of The Wheatgrass Mechanism, and Landscapes of the Interior, which won the U.S. National Outdoor Book Award.
|2004 Oct 8 — Plans
a draft-dodger memorial are reason to reflect
By Susan Paynter, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Columnist — With American travel dollars in clenched fists, some on this side of the border are saying — or shouting — that the idea of a Canadian "monument to cowards" is an outrage. Don't even discuss plans for a 2006 memorial and a festival to recognize Vietnam-era draft dodgers and the Canadians who helped them. Just try it, Nelson, B.C., and we'll boycott your small, scenic burg where 5,000 U.S. draft resisters settled during the '70s. Tour promoters canceled ski trips soon after Fox News sounded the alarm last month. Nelson Mayor Dave Elliott is now maneuvering to distance himself from the scheme.
|2004 Oct 12 — Monumental
in Nelson: Model of proposed monument The draft
dodger memorial flap, and what my town learned about war,
peace, art and (some) Americans.
By Bill Metcalfe, The Tyee — Bill Metcalfe, host of Nelson Before Nine on Kootenay Co-op Radio (KCR), contributes regularly to The Tyee.
|2004 Oct 15 — Vietnam
Dodgers Denied Canadian Memorial
By Christina M. Wright, The Hill Online — Outrage from Vietnam Veterans has blocked plans to build a monument in tribute to the thousands of war resisters who fled to Canada rather than fight in the war 30 years ago. The City Council of Nelson, British Columbia in Canada, voted in favor of a resolution to block the building of a bronze monument to honor those who dodged the draft....Our Way Home ... still planning to hold a celebration in July 2006 and will erect the monument in a new location. ... "We applaud the decision of the city council and hope the memorial creators decide the dedication should be to peace and no to draft-dodgers," said Joe Davis, director of public affairs at the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
|2004 Nov/Dec — Protest
Plan To Honour Draft Dodgers
by Ray Dick, Legion Magazine — Nearly three decades have passed since the Vietnam War created turmoil that divided a nation, but recent events in British Columbia prove that memories of that period remain vivid. Activists in Nelson, B.C., planned to erect a bronze sculpture ... as a tribute to cowards and a slap in the face to Americans who have served in the military.
|2004 Nov 21 — Greetings
By Fred A. Bernstein, New York Times — NELSON, British Columbia — ... Irene Mock, who grew up on Long Island, ... "I came here to start a new life," she said. ... But her move was no mere political protest. In 1970 she drove her boyfriend to Canada, so he could avoid arrest for evading the Vietnam draft. "Irene didn't want me to go to jail," said Jeff Mock, who is now a tofu maker in Nelson, 400 miles inland from Vancouver. "Irene is the reason I'm here, and being here changed my whole life." ... In Nelson, which some say has the highest concentration of draft resisters in Canada, ... Among the attractions of Nelson at the time was its history of war resistance. The surrounding Slocan Valley was settled in the teens of the last century by the Doukhbors, a sect of Christian pacifists who fled Russia to avoid serving in the Czar's army. Thanks to the Doukhobors and the Vietnam draft resisters, who dotted the countryside with yurts and geodesic domes, the town has long been a haven for free spirits. — Article also posted at The New York Times and on Fellowship of Reconciliation web site
|2004 Nov 25 — Is
To Rural Canada An Option?
Migratory Meanderings blog — ...the area surrounding the town of Nelson” originally attracted a lot of Vietnam Draft Dodgers to the area in the 70s (“they’ll NEVER find us here….”) — hence the roots of a lot of the town’s alternate lifestyles were established. ... a website has been set up to attract people to the Kootenay region ... an article was published this week in the New York Times about how the original American draft dodgers have settled in to Nelson nicely and become a part of the fabric of the town—because they wanted to contribute. It’s a long article so I’m printing it as an extended entry but it’s worth reading. — Greetings From Resisterville, By Fred A. Bernstein, New York Times, November 21, 2004
|2004 Dec 6 — Yesterday's
dodgers help today's war resisters:
Vietnam-era men offer aid in Canada to Iraq deserters
By M.L. Lyke, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter — VANCOUVER, B.C. — War can turn strangers into brothers. It's true if they're fighting it, and it's true if they're resisting it, as Vietnam War resisters resettled in this Canadian province know. In an American era of "love it or leave it," they left. Now a number have joined to help peace activists here form a new "underground railway" for resisters to the Iraq war, providing food and shelter and transportation north. — Also post on Draft Resistance.org
|2005 Feb 11 — Meet
Draft Dodgers & Deserters, 8/7/2006
By Neddy, Blatherings, BlogSpot.com — On October 17, 2004, it was reported that the town government of Nelson, British Columbia, decided to do the right thing and not allow the Draft-Dodgers Memorial to be built there. However, why did they change their stand? Was it to save their town from becoming a global laughing-stock? Was it a moral decision? Was it because the residents of Spokane, Washington USA, threatened to take their American tourist dollars elsewhere? BINGO! O Canada - we will never invade you as you are so easily vanquished by American dollars! And even if we did invade — how much of a fight would your courageous draft-dodgers and deserters put up in defense? ... Canada will go down in history as the only country ever to commemorate the "courageous legacy" of draft-dodgers and deserters. A first!
|2005 Mar 24 — In
Flashback to the '70s
By Tomas Alex Tizon, Los Angeles Times, Page 1 — NELSON, Canada — At some point early in his new life in Canada, Don Gayton stopped being "Don Gayton the draft dodger" ... childhood in Los Angeles, had received a draft notice and been denied conscientious objector status. He and his wife packed up their two kids and drove north ... and never looked back. Like so many of the estimated 50,000 American war resisters — draft dodgers, military deserters, pacifists ... There, he was taken in by members of a Christian sect from Russia called the Doukhobors, who had settled the valley in the early 1900s. They were political exiles — forced out of Russia for refusing to fight in the czar's wars. Their pacifist views and communal ways appealed to Sullivan. According to Pratt, Sullivan sent word back home that he had "found a cool place to live."
|2005 Jul 27 — Draft
reunion still planned for B.C.
CBC News — The Nelson man who campaigned unsuccessfully for a statue honouring Vietnam war resisters is still going ahead with plans for a celebration of U.S. draft dodgers next summer. Isaac Romanow says he has long wanted to commemorate the tens of thousands of Vietnam war resisters who came north to Canada. But his idea of a statue honouring them sparked an angry backlash from American veterans' groups last year.
|2006 Jan 2 — our
home...a celebration of cowrdice.
dcoltonbrown, Political Crossfire — "Pretty disguisting. Thank God American pressure prevented this coward memorial from being erected...but, they still plan on having the celebration. It is pretty disguisting that canadians will celebrate and encourage cowards to flee to the criminal harbouring land known as canada. The memorial was the worst, but this festival is just another example of canadians doing anything to spit in the eye of America, absolutely disguisting! " — Followed by: "If someone committed a murder or raped a little girl, should we say it is okay for them to go to canada because they would just take up American resources?" ... "according to US law. they were and are criminals. It is just a shame we had a dolt as president that granted these criminals pardons." ... 130 posts up to Jan 4.
|2006 Feb 14 — War
statue could be resurrected
CBC News — A B.C. peace activist is making another pitch for a controversial statue commemorating American war resisters who fled to Canada during the Vietnam war. Isaac Romano first raised the idea in 2004, as part of plans for a reunion of war resisters and anti-war activists being held in Nelson and Castlegar this summer. However, the idea was shelved in the face of strong resistance from U.S. veterans' groups.
| 2006 Feb 14 — Plans for
U.S. draft dodger sculpture revived: Activists’
proposal draws fire from conservatives, veterans groups
Reuters — VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Peace activists have revived plans for a sculpture to commemorate Vietnam War draft resisters who fled to Canada, a proposal that had drawn the ire of U.S. veterans groups and conservatives. The activists, who are also organizing a reunion for “draft dodgers” in July, said on Tuesday the proposed monument is still needed to warn Americans and Canadians about the dangers of militarism.
|2006 Feb 16 — Return of
the Draft Dodger Memorial?
Blog by John McNee — You can chalk this one up in the “Bad Ideas That Keep Coming Back” department: A B.C. peace activist is making another pitch for a controversial statue commemorating American war resisters who fled to Canada during the Vietnam war.
|2006 Feb 19 — US
Posted by Soldiers' Angel Holly, Andi's World — This is unbelievable. ... Who exactly would need to seek a safe haven in Canada now, during the US war in Iraq? There's no draft. The only people I can think of are the terrorists themselves. This is absurdity at its finest. May I make the recommendation that the statues be yellow? And while we're at it, how about a statue of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free....you know, America — the safe haven. The land of the free, and home of the brave.
|2006 Feb 20 — Reaction
to Proposed Draft Dodger Memorial: Memorial Comment!
By Michael Hudson, Nelson Community Web Site — I find all the fuss to be kind of silly, ... that free speech is the freedom to agree with their opinion, ... If a memorial is built for the draft protesters I think you need to have a section for the cowards that didn't have the guts to actually protest ... — Followed by about 100 more responses: including: Daniel Marshall, New York, NY, 11/23/2004 — Just want to tell you what a good idea I think the "Our Way Home" event is that you plan for 2006. I did not take that "way" myself but visited Nelson in 1967, when I was a conscientious objector, and remember it with great fondness and nostalgia. My wife and I visited the Demoskoff's who heated their backyard sauna for us, the old Russian style, and gave us some delicious borscht while regaling us with Doukhobor stories of their youths. You should have a historical museum, because you have quite a bit of interesting history, as well as a beautiful town. All the best.
|2006 Mar 21 — Vietnam-Era
Says He Regrets Fleeing to Canada
Fox News — YAHK, British Columbia — A Vietnam war-era deserter who was caught crossing into the United States and held for a week says he made a mistake when he fled the Marine Corps in 1968.
the most thorough news article about the event
2006 Mar 25 — Welcome to Resisterville: Unlike ex-marine Allen Abney, many Vietnam dissenters remain steadfast against the U.S.
By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun, 2 pages — [Photo] Jeff Mock, a Quaker-raised American who resisted the Vietnam-era policies of his government and moved to Nelson, says living here makes him glad his sons don't have to deal with the Iraq war. — NELSON - It was 37 years ago, but Brian Bailey still remembers clearly the day a police officer in Berkeley, Calif. fired a load of buckshot that splintered Bailey's motorcycle helmet, putting him on a road leading to the Slocan Valley in the West Kootenay. ... Many of the young Americans were helped by the descendants of an earlier wave of war resisters drawn to the Kootenays in the early 1900s — the Doukhobors, a sect of Christian pacifists who left Russia to avoid serving in the czar's army. ... 100,000 Americans who moved from the U.S. to Canada because of the Vietnam War. ... more women came north than men, ... About 50,000 were draft-age war resisters or "draft dodgers." ... About 40 per cent of this group — 10,000 or so — remained in B.C., many in the Kootenays. ... The idea came to Issac Romano one day while he was sitting in a cafe on funky Baker Street in Nelson. There should be an event and a monument, he thought, to remind Canadians of the presence of Vietnam War resisters in Canada. Romano, 57, was a family counselor and longtime peace activist from Seattle ... a new-age therapist. ... He'd been granted a deferment during the Vietnam War. He'd developed a strong respect for Canadian life through his connection with Or Shalom, the Vancouver synagogue attended by many left-wing Jews. ... Romano held a news conference in 2004 to announce his idea for a large bronze monument in the form of a man and a woman greeted by a Canadian with outstretched arms. All hell broke lose. ... The conservative base of the Republican party, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, was incensed ... The City of Nelson website was bombarded with e-mails from angry Americans. The local council and chamber of commerce freaked out about the potential loss of American tourist dollars. "Most of them have about as much spine as a hunk of Jell-O." Under pressure, Romano withdrew the suggestion, but didn't give up .... 'Why did good people leave?' " ... local businessmen and politicians came to realize that the tumult over the monument "generated far more publicity for Nelson than all of the city's paid-for advertising." The Los Angeles Times [2005 Mar 24] ran a front-page story ... the New York Times [2004 Nov 21] ran a feature article with the headline: "Greetings from Resisterville." — Following is a long historical comment about the help given by the CCCO and other pacifist organizations, by Hank Maiden, Olympic C.O. Group, Sequim, WA. [CCCO: The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors]
|2006 April — Romano
Finds Conflict in Pursuit of Peace: Isaac Romano had
a plan for a memorial to draft resisters in the town of
Nelson, BC, but the local council got cold feet.
By Janet Nicol, Peace Magazine, April-June 2006, vol. 22, no. 2 pg. 7 — When peace activist and family counselor Issac Romano moved to Nelson, B.C. from Seattle five years ago, he did not plan to create conflict. But as he became friends with Vietnam war resisters in the community, he started to get ideas. And when the United States declared war on Iraq, Romano decided to act. He suggested a public sculpture called The Welcoming be erected to honor an estimated 100,000 draft-age Americans who fled to Canada between 1965 and 1973. Forty percent came to B.C. More than half remain, many in the Kootenay region. American veteran groups were outraged at the proposal of a monument to war resisters and threatened to boycott Nelson. Because the town relies on tourist dollars, council turned down the project. But Romano wasn't finished. He began organizing a reunion for war resisters called "Our Way Home," taking place July 6 to 9 at the Brilliant Cultural Center in Castlegar.
|2006 Apr 20 — Peace
Build Peaceful Societies
PeacefulSocieties.org — Western Canada will celebrate, and help to build, a culture of peacefulness at the end of June and early July by hosting three different, outstanding international peace conferences, one after the other.
|2006 May 10 — Vietnam
era political powerhouse to attend war resister event
By Darren Davidson, Nelson Daily News — OUR WAY HOME: 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern to join Ghandi's grandson, Council for Canadian's Maude Barlow and Svend Robinson at July gathering. ... Originally slated for Nelson, the Our Way Home event has now been moved to Castlegar's Brilliant Cultural Centre. Romano says local opposition to the event had nothing to do with the move. "We're making a wonderful, harmonious connection between the war resisters who came and were assisted by the Doukhobours [sic] in the Slocan Valley and other areas of the West Kootenays," says Romano, who adds that along with a number of other peaceful ethnic and religious groups, Doukhoubours [sic] assisted U.S. war resisters 'lay the thousands." Romano also says the rental charge for Nelson's new arena was quite expensive. The Brilliant Cultural Centre is providing in-kind financial support for the four-day event. — The photo shows Nelsonites who will participate in the Reunion program: 21-year-old singer Yoko whose parents fled the U.S. during the Vietnam conflict, and Mark Nykanen, an international author and Emmy Award-winning TV journalist who moved to Nelson from the U.S. three years ago.
|2006 May 11 — B.C.
museum will take draft dodger statue
CBC Arts — Nelson, B.C., didn't want it, but the Doukhobor Village Museum in nearby Castlegar is happy to house a statue commemorating American draft dodgers and the Canadians who took them in. The statue will be called The Welcoming and will feature a Canadian greeting two Americans with open arms. The nine-foot bronze statue is to be sculpted by figurative artist Naomi Lewis of the Kootenays region. She has completed a three-foot clay model and the final sculpture will be unveiled this July at Our Way Home, ...
|2006 May 11 — War
statue finds a home
CBC News — The city of Nelson didn't want it, but the Doukhobor Village Museum in nearby Castlegar is happy to house a statue commemorating American draft dodgers and the Canadians who took them in. The city of Nelson didn't want it, but the Doukhobor Village Museum in nearby Castlegar is happy to house a statue commemorating American draft dodgers and the Canadians who took them in.
|2006 May 11 — B.C.
museum will take draft dodger statue
By CJ Wysocki, Nelson List archive — Nelson, B.C., didn't want it, but the Doukhobor Village Museum in nearby Castlegar is happy to house a statue commemorating American draft dodgers and the Canadians who took them in. ... this is one of the biggest, cheapest and best marketing promotions for tourism for this area, and Castlegar and the Doukabour [sic] village will reap it big time, bravo to those that seen the light, meanwhile our so called Nelson marketing experts blew it.....maybe they forgot the one rule when it comes to promoting a area....any publicity is good publicity, and how much are the organizers of this event charging the tax payers of this region compared to our local very expensive tax funded so called tourist marketing experts ???...
|2006 May 23 — Draft
reunion set for this summer in B.C.
By Greg Joyce, Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail — Vancouver — The statue and what it honoured — young Americans dodging the Vietnam War draft by coming to Canada — created an international kerfuffle two years ago and has since been shuffled between municipalities who found it too controversial. But it now has a home.
|2006 Mar 10 — Canada
a 'refuge from militarism'?
By Mark Nykanen, guest columnist, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter — NELSON, B.C. — Just two months before ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and his Canadian cameraman, Doug Voigt, were seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, Woodruff stood on the set of the ABC Evening News and introduced a report about war resisters in Nelson, B.C. The picturesque mountain town, where actors Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah cavorted in the film "Roxanne," has become the center for U.S. war resisters planning the first-ever gathering of Vietnam era draft dodgers and U.S. military deserters. ... Woodruff noted that during the Vietnam War 125,000 Americans fled to Canada, "the largest modern political out-migration from the United States," according to Northwestern University professor, John Hagen, featured in the report itself.
|2006 May 12 — BC:
war resister statue finally finds home
By Hephaestion, EnMasse Forum — "I am sooo proud of the Doukhobors, who are placing this sculpture on their own land, thereby avoiding any similar gutlessness at Castlegar city council. ... the Doukhobors were also great sympathizers of the Japanese-Canadian "Nikkei", who were interned in numerous prison camp communities in the Kootenays during the '40s, and often supplied them with good fresh fruit, produce and meat that the Doukhobors raised on their farms — some was sold to the Wartime Securities Commission for distribution, but I also know of many instances where the Doukhobors made outright donations to the Nikkei, who they felt were done a great injustice. (As they were.) It is the height of ironic injustice that not too long after that, it was the Doukhobors themselves who were being rounded up and put into camps. ... mayors, Hizzoner Gary Wright of New Denver ... is a former war resister ... remarked to me in a rather acidic tone that the statue this area really needs is a representation of a scapegoat-du-jour being frog-marched through the gates of an internment camp."
|2006 May 24 — "The
Peace Sculpture." to be placed in Nelson BC ...again?
By Mike/Celeste Culpepper, Nelson List archive — That's strange. The story says the statue will be placed in Ernest Hekkanen's New Orphic Gallery, but on CTV news last night I saw Romano and Hekkanen in Vancouver talking about putting the statue any place that wants it. Now that Castlegar has followed Nelson in refusing the statue, I have to wonder if the problem in placing this thing has to do with the way Romano has been trying to sell it
|2006 May 24 — Canada:
Blog Dust My Broom — Don Surber remarks on the draft dodger reunion slated for B.C. this summer: Fark has it right [American coward’s reunion set for this summer in Vancouver, B.C.]. They are cowards. They will each die 1,000 deaths. The statue to these fools is ridiculous. They were turncoats who failed to do their duty when their nation called them to arms, no matter how unfair that call may have been. — Followed by 12 responses.
|2006 Jun 13 — Our
Home Reunion - Episode #48
HomeSchoolers' Free Media, Counter Culture — The show where you'll hear the news you won't hear anywhere else. Selby brings you pinko commie views on world events, crazy conservatives and all their shlock, leftie rabble-rousers and their antics, and everything else FOX doesn't want you to know. ... Our Way Home Reunion Castlegar, B.C. July 6-9! Be part of a convergence of North American peace lovers — come to the Our Way Home Reunion, a gathering to honor military resistance and Canadian pacifism. Reunion organizer Isaac Romano gives a preview of this important event! Also hear podcast.
|2006 Jun 24 — Vietnam
dodgers to hold reunion in B.C.
Canadian Press — VANCOUVER — "Their contribution over the last 35 years to the fields of medicine, education, the sciences, and all areas, has been very important to Canadian life." ... Most events take place at the Brilliant Cultural Centre in Castlegar, where the local Doukhobors meet for community events. ... It's fitting that many of the reunion events are there, said Romano. ... Thousands of Doukhobors came to Canada from Russia at the end of the 19th century. ... They were pacifists who rejected the institutions of militarism and wars. ... ... In May, reunion organizers announced the statue would be placed in the Doukhobor Village Museum in Castlegar, a half-hour drive from Nelson, but that city subsequently rejected the plan.
|2006 Jul 4 — Draft-dodger
on tap in B.C
CanWest News Service; Vancouver Province — VANCOUVER — With a couple days to go before a draft-dodger reunion in the Castlegar, B.C., it seems the war resisters are staying away. The organizer of the Our Way Home event says he's signed up 300 delegates, but still hopes more than 1,000 will attend. The reunion and music event runs from Thursday to Sunday. Photo caption: Isaac Romano, director of the Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion, honouring US war resisters who came to Canada during the Vietnam War, speaks to media in Vancouver Tuesday May 23, 2006. — Also see 10 comments about this story: courageous draft dodgers reunite
|2006 Jul 6 — Vietnam-era
dodgers reunite in B.C.
The Star Phoenix, Canadian Press — CASTLEGAR, B.C. — For U.S. draft resister Craig Wiester, fleeing his country to avoid the Vietnam War meant losing a country, a way of life -- and a father. ... His father, when it became clear that Wiester was going to resist the draft, called the FBI and the local draft board and told them everything.
|2006 Jul 6 — Vietnam
draft dodgers at British Columbia reunion OFF-LINE
By Greg Joyce, Republished from YAHOO NEWS — Vietnam era political powerhouse to attend war resister event — VANCOUVER (CP) – The final lines of The New Colossus, by 19th century American poet Emma Lazarus, are synonymous with seeking a better life in a new country. — Comment by mtnlungta: “They were as patriotic as any of the young men who went to the war.” Canada was honored by receiving the brightest and the best in the largest exit of conscience from the US in United States history. This is certainly a time to revisit this piece of history.
|2006 Jul 6 — Vietnam
draft dodgers reunite in Canada
By Allan Dowd, Yahoo! News Canada — CASTLEGAR, British Columbia (Reuters) - Three decades after they fled the United States to avoid the Vietnam War, a small group of former draft dodgers gathered in Canada on Thursday, more convinced than ever that their anti-war stand was right. — Read 38+ comments about this article: "They better not be allowed to come back." — Read 25 more comments at Theodore's World
|2006 Jul 6 — Vietnam
draft dodgers meet in southeastern B.C. for reunion
By Bud Clydesdale, Burnaby, Canada, Mytelus.com — For U.S. draft resister Craig Wiester, fleeing his country to avoid the Vietnam War meant losing a country, a way of life — and a father. — Monuments to cowardice and desertion? As far as deserter/defectors are concerned.... Personally, I don't really mind cowards weaselling out — I'd rather have them quit now than endanger the life of a real soldier beside them by wimping out later. — 2 responses follow.
|2006 Jul 7 — FilmlessPhotos:
Photo A Day From Photojournalist John Lehmann
7 — Vietnam
resisters gather in B.C.
CBC News — A Vietnam War reunion is underway in British Columbia to honour the draft dodgers — or war resisters as they now prefer to be called — and the Canadians who helped them. The four-day "Our Way Home" conference in Castlegar, B.C., about 600 kilometres east of Vancouver, will feature guests such as 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern, former MP Svend Robinson and Tom Hayden, a member of the "Chicago Seven" anti-war activists.
|2006 Jul 7 — Vietnam
resisters hold reunion in British Columbia
Associated Press — CASTLEGAR, B.C. (AP) — For Craig Wiester of Minneapolis, fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam war meant losing a country, a way of life — and his father. ... Learning that his father had called the FBI and his draft board, he fled north and lived for eight years in Montreal. ... Hundreds of Vietnam war-era draft resisters settled in and around the Slocan Valley... nearly 50,000 Americans of draft age who moved to Canada in the late 1960s and early ’70s. ... President Jimmy Carter granted an amnesty in 1977, about half returned and the rest remained in Canada. ... — See Full coverage from 5 sources with comments.
|2006 Jul 8 — McGovern
praises Canada on draft dodgers: Ex-presidential
candidate visits reunion of Vietnam War resisters
Reuters — CASTLEGAR, British Columbia - George McGovern, who ran for the U.S. presidency on an anti-Vietnam War platform, said Saturday history will show Canada was right to have sheltered that era’s war resisters. McGovern, who was in Canada to speak to a reunion of Vietnam War draft dodgers, said the Iraq war was also “needless and mistaken,” but he said it would be presumptuous of him to say Canada should again provide haven for U.S. deserters. “I always appreciated the generosity and imagination of Canada... I think history will be on the side of the Canadians,” — See comment from Texas: "Sen. McGovern: You are one sorry SOB!! ... I was spat upon while walking to my duty station in the Pentagon upon my return home. ... due to sorry bastarts [sic] like you and your lack of support for our military!"
|2006 Jul 8 — McGovern
draft dodger conference
Connecticut WTNH-TV Channel 9 — BRILLIANT, British Columbia George McGovern has told a reunion of Vietnam-era draft dodgers the conflict in Iraq is a "needless and mistaken" war. The former senator and one-time presidential candidate said at a gathering in Canada yesterday the Bush administration is, in his words, "jeopardizing the very liberties we profess to be fighting to save." — Also broadcast on WBAY-TV Channel 2, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
|2006 Jul 8 — Former
senator visits draft dodgers in B.C
CTV.ca News Staff — CASTLEGAR, B.C. — The United States government is making the same mistake in Iraq as it did in Vietnam and is jeopardizing its international standing in the world, former senator George McGovern said Saturday. The former presidential candidate told a crowd of about 300 people that the U.S. government's decision to enter Iraq is "cut from same cloth" as the decision to enter Vietnam.
|2006 Jul 8 — Objector Alerts: Dear CCCO
From: Steve Morse, GI Rights Coordinator
Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO)
405 14th St., Suite #205, Oakland, CA 94612
| 2006 Jul 9 — What
crock/Draft dodgers to be feted at B.C. reunion
Blog by Computer Man, Tucson Arizona — He comments on an article in the Canadian Press. Then his posting is followed by 170+ responses. — And 3 more comments posted at Canada.net: "Nothing like honoring foreign criminals..." — And 33+ comments on the Military.com Discussion Boards — "Anyone else think this is disgusting?"
|2006 Jul 9 — Hell no! We won't go! [Eagle1]
After reading of the gathering of gutless wonders in Canada, I'm suggesting a protest boycott of the event by all Vietnam veterans and those who decided to go to jail for their beliefs. Others are invited to join in if they desire. I expect a massive number of boycotters to miss the speeches of the various "luminaries." Probably won't get much press coverage, though......And, so far, the boycott is working, as tens of thousands of Vietnam and other veterans have not gone to Canada for the draft dodger reunion.
Comments: Hell no! We won't go!
:O that has to be the bravest thing i have ever read.
Re: Got weekend plans? [Soldier's Mom]
Greyhawk beat me to this by a few minutes... I can't believe that these people are actually celebrating shirking their duty... and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes in speaking with the families of those that were called in these guys' places... They're calling it "Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion." ... Validate the experience? And you wonder why you are still dishonored in American Society? Well, if he has to ask the question, I figure he wouldn't score high enough on the ASVABs to serve in today's military ... If you can stomach it, more here, here,
Free speech for those who make it happen.
|2006 Jul 9 — War
to Draft Dodger Reunion in Canada: You're Just a
Pack of Cowards
By Jim Kouri, CPP — Columnist Sher Zieve filed a story today that US draft dodgers, who fled to Canada during the Vietnam War are reuniting in British Columbia for a celebration and memorial. US military deserters are also said to be amongst those joining the group. ... many American war veterans aren't taking what they see as a travesty lightly. One Vietnam vet who later served as a New York police officer said, "Now we're honoring cowards and turncoats? I never thought I'd see the day. What's happening with this country?" Another vet, now a New Jersey police officer, was more blunt. "Those yellow bellies have some nerve glorifying their cowardice. It's disgusting." — Columnist Jim Kouri is Vice President of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, he is an author and frequent TV spokesperson in the war on drugs. — Story also posted at MensNewsDaily.com
|2006 Jul 10 — Atamanenko
Congratulates “Our Way Home” Organizers
Castlegar — Alex Atamanenko, Member of Parliament (BC Southern Interior) — attended the “Our Way Home” peace event and reunion held in Castlegar over the weekend. “I want to personally thank Isaac Romano and others who made this event possible,” said Atamanenko. “... the conference turned out to be more than a celebration of the contribution made by US war resisters to Canadian society. The various workshops and speeches touched on such topics as US foreign policy, international law, Canada’s role in the world and the plight of those young men and women who are deserting the American army in Iraq. ... we must do all we can to make Canada a refuge for those who do not wish to participate in the illegal US occupation of Iraq. ... [and] ... ... promote peace in the world ... Our role should not be search and destroy combat missions in support of American foreign policy.”
10 — US
draft dodgers' reunion 'under fire'
By Deborah Jones, AFP, Middle East Times — VANCOUVER, Canada — Scores of Americans who dodged Vietnam-era military conscription wrapped up a reunion on Sunday, as controversy followed them even to the remote reaches of Canada's westernmost province.
|2006 Jul 10 — U.S.
War Resisters Gather at Reunion in Canadian Town
Associated Press, Seattle Times — For Craig Wiester of Minneapolis, fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War meant losing a country, a way of life — and his father. "He felt it was a man's duty to go when his country called," Wiester said Thursday at the opening of a four-day reunion and peace event to honor U.S. draft resisters who fled to Canada and the Canadians who assisted them.
|Best photo story
2006 Jul 10 — Our Way Home Reunion ... Something's Happening Here
Blog by Linda Lee Crosfield who attended the event. — She presents a nice report from her personal persective with many photos. Linda knows a few Doukhobors and some of the event organizers and participated in several workshops. Near her photo of the bread and salt table she describes: "... lunch, served downstairs at Cultural Centre. Lunch was a colourful variety of salads, whole wheat rolls, a variety pack of squares, plus juice and tea or coffee. Lunch was prepared by the Doukhabor [sic] ladies who are always cooking something at the Brilliant Cultural Centre. What a fabulous space." At the bottom she shows the only photo online of Doukhobors: "Phan Thi Kim Phuc ... wound up in Canada, attracted by the possibility of freedom ... flanked by two Doukhobor ladies who are wearing traditional outfits because they were singing in the choir."
|2006 Jul 11 — McGovern
Canada on Vietnam draft dodgers
By Allan Dowd, CASTLEGAR, British Columbia (Reuters) — Former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern (L) sits with Rabbi Michael Lerner, a long time peace and political activist, during a weekend reunion of Vietnam War draft dodgers in Castlegar, British Columbia July 8, 2006. The weekend gathering attracted many former resisters and deserters from the United States military who came to Canada to avoid going to the war in Vietnam 35 years ago. — See the Full Coverage: McGovern praises Canada on Vietnam
|2006 Jul 12 — Contributions
By duncan kinney, News Reporter, CastlegarBC.ca — The Our Way Home Reunion and peace event which ran from July 6 to 9 at the Brilliant Cultural Center in Castlegar saw over 2,000 people come and go, according to organizer Isaac Romano, “far beyond my expectations.” ... people from the community of Castlegar gave it a lukewarm reception, at least according to informal surveys. A stumbling block may have been the price. “In order to bring such extraordinary guests it required a higher price than usual. We’ll find a way, whenever we have our next event, of bringing these costs down,” said Romano. “My work next time has to include local organizers.”
Artist Naomi Klien and event organizer Isaac Romano unveil the peace sculpture
|2006 Jul 12 — Our
Way Home Peace Event and Reunion post-event information
Post by David Beringer, Nelson List archive — "I applaud the courage of the USCC membership for offering their hall and grounds for this somewhat controversial event ... The attendees I spoke to [Gandhi, Lerner, McGovern, Ste. Marie, ...] all commented on ... their new found interest in the Doukhobour Peace tradition, ... the USCC organizers ... food was prepared by women of the USCC) expressed their pleasure at meeting so many new people from different parts of the global Peace community. A grandmother told me that her grandson was very impressed that his grandma listened to D.O.A.!!"
|2006 Jul 14 — Radio
: By the People — July 14
This week's By the People focuses on the "Our Way Home Peace Gathering and Reunion" held July 6 - 9 in Castlegar. ... McGovern talks about the Vietnam war, present-day terrorism threats, American monetary, military, and domestic policy, as well as commenting on how America is viewed by others and why. ... David Beringer speaks with Mark Nykanen in the studio and learns what brought him and his family from Oregon to Nelson recently. Following that, Isaac Romano is in for a brief interview in which he talks about the genesis of the Our Way Home Reunion and his hopes for another conference ... a lively panel discussion on today's subject with Dave Cherry, Aspen Switzer, Mark Nykanen and Isaac Romano ... Click here to listen to the show! (MP3, 1 hour)
|2006 Aug 11 — They are your
Blog posted by Darcey, Dust My Broom — While it may be a running joke down south about American’s running up to Canada to escape serving their country it is not all that funny to a large number of us up here. — Followed by 33 replies.
|2006 Sept 9 — In
troubled world, students learn how to make peace:
EDUCATION I Programs at Selkirk College aim to change the
way people see others
by Brian Morton, The Vancouver Sun. Published again as:
2006 Sept 26 — Pathways to Peace: Students learn how to make peace: B.C. college program teaches ways to create a more peaceful world
by Brian Morton, The Star Phoenix, CanWest News Service — "... West Kootenay, B.C., town of Castlegar ... the region is known ... as a historic sanctuary for pacifists, from the Doukhobor settlers who fled Russia century ago, and in the 1960s and '70s as the destination of choice for a large number of U.S. war resisters. Castlegar was the host city this July for the Our Way Home Reunion, a four-day conference that recalled the experiences of the tens of thousands of Americans who moved to Canada during the Vietnam War era. This fall Selkirk College's School of University Arts and Sciences and the Mir Centre for Peace will offer both an associate of arts degree in peace studies, which focuses on peace and environmental sustainability, and a liberal arts diploma in peace studies, which emphasizes peace in a cultural and international context."
|2006 Fall — The
of Our Times
Editorial by Ernest Hekkanen, New Orphic Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall, 2006
New Orphic Publishers, 706 Mill Street, Nelson, B.C., V1L 4S5 Canada
Using quotes from Patriotism: The Slavery of Our Times, by Leo Tolstoy, Hekkanen, an American CO, writer, artist and big supporter of the Our Way Home Peace Event & Reunion, draws parallels between the Doukhobor historic struggle for peace and the current battles endured by the Our Way Home Peace Event & Reunion supporters.
"The decision to move the Our Way Home Reunion event to the Brilliant Cultural Centre was made rather late into the game plan. The Brilliant Cultural Centre is owned by the Doukhobor community. As many of you probably know, the Doukhobors refused to be enlisted into the Czar’s military. They were pacifists. Their refusal was so contentious they were treated like enemies of the Russian state. Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, was instrumental in helping them leave Russia for the shores of Canada."
|2006 Fall — Led
Editorial by Ernest Hekkanen, New Orphic Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall, 2006
New Orphic Publishers, 706 Mill Street, Nelson, B.C., V1L 4S5 Canada
Hekkanen, an American CO, writer, artist and big supporter of the Our Way Home Peace Event & Reunion, summarizes the political "hot potato" history of the model statue and how it got to his front lawn by default, after two local governments tried to keep it from public view.
|2006 Oct 1 — Nelson
Find 40+ postings on the Nelson List archive debating the merits of "The Welcoming Peace Sculpture." Only the last 400 postings are archived, so older messages are deleted.
|2006 Oct 30 — Memorial to
Kerfuffles II: The Best Named Blog On The Web — Where? Where else - Canada! Last year when I was researching Canada’s role during the Vietnam War and learning about that nation’s refusal to honor at official Remembrance Day ceremonies her own Canadian citizens who served in combat during the Vietnam War, I was shocked to find these enlightening news stories. Fortunately for Canadians, America’s veterans came to the rescue and put a stop to the insanity, once again saving Canada from herself.
|2006 Nov 11 —
Film: Bread, Salt and Water
— Run time 10 minutes, Canada 2007. — The pacifist
histories of a Russian-Canadian Doukhobor boy, Adam
Zaytsoff, and a girl whose parents, Vietnam war resistors,
cause conflict at their government- mandated high school
Remembrance Day assembly. Adam Adam Zaytsoff and Tea
Perrin write a speech for their high school assembly on
November 11, 2006, conflicts erupt among the staff. Adam
who has a pacifist Russian background is shown by his
teacher what his ancestors strived to achieve, and Tea
learns of her parent's war resistor history (draft
dodgers). — Category Grade School/High School Shorts —
Director/Writer: Ken Kabatoff — See
online. — Featured in the Phoenix
Festival, Arizona USA, April 5,9, 2008.
|2006 Dec 13 — Canadians
call for sanctuary for U.S. war resisters
NDP MP Bill Siksay Tables Petition in House of Commons
OTTAWA - NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) today tabled a petition in the House of Commons signed by 7212 Canadians and residents of Canada calling on the government to provide sanctuary for American war resisters. The petitions were circulated by the War Resisters Support Campaign and include names of people from every region of Canada.
Way Home Peace Event and Reunion
Once again the world’s attention is centred on this cross-borders peace event at the Brilliant Cultural Centre in the community of Brilliant, part of the city of Castlegar. We invite you to participate in the second annual Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion weekend, which honours the courage and contribution of US war resisters who came to Canada during the Vietnam War as well as the courageous US war resisters who sought safe haven in Canada after resisting the war in Iraq. The event also honours the thousands of Canadians who helped them resettle in this country, both then and now. US war resisters who came to Canada during the Vietnam War offer our world an important model of non-violence, as do those US war resisters arriving in Canada today during the US War in Iraq.
4-8 — 2nd
Annual Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion
|2007 Jul 7 — War War War
Live — Country Joe McDonald
Nine poems from Robert W. Service’s war-themed collection Rhymes of a Red Cross Man set to music and sung by Country Joe McDonald. Recorded live on July 7, 2007 at the 2nd annual “Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion,” honoring US Vietnam War resisters and others in Castlegar, British Columbia. Live show includes an introduction by Country Joe explaining how the original Vanguard album came to be recorded.
1. Foreword 2. The Call 3. Young Fellow, My Lad 4. The Man from Athabaska 5. The Munition Maker 6. The Twins 7. Jean Desprez 8. War Widow 9. The March of the Dead
|2008 Apr 5, 9 — Film: Bread, Salt and Water — Run time 10 minutes, Canada 2007. — The pacifist histories of a Russian-Canadian Doukhobor boy, Adam Zaytsoff, and a girl whose parents, Vietnam war resistors, cause conflict at their government- mandated high school Remembrance Day assembly. Adam Adam Zaytsoff and Tea Perrin write a speech for their high school assembly on November 11, 2006, conflicts erupt among the staff. Adam who has a pacifist Russian background is shown by his teacher what his ancestors strived to achieve, and Tea learns of her parent's war resistor history (draft dodgers). — Category Grade School/High School Shorts — Director/Writer: Ken Kabatoff — See it online. — Featured in the Phoenix Film Festival, Arizona USA, April 5,9, 2008.|
|2008 Apr 21 — Primary Contact for “Canada
Conference paper by Isaac Romano, Founder and Executive Director, OWHR Institute, presented at "For War Resistance and Policy Alternatives", University of San Francisco, CA
'Welcoming US war resisters to Canada: The role of prejudice reduction in allowing these new immigrants to live full, satisfying lives in Canada. What is the effects of stereotypes and targeting of US war resisters in Canada, and what were and are once again the ramifications of such “stereotyping” and “targeting” for this immigrant group? It is important to note that “prejudice” and “stereotyping” comes from “social conditioning” which we all get in the culture. As a child, you would have had to have been blind, deaf, you would have not attended school, church, mosque or synagogue. You would have had not to have been in the culture. So we all get misinformation and stereotypes about other groups, and as such, we are all in various stages of recovery from prejudice. The recycling of this negative conditioning is a paramount form of oppression experienced by US war resisters who came to Canada during the Vietnam War.'
|2008 May 1-2 — 'Canada as Refuge?'
31st International Conference, The Centre of Canadian Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. 10 of 46 papers and 2 entire sessions were devoted to just US Vietnam War Resisters in Canada with many other papers incorporating the subject and addressing US Iraq war resisters. The final session was “WHAT IS CANDA FOR? US War Resisters in Canada – Immigration During the Vietnam War and Iraq War”
|2008 May 29 — Our Way Home Vancouver
Peace Conference & Concert
SAT & SUN MAY 31 & JUNE 1, concert 8 pm Sat at University of British Columbia's Chan Centre and conference Sat & Sun at SFU's Harbour Centre, Vancouver, BC; Our Way Home Vancouver Peace Conference, honouring US women war resisters in Canada and HONOURING WOMEN WAR RESISTERS internationally. Our Way Home Vancouver Peace Event and Reunion Honours women war resisters that came to Canada from the US during the Vietnam War in what was the largest outward migration in US history. Immigration figures indicate more women than men came to Canada during the Vietnam War. We honour these women of conscience.Includes peace concert with folk singer Iris Dement and Woodstock's Country Joe McDonald's "Tribute to Woody Guthrie". Presenters include Cindy and Craig Corrie, from the Rachel Corrie Foundation. Also, US Colonel Ann Wright, who turned in her resignation to her boss Colin Powell, the day before the US invaded Iraq. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink and Global Exchange. Concert $40 at the door and through Ticketmaster 604-280-3311 or http://www.ticketmaster.ca, conference fees $20 - 35. program at http://ca.geocities.com/vanresisters/WRSC_EVENTS.html, info Isaac Romano, 250-352-1187 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I you find any errors, broken links, have any missing comments or photos, or know a missing link which should be on this web page, particularly from the Doukhobor perspective, please send it to the web master and/or Koozma J. Tarasoff.
For news on current war resisters in Canada, see: www.Resisters.ca