Monday, 12 December 2011

Book Review:
A Troubled Personality Revealed

Nerys Parry, Man and Other Natural Disasters (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Enfield and Wizenty, an imprint of Great Plains Publications, 2011), 214 pp. ISBN 9878-1-926531-12-0. $29.95.

I became alarmed upon seeing this local news on November 10 about Doukhobors in a new book: 'Acclaimed Ottawa author doing select readings in the area'. Was another award-winning author slandering the Doukhobors?

'Man and Other Natural Disasters delves into turbulent acts in Canada's past. The Sons of Freedom, an offshoot of the Doukhobors protested against government interference with mass nudity, arson and explosives. That past terrorism is analogous to what's happening now in many parts of the world. Nerys spent many hours reading the actual diaries of the Sons of Freedom. She was surprised how closely the situation happening in Bountiful B.C. mirrors what happened decades ago.

'Man and Other Natural Disasters is a thoughtful and frightening novel on what happens when extremism takes over a religion or belief system.

'Nerys was a finalist for the 2011 Colophon Prize and tied for seventh out of more than 130 books in the Giller Prize Reader's Choir Award contest....'


Reviewer Koozma J. Tarasoff (right) exchanged books with author Nerys Parry (left)

I had to read the book and meet Nerys Parry, because the news announcement was misleading in two ways:
  1. Those Sons of Freedom who burnt, bombed and went naked distanced themselves from the main Doukhobor Movement, and therefore they excluded themselves from it. The word 'Doukhobor' does not belong here and therefore should not be used in association with the zealots. When used, it is a case of exploitation and slander against a peaceful group.
  2. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) — polygamist Mormons in Bountiful, BC — have no connection to the Sons zealots or to the Doukhobors. Why make reference to Bountiful here which is currently in the news — unless its purpose is to draw on some kind of sensationalism to sell books. Publicists should stop the crass capitalistic practise of maligning and exploiting another group with the intent of selling a product and gaining a financial interest.
Upon meeting the author and studying her book, my worries passed. She led me to further research in which I found that mental illness played a major role in sabotaging Doukhobor history.

The fictitious main character, Simon Peters, is presented as a creative bookbinder in the basement of the Calgary Public Library. The story involves the tragedy of his family from natural and man-made causes.Towards the end it turns out that Simon is really Seymon, an extreme zealot from the interior of British Columbia whose family was involved in a series of disasters in the form of terrorism. The Seymon character was largely inspired by diaries that the author found in the Public Archives of Canada. It was about a troubled personality by the name of Fred N. Davidoff born in 1924 in the Cowley area of Alberta.

Around the year 2000, the author Nerys Parry first developed the Simon character, but the manuscript lay dormant for some time. In 2005-2006, Nerys and a colleague worked on a story about the effects of chemical, biological and radiological experiments in the Canadian Forces Base at Suffield, Alberta on the veterans who were used as human testers during the World War II period. When blacked out materials from RCMP records hindered the full development of the Suffield story, Nerys discovered an adjacent Davidoff File in the Archives as being a wonderful fit for Simon. The Simon story was further developed and the publisher preferred the new version. Perhaps Canada going into Afghanistan had something to do with the decision, even though the last veterans of Suffield were quickly dying out? Read more in Nerys Parry's blog: Finding Simon, and see her TV interview.

In doing my homework, I went to the Public Archives of Canada and read the three boxes of Fred N. Davidoff's files (fonds). The historic character Fred was worst than I had previously known. I already knew that Simma Holt's Terror in the Name of God: the Story of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors (1964) was based on information that Fred Davidoff had given to this Vancouver Sun reporter. The book featured Fred as an 'Autobiography of a Fanatic'. Within several years,  Fred flip-flopped his fabricated views in order to gain parole from nine years in jail.

The result of all of this was that the Doukhobors as a whole were blackballed by Simma Holt and by her main informant Fred Davidoff with the false claim of nudity, bombings and burnings. These acts were real, but they were perpetrated by individuals who closely sided with zealotry and a few with terrorism. These acts were contrary to mainstream Doukhobor beliefs.

From his diaries and letters as well as from accounts by others, I learned that Fred N. Davidoff's behaviour was that of a classic psychopath, an extreme fanatic, a con artist who fabricated much of what he said about the Doukhobor name and thereby misled Canadian reporters. He was mentally unstable, was an informant to the police, was one who could not be trusted, and people feared him. He was a person with a vivid imagination of himself. Most damning of all was that he had a habit of slandering many innocent Doukhobor people with terrorism.

In my response to seeking justice and truth, it has taken me and several of my friends some fifty years to correct the misinformed damage that has been done by the team Simma and Fred. In a real sense, both have hijacked the Doukhobor identity.

In the conclusion of her book Man and Other Natural Disasters, Nerys Parry states: 'I would like to clarify that Simon/Seymon and his family are fictional characters, and any similarity with living or dead persons is coincidental....'

Whenever possible, Nerys stuck to some of the known facts that occurred during the turmoil in the 1950s and 1960 — such as the Polatka (tents) affair in the Kootenays in 1953, the New Denver institution for zealot kids from 1953 to 1959 (surrounded by a high wire fence), the RCMP infamous Special D. (Doukhobor) Squad, and the death of Harry Kootnikoff in 1962 while making a pocket watch bomb. All this Nerys admits in her Notes and Acknowledgements.

Obviously Nerys enjoys straddling the divide between science and fiction. This is real talent — and she is very good at it. In fact, the large part of the book on Simon Peters was so congruent that I believed him to be a bookbinder in Calgary, Alberta and that his parents were ranchers. When Simon has a complete mental breakdown and becomes Seymon in the office of a British Columbia psychiatrist, this is sudden transformation. At the end, when this split personality goes back to Calgary, as the reader, I am not sure who this real character is. Is he from Alberta or from British Columbia? Is he a passionate bookbinder or an unpredictable person? Is he a gentle pacifist or a dangerous terrorist?

To her credit as a skilled writer, Nerys Parry has minimised stereotyping the Doukhobors by avoiding the use of the name. (I found only two times the word was used in 214 pages, and one of this was in the title of a book.) Instead, Nerys has carefully used terms such as Sons of Freedom, Svobodniki, and Freedomites. Not Doukhobors. Yet, with much negative association with the past, when zealots and authors (such as Simma Holt) have hijacked the Doukhobors identity, it becomes difficult to dissociate one from the other. It is similar to the stigma that Muslims today receive from terrorists (who are not real Muslims, but terrorists).

Separating fact from fiction is a very delicate process even for a sensitive and innovative young writer such as Nerys Parry. She has done very well in this book. She has raised the bar for future writers to be very sensitive when straddling science with fiction. The book is worth a read.

Read Nerys Parry's blog about our meeting: Straddling the divides: fact, fiction and Freedomites.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

'Mutual Help Society' Proposed

Hank Hulsbergen
The following letter was submitted by Hank Hulsbergen of The Netherlands. Hank, now 60, recalls his 17-years living in Canada and especially his fond memories of Helen and John Stevenson (Argenta Quakers, British Columbia). As an innovative thinker, he suggests the creation of a Mutual Help Society a structure inspired by Peter Kropotkin as well as the Mennonite Central Committee. In his most recent letter, Hank Hulsbergen writes: 'At the end of most Unitarian services, people hold hands and sing three times "Carry the flame of Peace and Love until we meet again." Of course reading that Doukhobors aspire to Peace and Love as well fits well with that!'


Dear Koozma:

How are you? I lived in Canada for 17 years of which 10 in British Columbia. Good friends from Argenta, Helen and John Stevenson, advised me in the early 1980's to read Plakun Trava: The Doukhobors and I even received a letter from you telling about the publishing of PT. Maybe due to studies at Simon Fraser University, I decided I'll do that later. Now I'm back in the Netherlands and have recently read a lot about the Doukhobors on the Internet. The title of your book has always stayed with me.

In 1979, when the old hotel was still operating in Grand Forks, BC, I enjoyed some borshch for the first time in my life. Later, in 1998, when living in Vancouver, I helped an elderly lady move to Grand Forks and visited her a few times when on holidays from Europe. Even got to see the Doukhobor Museum [in Castlegar, BC] when it hadn't been that long open yet. From the very first time I came to Grand Forks and the Kootenays, I sensed that that area was the nicest of BC. Since I'm sensitive to "atmosphere", I have undoubtedly picked up the peaceful vibes of the people.

Back at the University of Washington in 1974 I had a Jonah Goldstein as prof for a first year course in Human Relations and Counselling Studies (HRCS) which dealt with alternative communities etc.

This HRCS program was very much inspired by the work of Carl R Rogers. His book On Becoming a Person is still wonderful to read. I find the essence of his ideas back with the lifestyle of the Doukhobors. During my University of Washington years I somehow came across Peter Kropotkin's Mutual Help [Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution] when writing an essay. Then I find out he was very much supportive of the Doukhobors.

In the last month and a half all these experiences seem to have come together and I somehow found your email address on the nice Internet site. I would still like to find a way to read Plakun Trava and perhaps other material later. Can I purchase the CD-Rom while paying with credit card? Am not totally clear on the process.

While my religious background has been with the Dutch Reformed Church, while my parents always allowed me to draw my own conclusions and have my own thoughts, in Canada I was active in various Unitarian fellowships.

In a wild moment, I thought it would be neat if Doukhobors, Unitarians, Mennonites, Hutterites and maybe others would work together to have a common "Mutual Help" society, not so different from the Mennonite Central Committee, which encourages and supports young people to do a year of voluntary service for communities and people nationally and internationally.

Having focused my study in Communication on Psychotherapy, Doukhobor communities may be best suited to help "lost" children and teenagers find their bearings again. Much like the Friendship school in Argenta saw students live with local families.

In short, reading about the Doukhobors and their lifestyle etc inspires me a great deal. If and when I come to Canada next summer I hope to spend a bit of time in the Kootenays again too.

I'm currently 60 years young and am kind of open to a change and some new things. My reason for emigration to Canada was to make myself free from the military draft at the time. This too I found to have in common with the Doukhobors. I'm working on the vegetarian bit! :)

     Hope this finds you well and happy.
     Kindest regards
     Hank Hulsbergen

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Atamanenko Tables Dept. of Peace Bill

Ottawa, ON – Alex Atamanenko, MP (BC Southern Interior), was joined at a press conference today [November 30, 2011] by fellow peace advocates, along with Elizabeth May of the Green Party and Liberal Jim Karygiannis to herald the introduction later in the day of his Private Members Bill to create a federal Department of Peace. May and Karygiannis are co-seconding the Bill. [C-373]

Left to right: Koozma J. Tarasoff, Jim Karygiannis, Alex Atamanenko,
Theresa Dunn,  Elizabeth May and Bill Bhaneja. Photo by Kristina Kristova.

Atamanenko’s bill is a slightly amended version of retired NDP MP, Bill Siksay’s bill from the last parliament, notable for the non-partisan support it had gathered.

Karygiannis says this is one issue where party politics should not get in the way. “It is time for Canada to serve the global constituency by committing to the creation of a Department of Peace.”

Elizabeth May stressed her party's continued support of this initiative. "Peace is more than the absence of war. Non-violent solutions, 'waging peace,' requires a focused investment and shift in consciousness. Even talking about a Department of Peace helps in that shift," she said.

Representatives for Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (CDPI) at the press conference described the bill as exemplifying a global movement in 30 countries promoting infrastructures of non-violent peace within governments, with Peace Ministries and Departments in three countries, most recently Costa Rica. “The bill illustrates the need to prepare for peace in the same way as we prepare for war – with adequate resources and expertise,” stated CDPI Co-Founder,
Bill Bhaneja.

“This is an opportunity to unify the millions of voices expressing a will to follow a new path where our road markers are not fear, anger and vengeful killing but rather prevention, empathy and justice for all of humanity,” declared Theresa Dunn, co-Chair for CDPI.

Doukhobor writer and historian Koozma J. Tarasoff said the need for the architecture for peace is urgent at a time when nuclear and robotic weapons are posing a threat to the world community. “As Canadians, let’s regain our status not only as a peacekeeping and peace-building nation, but also as a nonkilling one.”

“The notion that there can be peace in the world may be a utopian ideal but each generation owes it to the next to make a dedicated attempt to get as close to it as humanly possible.” concluded Atamanenko.

Bill Bhaneja's Note:

Bill Bhaneja (Co-Chair of the Ottawa Chapter, Canadian Dept. of Peace Initiative) wrote the following summary of this historic event:

'....Theresa and I were invited to attend the press conference at 1:30 pm. where Alex Atamanenko spoke about the Bill followed by Elizabeth May and Jim Karygiannis....Theresa, Koozma and I were also given our moments of fame to say a few words at the event. Overall the messages sent were solid and complementary and should have good resonance with the wide ranging peace communities....

'In the House we had a substantive representation from the Ottawa chapter of about 15 people who got to meet Alex after his introduction of the Bill and thank him for his initiative. An official transcript of the Bill will be on line in two languages soon with a designated Bill number assigned to it [C-373]. The new Bill covers all the aspects we wanted to see in it, with minor fine tuning of certain sections e.g. education responsibilities, focus on conflict prevention in R2P, and UN 1325 etc provided by us and others. Alex said  that he will need some time to focus on strategy of how to follow up on this in the Parliament, most likely after Christmas recess. In the meantime, he thought we could go ahead in using the Bill to get the message out in the public as well as to our local politicians for co-seconding the Bill. Our main task right now is to spread the message and energize the civil society and others through this Bill that the idea of DoP and Peace is feasible. Also the Bill can be helpful in fund raising with organizational endorsers. And I am not forgetting the 10,000 target petition signing.'

Koozma's Note:

This historic event impressed me in three ways:
  1. The professional and friendly manner of Alex Atamanenko and his office in getting this Bill tabled in the House. Peace is a trans-party issue. 
  2. The Liberals and the Green Party joined the NDP in this pioneering venture for a new architecture and vision for peace in the world. 
  3. The short talks emphasized the urgency of this Bill, the global nature of it (peace is everyone's business) and the need for a new way of looking at the state of our world civilization.
My own talk was as follows:

'My ancestors the Doukhobors in 1895 destroyed their guns in a mass voice to the world that the slaughter of human beings from the scourge of wars must stop once and for all. Today, modern weapons of mass destruction, esp. that of atomic bombs and robotics, threaten our world civilization with annihilation.

'Like Steve Jobs of Apple, we need to envisage a world in a totally different way so as to invigorate Canada's role as a peacekeeper and peacebuilder. The proposed Canadian Department of Peace provides the architecture for doing this — especially in promoting the transition from a war-based to a peace-based economy.

'With the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we can say, 'We have a dream not to be killed and the responsibility not to kill another human being. We have a dream and a vision to pass along to the future generation our hope to create a nonkilling society. Now, let us support the Bill and make this vision a reality. For where there is no vision, people perish.'

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Remembering Remembrance Day and the Occupy Movement

Consider Remembrance Day November 11th. I watched with much interest the 2011 ceremony of several thousand people in downtown Ottawa observing this event with the sounds of bugles, words of praise for the fallen soldiers, the laying of wreaths and the red poppies, and the march past by young and old. Even the Governor General was in the spirit — dressed in his military clothes. It was all very patriotic.


It was 11th November, when on the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice ended the war called Great. This was soon followed by the words of John McCrae in his poem: 'In Flanders fields where poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row.' Then, in propaganda style, the poem which is sung every year at the televised National Remembrance Day service in Ottawa, urges the listeners  to 'take up the quarrel with the foe.'

Why 'take up the quarrel with the foe'? Was not the intent of the old soldiers to end the collective insanity known as war? Today 2011 Remembrance Day seemed so out of step with the real meaning of the commemoration of the past wars. Surely the intent was to create a culture of peace, not a culture or war. Surely, the Day should not be used as a recruiting rhetoric for more soldiers? Yet today in the fields of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, we seem to have forgotten this lesson. Recently Canada's Defence Minister Peter McKay is determined to convert Canada from a peacekeeping country to a macho militarized one.

Let's stop and not buy into this madness! Let's cease to produce victims of wars. Or as Russian philosopher Lev N. Tolstoy would have said: 'Let's stop the slavery of our times'  meaning, let's stop war and militarism. This means stopping the criminals who engineer these events. (Lev N. Tolstoy. The Slavery of Our Times. 1900. pages 95, 104)

For example, the Conservative Government in Canada today wants to purchase several dozens of F-35 fighter planes worth billions of dollars — planes that are designed for attack and not for defence purposes. These fighters are useless in the North and cannot be called to rescue people in need. All this is being proposed without thorough debate at a time when the country is going through an economic recession. In fact, the democratic process of debate is bypassed and trampled upon. Is that not a contempt of Parliament?  (Jet fighters a costly mistake for taxpayers, by Tamara Lorincz and Steven Staples, Time-Colonist,  December 10, 2010.)

Now let us look at the Occupy Movement which began in mid-October 2011 in the Wall Street district of New York City  and since then has spread around the world as a popular social movement. Its dissatisfaction is wide-spread. Generally it is aimed at narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor; including protesting corporate greed, corruption and  undue influence of the world's wealthiest over governments. These are all legitimate citizen issues.

I visited the group in Ottawa's Confederation Park where I saw some 50 tents, including a large kitchen tent and a smaller Media one. I  took several pictures of the tent community and spoke to Laura who told me: 'We are an emerging paradigm. The movement is a base for hope.'

What is encouraging is that this Occupy Movement has captured the attention of many bright young activists who have espoused nonviolence and mutual aid. In a sense, they are the vanguard of the oppressed people of the Earth. That is indeed commendable.

Although the protests have broadly been leaderless and nonhierarchical, the movement seems to have gained wide popular support in the short time of one month. In response, municipal officials feel themselves as responsible owners of the property and are now rallying the force of the state to shut them down. What the next move of the activists may be has yet to evolve.

In the meantime, we need to step back a moment and see what we have learned from both the Remembrance Day and from the Occupy Movement? If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. May I suggest the following short list of items is a good Socratic beginning to our quest for wisdom and action in creating a peaceful, just and a more equitable and caring society:
  1. Is anyone listening? Are we listening? Is the media brave enough to critique corporate interests? Moreover, is the media willing to publish both minority and majority opinions? How about looking at Pension reforms and Tax reforms. Let's make sure that our health care programs are intact and available to everyone as a human right. 
  2. Implicit in our quest is a critique of the military industrial complex and its threat to our civilization. What kind of country do we want? I sense that Canadians want to regain their peace-keeping tradition and distance themselves from that of a military conquering power. How about working to establish a Canadian Department of Peace? Let's make nonkilling our mantra for the new world.
  3. We need to continually ask 'How do we make life more just and equal?' The answer requires a critique of extreme capitalism, including banks, stocks, deregulation, tax reform, 'free trade',  the whole works.  More and more thinking people are coming to the conclusion that a better system should be based on the common good and not on individual greed and the desire to control. We need to develop a creative structure of redistribution of wealth and resources. 
  4. How can we use the co-operative movement as an engine in creating a better society? Recall that on October 31, 2011, the United Nations launched the International Year of Cooperatives. Here, then, is a new opportunity to see how co-ops work differently than that of corporations which primarily are designed to make money for shareholders. Co-ops work on the principle  'One person, one vote'.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Peace Festivals in Ottawa, Canada

Talk and Slide Show to the Kiwanis Club of Sage
Ottawa, Ontario, November 16, 2011 

 
Introduction

Kiwanis is a global co-educational service club organization (mostly in North America and Europe) of volunteers dedicated 'to changing the world one child and one community at a time'. The organization was founded in 1915 and today is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Current membership is 240,000 in 7,700 clubs in 80 nations. The average age is 57, with men making up 74% and women 26%. On November 16th I was invited to speak to the Kiwanis Club of Sage in Ottawa, which is an all-men club with an average age of 80. The Club has 53 members. Its president A. W. ('Tony') Myres welcomed me and my wife Kristina to the meeting and later Hank Lagasse (President Elect) introduced me. The Notes for my talk follow, after which I presented a slide show of some 400 images of the 5th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival held September 21 to October 2nd. A Question period followed.

The Talk

Good morning everybody!

I understand that the Kiwanis founders years back took 'We build' as the original motto of the Club, which today has been translated to 'Serving the Children of the World' through a variety of local programs including nurturing literacy, music festivals, student-led projects, Air Cadets and Remembrance Day services, supporting Salvation Army, and hands-on assistance to those in need.

In a real sense, your motto is similar to the Peace Festival theme. As a well-known sign says 'We are building peace for children and other living things'. For all of us, of course, peace and justice have no boundaries — whether for children or adults. We are all one in this world.

The very interesting annual Ottawa Peace Festivals have taken place in Canada's capital city since 2007, with the 5th one being a 12-day festival earlier this Fall. The dates form book ends of two UN International Days of Peace (Sept. 21) and Nonviolence (October 2nd).

As photographer, writer, and peace activist, I have had the honour of attending the five festivals and have visually recorded them for all to see on links found on my website Spirit-Wrestlers.com, including links for images on Picasa. Before showing you a slide presentation of the latest Festival on my iPhoto Mac program, I would like to briefly give you a flavour of some of the wisdom of this unique citizens'-based cooperative effort which this year hosted 25 events by 19 civil society organizations and participants. So far this was the largest Ottawa Peace Festival.

The key facilitators have been Dr. Bill Bhaneja (retired foreign service officer, political scientist, member of Pugwash Group, Gandhi scholar and Co-Chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative) and Dr. Peter Stockdale (founding chair of the City of Peace Ottawa).

The idea came to Dr. Bhaneja at one of the global summits of DoP when a delegate from the US mentioned that they were thinking of 11 days of peace activities leading to 9/11. 'We wondered', said Dr. Bhaneja, 'if we could do something similar in a Canadian setting using the two universal UN resolutions. The resolutions define the spirit of CDP/DoP mandate of working towards a Culture of Peace and Nonviolent Resolution of Conflicts.'

The effort coincided with the work of a local civil society group, the City of Peace Ottawa, whose mission statement was: 'To develop Ottawa as a model city of peace, and be a model for other peaceful cities, promoting social harmony and inclusiveness.' And so the Ottawa Peace Festival was born around the theme of 'Peace, Unity, and Harmony'. (See Dr. Bhaneja's talk of September 17, 2011 on Peace Festivals and Cities of Peace)

Presentation

I would like to briefly share with you some of the wisdom of the past festivals. Click here for the text of my presentation: Peace Festivals in Ottawa, Canada, 2007 - 2011, with links to stories and images of each event. Also see: Ottawa Peace Festivals : Archive & History.

Slide Show

Now to my 383 photos of the 5th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival 2011. Enjoy.

Questions Asked

1. 'What is the inner threat to Canada?'
The questioner wanted to know if it was some nation, or what? He suggested that it was 'a clash of religions' between Muslims and Christians. This is an answer that needs to be explored further. What do readers think?

2. 'Should governments be involved in the peace movement?'
Yes. I replied that while individual action and non-government organizations are important in peace making, ultimately we need to involve our government with its huge resources.

3. 'Does the Department of Peace Initiative support the Wall Street movement?'
Yes. As a non-government group, I said, the Initiative supports the protesters around the world in seeking peaceful change towards more equality, justice and a greater voice in our society. DoP members believe that a peace structure in government will go a long ways to promoting the transition of the economy from a war-based one to a peace-based one. This path towards a culture of peace, it is expected, would greatly benefit the economic, social, and psychological status of the 99 percent of the population that the Wall Street movement is working to improve.

4. 'Besides Ottawa, do you have other Chapters across Canada?'

Yes indeed. There are 12 chapters across Canada from coast to coast. The Department of Peace movement is now active in 30 countries. Since 2006, three countries have established Peace Departments: Costa Rica, Nepal and Solomon Islands.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Anna Markova: 'A Doukhobor Martyr'

A Doukhobor Martyr : Anna Markova : 1902-1978 is a chapter in a new book 100 More Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces, by Merna Forster, pages 236-239. This entire 4-page Anna Markova chapter appears on Google Books in 2 file segments — first 3 pages and last 3 pages.

She was passionate about family and faith — and forgiving of those who imprisoned her.

The short 4-page biography, with a photo of a young babushka Markova (above), positions a Doukhobor woman among female scientists, doctors, scholars, educators, pioneers, athletes, business women, politicians, peace activists, artists, actors, an astronaut, detective, soldiers, and other notable women who impacted Canadian history since the 1700s.  

'Doukhobor pioneer Anna Markova…' appeared in the announcement: 'Book continues list of Canada's most important women,' Times Colonist (Victoria & Vancouver Island, BC), Oct. 9, 2011.

This book is the second in a series for Forster, who places Markova among the 101th to 200th of her selection of heroines in Canadian history. References used were:
  • George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic, The Doukhobors (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1968).
  • Jim Popoff, "Passing of a Doukhobor Martyr" and "An Interview with Anna Petrovna Markova," Mir No. 17, pages 2-23, May 1979.
  •  Koozma J. Tarasoff, 'An Esteemed Babushka Who Weathered the Storm,' Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living, 2002, pages 113-114.

Forster concludes: 'Anna Petrovena Markova … One of the first Canadian Doukhobor social activists, she is still remembered as a visionary. The local newspaper noted, "She was zealous, but not a zealot, and a staunch advocate of enlightenment, family unity, spiritual and moral rebirth."' And she adds that Markova was memorialised in 4 ways:
Forster missed much online:

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Doukhobor Russian Language Research

"Saskatchewan Doukhobor Native Speaking Fluency" is a joint research project at the University of Saskatchewan with the State University of St. Pertersburg, Russia. The Russian government is funding the study and a related Russian website.

The project was launched by Dr. Veronica Makarova, Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Linguistics and the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Program Chair at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1992 she earned her Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of St. Petersburg. Her bibliography lists 37 papers published up to 2011.  She is editor of Russian Language Studies in North America : New Perspectives from Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (200 pages) to be published March 2012. In 2012 she moved to the Department of Religion and Culture.

Most Canadian Doukhobors recently learned about this project from newspapers on Saturday Oct. 29, 2011.
  • Linguist to rescue Doukhobor language, The Star Phoenix, Saskatoon
    (copied on Doukhobor Genealogy Message Board)
  • Russian linguist wants to rescue dying Doukhobor language, The Vancouver Sun
  • Researchers try to save language, Edmonton Journal, October 31, 2011

Dr. Makarova published her first paper about Doukohor Russian in March 2011:
Язык саскачеванских духоборов: введение в анализ The Language of Saskatchewan Doukhobors: Introduction to the Analysis
В.А. Макарова, Э.В. Усенкова, В.В. Евдокимова, К.В. Евграфова. Известия вузов. Серия «Гумани-тарные науки», 2 (2) 146-151. 25-05-2011.  Markarova, V.A, E.V. Usenkova, V.V. Evdokimova, K.V. Evgrafova. News of Higher Schools. Series "Humanities", Vol. 2, Issue 2, 25 March 2011, pages 146-151.
В статье описывается состояния русского языка этнического меньшинства канадских духоборов провинции Саскачеван. Этот уникальный диалект, находящийся на грани исчезновения, никогда ранее не подвергался лингвистическим исследованиям. В статье приводится краткая история духоборов Саскачевана, описываются некоторые характерные черты их речи и показываются причины постепенной утраты ими русского языка. Речь данной группы представляет особый интерес с лингвистической, социолингвистической и антропологической точек зрения. Описание и сохранение образцов этого уникального диалекта, находящегося на грани исчезновения, для последующих поколений является важной задачей. This paper introduces the description of the state of Saskatchewan Doukhobor Russian, the language of an ethnic minority residing in one of Canadian provinces. This unique dialect is on the very brink of extinction, and yet it has never been subjected to any linguistic studies. The speech of this minority group is of particular interest from the linguistic, sociolinguistic and anthropological perspectives. The paper gives a brief survey of Saskatchewan Doukhobor history, describes some characteristic features of Saskatchewan Doukhobor Russian speech and outlines the reasons for the language loss.
Download the Russian-language paper above.

Mae Popoff (B.Ed, BA and PDG graduate studies), president of the Doukhobor Cultural Society of Saskatchewan, and editor of the Sheaf, contacted Dr. Makarova and cleared the main question most have asked — about all the Russian-speaking Doukhobors in B.C.  Popoff reports:
  • I arranged for her to interview Russian speaking Doukhobors, including myself and my Chernoff relatives. 
  • Professor Evgrafova from St. Petersburg has been in Saskatoon for 10 days and leaves Nov. 6, 2011. 
  • I made Professor Makarova aware of British Columbia Doukhobors but she is concentrating on Saskatchewan for now.
  • I will continue to be in contact with Dr. V. Makarova and the Saskatoon Doukhobor Society

Also see Blog: Q43: Is 'Doukhobor Dialect' Defended? about Dr. Schaarschmidt defending the Doukhobor-Russian language dialect.  Malarova's project was news to him, as he writes (11/1/2011):
If she is correct about the fact that there are still about 50 speakers of the language there is hope for the maintenance and revitalization of the language but it will take more than the efforts of a linguist to accomplish this goal or else the language will only be "rescued" as a museum language and not as a form of daily communication. It will take a community effort to be willing to achieve the maintenance and revitalization of Doukhobor Russian in everyday communication. I know that the situation in BC is much better than the one in Saskatchewan but nonetheless I look with concern at the obituaries in Iskra.


UPDATE July 1, 2012:

A chapter about the Canadian Doukhobor Russian dialect is at the end of Dr. Makarova's book published June 1, 2012:

Schaarschmidt, Gunter. "Russian Language History in Canada. Doukhoboor Internal and External Migrations: Effect on language development and structure," (Chapter 10, pages 235-260) in Russian Language Studies in North America: New Perspectives from Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, edited by Veronika Makarova. London: Anthem Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780857287847.

See previews at Google Books, Amazon.com and Anthem Press.

Introduction, page xvii: "... the author illustrates an interplay between the colloquial and ritual functional styles in Doukhobor Russian. The unique features of Doukhobor Russian are explained by its largely oral traditon, relative geological isolation, deliberate resistance to the influence of Canadian English, and the influence of Ukrainian, dating mainly to the first generation of settlers in the province of Saskatchewan. This study is the first major work introducing the language history and structure of Doukhobor Russian."

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tamara Tarasoff Awarded for Volunteerism

Introduction

On the evening of October 28th, 2011, I was in Aylmer, Quebec where I attended the West Quebecers 2011 Community Awards. Here my daughter Tamara (b.1964) received their annual Education Community Award for her outstanding volunteer work in the Wakefield area of Quebec.

As a father with Doukhobor pacifist roots growing up in Western Canada, tears came to my eyes when Tamara in her response acknowledged the role of her parents in instilling the spirit of inquiry, activism and responsibility for ones actions. She mentioned the peace marches that she and her brother Lev used to go with us as parents and other members of the concerned public in Saskatchewan, holding signs for peace and universal brotherhood.

Acceptance by Tamara Tarasoff for Education Community Award

What we do as parents does matter. As an example to our children, we affect our gene pool and the future generations. That is Lesson 101 of the celebrated biologist Charles Darwin. That is how the quality of the world is achieved.

As well, individual actions do matter. At the end of her emails, Tamara adds a priceless bit of advice, taken from the wisdom of popular US anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) whom I as an anthropologist met years ago in Moscow and Montreal:

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'

Tamara has taken that wisdom to heart. I have followed the EcoLaPeche Blog which she has written over the past two years to inform fellow citizens about the poorly planned regional septic sludge plant that her regional government wishes to build along the Gatineau River near Wakefield. Her brave efforts combined with the collective support of concerned community members is a classic case of basic democracy at work. The community has virtually raised the roof and brought to light the actions of seven mayors in the Gatineau area while pushing for a better solution, one that all citizens can live with. The combined efforts of 'thoughtful committed citizens' is having an effect.

As parents we are of course proud of Tamara and her non-paid volunteer work in the Wakefield community of Quebec. As father I would like to add one other attribute that deserves mention.

In our materialistic digital age, Tamara has not forgotten her Russian Doukhobor roots. When the Canadian Museum of Civilization was holding its Spirit Wrestlers Exhibition in the mid-1990s, she did a contract for the Museum in creating modules on the best of Doukhobor traditions and culture. Also she volunteered in demonstrating the art of cooking as well as spinning wool. Moreover, as time permits, she has been working on a Traditional Recipe book largely based on her first-hand lessons and memorable anecdotes from her Saskatchewan grandmothers who were both excellent cooks: Baba Luba Konkin in Kamsack and Baba Anastasia Tarasoff in Saskatoon. We all look forward to a 'best seller'.

At the Awards ceremony we were reminded that 'it takes a whole village to raise a child'. Absolutely!

West Quebecers 2011 Community Award Education
This award is given to the person who has made the most substantial contribution to the development and enhancement of education.
Tamara Tarasoff
Tamara (right) with son Nicholas and daughter Elena.

Tamara Tarasoff moved to the Wakefield area with husband John in 1996. Soon after children Nicholas and Elena were born, she was inspired to become part of this community's outstanding volunteer tradition. As a young mom, she first brought her energy and ideas to Wakefield School. She volunteered in the classroom and worked with other parents to establish the Butterfly Garden and organize events and fundraisers. One year, she organized a parent petition asking the Municipality of LaPêche for a grant to complete the school playground; after she made a presentation at a municipal council meeting and received the desired funds.  In recent years she worked with community members to create a plastic bag education program for the school. As a result of this program, students reduced their use of plastic bags and encouraged community members to do likewise.  In 2011, she co-led Life Before Plastics, a follow-up to this program; over several months, Grade 4 and 5 students explored the history of plastics, participated in oral history and photography workshops, took photographs, and conducted oral history interviews with elders in the community who lived before plastic was a common material.

Other areas of Tamara's community involvement include local sports clubs, the Fairbairn Museum, the Harvest Festival and Eco Echo. More recently she has taken a leadership role fighting for a sustainable alternative to the regional septic sludge treatment plant planned for the banks of the Gatineau River; she believes it makes no sense to scar the beautiful rural landscape north of Wakefield with huge open lagoons, truck the septic tank contents from 20,000 households in 7 municipalities to these lagoons and release the effluent into the River.

She is grateful for this award and wants to thank her friends and family for their support and involvement over the years. She also wants everyone to know that, when she grows up, she wants to be a Wakefield Granny. 
—————————

From Wakefield, Quebec, there was another community award winner. It was 70-year-old Neil Faukner, this year's recipient of the Founders Award for Outstanding Leadership from the Regional Association of West Quebecers. He said that we need to depend on partnerships in making our communities work. Our spirit ought to  be similar to the one that President Obama in his election speech said 'Yes, we can!'

Neil Faukner

Signalling his advancing age, Faulkner wants to inspire youth to get involved. 'I want to encourage people to have a bigger vision of the future and what it is that we want here,' he said. 'We are lucky to live in a community where people are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in.'

Final Thoughts

As writer of this article, I would like to add a reminder to all of us as citizens of Canada. If we are not satisfied with the way that the country is going, we need to stand up and be counted not only at the ballot box, but also in our communities as volunteers. This may mean standing up to oppose the militarization of the country (instead of the Pearsonian emphasis on Peace Keeping), the attempted privatization of our basic institutions of public health care, education, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian Wheat Board, and so forth.

As Tamara, Neil and so many others have shown us: Yes we can!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Q47: Why Doukhobors Respect The Earth?

From: Harold Johnson, Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan

Tell me more about the Love of the Earth.
Why Do Doukhobors Respect The Earth?

This doesn't correspond with my understanding of Christianity which I have always understood was a strict love of Christ and God and maybe something called the holy ghost, and a complete disregard for the Earth. Didn't Christians give up the Earth when God gave them dominion over it in Genesis? Where did the Doukhobors develop this deep understanding of Earth as life? It seems completely at odds with the Judea Christian Muslim singular god idea.


Answer

Early Doukhobor pioneers were grain and cattle farmers who depended for their livelihood upon the land, abundant moisture and sunshine.

Because of the nature of their work, they were close to the soil and therefore close to 'Mother Earth' which gave them life.

An example of this would be a contemporary Doukhobor farmer by the name of George Zeberoff and his Russian-Czech wife Anna who operate a unique organic farm on an eleven-acre hillside fruit farm in beautiful valley of Cawston, British Columbia. Opened in 1973, the farm has been a veritable cornucopia of delicious, nutritious, organically grown food. To achieve this, the owners exercise patience in working with nature. They follow the natural rhythms of the seasons. They also encourage the ability to let go and forgive and they deliberately prefer to work on a small scale with an environmentally friendly relationship to the world. For the Zebroff's the Earth is their life and they lovingly respect it. (See more on this unique farm in my book Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living (2002): pages 191-193).

A personal example on the power of the earth comes from an experience I had in southern Canada in 1990. In an East-West cold war exchange, I as a Doukhobor was chosen to mix Russian soil from the Tolstoy farm of Yasnaya Polyana in Russia with that of a dairy farm in southern Ontario — in a symbolic Culture-Agriculture exchange program. It was an awesome moment for me as I mixed the soil from two continents in a ceremony that was captured on film by a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation crew for a program Adrian Clarkson Presents.

More: Questions and Answers, Comments

World Walker for Peace Returns Home

On Parliament Hill
Introduction

On his 45th birthday 18 August 2000, Jean Beliveau of Montreal Canada left his family behind to undertake a mission to walk around the world through five continents and 64 countries for "peace and children."

He crossed mountain ranges, desserts, and even ate bugs and snakes in order to survive. This he has done as he returned home safely on October 16th, 2011 to a hero's welcome in Montreal.

In being away from Canada for 11 years and two months, Jean logged in 75,554 kilometres and wore out 54 pairs of shoes. He is now 56 years of age and reunited with his family.

Peter Stockdale presents 54th pair of shoes
I had a chance to meet Jean Beliveau on October 1st when he arrived in Ottawa and participated in the 5th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival. I walked with him from Minto Park to the City Hall where Mayor Jim Watson presented Jean with a Peace Award. Then, October 3rd, I was with him on Parliament Hill at the Eternal Flame for a photo opp before walking with him and several other people across Alexandra Bridge to Gatineau, where he was welcomed back to his home province of Quebec.

The night before he began his last leg of his  marathon walk home to Montreal, I had a chance to interview Jean and say our farewells. (See 383 event photos of the Peace Festival where Jean Beliveau participated. In Koozma J. Tarasoff's Photo Gallery. Also see 42 photos of the walk from Parliament Hill to Gatineau, Quebec.)

Here is what I learned from Jean Beliveau and his remarkable world journey by foot from August 18, 2000 to October 16, 2011.

My Questions

1. I understand that your walk began with a  mid-life crisis. Tell us how this came about  and how it helped resolve your personal problems.

'It began with a mid-life crisis. I was divorced and got remarried to Luce as a new life partner. I had my own business selling Neon Signs. However, the economic situation after the ice storm was not favourable and the business was down. So, what was I to do?
 Greeted by Gatineau, Quebec students

'One evening, at the age of 44, I decided I had to do something different so that I could again gain an interest in life. I thought about walking to New York. Before long, three weeks before I set out on my trip, I mapped out a plan to walk the world beginning south, then east and going west. In the morning I told my wife Luce about my idea.

'She said: "If you want to go, then you have to have a good cause  such as walking for peace."

'I grasped the idea as a good one. It was a turn in my life. This was in August  18, 2000, on my 45th birthday  it was the year that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace and  2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the children of the World. The Peace Manifesto was drafted by a group of Nobel Peace Prize members in everyday language. This became my cause and my mission. I became an Envoy of Peace.

'In recent years I learned about the Canadian Initiative (CDPI) to establish a cabinet level Department of Peace and I gladly added this to my agenda as I continued my walk. When I arrived on the west coast of Canada, I was glad to meet Saul Arbess, the National Chairman. Later, during my homecoming in Montreal, I met Saul as well as Bill Bhaneja  of Ottawa (co-chair of the Ottawa Chapter of CDPI) who hosted me for one night in his home.'

2.  How did you mentally and physically prepare for this walk? What did you take with you?

'I was in good shape as I was a recreational cross-country skier and I did some running from time to time. As I began my walk south to New York City, I walked alone with a three-wheeled stroller, Canadian-made, that holds a bit of food, my clothing, a First Aid Kit, a small tent and sleeping bag as well as lots of water. About 50 kilos in total.

'I did not speak English, but slowly I learned it with my thick French accent. In my youth, I left school after Primary grade. I had a lovely family. My parents encouraged me to go to university, but unfortunately I was not an academic child. To provide more education, they enrolled me in private courses.  I studied graphic design in Montreal. As I walked, I learned a lot like I've been in university.  On the road, I picked up several other languages:   Spanish, Portuguese, some tribal languages in Africa, Arabia — learned words like food and shelter as well as "Hello", "Good night". Above all, I found that a good smile helped me meet people.'

3.   How did you survive financially?

'I started with $4,000. Then people were supportive with food and bed. In South America there were two mines in Chile that gave me a total of $1,000. That was great! A Canadian, a Brazilian and South African Airlines shared the cost of a ticket from Brazil to South Africa. Air New Zealand flew me from Australia to New Zealand and then from New Zealand to Vancouver, without asking for publicity in return. l also received camping and sports equipment from outfitters, including most (but not all) of the 54 pairs of shoes I have worn out before coming home.

'My wife saved about $4,000 per year. But the rest came from people. I stayed with maybe 1,600 families. In the last year, when I was in New Zealand, I paid only one night in a hotel while I was there for four months. People made an amazing chain of hospitality. In fact, I could say that 80 percent of the money and help in kind for me came from the thousands of people I met along the way.'

4.  You have called your wife Luce Archambeault, 'an Angel' because she was very instrumental in the success of your world walk. Tell us about this.

'Whenever I was tired, I slept; whenever I was hungry, I ate. But I was not alone. My wife Luce met me from ten days to three weeks every year whereever I was. We just enjoyed being together while taking a rest. It was like a 'new honeymoon' as we reunited in New Orleans, Ecuador, Chile, Malawi. Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Nepal, Taiwan, Australia and Vancouver.

'Luce kept in touch with me through the Internet, Cel phone, and Skype.  Whenever, it was possible, I would visit an Internet Cafe or make use of computers with families that I met. I tried to send a message whenever I could. I used a digital recorder to record some of the sounds  of the day, but it was only in the last year or so that my wife gave me a laptop computer which helped me communicate better.

'My son Thomas Eric (now 31) met me in Germany and stayed on there for seven months studying and working. In Ottawa he joined me and then walked with with me to my home in Montreal. Daughter Eliza Jane (now 29) came to Ottawa as well. A nice family present.'

5.  In looking at your website, there is much we can learn about your life during your 11-year remarkable sojourn around the world. Your map, newsletter, 6000 photos, countless media reports and comments no doubt helped the public and the media meet you from place to place. Tell us about some of your meetings.

'Without the modern technology of the Internet, it would be very hard to stay in touch with home base.  I am grateful to Luce and friends for maintaining such a wonderful site.

'The people I met along the way were unforgettable. I had a chance to shake hands with former South African president Nelson Mandela -- a total of four Nobel Prize winners. Doctors would give me free checkups. One of these doctors gave me a prosthetic surgery.

6.  On January 30, 2011, you arrived in Vancouver. After  meeting with local people and your wife, you began your final 5,400 kilometers to Montreal. Tell us about the hardships (such as your attempt to cross Rogers Pass on foot)  and some of the highlights of this last long stretch of your walk on Canadian territory. 

'The walk through the Roger's Pass with frequent avalanches was the most dangerous. Parks Canada staff discussed my journey and provided a detailed path that helped me avoid avalanche zones and which sections I could safely walk. The Ministry of Transportation advised me to walk in the morning when rocks and snow were less likely to fall and they loaned me a safety vest at this time.

'In the end, I walked to just before the first snow shed after Canyon Hot Springs where the high avalanche hazard began. From there I got a ride to the east gate of Glacier National Park. Through the kind help of many good people, I was able to continue my journey in safety.'

7.  The 'walk' as the central part of your World Peace Walk interests me. Anthropologists know that other cultures have wandering traditions using the walk. Aboriginal Australians have the tradition of 'going walkabout'. In India and Nepal there are Hindu religious men called sadhus who renounce all material possessions and worldly pleasures and often go across the country on foot, relying on the generosity of the local people for survival. I understand that you met one naked sadhu in India who claimed that  he had walked 30 years, 30 kms a day.

Then there was the Peace Pilgrim,  a silver-haired woman who from 1953 to 1981 walked across  North America seven times covering some 40,000 kms on a personal pilgrimage for peace. I met the woman in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 1950s when she stayed with my parents for a night. 

Jean, while you did not give up the pleasures of life, though your material needs were minimal, what similarities do you see with some of the walkers that you have heard about or read about? What is the advantage of the marathon walk, as compared to a marathon run?

We are made to walk. In nature, animals run freely; they hunt and are hunted. For us, a daily walk or a mega walk is like a pilgrimage -- it balances our energies which are pulling and pushing us.

8.  You walked  through America, Mexico, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Tell us about some of the dangerous incidents in your trip and how you handled them. 

I had two assaults which turned out not to be too serious. I walked in the wilderness and in war zones and was lucky that I am still alive.

9.  On October 16, 2011,  you completed your 11-year Walk for Peace as you arrived in Montreal  where you were welcomed by 200 people including two mayors, UNESCO ambassador, two federal MPs NDP Helene La Verdiere and Liberal Denis Coderre. Saul Arbess was one of the speakers to thank you on behalf of CDPI for including the idea of Ministry of Peace during your walk across Canada. Of course, your mother was on hand — this being the first time you saw her since you left home.  Tell us about this homecoming.

It was really a big surprise for me. My relatives, friends and dignitaries raised up the emotions resulting in an amazing finale to my walk which I will keep in my heart forever.

10.  Being forced to deal with a constantly changing world, meeting both rich and poor, you no doubt have learned about life. What significant lessons would you like to share with the wider world?

I learned to keep my life simple. I observed other peoples' values and learned to tolerate them and their ideas.

11.  Now that you are home, what are your plans for the future?

'My plan is to be with my family until Christmas, after which I plan to work on my book about my travels and possibly do some public speaking, to be involved in the peace movement,  and to participate in conferences.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Gergiev Marinsky Tchaikovsky Concert

The world famous Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg, Russia, led by Maestro Valery Gergiev came to Ottawa. It  has a long tradition of excellence and continues to represent the best of the performing arts, featuring world-class artists from around the globe.

On Sunday afternoon (October 23, 2011) my wife Kristina and I along with Milena (Kristina's daughter) enjoyed a performance of two Tchaikovsky symphonies: 'Winter Daydreams', 1866, and 'Pathetique', 1893. With some 70 musicians on stage at the National Arts Centre (NAC), it was an outstanding event. It is hard to imagine a finer performance of the Tchaikovsky most accomplished works.  The three of us were delighted at such such high calibre art that we had tears in our eyes.


Conductor Gergiev with his minimalist gestures clearly did his job at hand in thrilling the sold-out audience at NAC. As Artistic Director of the Marinsky Theater since 1988, Valery Gergiev has taken Marinsky ensembles to 45 countries and brought universal acclaim to this legendary institution (formerly called 'Kirov' during the Soviet era), now in its 229th season.

His leadership has resulted in the superb new Mariinsky Concert Hall, opened in November 2006  and the Mariinsky Label, launched in 2009. Currently Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and The World Orchestra for Peace, Valery Gergiev is also founder and Artistic Director of the Stars of the White Nights and New Horizons festivals in St. Petersburg, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Gergiev Rotterdam Festival, the Mikkeli International Festival, and the Red Sea Festival in Eilat, Israel.

Following this outstanding concert, we had an opportunity to attend a Reception where we personally met Gergiev and heard him address the audience in English. What struck me in meeting him was his pierching eyes which reminded me of the eyes of world class Russian writer and philosopher Lev N. Tolstoy. Yet Gergiev like the genius Tolstoy seems to be a man of the people.

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Georgiy Mamedov, officially welcomed the Maestro to Canada. He said that Russians and Americans 'once  loved their intercontinental rockets, but it is much better to love the tradition of excellence of Gergiev and the Marinsky Orchestra'.

In the Program handout, Mamedov wrote this about Gergiev: 'His signature conducting style seems suited to his penchant for these dramatic works.  His hands move as though he is painting in the air or dancing with his fingers.'  Beautifully said! For all music lovers in Canada, it was a night to remember.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Doukhobor Documentaries in New Denver

Doukhobor Documentaries Screening — video and digital media
October 27, 2011 — Thursday — 7 pm.
Bosun Hall, 104 Josephine Street (west of hospital), New Denver, BC

Bosun Hall, 104 Josephine Street, New Denver, BC.

During October 2011 students at the New Denver Lucerne Elementery Secondary Schools (grades 5-12) have been studying and digitally documenting Doukhobors. Their multi-disciplinary project is 'Values of Doukhobor Community: Then and Now.'

The students have been interviewing Doukhobor elders, visited the Doukhobor Village Museum in Castlegar, learning frameworks of historical thinking, and using the Internet to collaborate their work.

Filmmakers have assisted students with podcasts, digital stories, poetry, images and art on a blog to 'co-create meaning and build a greater understanding of the values that underlie the heritage of our Doukhobor community and their contribution to our community and Canada.'

A public screening of their work is announced for Thursday, October 27 at the Bosun Hall, 104 Josephine (across from hospital), New Denver, BC — 7 pm.

From: Doukhobor Documentary, Lucerne Elementery Secondary School Newsletter, October 4, 2011.

After school staff had requested use of photos from Spirit-Wrestlers.com, I asked what they were doing. More will be posted when I find out.
————————————
Note from Ms. Taylor  —  Oct 20, 2011

…  It has been fascinating to see their engagement in our place-based learning initiative and to witness the heartfelt reception that they have been given by the elders and other Doukhobor community members. In all this week, the students have conducted about eight interviews with Doukhobors from Hills to Castlegar and several points in between. Kindness and graciousness has consistently been granted to our students in all of these interviews as well as in our field trips to the Museum, the Brilliant Cultural Centre and Verigin's Tomb. We did purchase an array of the books and resources at the Doukhobor Village Museum to supplement our library collection.

We shall most definitely keep you posted and will follow up with a short post to add to your blog describing the project, along with some photos of the students working and perhaps some screenshots too.  …

Ms. Terry Taylor, District Principal of Learning,
Principal, Arrow Lakes DL School, SD#10 (Arrow Lakes)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Being a Visionary in the Digital Age

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011), co-founder of the Apple empire and soul of the cutting edge entrepreneur, will always be remembered  as a visionary, a marketer and an inventor. His death was widely mourned and he was considered to be a loss to the world by commentators around the world.

Jobs was not an engineer or a computer guru. Jobs was a maverick and self-made leader who today is remembered as one of the best entrepreneurs in the past century.  He understood consumers and the value of a good team working together to produce an elegant and cool product — as became the Apple Macintosh line of computers (first launched in 1984), Smart phones, MP3 players and iPods.

He said: 'Great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people.'

This man saw business opportunities arising from technology rather than simply the opportunity to create technology. When he recruited John Sculley, the Pepsi executive who would later force Jobs out of the company, he asked him: 'Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change  the world?'

For this reason, Jobs had little interest in studies of consumer habits or desires. 'It is not the consumers' job to know what they want?' he would say. According to him, a lot of times people do not know what they want until you show it to them.

As a peace activist writing this tribute, I would like to apply Job's central core of his genius in asking this about converting the conditions of war into peace:
  • Do you want to spend your time working on a centre for global nonkilling (with its central theme of not killing and not being killed), or do you want a chance to change the world?
  • Do you want to spend  your time in getting rid of arms trade (exposing war industry's trade shows and bazaars), or do you want a chance to change the world? 
  • Do you want to spend your time in abolishing nuclear weapons (by telling world leaders to abolish nuclear weapons), or do you want a chance to change the world? and   
  • Do you want to spend your time in creating a Department of Peace (a cabinet level department in the Executive Branch) in your country, or do you want a chance to change the world?
All of these goals are important for the health of our planet and ourselves. As concerned compassionate citizens of the world, we need to work on them with interest. patience and seriousness.

Yet as visionaries, we need to continually ask ourselves the question: What is it that we really want? For many, the answer is simple.
  • We want a world without war.
  • We want a world where everyone has the right to good free health care, free education, and the opportunity of having jobs, and the basic infrastructure (affordable housing, rich cultural supports, transportation facilities, safe and clean environment, and honest governance) to make our life comfortable and just.
  • We want a world that is becoming for us as responsible human beings. 

To me it seems clear that like the late Steve Job's, we need to have the genius for simplicity to discover and develop the essence of things. We need to work on creating the beautiful conditions that 'take away the occasion for wars' (as Quakers often say) and lead us to follow the Golden Rule of relationships. With the wisdom of Tolstoy, Gandhi and King, we need a chance to change the world. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Free e-Books about Doukhobors

Find more than 200 Google e-books, journals and reports online which mention "Doukhobors." Most are FREE.

e-Books

e-Journals

At the Doukhobor Genealogy Website, by Jonathan Kalmakoff, find 350 Stories and Articles in addition to 100s of maps, lists, and genealogy aids.

Books and journals online listed on my Spirit-Wrestlers Blog.