Monday, 9 February 2015

Tribute to Nick Verigin (1930 - 2015)

Nick Verigin was a close friend. We first met in the 1950s when I was editor/publisher of The Inquirer, for which he wrote 3 articles.

I visited him often, corresponded and phoned him. In 1977, I joined him on a fact-finding heritage tour of the Soviet Union, visiting the Doukhobor villages in the historic areas of the Caucasus. With him came his children Mark, Yvonne and Colleen.

In 2010 during my Tolstoy-Doukhobor speaking tour of the Kootenays, Nick was my host and contact. He drove me around and we spent lots of time together. I will miss him dearly.

In one of my presentations on Doukhobors, I brought with me a large round loaf of freshly baked bread to illustrate the symbol of bread, salt and water in meetings. As it was close to lunch, one boy raised his hand and asked if he could have a piece of bread to eat because he was hungry. I looked at Nick at the back and he smiled and nodded in approval. I said ‘Yes’ and gave the boy a piece of the bread which he then ate with pleasure.

Born at the beginning of the Big Depression years of the 1930s, as the second child of six children in the Doukhobor village of Bozhiye Milost' (God's Grace, Cowley district, southern Alberta), Nick worked on the farm when everything was done by horsepower and manpower. He was the first Doukhobor in his district to graduate from school.

By taking correspondence courses, night school and summer school in universities of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Washington State, Nick Verigin obtained his BA and MA degrees in education. He taught four years in Alberta, 29 years in Pass Creek, BC and five years in Castlegar, for a total of 38 years. Nick was a teacher par excellence. His motto was to learn by doing. He excelled in mathematics, science and social studies. His curiosity infected many. One of his graduates is today a lawyer, another one is a professional hockey player.

From June 30 to July 28 of 1977, thirty Doukhobors from Canada went on a ‘Doukhobor History Tour of the Soviet Union’. This was one of over a dozen tours to the Soviet Union that were organized by the Doukhobors themselves, and a detailed account of the organization of this excursion reveals that various organizations and individuals contributed, the chief overall organizer of whom was a Doukhobor named Nick Verigin who was a high school principal in Pass Creek, British Columbia.(1)

As a person interested in Russian and Doukhobor history, language and culture, Nick travelled many times to Russia. He was a bridge-builder and peace maker. In his mission to learn, he wanted to see first hand the facts on the ground so as to gain a new perspective on the world. During the Cold War, he was not afraid to state that it was the Soviet Union that essentially stopped Hitler and the Nazi occupation of the world. As a teacher he shared his knowledge with his students as well as with the larger public.(1)
Although Nick is not with us in life today, some of the wisdom that he wrote will be published soon in my eBook. In his contribution, Nick concludes with a passionate plea to humanity to become educated in nonviolent action at home and abroad:

My solution to the world’s problems is to start with ourselves. However, we have to receive a spark from somewhere. Today we see and hear mainly violence. There should be more programs, books and lectures on peace and goodness so that more people will become peace promoters.

Nick’s legacy to us is to become peace activists. ‘No to all wars! Yes to peace!’ he would say. Thank you, my friend for sharing that inner spirit of wisdom. Thank you.

As educator, Nick Verigin you have shown us the way. We miss you dearly.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. Rest in peace.

Nick Verigin, 84, of Castlegar, British Columbia died suddenly February 2nd from a heart attack. Funeral: Wednesday, 11 February 2015, 10 am., Brilliant Cultural Centre, Castlegar, BC. Burial: Pass Creek (Lugovoye) Doukhobor Cemetery.

Alex Ewashen reports: "Nick ... had a wonderful send off, many accolades, it was a well run service, 90-100 people stayed for lunch, but many went home when we went to the cemetery."

  1. Marlin, Marguerite. "Building Global Civil Society Through Citizen Dipolomacy. A Case Study of Soviet-Canadian Doukhobor Correspondence": Terra Sebvs: Ancient History and Archaeology, Feb. 2010, page 603.
  2. Tarasoff, Koozma J. Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living (2002): 162-163.
  3. Alberta map links to Doukhobor Genealogy Website.


  1. Mark Verigin, Castlegar, BC10 February 2015 at 10:26

    Thank you Koozma for your kind words and condolences. I know you and dad were dear friends. His wisdom and thoughtful ways are in our hearts and minds. I miss my Dad and hope I remember the lessons he tried to teach me.

  2. Colleen Mecham, One Hundred Mile House, BC10 February 2015 at 10:28

    Thank you so much for the beautiful tribute to Dad. We are so very proud of the man he was and you captured that in your tribute. Thank you for being such a good friend to Dad. This world needs more good men like you two.

  3. Dear Koozma: Thanks very much for this fine tribute to Nick Verigin. I didn't know Nick very well at all, although our paths did cross several times when I lived in the Kootenays. As I recall, he was inspiring in conversation and in front of a class. May he rest in peace.

  4. Thank you for your kind words about Nick. I had the priviledge of being a classmate of Nick's. We rode our saddle horses to school in Cowley AB. Nick was a very competant debater. I remember a political science class we had where we argued the merits of Capitalism versus Communism, Nick took the Communist side and won the debate. In a following class he took the Capitalist side and again won the debate.Because of his outspokeness about Communism he was denied a Bursary to study Education upon graduation.

    When visiting Nick and Sylvia when they lived at the teacherage in Pass Creek I remember when their kids spoke to Nick they spoke in Russian, when they spoke to Sylvia they spoke in Ukranian, when they were in the school yard they spoke English with their classmates.Nick's teaching ethics were "beyond the call of duty" all the way.


  5. Feb 16
    The service was beautiful. Thank you again for the wonderful tribute.

  6. Svetlana Inikova, Russia16 February 2015 at 20:52

    Дорогой Кузьма!
    Хотела написать тебе сразу, как только получила известие о смерти Николая Веригина, но как всегда отвлекли дела. Я все эти дни постоянно вспоминаю его и никак не могу поверить, что его уже нет. Я не видела его несколько лет, но когда он приезжал последний раз в Москву, то был бодр и внешне вполне здоров. Очень, очень сожалею о его смерти. Как Миша Веригин? Он в старческом доме или нет? Если будешь ему звонить, передай, пожалуйста, от меня соболезнования по случаю смерти Николая.

  7. Gunter Schaarschmidt6 March 2015 at 06:19

    As the saying goes: "Better late than never". Over the last 20 years or so I had many interesting discussions with Nick Verigin. He showed much interest in my life and work when we were usually seated in close proximity to one another during the dinners at the Festival in May, and I owe much to his experience. I regret that I attended far too seldom, especially in recent years. So when I will intend this coming May I hope to pay tribute to this devoted fellow-teacher in my own special way. Nick, I will hopefully see you again in the special hall provided for late teachers!