Tuesday, 25 January 2022

New Book on Doukhobor Biographies

Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers and Their Friends
has just been published as a text with 459 pages and 340 images, and as a free eBook online. See press release

This 2022 book is a continuation of my 2002 book ― Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living.  

To update the first book 20 years later, I invited more people associated with the Doukhobor Movement to submit their biographies, and many did.

33 biographies came from around the world ― Canada (24), Russia (5), USA (2), Caribbean West Indies (1), and Australia (1). Four have no direct Doukhobor heritage. 

They are:
  • scholars
  • lawyer
  • ministers
  • educators
  • professors
  • civil servant
  • medical doctor
  • administrators
  • heritage builder
  • Slavic specialist
  • community activist
  • geophysical engineer
  • petroleum consultant
  • wheat pool director
  • singers and musicians
  • museum professional
  • artist, storyteller, dancer
  • communications worker
  • early childhood educator
  • digital technology expert
  • ethnographer and folklorist
  • entrepreneur with a conscience
  • organic candy maker in Australia
  • organic architect in the Caribbean
  • international consular property manager
  • Canadian family in Russia living
    next to the Lev N. Tolstoy estate 
These 33 Doukhobor pioneers and their friends exhibit an extraordinary spirit and talent to create a peaceful and healthy society. Their combined lessons of friendship, love, problem solving, and respect for humanity give us hope for the future of our species on planet earth. 

This large book with 340 images was a voluntary effort. The printing was funded by a very generous donation from geological engineer Michael N. Chernoff of West Vancouver, born in Veregin, Saskatchewan. His big brother Charlie has a biography in the book. 

A limited number of printed copies were distributed to the biographers, to select libraries and archives around the world, to several book reviewers, and to a number of individuals (‘the unsung heroes’). The distribution was made free as an expression of loving dedication to the Doukhobor experience and their hope for a peaceful nonkilling world society. 

The online version will be updated over time. Printed copies can be ordered from Manager Jia Hou, Merriam Print Inc., 252 Laurier Ave. East, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6P4. Phone Jia at 613-567-5050, or email print252@gmail.com 

About the Author

Koozma J. Tarasoff was born in 1932 on an isolated Saskatchewan farm 35 miles north-west of Saskatoon. With father John K., mother Anastasia, and brother John J. in the early 1940s, he moved to Saskatoon for public schooling. He got his BA in social sciences at the University of Saskatchewan and in 1962 went to University of British Columbia for his MA in Anthropology and Sociology. 

After graduation in 1964, for three years, he worked for the Province of Saskatchewan doing ethnographic studies of the Native Indians in the Broadview area. Next he joined the Federal Government in Winnipeg and then Ottawa where he worked for Regional Economic Expansion with submarginal rural areas and Natives. In the spring of 1979, the Canadian Council of Rural Development where he was last working was dissolved and he lost his job. That change allowed him to work as an independent ethnographer, photojournalist, and author on the Doukhobors and the peace movement. 

To date, Koozma Tarasoff has written 25 books, including those on native Canadians, rural development, east-west peace making, and major works on his heritage ― the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors. With webmaster Andrei Conovaloff of Arizona, USA, Koozma today hosts the Spirit Wrestlers website and blog ― www.Spirit-Wrestlers.com ― from Canada’s capital Ottawa. 

Update: February 4, 2022

Among the many people who got a copy of this new book was David Swanson, director of World BEYOND War, ‘a global movement to end all wars’. He was inspired by the contents, and on January 28, 2022, posted: ‘Can We Learn Anything From Russian-Canadian Pacifists?’  

Swanson mentioned Tolstoy, Doukhobors, 1895 Burning of Arms, and quoted a paragraph from Dr. Ashleigh Androsoff's biography.

In response to Swanson’s article, Jim Popoff and Dr. Androsoff sent replies to me, which are copied below in the Comments section. Please add your comments and replies on either blog.

Note that the comment posted after Swanson article by Andrei Conovaloff is missing 3 links:
     'For clarification of the first 2 paragraphs, see:


  1. D.E. (Jim) Popoff4 February 2022 at 14:00

    Koozma! Thanks for ... forwarding this exciting new statement about the Doukhobor legacy of non-violence and rejection of militarism and war! And, thanks for sending David Swanson a copy of your exciting new book, without which this statement from David may not have been possible.

    World Beyond War is one of the newest and most vibrant developments on the re-emerging world-wide anti-war front. The fact that their Executive Director has made this powerful call to the world, using Doukhobors as an example, has a most profound resonance for all of us Doukhobor descendants, whose ancestors made their fateful stand in 1895!

    Let's all make a similar commitment to see that these most recent optimistic trends act as an inspiring impetus to an ongoing explosion of enlightened consciousness, and its manifestation in the committed, non-violent actions of an ever-growing multitude of peace-loving people world-wide!

    D.E. (Jim) Popoff

  2. Ashleigh Androsoff, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Saskatchewan,4 February 2022 at 14:04

    Hello all - gosh, it is wonderful to see that our Doukhobor community inspired our friend, David Swanson, in this way! And I feel touched that he chose to quote from what I said. I certainly believe what I said to be true!

    Thanks for your kind words, Jim! And I really appreciate the work that you’ve done on this biographical collection, Koozma: it is so valuable to have a new resource that shows what twenty-first-century Doukhobors are working and reflecting on right now.