Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Remembering Knowlton Nash

The gifted Canadian journalist and author Cyril Knowlton Nash died May 24, 2014 in Ontario at the age of 86.

Many Canadians remember him as 'a cool' news anchor for many years on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship television program The National. Before that, he was a dedicated newspaper and radio journalist, and author of several books. He was known for getting the facts, being fair, and producing a good story.

Few people remember that Mr. Nash wrote an expose article published March 1960 in Maclean's Magazine about the diabolical chemical and biological research that was going on in Suffield, Alberta. Since WWII, the British worked with the Canadian government to set up a bioweapons test range at Suffield, Alberta. The area was empty and isolated, and experiments could be performed with greater safety than in the U. K.

Noted Doukhobor lawyer and peace activist Peter G. Makaroff brought the article to the attention of the Doukhobors and Quakers. As a result, on July 5, 1964, some 350 people (most of them Doukhobors) held a peaceful rally at the gates of this Alberta testing centre at the Defence Research Board experimental stationSuffield Experimental Station220 km southeast of Calgary, 50 km northwest of Medicine Hat.

This article by Nash revitalized activism among peace groups in Canada. In the 1960's, a series of peace demonstrations were held by Doukhobors, Quakers, Mennonites, and others.

'In the early 1960s, I was one of the core organizers with Peter G. Makaroff (1894-1970) of three peace demonstrations which we called: "A Manifestation for Peace." Peacemaker A.J. Muste from New York spoke at one of these gatherings in Suffield, Alberta, urging governments to cease research and production of chemical, biological and radiological weapons.' (Q52: Tell me about your 1960s experience, 3 December 2012)

'Suffield, Alberta. July 5, 1964. International peacemaker from New York, A. J. Muste, spoke as 350 people protested at the gates of an Alberta centre testing gas, germ and radiological warfare known as the Defence Research Board experimental station at Suffield (Tarasoff, 1969: 267-268).' (Koozma as ‘Human Library’ on Peace at Canadian War Museum, February 27, 2013.)

From my Pictorial History of the Doukhobors (1969), page 267:

'It all started with a national magazine article by C. Knowlton Nash titled "Have Germs Already Made the H-Bomb Obsolete?" [Maclean's Magazine, 26 March 1960.] This article was translated into Russian by the Doukhobor Society of Canada (formerly the Union of Doukhobors of Canada) and concern began to brew among the USCC and the Independent Doukhobors. A planning committee was established and six months later culminated in the "manifestation".

'Suffield has been used as a centre for "special weapons research" by the Defence Departmemt since World War II. Special weapons is the generic term for chemical, biological and atomic weapons. The Suffield works, of course, is of a classified nature. The following comments, however, [come]…from Knowlton Nash: "The annual expenditure of Canada's Defence Research Board for research and Development is $32,000,000. This covers the cost of maintaining a huge research and testing station at Suffield, Alberta, on which stand 112 miles of fence. In a hangar-like building, according to one visitor, cages of experimental animals line the walls from floor to ceiling and airplane motors circulate experimental gases. Both nerve gases and germs — and possible antidotes — are tested at Suffield."

'Included in the gathering were a group of nine Quakers from the community at Argenta, B.C.; a small delegation from the Edmonton Canadian Universities Committee for Nuclear Disarmament group; a handful of University of British Columbia students; one hitchhiking University of Saskatchewan student; and the rest were Doukhobors from the three western provinces. Their witness at the Suffield gates was that of a fast for ten hours, spent in half hour periods of silent meditations, with acappella singing and speeches in between. Mr. A. J. Muste, internationally known pacifist from New York was featured speaker.

'Rain came down for a large part of the day, but all stayed. Late in the afternoon, as the welcome sun began to shine, a lengthy address was made by Peter G. Makaroff, a prominent international lawyer and Independent Doukhobor. The following are a few of his comments:

'All through history men have served the cause of peace with fighting. Yet it is a law of nature and of God that you cannot do the right thing by wrong means.

'Modern war is terrible beyond any comparison or any imagining. We look across this fence and ask ourselves, and still in the interests of peace?"

'The atomic deterrent is bad enough — yet, to make doubly sure of world peace, we develop chemical, biological and radiological weapons which are said to be superior because they don't harm property.'

Thank you, Knowlton Nash, for making us aware about the dangers of chemical, biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. As concerned citizens of any country yesterday and today, we need to stand up and be counted. We need to call out: 'War is a crime against humanity. Let's stop humanity's greatest scourge — that of war!'

The media, our family, and the military industrial complex are good places to start. Are our leaders listening?

As an old Doukhobor hymn states:
'Wake up new spirits.
The time has long come...
To work for peace and goodness.'


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Expensive Killer Robots and Drones

Clear Skies Initiative
Robots and drones are part of modern society that can serve us for good or for evil. However, those advanced devices that can select and kill without human intervention are 'unconscionable,' charged a group of Nobel Prize winners in a statement released May 12, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, on the eve of a multi-day United Nations conference on Inhumane Weapons Convention.

'It is unconscionable that human beings are expanding research and development of lethal machines that would be able to kill without human intervention,' reads the statement signed by a number of peace organizations such as Quakers and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and activists such as Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The statement continues:
'Not all that long ago such weapons were considered the subject of science fiction, Hollywood and video games. But some machines are already taking the place of soldiers on the battlefield. Some experts in the field predict that fully autonomous weapons could be developed within 20 to 30 years; others contend it could even be sooner. With the rapid development of drones and the expansion of their use in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and beyond, billions of dollars are already being spent to research new systems for the air, land, and sea that one day would make drones seem as quaint as the Model T Ford does today.'

Lethality of human life ought to be of central concern, as my ancestors the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors, proclaimed centuries back. 'Don't point a gun at anyone,' they would say, 'and get rid of weapons once and for all.'

Game of DronesThe American Prospect, Feb, 14, 2013
Killer robots and drones are 'the most expensive weapons system in history', nearly $400 billion or twice what it cost to put a man on the moon. This is a huge amount of money that could be more usefully used for developing and building infrastructure for tranport, health, and happiness. By diverting the money from killing to nonkilling, we can build the society that will benefit people worldwide.

The Drone War, Pro Publica

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire, wrote about this issue, comparing Washington's global military-first strategy and China's civilian-first one which is meant to create a transport and communications system that could economically tie significant parts of the world to that country for decades to come. Perhaps an 8,000-mile line from Beijing via the longest underwater tunnel ever built through Canada to the United States, could be one of the outcomes, according to Chinese engineering dreamers on the high-speed 'silk roads'.

Just think about the huge benefits of imagination in a nonkilling society? The foolish system of war must end!

Join the Nobel Peace Laureates call for preemptive ban on autonomous weapons worldwide. How about banning war itself!


Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse. Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.
The Past and Future of Drones in the U.S. By Criminal Justice Degree Hub, April 2014.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

1832, 1882 books about Doukhobors online

The first comprehensive studies about Doukhobors by Orest Markovich Novitsky (1806-1884) are online.


A Composition by
a Student of the Kiev Spiritual Academy

Orest Novitsky



By the Academic Printer at the

Kiev Monastery of the Caves.
History and Beliefs

A Composition by
Orest Novitsky

Second Edition
Changed and Edited

At the University Printers

(I.I. Zavadskiy)


The first book is Novitsky's doctoral thesis in theology when he was a student at the Kiev Spiritual Academy. He later became a professor. 50 years later his updated work was published in 1882 nearly doubling the content.

According to Novitsky, Doukhobors first publicly emerged as peasants in southern Russia, gathered around a literate nameless teacher who appeared outside the village and settled among them. He taught that the church had perverted the real teachings of Christ, that all men and women are equal brothers and sisters, and that the laws of God forbade the killing of other human beings.

In 1891 a Russian folklore writer said this about the 1832 book:
'In the literature about the Dukhobors I have read many articles, all of which suffer from a casual approach and incomplete observations, or from a narrow and unseemly one-sidedness. Novitsky’s work on the Dukhobors, published back in 1832, deserves to be considered the most substantial contribution to the history of the Dukhobors. It is based on the author’s personal observations and investigations.' — N.M. Astyrev (1857-1894).

Find Novitsky cited in many books online about Doukhobors, and in articles on the Doukhobor Genealogy Website. Surname spelling variations: Novitsky, Novitskiy, Novitski, Novitskii.

Valeriy Kalmykov of Russia submitted the 1832 book file.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Q61: Dr. H.B. Hawthorn and K.J Tarasoff

From: Adam Carmichael
PhD student, University of Victoria.

I am currently doing some work on the relationship between Harry Hawthorn's research on Indigenous peoples and Doukhobors in the 1950s.

I was delighted when I happened upon a piece you wrote in 2013 about the Idle No More movement. In it you mention that Harry Hawthorn served as a mentor in your scholarly development. I'm wondering if you could tell me a little about your relationship.
  • How did his distinction between [social] integration and assimilation affect your thinking?
  • Did the idea of 'integration' carry over into your other work such as Plakun Trava ?
I really appreciate any insight you can give me. Thanks for your time and all of your excellent writing!


Dr. Harry B. Hawthorn (1910-2006) played a significant role in my education by showing me the wisdom of using anthropological insights to study the local and wider societies. I first met him in the late 1950s at the Banff School of Fine Arts where he was a resource person at a week-long Human Relations Seminar that I attended. His influence led me to enroll in a Masters of Anthropology and Sociology Degree at the University of British Columbia (1962-1963) where he was head of the Department. In August of 1964 he recommended me for a Wrenner-Gren Fellowship to travel and attend as interpreter assistant the 7th International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences held in Moscow, Russia [IUAES] where I met populist Margaret Mead.

As a pioneer scholar from New Zealand, Dr. Hawthorn saw the value of both theory and practise in understanding and building viable human communities. His emphasis on practise was especially appreciated.

Hawthorn's influence was especially felt in the pivotal distinction between 'assimilation' and 'integration'. Assimilation, according to Hawthorn, was essentially based on hatred, while integration was considered a respect relationship of people. This idea captured my imagination and became part of my core anthropological understanding of individual and group identity.

I learned that British colonialism was largely an example of conquering indigenous peoples and assimilating them by way of the church, the public education system, and the laws of the land. The Indian Reserve system was a Canadian example of assimilation with its Indian Act, residential schools, and segregation (a form of apartheid).

Working with First Nations people for me was very challenging in my two-year-work (mid-1960s) in the Broadview Area of Saskatchewan involving four Indian Reserves. Hawthorn's second lesson was to observe carefully — 'to walk in the shoes of the other person' — and to help the Indians and non-Indians to share integrated spaces. In this space, I received the name of 'The Camera Man' and was known as an anthropologist who called himself 'neither Black nor White'. By this, I considered myself an equal human being as an integrated citizen of Canada.

During the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West, I held 17-public living room discussions with Soviets in Canada and Canadian citizens, so each could "get to know the stranger." Then I escorted trips to the Soviet Union. The listening and observing tools I learned from Dr. Hawthorn's classes at UBC inspired and prepared me to lead these intercultural meetings and trips. Bridge-building was part of this cross-cultural journey.

My understanding of my Russian Doukhobor heritage was no doubt aided by my anthropological studies. I remember reviewing Hawthorn's book on Doukhobors in The Inquirer that I published and edited in the 1950s. Among my comments, the following best describes my review:

'Written with a sympathetic humanitarian flavour, each expert inquiringly explores his or her sphere of study. Continuous integration of psychological and sociological factors provide a synoptic view. Although no "cure-all" solutions are given, an optimistic attitude prevails. The Committee's hope "to put itself out of business" places assuring faith on Doukhobors themselves to eventually solve their [own] problems and "contribute to the richness of Canadian culture".'

Dr. Harry B. Hawthorn has indeed made a mark on my scholarship, my writings, and my approach to human interaction. My sincere thanks to this professor with wisdom and care who took time to correspond with me when I needed encouragement to find my path. Hawthorn was my mentor.

  1. Book review by Koozma J. Tarasoff of Harry B. Hawthorn's The Doukhobors of British Columbia (1955) in The Inquirer, vol. 2, no. 7, August 1955: 25-27. The book is based on the Report of the Doukhobor Committee which was presented to the Government of British Columbia in 1952.
  2. Koozma J. Tarasoff. Plakun Trava: The Doukhobors. 1982. Download Index.
  3. Koozma J. Tarasoff. 'Getting to Know the Stranger in Your Living Room', paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Sociology and Anthropology Association, Windsor, Ontario, June 6, 1988. 17 pp.
  4. Koozma J. Tarasoff. 'Why are First Nations "Idle No More"? Wisdom from the Past. February 2013.
More: Questions and Answers, Comments

Q60: Does God Support the Doukhobors?

From Filip Vanzhov, Salmo, British Columbia

I had an odd thought pop into my head.
Is there any evidence that God supports the Doukhobors?
I am reading the Bible for the first time which has prompted this question.


By rejecting the Bible, the icons, the priests, and the church itself, Doukhobors saw God in a different way. God is within us and is manifested with the notion of love, compassion, and beauty. These qualities are expressed in our behaviour to others, as displayed symbolically in 'Bread-Salt-Water,' and no Bible.

God is love. God is wisdom. God is man and woman. Doing good to others is evidence enough that the spirit of God operates in each of us. All else is speculation.