Wednesday, 27 April 2016

1938 CCUB Decline

The Decline of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Ltd. in 1938

[Reprinted from the Sheaf, June 1998, by the Canadian Doukhobor Society, on 'The Centennial Page', page 3. Slightly edited for clarity.]

The Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB Ltd.) began to decline rapidly following Peter V. Verigin’s death in October 1924, and the accession of his son, Peter Petrovich to the leadership. The crux of the problem became the unwise borrowing practices which put the entire operation in jeopardy. The executive of the CCUB had borrowed $350,000 from the Bank of Commerce, secured by bonds held by the National Trust Company. Under the younger man and the impact of the Great Depression, the organization was unable to repay then went further into debt. Bankruptcy procedures were enacted in 1937 and foreclosure proceedings were instituted the following year.

William A. Soukoreff 
Photo by K.J. Tarasoff, all rights reserved.
Community accountant William A. Soukoreff gave four main reasons for the CCUB collapse:
  1. Heavy mortgage rates coupled with declining revenue
  2. Decline in the paid-up membership (8,000 in 1908 down to 2,113 in 1937)
  3. The growing number of non-payers, and
  4. Enormous losses from the activities of radical members as well as unknown predators who resorted to arson as a form of protest against government persecution.
The Snesarev study [below] concluded that inefficiency contributed to the collapse.

Independent Doukhobor farms had crop yields that averaged 50% higher than those of the Community Doukhobors. Orchard cultivation was neglected, and an elaborate irrigation system estimated in 1930 to have cost $438,000 was of ‘unsound design’ and never worked. The failure of management to seek expert advice was a related problem. The study found that managers were frequently illiterate people chosen by the community, whose members tended to scorn education and outside expertise.

Peter P. Verigin’s unconventional behaviour and some unsound investments also contributed to the eventual downfall of the community. The provincial government took measure to forestall eviction of community members by paying the money owed to the creditors, Sun Life Assurance Company and the National Trust Company. It ruled that the CCUB was not eligible for protection under the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act [1934] because a limited company could not technically be considered a farmer. Many Doukhobors felt that the government had colluded with the financial companies and had tricked them by gaining control of their buildings and some 7,700 hectares [19,027 acres, 30 mi.2] (with properties in Saskatchewan and Alberta, worth about $6 million) for less than $300,000, then proceeded to liquidate any profit making ventures.

A Land Settlement Board was set up to administer the land which the community members rented for a nominal amount until 1961 which it then sold back to them for a price below market value. When the Receiver had completed this operation in 1945, $142,000 had been left for the legal heirs of the CCUB. 

By 1980 the money had grown to $267,000 and a Trust Fund was established for community purposes. This is now known as the CCUB Trust Fund [below], and an appointed board dispenses interest from this fund to various Doukhobor organizations in the three western provinces.

[Compiled from various published research sources.]


Monday, 25 April 2016

‘Just War’ theory on the way out?

Is the ‘Just War’ theory on the way out?
Is this a turning point in history?

Recently Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church was given a clear message by Catholic peace leaders who came to a Rome Conference from around the world that ‘We believe there is no “just war”.’

My ancestors the Doukhobors essentially said the same thing in 1895 when they burnt their guns in Tsarist Russia. Nonkilling is the way of a civilized world.

Author and American Catholic priest nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Ft. John Dear, in PeaceVoice, wrote recently:
For its first three centuries, Christianity required the practice of active nonviolence as taught by Jesus. The early Christians refused to serve the Roman Empire or kill in its wars, and so they were routinely arrested and killed. All that changed in the year 313 when Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity. He baptized his troops and established Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. Christians could now serve in the Roman military and kill Rome’s enemies. In effect, he threw out the Sermon on the Mount and the commandment to love one’s enemies, and turned to the pagan Cicero to justify Christian violence, sowing the seeds for the so-called “Just War theory.” Over time, justified warfare became the norm, Christians everywhere waged war and everyone forgot that Jesus was nonviolent.
For the last 1700 years, as we all know, Christians have waged war, led crusades, burned women at the stake, systematically persecuted Jews and Muslims, kept millions of people as slaves, ran concentration camps, blessed conquest, prayed for successful bombing raids, and built and used nuclear weapons. Throughout Catholic history, Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence were rarely discussed, much less implemented.
Until last week, [when] 80 of us from 25 nations were invited to the Vatican last week for the first ever conference to discuss formally abandoning the so-called “just war” theory and formally returning the Church to the nonviolence of Jesus. This was the first ever gathering of its kind in history!
Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire was joyous in joining 80 people from around the world meeting in Rome from April 11th to the 14th at the ‘Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence’:
I hope that Pope Francis will call upon Catholics not to join the military and remind them that killing cannot be with Christ. I believe the misguided age of “blessing wars, militarism and killing” must end. The responsibility lies with Pope Francis and all religious/spiritual leaders to be true shepherds of peace, nonviolence and nonkilling, to help us follow the command of Jesus to love our enemies and not kill each other.

I also hope that Pope Francis will unambiguously proclaim that violence is always wrong that violence is not the way of Jesus, that Catholics cannot take up arms to kill people, and that we are called to become a true peace church.
Recall that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, they are the sons and daughters of God. You have heard it said, thou shalt not kill. I say unto you, do not even get angry. Be reconciled. You have heard it said, an eye for eye, but I say to you, offer no violent resistance to one who does evil....Love your enemies.' Here is no just war theory, no exceptions. We follow the path of nonkilling.

As a peace activist, Tolstoyan and Doukhobor, I hope that all concerned peoples everywhere will urge their leaders to teach the gospel of nonviolence and love and start a path toward a new world of peace. The way to peace is peace, not war!

  1. Ft. John Dear. ‘The Church’s Turn Toward Nonviolence’. Peace Voice, April 20, 2016.
  2. Erica Chenoweth, Peace Force. ‘Did the Vatican Just Throw Out Its Just War Doctrine?’ Political Violence at a Glance, April 19, 2016.
  3. Mairead Maguire. ‘The Rome Conference on Nonviolence: A Turning Point in History’. Common Dreams, April 20, 2016.
  4. McElwee, Joshua J. 'Landmark Vatican conference rejects just war theory, asks for encyclical on nonviolence,' National Catholic Reporter, April 14, 2016.
  5. Koozma J. Tarasoff. ‘Historic 1895 Burning of Guns: descriptions, selections and translations’. Updated May 1, 2015.
  6. Koozma J. Tarasoff. ‘Tolstoy and the Doukhobors’. Presented at the First Global Leadership Forum on Nonkilling, Hawaii, November 1-4, 2007.
  7. Books about ‘Just War’.


In September 2017, at the Telos-Moscow conference, Russian and Western scholars and journalists explored 'the political questions separating Russia and the West and thus to seek ways of getting beyond the present dead end.'

University of Ottawa professor Paul Robinson presented his paper 'Institutions, Culture, and Legitimacy: what comes first?’ in which he framed the conversation by explaining 'that the two nations have entirely different interpretations of what the rules are and what they’re meant to achieve.'

'Russian realism' vs. 'Western liberalism'. ...' two separate orders '
  • 'For Russia, rules are symmetrical. They apply in the same way to all sides in a conflict.'
  • 'For the United States, the application of rules is asymmetrical, determined by whether a given side is deemed just or unjust.'
'This dichotomy stems from the "just war theory" ...whoever is at fault (or more at fault) for starting a given conflict, the rules of actually waging it must be the same for every participant.' ... .who gets to define what is just? And what does justice mean? .. the United States and Russia are both rational, but, ... (in) ... differing nationalities. Is there some way to bridge the difference?'

The participants explored morality, human rights, political order, humanity, constant warfare, borders, trust, demonizing Russia, Cold War and Culture War liberals, globalization, conversation for common good, hope, ...

— Grenier, Paul. "Russia, America, and the Courage to Converse," The American Conservative, January-February issue, January 15, 2018.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Q71: Lost Doukhobor Land?

Question 71: What happened to the land lost by the Doukhobors in Saskatchewan in 1907?

by Corinne Postnikoff, Castlegar, British Columbia, June 11, 2014:

My youngest daughter, Christina, is in her second summer of working at the Doukhobor Discovery Center in Castlegar. Several times guests asked her
  • What became of the Doukhobor lands?
  • Were villages destroyed?
  • Was the land used by other immigrants?
Doukhobor lands in Canada, 1899-1939, a composite of 4 maps
Doukhobor Google Maps, by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.

Short Answers
  • What became of the Doukhobor lands?
            Most was taken by government and sold.
  • Were villages destroyed?
  • Was the land used by other immigrants?
            Yes, and Canadians.
There were two huge losses of Doukhobor land and/or businesses (jam factories, sawmills, orchards, brick factories)

 Time, Province      1907 Saskatchewan       1939 British Columbia
 Owners All Doukhobors CCUB Ltd.
 Land Total 773,400 acres (1209 sq.mi.)  19,027 acres (30 sq.mi.)
 Land Kept Total  160,640 acres (251 sq.mi.)* All. Rented up to 1961
 Land Lost % 79% 0%. Rented, then
 purchases began in 
 Loss Estimate $ $11.4 million $6 million
 Reason Forced-assimilation Loan foreclosure
* Community Doukhobors kept 122,560 acres (192 sq.mi.); and
Independent Doukhobors purchased 38,080 acres (59.5 sq.mi.) by 1907.

 1907 Comparisons   Population  Land Kept 
 Community Doukhobors    
 Independent Doukhobors

Though Independent Doukhobors acquired on the average more than twice as much land per person as Community Doukhobors, all Doukhobors were cheated by government and discriminated by society, similar to Aboriginal Canadians. 79% of the original Doukhobor lands in Saskatchewan were seized by the government and sold.

Long Answers

Each land loss requires more study to fully understand a series of many related events in the Canadian economy, society and government; and in the Doukhobor communities. Much is online.

See all Questions and Answers.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Northwest Profiles: Spirit Wrestlers

1995 news video about the Doukhobor Village Museum, Castlegar B.C.
Northwest Profiles: Spirit Wrestlers (video, 9-min) by KSPS Public TV, Spokane Washington, USA, 1995.
The highlight of this documentary for me was to see Christine Faminoff and Peter T. Oglow, the first Museum guides, interviewed at the Doukhobor Village Museum (built in 1971, now the Doukhobor Discovery Centre) in Castlegar, British Columbia. I knew them well.

Christine Faminoff (1953-1999) described Doukhobor history in Russia and Canada, including the settlement period with ‘six saw mills, two brick factories, and their world famous jam factory in BC’. Historic pictures were shown as she spoke. Her comprehensive short narration reflects her years of practice working at the Centre, greeting and educating thousands of tourists.

Christine and her parents lived in a traditional community home, the former residence of the MIR Centre for Peace located near the museum on land owned by Selkirk College. The college allowed them to remain in their home until death. Never married, Christine died at age 56 of breast cancer. In 2005 the Christine Faminoff Memorial Fund was launched to remember her service.

Peter T. Oglow (1921-2001), 83, reflected on his ‘very pleasurable experiences’ in living in the former community. He was among the last of the wooden spoon carvers, fortunately preserved in this video (min. 7:00). He reminded the public of the central Doukhobor legacy of ‘a peaceful life without fighting — something that is relevant to our present day society where everyone is fighting.’

Several factual errors were made:
  • Five images (min. 1:58 to 3.33) were shown as if they were Doukhobor-related. For visual drama, the news editor chose stock photographs of convicts (in shackles, hangings). The photos are not of Doukhobors.
  • A photo of women pulling a plow (min. 3:53) appears misplaced among photos and narration about new settlements in British Columbia. Men and women plowed only in Saskatchewan during the first years.
  • The myth that Queen Victoria (min. 2:27) gave written permission to Russian Doukhobors to come to Canada was created by P.V. Verigin to appease protesters. No document has been revealed that confirms this claim. See: Popular Myths or Fallacies about the Doukhobors #3, updated from 'Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living', by Koozma J. Tarasoff, 2002: pages 379-384.
  • More than half of the expenses for moving 7,500 Doukhobors to Canada was funded by the Canadian government, the remainder funded by the Doukhobors, Society of Friends (UK, US, Canada) and Lev Tolstoy (min. 2:30). Tolstoy also played an important role in reporting their harsh treatment in Russia, and petitioning for peasant reform for all the oppressed.
  • Frank Oliver succeeded Clifford Sifton as Minister of the Interior in 1905, not 1906, and this began the destruction of a spirit of cooperation between Doukhobors and the federal government.
  • In what is Saskatchewan today, the Russian Doukhobors were given 312,990 hectares (733,400 acres) of land in 1899. However, in June 1, 1907, they lost 258,880 acres (35%) of their land, not 200,000 acres as erroneously stated in the film.
  • Rather than the phrase 'prayer halls' (min 5:37) and 'prayer room' (min. 6:30), it is historically more accurate to use the English terms community/ cultural/ meeting + centre/ hall/ home/ house/ assembly, whether indoors or outdoors. Doukhobors have no 'church' or sacred room or building. In this museum, formal indoor meetings (sobranie) were held in the largest room.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

‘Non-Tourist’ Sites in Georgia

Molokane and Dukhobortsy found by journalist.

About March 2016 the Russian newspaper Kosomolskaya Pravda, sent staff journalist Sergey Ponomarev on a ‘special project’ assignment — fly from Moscow to Tbilisi, Georgia, and report about the sites and people that tourists rarely or never see.

He visited 22 mapped places (below) and several side-stops, reported in two parts online with photos and video. 100s of readers commented, and he replied to many.

On his agenda were Molokane and Dukhobortsy (Doukhobors). When he met a Russian woman vendor named Potapova in Tbilisi, he first asked if her family arrived with Molokane or Dukhobory. She replied, no, my grandfather came here in the 1930s from Tambov, followed by all Potapovs from our village. (Русским здесь не доверяют? (Russians are not trusted here?), Part 1. [Video now offline])

Click map to ENLARGE.
His report posted April 5 got 50 comments, though editors dated the story the next day, on April 6, 2016 as : Путешествие по «нетуристической» стране: Расцвела под евросолнцем Грузия моя? [Traveling in ‘non-tourist’ country: Flourish in the European sun, my Georgia?]. The story title is a play on the title of the popular Soviet era song: Расцветай под солнцем Грузия моя (Flourish in the sun, my Georgia).

Ponomarev apparently prepared for his tour, and set an agenda to follow a route which covered most of the country. He rented an apartment in Tbilisi, and carried his video camera around town interviewing in Russian with anyone who spoke Russian. Then he traveled to the eastern edge of the country where he sought Molokane (Part 1 of 2). Along the southern border he found Doukhobors (Part 2 of 2).

Title page. Click to ENLARGE

Ironically unknown to the reporter, in the middle of the panoramic photo of Tbilisi (above) used for the opening page of his report are 2 historic sites for Molokane and Dukhobortsy. The current Rike Park was home to the first large Molokan settlement in Tiflis. This sandy river bank flat was earlier called the peski district (' means sandy in Russian; ree'.ke means sandy in Georgian). The adjacent Metekhi jails held all the arrested gun-burning and protesting Doukhobors in the Caucasus in 1895-1896.

Ponomarev, 50, was raised in the Urals, studied journalism at Ural State University. He worked as a newspaper journalist in various parts of the Far East, and in the 1990s was hired by Kosomolskaya Pravda.

The content is useful for the general public, and presents as a valuable authentic ethnographic work, though his reporting is superficial at times and he missed many fascinating out-of-the-way peoples and places. All of his video is with a hand-held camera, image bouncing as he walks, out of focus when the light is dim or the subject is back-lit, and too often strays while he interviews. The sound is often noisy with traffic or wind. The project shows how a print and photo-journalist tries to do video journalism. Fortunate for our readers, he included two groups of Spiritual Christians.

We translated and posted his two stories. Leave comments on this blog, below.

Russian entry page on Kosomolskaya Pravda: Путешествие по «нетуристической» стране: Расцвела под евросолнцем Грузия моя? [Traveling in ‘non-tourist’ country: Flourish in the European sun, my Georgia?].

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Victims of Communism Memorial Challenged

Guest letter by Ken Bilsky Billings, who protests the proposed Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

He is concerned that the previous Conservative government tried to ram this project without real consultation. Now the new Liberal government has decided to support it but ‘the monument will cost far less, have a new design and, if built, will be on a different site’.

Kensky is a videographer and peace and environmental activist in Ottawa, Canada.

TO:  Catherine McKenna,
        Member of Canadian Parliament,
        Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

RE: Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Dear MP Catherine McKenna

I am shocked and saddened by the lack of insight and discussion on this topic. Our capitalist ideology is overriding common sense or this is racism? No other country paid the price of lives lost more than the Russian people in WWII.

One account by the National WWII Museum, New Orleans, USA, gives the figure of Russian military and civilian deaths at around 24,000,000 people. That was about 200% more people than the total population of Canada in 1945. The sacrifices and suffering these people went through that actually turned the tide of the war was unfathomable. So why does our government want anything to do with a memorial to victims of Communism. It should be a memorial to the Russian people who lost their lives in WWII trying to stop the Nazi regime.

What does your government say to that?

                 Ken Kensky

Support the Anti-War Movement

There is an urgent need today to be reminded that war is a crime against humanity that must be stopped. Otherwise our civilization is doomed. The cooperation of many is urgently needed to make this happen.

Today (April 5th) the International Peace Bureau (IPB) launched its annual social media message focused on the huge disparity between military and humanitarian spending:
Geneva, 5 April 2016 — Today sees the start of the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (April 5 - 18), when the International Peace Bureau and its partners around the world focus on the excessive military spending of the world's governments. … [which] last year reached $1,676 billion (USD), … The United States remained by far the world's biggest spender in 2015, … $596 billion. ..., China's … $215 billion, Saudi Arabia's ... $87.2 billion … Russia's … $66.4 billion ... (Military Costs v. Humanitarian Needs: Statement for the Global Days of Action on Military Spending 2016, International Peace Bureau, Geneva, 31 March, 2016.)

When my Doukhobor ancestors burnt their guns in Tsarist Russia in June 1895, it was Lev N. Tolstoy who saw the merit of this act and came to their assistance. He completed his book Resurrection and used its proceeds to pay for the transport of 7,500 of the most persecuted group to Canada in 1899. As an activist in the peace movement, a Doukhobor and a follower of Tolstoy, I wholeheartedly support the nonkilling paradigm, along with many other efforts to build a world without wars.

With peace builders around the world, I call on all genuine efforts to release us from the slavery of war and create a world with meaning for a peaceful and caring humanity. Let’s get on with it!

For background about Global Days of Action on Military Spending, I recommend readers further explore these websites and their publications.

World Beyond War — Director David Swanson, just updated his book War Is A Lie which challenges the repetitive falsehoods generated by those in power to justify armed conflict.

Center for Global Nonkilling provides important insights and tools for the creation of a world without wars. More than 100 free self-educational downloads are on their website, in many languages. In 2007 I presented a paper at CGN on the need to include Lev N. Tolstoy and the Doukhobors among the peace leaders. Tolstoy had the wisdom to search for truth and the meaning of life which he applied in becoming a world literary figure and moral leader. In his Socratic quest, he challenged social injustice. He called war: ‘the slavery of our times’. His ideas were picked up by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.