Sunday, 6 March 2022

90 Years of Memories

On February 19, 2022, about 60 people and I celebrated my 90th birthday ONLINE!

My wife and our daughters arranged the event which featured prerecorded video messages, phone calls, and some sent an email or letter. Thank you all.

In early February my daughter Tamara and her husband John, and Kristina with her daughter Milena, decided to arrange a virtual party. They invited many people to submit short video messages at a website, or any way the guests would like. About 60 people participated resulting in a 1.5 hour video and more than a dozen emails, cards and letters.

Kristina wanted to create a photo album of my life, and we selected about 50 photos which became a slide show presentation of my '90 Years of Memories'.

See everything here:

  • Videos submitted (1.5 hours) — Link to be added.
  • Slide show of my life — Link to be added.
  • Emails received

During the planning process, I began to reflect on my 90 years and listed these highlights of my life so far, a short version of my biography and 50 Years of Doukhobor Studies.

  1. Born in 1932 in this farm house to parents and grandparents who came from Russian Doukhobor roots. Believed that hospitality, love and nonkilling are the way to a world without wars.

  2. Met Tyrus R. Cobb world famous baseball pioneer. Invited for tryout in 1953 to Pittsburgh Pirates in California. Did not make it, but exercises that I learned from Lloyd Percival of CBC Sports College of the Air persist today 70 years later.

  3. At the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where I took my BA in Arts and Sciences in the 1950s, I produced 50 monthly journals of The Inquirer at my grandparent's attic next door, which led me to become a journalist, photographer, scholar, and peace activist.

  4. After attending the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1957 in Moscow, this led me to make 12 additional trips to the Soviet Union and Russia as a bridge-building effort between the East and the West (1957, 1964, 1980, 1991, etc, ). The wisdom of getting to know the stranger persists today as one of key steps to help the people and the planet to survive.

  5. In the early 1960s, at UBC in Vancouver, I was privileged to get my MA in Anthropology and Sociology, with my thesis on 'A Study of Russian Organizations in the Greater Vancouver Area' (PDF, 15 GB). The Cold War, I discovered, was the critical element in what brings people together and what splits them apart.

  6. In 1964, as a Russian and English speaking grad of UBC, I was invited to the International Ethnological Congress in Moscow where I met anthropologists Margaret Mead and Sol Tax.

  7. In 1980, as guest Doukhobor peacemaker and photo journalist, I reported on the Summer Olympics in Moscow as a Slavic representative for North and South America. What an awesome responsibility!

  8. Over the past 60 years I have organized a number of scholarly ethnographic studies and exchanges across North America (including a 1990 3-month North American Ethnographic Expedition with Russian scholar Svetlana Inikova), the Soviet Union and Russia on my ancestors the Doukhobors and East-West understanding. Together with my work in the provincial and federal governments as social scientists, this led me to publish over 25 books and 50 articles; the gifting to the Saskatchewan Archives and BC Archives major collections of textual materials and photographs on Doukhobors, rural development, Native Indians, and ethnography; the creation of a Spirit Wrestlers website and blog with Arizona scholar Andrei Conovaloff.

  9. In November 2007, I presented a paper on 'Tolstoy and the Doukhobors' at the First Leadership Forum in Hawaii where the Center for Global Nonkilling formed; and served as reporter and photographer for 13 Ottawa Peace Festivals.

  10. In 1982 co-organized with Community Doukhobors, the First International Intergroup Symposium of Doukhobors, Molokans, Mennonites and Quakers, held in Castlegar, British Columbia, with many prominent people including the great grandson of Lev N. Tolstoy, a major world writer and proponent of nonkilling. The meeting endorsed a letter to the UN on disarmament and getting rid of wars.

  11. With distinguished Doukhobor lawyer Peter G. Makaroff (the first non-Anglo-Saxon grad in Western Canada with a law degree in 1918), and participating Doukhobor, Quaker and Mennonite reps, in 1964 and 1965, I coordinated and helped organize four major peace manifestations in Western Canada urging the government to cease research and production of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and work towards the survival of our human species.

  12. Between 1996 and 1998, served as guest co-Curator with Dr. Robert Klymasz on 'The Doukhobors: Spirit Wrestlers' exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, commemorating the centenaries of the  Doukhobor destruction of weapons in 1895 in Russia and the January 1899 arrival of the first Doukhobors to Canada.

  13. We all know that it takes a village to raise members of a family. My grandparents and parents along with my newly acquired families and offspring deserve praise for their support. Son Lev is professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland where he is modeling the last Ice Age and is searching the major parameters of climate change. Daughter Tamara, now retired as a museum professional, recently spent the last three years working in Nunavut as Project Manager, Wrecks HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site. Their spouses, Dorothee Bienzle is an accomplished researcher and doctor, and John Pinkerton is a retired international manager for Parks Canada. Their children Jaspar and Katya along with Tamara and John's offspring (Nicholas and Elena) are outstanding students, athletes and outdoors people like their parents. I always marvel at being so lucky to be part of their family circle. 

  14. As well, I marvel at the challenge of keeping alive my 30-year marriage with Kristina Kristova, a pioneering journalist who once served for 24 years as anchor person with the Bulgarian National Television. Her daughter Milena is a music teacher in Ottawa, while son Orlin is in Sofia, Bulgaria, as a professional keyboard composer / musician. Kristina introduced me to her most fascinating Bulgarian community who have given me the title of 'Honourary Member' although I have not learned much Bulgarian language.

  15. In the 90 years of my life, this family along with all the people that I have met around the world (in person, in books and in the media), I consider all of you remarkable and many are friends and wisdom people. Bolshoe spasibo! Thank you very much! You have taught me so much. I wish all of you to live at least to 90 with good health, joy, peace and happiness.

  16. Personally, I look forward to many more years of productive life. In my work, I never got rich in money, but rich in ideas, in friendship, and in the vision of my ancestors for a peaceful world without wars.

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