"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, May 11, 2020

Doukhobors in Canada

Growing up in Canada in the 1980s, I well recall several history classes in which we discussed the arrival of various immigrant groups, the treatment (shameful, even today) of First Nations, and the presence of certain distinct religious minorities, including the Doukhobors, who are featured in a newly translated work: The Chronicles of Spirit Wrestlers' Immigration to Canada: God is not in Might, but in Truth, ed. and trans. Veronika Makarova with Larry A. Ewashen (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 304pp + illustrations.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
This book describes the history in late 19th-century Russia and immigration to Canada of an ethnic and religious group known as Doukhobors, or Spirit Wrestlers. The book is a translation into English of the Russian original authored by Grigoriǐ Verigin, published in 1935. The book’s narrative starts with the consolidation of Doukhobor beliefs inspired by the most famous Doukhobor leader, Pëtr Verigin. It describes the arrival of Doukhobors in Canada, their agricultural and industrial accomplishments in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and the clashes and misunderstandings between Doukhobors and the Canadian government. The narrative closes in 1924, with the scenes of Pëtr Verigin’s death in a yet unresolved railway car bombing, and of his funeral. The author emphasizes the most crucial component of Doukhobor beliefs: their pacifism and unequivocal rejection of wars and military conflicts. The book highlights other aspects of Doukhobor beliefs as well, including global community, brotherhood and equality of all the people on earth, kind treatment of animals, vegetarianism, as well as abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. It also calls for social justice, tolerance, and diversity.

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