“I do ask that because given Canada’s support of Ukraine, in this current crisis with Russia, I don’t know if it’s far-fetched to ask. But there is concern that Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows. But perhaps even instigating it from the outset.”
Koksal presented no evidence that “Russian actors” were fueling the protest or had instigated it from the outset. The CBC correspondent may be unaware that Canada does have a longstanding Russian problem that challenges the image of Canadian tolerance and the official doctrine of multiculturalism.
The problem involves a group of Russian Christians known as Doukhobors. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, they “rejected wealth and privilege in the belief that all people were brothers and sisters. Still they were persecuted for their beliefs. Soldiers raped the women and flogged the men, sometimes to death.”
The pacifist Doukhobors sought to leave Russia at a time when Canada was seeking farmers to settle the prairies. In 1899, more than 2,000 Doukhobors came to Canada, supported by Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy and pacifist groups such as the Quakers.
One group established themselves in the prairies while others left for British Columbia. In the 1920s, a small group of BC Doukhobors known as Freedomites or “Sons of Freedom” protested government interference in their lives by arson, bombing, and public displays of nudity. The government response was to target their children.
In 1932 the government of British Columbia placed 365 Doukhobor children, ages seven to 18, in custodial care while their parent endured penal servitude. Though judged a failure, the “experiment” was soon repeated.
The Freedomites declined to send their children to government schools, so during the 1950s the BC government confined 100 children, ages seven to 15, in the remote New Denver Dormitory, in the same region where Japanese Canadians had been interred during World War II. As Sidney Katz noted in a 1957 MacLean’s feature, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) seized the Dukhobor children from their parents. Once confined, the children were not allowed to go home or visit people in the town. They were given no holidays and discouraged from speaking Russian.
An eight-foot-high chain-link fence surrounded the facility, patrolled by armed guards. Parents were not allowed inside and visits had to be conducted through the fence. Katz described children “singing prayers and songs of welcome, often with tears in their eyes.” The facility was “pretty hard to distinguish from a concentration camp,” noted Mark Mealing, a specialist in Doukhobor history, and “it’s clear the New Denver incarceration just made things worse.” One Canadian politician hatched a plan in the style of the Tsars, who exiled Doukhobors to remote regions of the Russian Empire.
“Senator Urges Reservation on Island for Radical Douks,” headlined a Canadian Press story in the November 23, 1962, Windsor Star. That year, Sen. Donald Cameron suggested that the Sons of Freedom might be placed on a reservation on one of the Queen Charlotte Islands to rescue them from “maladjustment.” With the help of teachers and social workers, the senator explained, “it may be possible to slowly lead them to a different way of life.”
That never happened and in 1964 journalist Simma Holt, a future member of Parliament, authored Terror in the Name of God, about the BC Doukobors. One reviewer called it “propaganda perpetuating damaging narratives that contributed to the separation of families” and the “death of culture and identity.” The Sons of Freedom had been branded as “terrorists,” and that raised some issues.
For all the fury of their protests, the Sons of Freedom never targeted members of other faiths in any kind of holy war. They did not murder innocents, and celebrate the killings as justified by their religion. According to one BC government office, the Sons of Freedom were much more sinned against than sinning.
In 1999, the office of the BC Ombudsperson issued Righting the Wrong: The Confinement of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor Children. At no time, the report explains, have those confined “been given any explanation for the actions taken, or been offered any compensation from government.” And only now were they able to tell what happened when they were “institutionalized.”
Righting the Wrong charts midnight raids by the RCMP, accompanied by police dogs. Mounties raided a Doukhobor prayer tent, beating men and women as kids “ran screaming in total shock across the fields and hid in the forests. “I thought my parents were dead,” one victim testified, “I didn’t know what to do.” The hardest part, a woman who was nine years old at the time testified, “was being separated from my parents, and being confined.”
Bill Barisoff, eight years old when he was taken from his parents, recalled that “there was no knock, nothing,” as Mounties smashed down the door. “Dad got up, they picked him up, and one guy held him against the wall, his feet weren’t touching the ground. He held him against the wall for maybe 15 minutes until mother dressed me.”
The BC report finds no evidence that any of the children received “any form of counselling or guidance while interned in New Denver between 1953 and 1959.” The lack of counseling appears to be “in marked contrast to the federal government’s detailed instructions covering the operation of the Indian residential schools.”
Righting the Wrong recommended an apology and restitution but the government never acted on the report. In 2002, government lawyers argued that it was all so long ago and in 2004 the provincial government issued a “statement of regret,” that fell short of an apology. In 2018 the government claimed it would revisit the issue but news of any monetary settlement or official apology is hard to find. For all but the willfully blind, the reason should be clear.
Under Canada’s multicultural policy, all cultures are equal, unless the culture has attachments to Christianity, the target of sulfuric hatred from Canada’s ruling class. So Doukhobor children seized from their parents and imprisoned get no monetary award, no apology, and no respect. Contrast the case of Omar Khadr.
He fought with an Islamic terrorist army in Afghanistan and confessed to killing one U.S. soldier and blinding another with hand grenades. Khadr charged that his confession was coerced through torture at Guantanamo Bay, and in 2017 the Trudeau government paid him $10,500.000, about 8 million US dollars.
In 2022, when Canadians protest the curtailment of their freedoms, a CBC mouthpiece links them with Russia. Prime Minister Trudeau declines to hear their grievances and accuses them of “unacceptable ideas.” How’s that for government that is supposed to stand on guard for thee, and protect nos foyers et nos droits.