A Message From Curator, Netta Zeberoff
My children have a rich legacy with ancestors such as Nicolai Zibarov. He was one of the four Doukhobor signatories on a petition that was addressed to Empress Maria Fedorovna (September 22, 1897) that led the Tsar to grant permission for the persecuted Doukhobors to migrate into Canada. In Russia, he was a Trustee of the Caucasian Doukhobor community. With a reputation of unquestionable honesty he was later appointed by Peter V. Verigin (Lordly) as a Director of the CCUB.
In 1898 and 1899, after negotiations with the Minister of Interior, the Doukhobors settled in communal villages. They would also be exempt from military service being conscientious objectors. These peaceful people settled on blocks of land, built villages, met land clearing quotas, established industries and prospered.
When new Canadian immigrants to Saskatchewan saw that the outlying Doukhobor lands were untouched by development, they approached the new Minister of Interior with calls to reclaim these lands. In 1907, the new Minister of Interior refused to recognize the original settlement agreement with the Doukhobors and insisted they become British subjects as this would complete the ‘new homestead’ process and would also allow prospective settlers to move onto ‘Doukhobor’ land. Memories of their experiences in ‘Mother Russia’ came flooding back to the Doukhobors; most refused to swear the Oath of Allegiance as this might lead to military conscription and the acknowledgement of earthly authority. With the rejection of this ‘Homestead’ process, the Doukhobor leaders began their next migration to British Columbia.
Thousands of acres were purchased by the Doukhobor community in British Columbia between 1908 and 1913. The move of 5000 people from established Saskatchewan homesteads to Beautiful British Columbia where purchased property awaited them was the largest migration of a cultural group of people in the history of Canada.
Collectively, with economic diversification, the Doukhobors prospered in their new communities. As the new curator of the Dukhobor Discovery Centre, one of my tasks is to try and help preserve a record of their Spiritual beliefs and Agrarian lifestyle. Many of these beliefs and ways of doing things are still relevant to the life of today, including, to name only a single example, one of their slogans ‘Toil and Peaceful Life’, which has been captured in placards and songs to this day. We continue to preserve, archive and share information about the peaceful and agrarian lifestyle of the Doukhobor culture.
We invite everyone to join us April 24th at 1:00pm for the Annual Luncheon Potluck at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre. There will be singing, choral presentations, and fellowship. This event may also include the unveiling of plaque to commemorate the Doukhobor migration as national historic event, but this will be confirmed by later notice.