Saturday, 24 June 2017

Books and Videos about Russia

While writing my Book Review: Romanov, Introduction to Canadian Studies, I wished that such a book existed about Russia that was as interesting and fair as Dr. Romanov had written about Canada. So we began searching for such a book. In the meantime the Oliver Stone documentary about Putin appeared.

My recommendations for books and videos about Russia

Russia: A Reading Guide', Center on Global Interests (CGI), August 30, 2016
— 12 experts share the 50 books that shaped their understanding of Russia. Only one book is mentioned by two people.

Richardson, Paul E. & Mikhail Mondasov. The Spine of Russia, July 2016, 200 pages.
— In the Fall of 2015, a Russian and American journalist travelled 6,000 kilometers from Russia’s northwestern corner in the Arctic to Sochi, in the tropical climes of the Black Sea. The group tells the stories of Russians whose life and work is taking the country forward, and what they feel patriotic about, what is important to them.

Stone, Oliver. (book) The Putin Interviews: Oliver Stone Interviews Vladimir Putin, Skyhorse Publishing Inc, June 16, 2017, 288 pages. — Transcripts of all 20 hours from video.

Stone, Oliver. (video) ‘The Putin Interviews’, (4 hours total video) Showtime cable TV, June 12-15, 2017.

More books about Russia

To be fair to my list of books above, I include lists below recommended by journalists. I feel that many (not all) of these books are biased, because they seem to be limited in scope, often stuck in a paradigm of one ‘super policeman state’ rather than respecting wider regional players.

Basulto, Dominic. 'The 7 Best Books of Summer 2016 for the Avid Russia Watcher', Medium, June 16, 2016. — Former columnist for The Washington Post’s “Innovations”

Begley, Sarah. '9 Books That Can Help You Understand Russia Right Now', Time magazine, February 15, 2017.

Elkin, Dimitri. 'Top 10 books on Russia in 2016', Russia Direct, December 30, 2016. — The best books of 2016 include those that take a closer look at U.S.-Russia relations during the Cold War and perestroika, enabling readers to better understand the current Putin era.

Honig, Michael. 'Top 10 books on Vladimir Putin's Russia', The Guardian, April 20, 2016.

Lebedev, Sergei. '10 Books That Explain Russia Today', Publishers Weekly, February 19, 2016 — Lebedev, who was born in Moscow in 1981, picks 10 books that explain Russia's complicated past and present.

Weafer, Chris. 'Six ‘must-read’ books on Russia from last 25 years', Johnson's Russia List, September 10, 2015.

'The Top 10 Summer Books for Russia Watchers', The Moscow Times, July 2, 2015.


Readers:  Enter your recommendations in Comments, below.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Russia Trip 2017 by US Citizen Group

'Grass root' Citizen Diplomacy

Since 1984, the Center for Citizen Initiatives has built 1000s of person-to-person bridges between Russia and the USA. Here's what they did this year.

In May 2017 a volunteer delegation of 30 American citizens flew to Moscow to meet Russian citizens. They divided into groups for meetings in 10 locations — Moscow, Volgograd, Kazan (Tatarstan), Krasnodar, Novosibirsk (Siberia), Yekaterinburg; the Crimean cities Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol; and gathered in St. Petersburg before returning home.

Link to map

Observations and Facts
  • Western sanctions have hurt sectors of Russia’s economy but encouraged agricultural production.
  • Some Russian oligarchs are making major infrastructure investments.
  • There has been a resurgence of [state] religion in Russia. 
  • Russia increasingly looks east. [to China]
  • Russia is a capitalist country with a strong state sector.
  • There is some nostalgia for the former Soviet Union with its communist ideals.
  • There is a range of media supporting both government and opposition parties.
  • Public transportation is impressive.
  • President Putin is popular.
Russians and Americans meet in Yekaterinburg, June 2015

Current Political Tension
  • [Skepticism] about Russian “meddling” in the U.S. election.
  • There is a strong desire to improve relations with the U.S.
  • Western media reports about Crimea are hugely distorted.
  • Russians know and fear war.
  • Russians see themselves being threatened.
  • Russians want to de-escalate international tensions. [Met with Gorbachev]
Original article
More

Monday, 29 May 2017

Q79: Different Doukhobor groups?

Jack Tarasoff, Calgary AB writes:

Our family is having a family re-union, and I was asked to make a short presentation about the different groups of Doukhobors, i.e. their titles, major beliefs and positions. J.J. Verigin has offered some help, but I feel I need a little more for the family.

Jack was former chairman of the Council of Doukhobors in Canada.


Answer by Koozma

Doukhobor groups and personal identities and affiliations varied by time, place, environment and individuals. People could form new groups, intermarry, and join and leave groups. Our social evolution since 1886 (death of Luker'ia Kalmykova) has evolved in many directions — primarily from Russian heterodox to a multi-faceted religious and social movement.

However, the 1895 arms burning and the dropping of sectarian roots towards a nonkilling social movement ethic has remained stable as the defining element of Doukhoborism in the 21st Century. This evolution has incapsulated Lev N. Tolstoy's attempt at a real reformation in the formal church as well as a strong message to the military industrial complex to get rid of wars once and for all.

Here are some useful references:
The category 'Sons of Freedom' is omitted because historically they opted out of the Doukhobor movement, but some have returned, more so in recent years.

All of this should help you designing your talk on the Doukhobors.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

GREETINGS: 70th USCC Youth Festival

“Celebrating 70 Years ~ A Journey for Peace ~ Past, Present Future”
Grand Forks and Castlegar, British Columbia
May 19-22, 2017 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Spirit —

Congratulations to the USCC, volunteers and visitors who made the annual Doukhobor Youth Festivals happen!

70 years is a lifetime for many people.
Well done our pioneering and younger friends!
In these many years, there have been many achievements:
  • You have shown that cooperation is possible in a world of run-away capitalism and that the road to a ‘win-win’ scenario is important for the sustainability of human life on Earth.
  • By bringing people together, you have achieved a unity of spirit and built bridges of understanding between the East and the West. You have reminded us that we are living in One World where ‘respect’ is a golden word.
  • By bringing together songs from the heart you have made the wider world more beautiful.
  • Finally, and most important, you remind us of the mission statement of our ancestors who sought to develop a world without wars. Burning weapons in 1895 is another way of saying that today we need to work actively to drastically reduce our military industrial complex, get rid of NATO, and encourage the development of an architecture for peace — such as setting up a Department of Peace in Canada’s parliament.
You have made us Doukhobors and non-Doukhobors proud by celebrating our unity of spirit and friendship, the beauty of song, the sound of joy, the sharing of wisdom for a nonkilling society, and the hope for a world at peace.

— Koozma J. Tarasoff and Kristina Kristova, Ottawa, Canada.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

New Russian Thesis on Doukhobor Singing

Anastasia Vladimirovna Zernina
Зернина Анастасия Владимировна
'Singing Tradition of the Doukhobors in Rostov province: Denominational and Regional Aspects', is the translated title of a fresh doctoral thesis by Anastasia V. Zernina, 2017.

She did her field work and research in 2012-2016 among Doukhobor and Molokan villages in Tselinsky district, Rostov province, Russian Federation.

Her work focuses on Doukhobor oral traditions of burial, marriage, beliefs (ideology), calendar events, and singing (religious, worldly), with many references to neighboring Molokane. The phrase "Doukhobors and Molokans" appears about 26 times in the text.


Table 1 (page 74), 'Singing repertoire of Rostov Dukhobors', summarizes her categorization of all songs, shown below translated.

Click on chart to ENLARGE

Half of the thesis pages (129 to 251) are Bibliography (231 references, 15 Canadian) and Appendixes. Missing in Bibliography are:
Dr. O'Brien-Rothe's analysis is similar to Zernina's in that both report the origin of Spiritual Christian religious song melodies are evolved adaptations of Orthodox church chants and old Russian folk music. Solemn drawn-out singing of religious hymns. like Oche nash, was developed to comply with the Russian law against "infecting" heterodox faiths, to sound non-sensible to an Orthodox who might hear the very slow singing. Doukhobors and Molokane only sing spiritual verses during Sunday service, but Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki added melodies from faster folk song genres, especially for ecstatic spiritual jumping. Zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki in the U.S.A. and Australia scorn singing Russian folk song lyrics for entertainment, though they adapted folk song melodies to their own spiritual words.

A long 24-page chart (pages 164-187) lists 380 songs logged for her study — 157 (41%) religious, and 223 (59%) worldly folk songs. The chart has columns for Song number, Title (first words), Variants, Source (religious) or Author (folk songs), Recording location, and Notes. Below is a summary count of each category in this chart.

Religious chants (157)
  • Psalms (35)
  • Spiritual verses (15)
  • Stishki (spiritual songs) (105)
  • Prayers (2)
Folk songs (223)
  • Lyrical - slow (115)
  • Lyrical - fast (32)
  • Romance (58)
  • Lullabies (10)
  • Chastushki (7)

2 stishki are borrowed from Molokane (page 173, numbers 81 and 91, Dukh-i-zhzinik Sionskii pesennik 64 and 129)

32 examples (including 2 variants) of musically notated songs with lyrics are shown (pages 189 to 244). Maybe a talented reader will record this sheet music for those of us who cannot read music to help create the first notated songbook with audio.

At the end (pages 245+), 91 informants interviewed from 1930 through 2012 are listed alphabetically by 8 villages (82 count) and 1 city (9 count), with the year and location of birth shown for 85 people, not the year interviewed. One man, Vasilii P. Lisichkin, was born among Molokane.

Though many high quality maps of Russia exist online, Zernina reports that she cannot use them because they are not "officially published", per rules for theses in Russia. She apologizes for the inaccurate, approximate Soviet era map on page 163, which was the only map she could use. Here's a list of better maps:

More

Monday, 1 May 2017

150 Canadian Stories of Peace

Many Canadians reading this have dedicated all or part of their lives for peace, in many ways. For Canada 150 we invite you to submit your stories about building peace in yourself, your home, community and/or beyond. Website: 150 Canadian Stories of Peace.


150 submitted stories will be published this year in a book. The remaining stories may be published in future editions.

Suggestions
  • Share a time when you chose peace over hatred, love over fear, nonviolence over violence, non-killing over killing.
  • Did you build bridges across people of differing ideologies and beliefs?
  • Do you have a story from your culture that inspires actions of peace?
  • Do your beliefs help you or others be at peace even when surrounded by war?
  • How did you stop a bully?

Guidelines
  • No age limit.
  • Language: English or French.
  • Submission deadline: July 31, 2017. 
  • Focus on stories by Canadians at home or abroad.
  • Everything to be on one-side of one letter-size page.
  • Photos and illustrations may be published, no guarantee.
  • Your story must be true. Don’t be afraid to speak from the heart.
  • You may use a pen name (fictitious), but must reveal your real name to us.
  • Additional information (video, YouTube, and written) might be used for publicity, not the book.
  • About 1page, maximum 3,650 characters counting spaces, Times New Roman 12 font, including story title, author’s name/pen name, and 1-line bio info (latter if desired by the author).

More information

Send submissions (one page) and questions to

Contacts
  • Ms. Evelyn Voigt, Evoigt.author@gmail.com (613) 721-9829 OR
  • Ms. Mony Dojeiji, mdojeiji@gmail.com (613) 793-1633

Organizers

Monday, 24 April 2017

Doukhobor Heritage Days, 15-16 July 2017

By Elder Mae Popoff, librarian(retired), Saskatoon, SK.
'Proud to be a choir member'.

Doukhobor Heritage Days is a celebration of Canada's 150th birthday and the 100-year history of the Doukhobor Prayer Home at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village (NDHV) in Verigin (Veregin), Saskatchewan.

The celebration will be held at NDHV on the weekend of 15-16 July 2017. See photos from the 2007 Festival.

The Saskatchewan Doukhobor Choir will participate at Heritage Days during the program, entertainment and the Doukhobor Prayer Service. The Doukhobor brothers and sisters combine voices in spiritual community and song, accented by food supplies and friendliness.

Saskatchewan Doukhobor Choir

Front Row: left to right Sonia Tarasoff, Mae Popoff, Gloria Stushnoff, Eileen Konkin, Lucille Dergosoff and her sister Melvina, Linda Osachoff, Verna Thompson.

Back Row: left to right Lydia Cherkas, Dorothy Ozeroff, Verna Negraeff, Bill Kalmakoff, Lorne Negraeff, Harvey Kazakoff Fred Konkin, Bill Kanigan

Mitch Ozeroff, choir director, was unable to attend.

Since choir members reside across a 250 mile range, in Saskatoon, Langham, Canora, Kamsack, Pelly, Veregin, Blaine Lake; we meet about half way at Watson, a central location for singing practices.


More

Friday, 21 April 2017

END WARS —
      ‘Canada Should Get Out of NATO’

Submitted by Ingrid Style, Quebec

The case against war in a nutshell was posted in this 2015 Scientific American blog by John Horgan. The collateral killing of kids and civilians exceeds perceived enemy deaths, and the financial cost is enormous, robbing society of food, shelter and life.

Those ‘glorious’ ‘justified’ wars my generation was brought up on, celebrated by Kipling, and Buchan, were represented as men fighting ‘for love of king and country’. At the time of the first world war, the death of children wasn’t even considered. The thing was pictured a bit like a sporting event. Two armies bravely duking it out on the battlefield.


By Alexey Talimonov, Russia. 

This changed with the 1940s bombing of Dresden and London. But the violence was still romanticised by Hemingway and Mailer and Hollywood.

Today, children are victims not only of bombings, but forced to take part in the carnage. Countless more will die from malnutrition and disease.

And that doesn’t take into account the healthcare, nutrition and education they are deprived of because of $16 million bombs being tossed around like confetti.

We all know this. Why don’t we act?

Rather than pay more money to the American war machine, Canada should get out of NATO.

This evil game must end....it CAN be done!
World Beyond War.org


Related stories on Spirit-Wrestlers.com

2006 Sep 4 — Toward a Culture of Peace. Quaker Murray Thomson reaches out to Doukhobors.
2008 Mar 12 — On Poverty, War and Peace — A call to action.
2008 Oct 24— Traditional Peace Groups Explore Withdrawal from NATO, by Murray Thomson.
2009 Dec 3 — Doukhobor-Quaker Connections.
2012 Jan 20 — Why Glorify War?
2012 Jan 20 — Do U.S. Bases Threaten World Peace?
2012 Apr 8 — Guns, Fighter Jets and Democracy in Canada.
2012 Jul 23 — Canada: a Warrior or Peaceful Nation?
2013 May 3 — Book Review — Editorial: The End of War.
2013 Mar 29 — War — The Slavery of Our Times.
2014 Jan 18 — 1963, A Glimmer of Peace Turns into a Perpetual War, by Ken Bilsky Billings.
2014 Mar 26 — Demonize War Not People!
2014 Jun 9 — Avoiding Another Cold War.
2015 Jun 15 — Profits From Continuous Wars Threaten Civilization.
2015 Dec 4 — War in Ukraine and NATO.
2016 May 30 — Peace Protestors at CANSEC 2016.
2016 Jun 16 — Canada — Stop Aggression Abroad!
2016 Jul 2 — Appeal: No to War. No to NATO.
2016 Jul 10 — Systemic War, NATO and Racial Violence in USA.
2016 Aug 6 — No More Hiroshimas, No More Wars!
2017 Jan 25 — NATO is Obsolete.

Monday, 17 April 2017

'Canadian Doukhobor Culture'
   Presented at Russian Conference

Dr. Anosova, Ottawa, 2010.
Phenomenology of the culture of modern Canadian Doukhobors is the title of a paper presented by Dr. Irina A. Anosova at the 6th Canadian Conference held at the University of St. Petersburg, Russia, on April 7, 2017.

Click for her abstract in Russian and English.

She is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Culture and Arts, St. Petersburg University, Russian Federation.

'The conference was attended by scientists from the universities of many Russian cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Volgograd, Saratov, Tambov, Bryansk, Chelyabinsk), as well as from Canada and Estonia. ... various historical, social, legal and economic aspects of the development of Canada and its society were discussed.' ('Научный сотрудник Эконома выступил на VI Канадских чтениях', Institute News, Plekhanov Socioeconomic Institute, Saratov. Requires Russian fonts to be installed in your browser.)

This major event is held every 5 years for all researchers of history, politics, economy and culture of Canada. Scientists from more than 10 cities of Russia and Canada submitted [24] reports on the history, politics, domestic development and its role in contemporary international relations. (Делегация историко-филологического факультета посетила VI Канадские чтения в Санкт-Петербурге, Faculty News, Chelyabinsk State University.)

Dr. I. M. Nokhrin, Dean of Political Science and International Relations, Chelyabinsk State
University, describes the Canadian national identity and political system in the colonial era.

'150 Years of the Canadian Federation: From a British Dominion to a Global Player' was the theme of this year's 2-day international conference held April 7-8, 2017. See conference program in Russian and English.

The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; the Russian Association for Canadian Studies; and the 'Moscow-Quebec' Educational and Scientific Center Russian State University for the Humanities.

Dr. Anosova first encountered Doukhobors while researching Lev. N. Tolstoy for her PhD thesis. Her focus on Doukhobors began in 1989, and has not stopped. In 2010, many Canadian Doukhobors met and hosted her North American field research tour. 2010 photo album.

Some of her work published on Spirit-Wrestlers.com

2006Canada is the Second Motherland of the Doukhobors: The Philosophy of Love as the Way for Cultural Integration

2009Three Canadian Scholars Presented at Russian Conference: Donskov, Glagoleva, Tarasoff

2010Doukhobors of Western Canada 2010: Field Research for "The Canadian Doukhobors Present Lifestyle as the Synthesis of Russian and Canadian Cultural Traditions"

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Doukhobor Singer Peter N. Voykin Dies

An outstanding Western Canadian Doukhobor singer, Peter N. Voykin (1931 - 2017), died in early April 2017 at his home in Castlegar, British Columbia.

He was 86 years old.

For the funeral service April 13th, at the Brilliant Cultural Centre in Castlegar, BC, Koozma J. Tarasoff and Kristina Kristova prepared the following letter:



To:   Lucy Voykin and daughter Catherine Markin
        Castlegar, British Columbia

With much sadness I and my wife Kristina Kristova heard about the passing of our dear friend Peter N. Voykin, Doukhobor activist and stalwart singer. Peter was an outgoing, friendly and jovial person with a deep voice who appeared to be singing all of his life.

For over 45 years he helped preserve the traditional mode of Doukhobor singing. People liked him very much. When he and wife Lucy held a series of Choir Workshops on the Canadian prairies in 1991 and 1992, one of the participants wrote: ‘They set up our societies into high gear in how to sing. And they inspired us how to sing from the heart.’

Peter Voykin was an ambassador of peace for his ancestors. In 1995 he directed the Voices for Peace Choir that toured across Canada, the United Nations in New York, and Russia. The Choir stopped in Ottawa and performed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. With Kristina we were honoured when they visited our home. With over 100 people present, Peter led the choir to several songs. It was a memorable moment for all of us, our children, our neighbours and friends.

On his tour around the world, Peter and the Doukhobors in the choir proclaimed a new world order with Love, Non-violence, Equality and Brotherhood.

In mid-January 1996 Peter was again in Ottawa with Lucy, and with their dear friends John J. and Laura Verigin. As a quartet, they performed at the very impressive opening of the Spirit Wrestlers exhibition in the Canadian Museum of Civilization. They concluded with three songs in Russian, English and French. The audience of almost 1,000 gave them a standing applause.

Peter N. Voykin has made his mark as an outstanding person, Doukhobor activist, singer and supporter of peace. He walked his talk and will be missed and remembered by all!

May he rest in peace….
Koozma and Kristina


More in biography of Peter N. Voykin, from my book Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002): pages 84-85, 89.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Kamsack dom sold for yoga


184 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.

The Independent Doukhobor dom (meeting hall) in Kamsack, Saskatchewan is being sold this month, March 2017, which is about 62 years since it was constructed. Satellite map.

The sale was expected to be final this week, said Fred Konkin of Pelly, chair of the society.

Val Ritchie from Yorkton is buying the building where she will be holding her yoga classes in Kamsack.
Konkin cited an aging congregation, now numbering fewer than 20, and the rising costs of maintaining such a building. He said the building had been kept up through membership fees and donations.

'The Kamsack Society of Independent Doukhobors will continue, much like they do in Benito and Pelly, we just won’t have a building,' he said, adding that members will be using other Doukhobor meeting halls, most likely the one in Veregin for services, at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village, 8 miles west.

 Konkin explained that the building has been emptied of its effects, such as pictures, and were moved to Veregin. 'It’s sad,' said Lydia Cherkas, a member. 'Our forefathers were active and Doukhobor families spread all over Canada. The belief remains, but the numbers are dwindling.'

A 60th anniversary was celebrated here on December 13, 2015, when Mike Chutskoff of Kamsack, the only living member of the society who had volunteered time during the construction of the building, had the honour of cutting an anniversary cake.

'The Society of Doukhobors of Kamsack and District opened its new [meeting hall], valued at $15,000 in an impressive but brief opening ceremony on June 22, 1955,' said an item in the Kamsack Times. The ceremonies climaxed more than 11 months of toil by volunteer labourers and a final rush week of putting the finishing touches to a project which had been conceived 42 months earlier, it said. The opening began with a ... service led by N.W. Cazakoff and emcee for the event had been William Chutskoff, chair of the building committee.


Edited from: Kamsack Doukhobor Society sells its prayer home, Kamsack Times, March 20, 2017.

I object to the word 'prayer' used 7 times in this article. Q44: 'Community Centre' or 'Prayer House'? Do Doukhobors meet in a 'Community/ Cultural Centre' or 'Prayer House'?

Friday, 23 December 2016

Year-end Newsletter 2016

From Koozma J Tarasoff and Kristina Kristova

Dear Friends,

Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis, GoComics, Dec. 25, 2016.

The year 2016 has passed by quickly. Both Kristina and I are well and keep busy on our respective activities.

This summer Kristina spent a month in her homeland Bulgaria visiting friends and relatives whom she misses a lot. Her brother Dmitar, long retired, continues to live in Burgas, while son Orlin resides in Bozensi and Sofia while working as composer musician. Kristina’s daughter Milena lives and works as a music teacher in Ottawa.

With the International Languages Program (IL Elementary Program), Ottawa Catholic School Board Continuing and Community Education Department, Kristina continues her Saturday morning work as Site Administrator looking after 240 students. In July she did the same with a full month of work in the Summer School.

On June 3rd, Koozma’s brother John died at the age of 88 in Saskatoon and Koozma joined John’s children in the city celebrating John’s life as ‘a Canadian pioneering hero’. We all miss him dearly ‘a memorable brother, a friend, a father to Lorne, Kerry and Wendy — an example of a hard working man to all of us, our children and our grandchildren’.

As in many previous years, Koozma was busy as a peace activist, peace journalist, and photographer. He appeared as Peace Elder with Bill Bhaneja on Rogers TV in May. He supported the protest against CANSEC with its annual international arms trade show in Ottawa in the same month. His biggest challenge was the Ottawa Peace Festival 2016 where his illustrated Tarasoff Briefs highlighted the 11-day event celebrating peace and environment activities in Canada’s capital city.

Koozma has continued to host the Spirit-Wrestlers Website and Blog with webmaster Andrei Conovaloff in Arizona, focusing on Doukhobors and relevant issues. We often simultaneously co-edit my drafts using Google Hangouts (similar to Skype), and share news and ideas. Our ongoing projects involve false material about Doukhobors in print and on the Internet.

Koozma is behind schedule on his first eBook: Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers and Their Friends, with 35 contributors. Sorry, I get interrupted, often carried away, with important current peace stories.

Koozma’s son Lev continues to teach physics at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, commuting from Guelph, Ontario. Dr. Tarasov manages glacial research with local and international collaborators. His wife Dorothee Bienzle manages a laboratory studying retroviruses, at the University of Guelph. Son Jaspar studies at Queen's University in Kingston in a dual BSc in Kinesiology and physics; he will have an overseas semester in Auckland, New Zealand this spring (fall in New Zealand); and he was the 2016 Frosh Week coordinator for his college. Daughter Katya will finish high school and will spend February to May travelling around the world before returning for soccer season.

Koozma’s daughter Tamara continues to work for Parks Canada. Her recent trip to the Western Arctic was a highlight for the year. Her husband John continues to work for Heritage Canada. Their son Nicholas began his first year of studies in Mechanical Engineering at McGill University in Montreal, while daughter Elena goes to Filamen Wright School in Gatineau, Quebec. Both children are top students in school and are active in sports.

Keeping healthy and fit has been a preoccupation for all of us. Koozma’s children and families have been active in outdoor sports such as canoeing, hiking, and skiing. Koozma does his morning and evening exercises and takes outdoor walks on a regular basis. To keep their balance and remain in shape, Koozma and Kristina have joined an aerobic dance class for seniors.

As the year comes to a close, we wish our dear friends around the world the best of good health, creativity, joy, love and happiness in 2017.

Koozma J. Tarasoff and Kristina Kristova, 882 Walkley Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1V 6R5, Canada. Emails: kjtarasoff@gmail.com, k.kristova1@gmail.com.
Website: www.spirit-wrestlers.com.


Previous year-end reports 
     2015  2014 — 2013 — 2012 — 2011 — 2010 — 2009

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Doukhobors and Tolstoy Inspire Novel

Prattis  book.jpeg
Book review of a "futuristic novel"
New Planet, New World
by Ian Prattis, 2016. 288 pages.

How can we build a sustainable community from scratch on a new planet? Dr. Prattis shows 'the demise of modern civilization' via climate change, violence, inequality, and wars on earth, and attempts to provide an innovative architecture for its resurrection on another planet.

This is Prattis’ third book of a trilogy titled:
Chronicles of Awakening
  • Book One: Redemption
  • Book Two: Trailing Sky Six Feathers
  • Book Three: New Planet, New World
Ian Prattis is a friend and retired Professor of Anthropology and Religion from Carleton University in Ottawa, Buddhist teacher, and author. His fictional novel New Planet New World was partially inspired with my help by the teachings of Lev N. Tolstoy and the Doukhobors. It offers hopeful solutions for our addiction to fossil fuels.

We got to know each other working on the annual Ottawa Peace Festivals for 10 years. Prattis, through his organization Friends of Peace hosted the largest gathering of musical performances at City Hall. I am glad he asked me about the Doukhobor Movement and Tolstoy and integrated the wisdom into his book.

In the book, the teachings of Doukhobors and Tolstoy relate to the central value of love, the willingness to cooperate and share, as well as compassion for humanity — values of gentleness, nonkilling and respect which provide hope for the creation of a society without wars.

In short, Earth is destroyed and rebuilt from scratch by '... protagonists ... from different centuries and cultures.' The hero Sian the Celtic seer works with Catriona, blood sisters, Four Hopi Sacred Keepers, Doukhobors, Tolstoy, and others. The survivors conquer the problems of individualism and greed that destroyed Earth, connect as human beings, reject self-centeredness and self-absorption, and take care of Nature.

After two stages of space flight, Prime 3 on Jupiter One Station had a change of crew of Americans replaced by a Chinese and Russian co-pilot from their respective Space Agencies. The Russian co-pilot was Nikolai Chutskov, with wife Elena and son Igor. In the attempted landing on a new planet there was an explosion and the parents were separated from their children, and some pioneers were killed. Two children Andrew and George who lost their parents were adopted by the Chutskovs.

At a meeting of the new settlement, Elk Village, Nikolai addressed the pioneers including Igor and his adopted children, saying they were descendants of the Russian Doukhobors who 'followed a path of peace' (pages 215-216):
The Doukhobors created a movement for peace ethics and community in nineteenth century Russia. They rejected both state militarism and the clergy. In 1895 they sent a strong message of protest by burning three piles of government-issued guns and swords to emphasize their ethics of non-killing and community. This immediately brought state persecution and exile. An initial migration of seven thousand five hundred Doukhobors to Canada soon followed with the help of Tolstoy....
Elena picked up the story. 'Tolstoy was an incredible philosopher and is regarded to this day as the conscience of humanity. He articulated the beliefs of the Doukhobor Movement in his prolific writings, referring to them as "people of the twenty fifth century," which is quite a statement about how they were ahead of their times. They had ethics, values, education and community-living bound up in a new paradigm that re-visits us today with the establishment of Oasis and the the two new settlements to be created at Crossroads and Black Elk Village. We are just hearing about them....'
Elena continued. 'Our ancestors did not migrate to Canada. They settled with other communities in Georgia and at the same time stayed true to their Doukhobor beliefs. This was passed down from generation to generation and came to rest with Nikolai and me. We chose to make a career as astronauts [cosmoauts] with the Russian Space Program rather than serve in the military....The Wisdom of the Elders fits the creed we were born into love, caring, ecology, community and peace....'
Prattis explained his inclusion of Tolstoy:
Ethical settlements grow as a mirror for Tolstoy's vision of 'people of the 25th century' – ahead of their time. ...The inclusiveness of science combines with Tolstoy's vision, ... The underlying message is from Tolstoy, the 'Conscience of Humanity.' He described humanity's bottom line as the cultivation of love, the mainspring for authentic and responsible living. I do not present this as idealism, rather as down to earth wisdom.
The narration is well-crafted, technologically knowledgeable, fast-paced, with twists and turns suitable for a movie. The characters are historically international. The problems to be solved are real — poverty, rape, jihadists, PTSD, hate, revenge, youth involvement, and more.

Mysticism combines with hi-tech. The power of extra sensory perception, dreams and creative breathing are explained. The previous 2 books provide Guidelines for organization, work, ceremony for people to mature, protocols for justice and relations with other people and all creatures and the land are discussed by Rising Moon, mother of Trailing Sky and others.

This is a book for our times which addresses Climate Change, violence, and mass murder wars; and is really about love.

Get it as a gift for your children whose future will depend upon how we handle our problems wisely in the spirit of knowledgeable and friendly humanity. Order from Amazon for Hardcover, Paperback or Kindle E-book editions. Soft cover $25 Canadian, plus S&H. If you order directly from Prattis you will receive a FREE copy of Redemption and Trailing Sky Six Feathers with your purchase!

Thank you Ian Prattis for writing your muse. I was glad to share my knowledge of Doukhobors and Tolstoy with you. My ancestors are honoured you heeded their wisdom.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Q75: 1899 Doukhoboer Baseball Team?

From: Dmitri Fofonoff, Grand Forks, British Columbia (November 19, 2016)

Although we haven't seen each other for years, we did meet a long time ago. While I have lived in Vancouver for a long time, I grew up in Grand Forks, and attended UBC. I continue to read your contributions to Iskra, and sense your interest in Doukhobor history.

I have run across an old reference to Doukhobors in a Toronto paper, and thought you might be interested, and might be able to solve a bit of a mystery.

First, some background. I lived in Toronto (1975-1985) and while there was a member of the Royal Canadian Curling Club. The club recently celebrated its 125th anniversary and decided to look into its history. It started as an athletic club and a bicycle club before transforming into a skating club, and finally a curling club in the 50's. The members also participated in other sports over the years, including baseball. ...

... In the summer of 1899, the Royal Canadian Athletic Club entered two baseball teams into a local amateur league. The names of the teams were the Lobsters and the Doukhoboers (sic). ... original newspaper clipping ...

R. C. B. C. Notes (August 3, 1899)
A baseball match was played on the ball grounds Saturday afternoon between the Lobsters and the Doukhoborers, all members of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club. The playing on both sides was fierce, many brilliant stops and wild throws being executed. The features were the heavy hitting of the Douks and the poor fielding of the Lobsters. The following composed the teams : Doukhoboers—Messers. L. Saulter, H. Penguilly, W. Vennels, C. Walton, Geo. Cooper, R. Pringles, W. Fortescue, D. Logan, C. Lancaster, B. Leslie, and H. Salisbury. Lobsters—Messers. F. Prouting, W. Crocker, W. Booth, W. Cross, W. Hewlett, H. Lowman, T. Johnson, H. Thompson, J. Grieves, G. Abbott, and W. Simpson. The Douks won by 48 runs to 27. Messers. Pengilly and Pringle served up the snakes [pitched] for the winners, while Messers. Crocker, Booth and Johnson twirled [pitched] for the losers. A good afternoon's sport was the result and the boys will line up again on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Can Play "De Game."
It is quite evident members of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club can occasionally play baseball. On Saturday afternoon the baseball team of the club journeyed to East Toronto Village where the engaged the attention of the G. T. R. team of that hamlet. A few words will suffice to tell the story of the battle : score—R. C. B. C., 21 ; G. T. R. , 3. Pringle did the twirling [pitching] and Abbot caught for the victorious Royals.

I don't know what to make of this reference. It's possible that the names were just fanciful, Lobsters being ocean creatures far from any ocean, or just ball players who "lobbed" the ball rather than throwing it hard. And Doukhoboers may have been a mis-spelled name picked out of the news, of a strange group of new immigrants to central Canada, or even a mixed reference with the Boers of South Africa since the Boer War was ongoing at the time. Or it could be something entirely different.

I doubt there is much of historical value here, but it is curious. I wonder if you have any interest in this, and whether you can shed any light on this oddity.


Answer

Glad to renew our acquaintance from many years back. Your story from 1899 is indeed interesting.

Why would a local amateur baseball team in Toronto call itself Doukhoboers? None of the players appear to be Doukhobors. That was the year that 7,500 Russian Doukhobors arrived in Canada, and the mainstream media published the story across the country and the world.

Perhaps someone heard about the group and out of a whim said 'that sounds like a good name for a baseball team'. Of course this is speculation.

A Google search for the spelling finds it in a 1903 book for teachers of blind students: The Association Review, Volume 5, American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, 1903, page 116 : 'Doukhoboers—A peculiar Russian religious sect'.

If any readers can help, please comment below.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Q76: Correct Spelling of borshch?

From: Annie B. Barnes, Sundre, Alberta (November 23, 2016)

I do enjoy reading your blogs, even if I don't always comment on them. My question today is this:

What is the correct spelling of borshch; I believe this is the correct spelling, and I am forever trying to convince my fellow Doukhobors there is no 't' on our borshch. Can you please clarify for our Facebook and other readers? Thank you.

Vlad's food cart — Non-sequitur, 24 May 2017

Answer

In Russian and Ukrainian it is spelled one way — борщ. Also in Belarus — боршч. All pronounced the same. No 't' at the end.

In English, I use and recommend the phonetic spelling — borshch — to my readers, because it follows the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) from Russian to English. For years I have tried to persuade the public to use this spelling. Thank you for asking.

The Yiddish German spelling borscht is probably more common due to their huge population in the mid-1800s around New York, where the word likely first appeared in popular print. See Etymology and History.

People can be confused when this term is phonetically transcribed to English from different languages — barščiai, barŝĉo, barszcz, borŝĉo, borş, borsch, borščs, borscht, borshch, borsjt, borsht, bortsch ... —; and misspelled — brosch, ...   For comparison also see: Q78: How Many Spellings of "Doukhobors"?

Photo by William (Uncle Bill) Anatooskin

Recipes

More confusing to outsiders is the many recipes. There are about 30 types of Ukrainian borsch. In Canada, each Eastern European immigrant group, sub-group, and clan has their own terminology and soup recipes.

Canadian Doukhobor borshch is a vegetarian soup made of cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, beets, dill, peppers, butter, and seasoning. More than 100 recipes can be found on the Internet.

Other versions include meat and/or lots of beets. Some add sour cream.

Here is my favorite recipe, from my mother Anastasia Tarasoff.

Borshch (for 10 to 15 people)

A large frying pan
⅓ cup butter
½ small beet, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 cups tomatoes (canned or fresh)
½ medium-sized cabbage shredded
Melt butter in pan.
Add onion and cook at low heat for 5 minutes.
Add beets and tomatoes.
Cook at moderate heat for about 20 minutes.
Stir to prevent burning and browning.
Add cabbage and continue for short time.

A 6 quart pot
3 quarts water
2 tbs. salt
6 potatoes cubed
1 large carrot cubed
Meanwhile, bring salted water to a boil.
Add potatoes and carrots, simmer gently ‘til potatoes are cooked.
Remove half of the potatoes and mash them.
Put mashed potatoes in frying pan.
Turn off heat.
½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
3 green onions chopped
1 chopped green pepper
1 stick chopped celery leaves
Add frying pan mixture and these ingredients to the large pot.*
Bring to a gentle boil. Serve hot.
* Option: Simmer in butter 1 cup finely shredded beets.
Add when you combine mixture before the final boil.

More

Monday, 7 November 2016

Q74: About Globalization, Assimilation and Symbols

From: Shayla Hua, grade 10, Lester B. Pearson High School, Calgary AB. November 6, 2016.

My friends and I are doing a project in Social Studies on cultural groups and we chose to research 'The Doukhobors of Western Canada'.

We have a few questions to ask you guys if you don't mind:
  1. How are the Doukhobors affected by globalization? ...
  2. ... the challenges of assimilation, ... conserved the culture ...?
  3. ... symbols ... meaning of the symbols?
You can answer any way you’d like personally, as a group or just your opinion. If you could get back to me as soon as possible that would be great.

Thank you for your time.



Answers

Please do not confuse Doukhobors with Sons of Freedom, or Freedomites, which naively done by too many students, professors, journalists, and readers.

1. How are the Doukhobors affected by globalization? And if so, what are some positive and negative impacts on globalization? And has there been any attempt at countering the forces of globalization? How successful has your group been at maintaining your identity while encountering the forces of globalization?

The term 'globalization' is a recent concept involving the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. As such most Doukhobors know practically nothing about it. However, if you extend the term to mean becoming part of one world community, Doukhobors have long had a view on this.

After their 1895 arms burning in Russia, Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors officially transformed themselves from a sect to a social movement. They consider themselves to be part of one human race and see no need to kill another human being, but need to cooperate together to deal with local issues nonviolently. For them, globalization involves treating people as equals and working to create a nonkilling peaceful world.

To maintain identity under the forces of globalization, extremist forces of assimilation need to be countered. This means respecting local languages, cultures and ways of doing things with simple respect, nonviolence, compassion, and trust in the genius of locality.

Vika, a young Catholic girl, and her mother Kiki became friends with Doukhobors in BC, and met John J. (JJ) Verigin Jr., Executive Director of the USCC. '...Vika asked JJ: "How can I become a Doukhobor? Can I be baptized or do I have to be born as a Doukhobor?" And JJ answered: "If you are loving and peaceful person in your heart, then you are already a Doukhobor!" Wow that sounded easy! But of course, we learned that it's every day work....' (Vodopoff, Kiki. "Why Are We Here?", Iskra, issue 2107, October 2016, page 18.)

2. Has there been a point where you’ve encountered the challenges of assimilation, and how have you conserved the culture these past years?

Most all descendants of Doukhobors in North America have adapted to Canadian life and integrated. To me the term 'assimilate' connotes a 'hate process of change'. I prefer the more friendly process of 'integration' which is more human. Integration affects every group as a process of fitting in as legitimate citizens of a territory or nation. Doukhobors have used many of the same tools as other groups in adjusting to the normal stresses of society affecting language and culture. See:


3. What are some important symbols to the Doukhobors of Western Canada? And if so, what are the meaning of the symbols?

Most important, in my opinion, is that most self-identifying Doukhobors around the world recall in annual celebration the three 1895 arms burning events in Tsarist Russia for getting rid of the institution of militarism and wars. This stems from their 'Spirit Within' which is the spirit of love, beauty, and God within each person; therefore we state it is wrong to kill another human being.

The most common cultural symbols enjoyed by all Doukhobors and shared with the public are traditional Eastern European foods (wood oven baked bread, borshch, pirogi, lapsha, vareniki, etc.), singing hymns and songs, meetings open to the public, and historic buildings and sites. Community Doukhobors in British Columbia, often display cultural symbols abandoned by Independent Doukhobors, like head scarfs on women; many homes display a small spinning wheel, hand carved large wooden spoons, weavings and/or other home-crafted essentials to their ancestors. Our museums, books and many commuity homes displays these items.

Historically Doukhobors have rejected icon worship and generally do not believe in sacred symbols (crosses, icons). However, as a heritage tradition, they have adopted the ancient Slavic practice of bread, salt and water serving as symbols of hospitality, equality, and peace. These items are placed in front of meetings as the basic staff of life. See:

More
  1. Tarasoff, Koozma J. Evolution of the Doukhobor Movement. Spirit Wrestlers website, November 13, 2013.
  2. Tarasoff, Koozma J. Wisdom of the Ages: Unified Doukhobor Beliefs. Spirit Wrestlers website, March 2015.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Tribute to Michael M. Verigin (1929 - 2016)


Michael M. Verigin died September 29, 2016. Obituary in Calgary Herald.


To Michael’s children Venera and Liuba and their children and spouses, my wife Kristina Kristova and I send our sincere condolences in the passing of a dear parent and cultural legend. Michael was a stalwart elder whom people looked up to.

In human societies, the elder is one who has experienced life fully and is respected for the lessons of time. Michael M. Verigin was one of those people who worked hard in a coal mine, who lived a long life, preserved the spirit and traditions of his Doukhobor ancestors, and has shared his wisdom with the wider world.

This cultural activist knew much about the Doukhobors in Alberta. His grandfather was among the first settlers to go there in 1915 to establish a Doukhobor colony in the southern foothills area of Cowley and Lundbreck.* As the oldest of six children, Michael Verigin grew up there as a young pioneer helping with the chores of the household. Since marrying Doris (nee Fedosoff) in 1955, he lived in Cowley for much of his life, and for over 60 years was active in the community.

Michael was generous to me with his knowledge, wisdom and hospitality. When I needed to take pictures of his collection, Michael went into his basement, looked into his trunks and brought out rich treasures: old issues of Iskra and Mir, colourful traditional costumes made by his grandparents, old pens and inkwells used in an early one-room school where he attended, and rugs made by his wife. He had a cornucopia of Doukhoboria.

Michael readily stepped in as President of the United Doukhobors of Alberta, as councilman for the village of Cowley, as Board member of the CCUB Trust Fund, representing Alberta and the Alberta Cutural Council. At the Doukhobor Community Home in Lundbreck, he regularly led the sobranie meetings and joined in the singing of traditional psalms and hymns.

True to his tradition, Michael was a strong peace activist who believed that it is wrong to kill another human being because we then destroy the humanity of each. The historic 1895 burning of guns by his Russian ancestors was an event that he felt our society today can learn from. ‘Disarm our weapons of mass destruction and bring our troops home’, he would often proclaim, ‘and respect the Commandment of “Thou Shalt No Kill”.’

From his ancestors he gained the wisdom that sharing and cooperation are essential to human development. He often visited the local Hutterite colonies where he was welcomed as an honorary member. He was against exploitation and excessive materialism. Greediness for him has no place in a healthy society. The dollar cannot be the real measure of human worth.

When the media and some ignorant writers demonized all Doukhobors as fanatics, he was there to defend Doukhobors and speak up for them. For him, ‘burnings or bombings or disrobing’ were contrary to the Doukhobor movement.

In 1995 Michael and his wife Doris organized a beautiful and harmonious ‘Toil and Peaceful Life’ exhibit on the Doukhobors at the Sir Alexander Galt Museum in Lethbridge. It was produced in honour of the 100th anniversary of the burning of guns in Russia and 80 years of Doukhobor settlement in Alberta.

Yes, Michael Verigin was a man of wisdom, a hospitable man, a man to remember. All of us will miss him. May future generations respect and learn from him and his wife how to treat our neighbours with love and compassion.
 — Koozma and Kristina


See M.M. Verigin biography: Koozma J. Tarasoff,  'Upholding the Culture of Alberta Doukhobors', Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living (2002). pages 268-271. 

* Map by Jonathan Kalmakoff, Doukhobor Genealogy Website.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Saskatchewan Pioneer Diary 1934

In 1934, teenager Laura McDonald traveled with her family of 10 for 3 weeks by horse caravan through central Saskatchewan, a 185-mile trip.


The family left Helena, Montana, USA, during the depression to Canada. So far they traveled about 500 miles to Zelma, Saskatchewan, where this story begins, in search of better farm. At the time, Canada was extensively advertising for desirable White farmers.

They had 4 wagons — a 12’ by 14’ caboose for sleeping pulled by four horses, a Bennett buggy for animals, a wagon for animal food and furniture, a wagon with heavy farm equipment; and they brought 21 cattle, 11 horses, five pigs, four turkeys, 24 hens and two dogs.

An except from her diary about the trip was published this year:
Laura McDonald. ‘The Diary of Our Trip Up North: Zelma to Mullingar via Saskatoon, 185 miles by caravan in three weeks, July 3rd to July 23rd, 1934’. Saskatchewan History, vol. 68, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2016: pages 12 - 22.
Direct route is 120 miles. McDonald's traveled 185 miles.
Her Diary was especially interesting to me because I grew up in the same area, and recall many of the images described:
  • ‘Sand drifting four or five feet deep along the road allowance’.
  • Playing ball with neighbours. Because the group travelled in the Eagle Creek area where I went to public school as well as Eagle Point School area where there was a baseball field for Sunday sports days. Perhaps my Dad and Uncle played ball with the McDonalds?
  • Crossing a ferry over the North Saskatchewan River. I have done that many times over the former Petrofka Ferry en route to Blaine Lake, Sask.
  • Picking, eating and canning very tasty saskatoon berries.
  • Many mosquitoes.
  • Drying clothes on a clothesline.
  • Her mother baked 32 loaves of bread which the family ‘ate like nobody’s business’. We did the same.
  • Mullinger, had one street, a store and two grain elevators, familiar, like Environ in the Eagle Creek District.

All of that was good. But the Diary revealed some prejudice towards minorities. Here are the passages that are offensive to me:
  • July 13th, Friday ... When we were camped tonight, an old fat Mennonite drove up. He stopped and when he talked he yelled. When he left he bawled back at Dad for miles almost. He says “goot caboose”. “goot water”. “goot Missus”. “whoa!” “gaddap”!” “giddap!” until we almost died laughing at him.’ (Page 18).
  • July 14th, Saturday ... While I was in bed a Doukhobour [Doukhobor] and wife came by in a buggy. He got out and led the horse by because it was frightened. But just when he got by it jumped and the harness fell half off. The old lady hung onto the lines and screamed. When he got it stopped she got out over the wheel. But one shaft broke. Fred went out to help and gave him “hail hallelujah” in Doukobour language. She’d sit down and bawl and then get up and yell at the old man. He cut another shaft from the trees nearby but when they left she walked behind. This country is overrun with Mennonites and Doukhobours….’ (Page 18).
  • July 15th, Sunday ... There’s a smart alec city kid visiting some of his Doukhobour relations. Can he swear! He brought about 11 kids with him so we played softball. The boys against the girls. We lost. This was after dinner. Then we went for a dip. There were about 25 people at the place where they swim. 99% of them were Doukhobours. There’s only one thing that is smarter than a Doukhobour, that’s two of them. One guy could duck pretty good so he’d duck and dive and every time he’d come up, he looked like a drowned rat with a grin like a monkey….So I afterward said to dad, we saw one white man out of 100 Doukhobours and he has to be walking around with no shirt on. After supper about 15 young men came out and played ball. Us girls had a game among ourselves and my side won for once….’ (Page 19).

The prejudice of the McDonald family in the 1930s was obvious and it was wrong. Her Diary reminds me of Hazel O'Neail's Doukhobor Daze (1962), about her experiences as a one-room school teacher also in the 1930s.

The McDonald Diary and O'Neail book are mild compared to the later sensationalism of the media (1940-2000) demonizing the Doukhobors as ‘nudists’, ‘bombers’, ‘terrorists’, and ‘Communists’. However, these prejudices (mild and serious) do mould public opinion which in turn influence public policy. What can we say about human nature — have we made progress?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Q73: Am I Biased Towards Russia and Putin?

A friend in Ottawa recently asked me (August 17, 2016): ‘As a peace journalist, are you biased towards Russia instead of being objective?’ While starting to write him a reply, I decided to answer the question here, and he wished to not be identified.

"Media bias", Danielle's Journalism Portfolio, March 24, 2015.

Answer

No. I prefer to say that I am ‘friendly’ rather than ‘biased’. I understand that because my ancestors immigrated from Russia 117 years ago, some readers may be suspicious of my intentions.

I have a degree in anthropology where I learned that the first step in learning about the stranger is gaining rapport. We need to carefully listen, watch and learn, and gently walk on this earth.

I visited Russia and Europe 13 times since 1957. I feel like a citizen of the world and recognize all people as members of one human family.

My favourite motto is ‘In search of truth and a nonkilling society’ — which pretty well sums up the intent of my storytelling over the years.

‘As a peace journalist’ I have tried to be fair to all sides including Russia and the West — using many sources since the 1950s when I began publishing.

I recognize that propaganda, disinformation, information warfare, lies, fear mongering, etc. are varieties of verbal warfare and are obstacles for reporting the truth.

Because my writing often focuses on facts avoided by western media, I may appear biased to those who don’t know the rest of the story. Some examples:
Other investigative journalists, whom I admire, have also defended Russia, with facts:
Center for Citizen Initiatives speaks up:

Sharon Tennison, founder and head of the Center for Citizen Initiative has posted an article on President Vladimir Putin in how he is using graceful language that is human and friendly and invites people to work together. See Putin: Martial Arts Philosophy in Action. Sharon writes:

'It certainly is putting out a message to the world about the value of a classical man who attempts to be honest, straightforward and leaves doors open for dialogue.'

Ultimately a non-military solution is needed to create a peaceful world. But the first step is good quality diplomacy beginning with compassion within. Let's step back, breathe deeply and normalize the rhetoric and become civil.

Three informative videos:
Postscript

Here’s another little known fact that exposes the rest of the story. Though my ancestors came with 7,500 Doukhobors from Russia, they were invited to settle western Canada in 1899 primarily to prevent annexation of Canada by the USA.