Saturday, 22 December 2012

Q53: Video about 1895 Burning of Arms?

From: Al Lebedoff, Grand Forks, British Columbia, December 17

After watching CNN school shooting videos and the resulting gun control debates, I thought, would it be timely and appropriate to send CNN, YouTube, FaceBook a picture of the Doukhobor Burning of the Arms 1895 picture with a Doukhobor song as a background. This may stir up some interesting discussion in the US.

I also read a headline blog that people with young kids are starting to hand their guns in, this is in Oakland Calif. They could receive $200 for turning their gun in. Some fathers did not accept the cash. Safety concern for their children was the reason for this action.

Who in our organization could prepare this video clip???


In Grand Forks you have an extensive video archive of USCC performances including arms burning memorials. Volunteer geeks could produce your suggested video from digital collections readily available. Much is also on-line, including all of Koozma's images.

I recall the impressive performance during the 25th UYD choir anniversary. The lights dimmed and the illusion of a bonfire on stage was created by a fan blowing thin colored fabric up while illumiated with colored light. A video of this, or a comparable performance, could easily be uploaded to Also worthy: Doukhobor Dugout House re-enacts 1895 burning of guns ... .

A larger project could include images, text and narration. Talk it up around town. Hopefully a few talented people will get it done.

Gun buyback programs are offered by many US police departments, often funded by donations. The guns are destroyed. How times have changed. Getting $200 for the government to destory your gun is an evolutionary progression compared to getting whipped, jailed and exiled for destroying your own gun, as Doukhobors were punished for in 1895.

This question and intense news coverage about the school shootings aroused Koozma to post the following blog: Control Guns AND Mental Illness.

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Control Guns AND Mental Illness

The 26 killings on December 14th at an elementary school in Connecticut is a long overdue wake up call for the USA to drastically change their attitudes about guns, violence and mental health.

As I listen to Americans debate what to do, I am proud my ancestors chose what I believe to be the right path. 117 years ago in Russia, Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors burned their guns. Their rationale was that guns kill, and they changed their culture regarding violence and militarism. Since then, extensive research by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center supports our historic Doukhobor position — no guns = non-killing peace.

Upon arriving in Canada the Doukhobors learned to tolerate mental illness, as breakaway zealots staged nude protests for much of the next century. Though the Sons of Freedom burdened the Doukhobors with a false image, they never used guns or deliberately killed people or animals while protesting broken government promises.

The 1895 Doukhobor gun-burning example is probably too drastic for Americans, but our direction is correct. Reducing all violence in movies, video games, sports, etc. leads toward an ideal non-killing society.


Since school shootings became big news in the US, the number of guns processed per year from 2005 through 2008 increased 7 times, and continued to increase to more than a million per year in 2012.

Among all countries in the world, the USA has the highest number of guns (310 million in 2009) and the highest per capita ownership (89/100 people) concentrated among less than half of the people. Almost half of American gun owners have four or more guns, far more than countries at war.

Opposite to the US is the nonkilling culture in Japan with the least number of guns, enforced with high control, resulting in very few gun-related deaths. To get a gun one must pass extensive testing, and the police do annual inspections. (A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths, The Atlantic, July 23, 2012.)

While the powerful gun lobby in the USA argues: Guns don't kill people, People kill people, yesterday, the National Rifle Association announced their solution to school shooting is not gun control, reduction or restriction, but more armed guards at schools:The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Many schools responded that they wanted armed guards, but do not have the estimated $80,000 per year needed.

Since 1993, one organization has been trying to collect and distribute reliable information, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.


It was reported by classmates that Adam Lanza, who did the killings in Conneticut, played violent video games. At school he played with digtal guns similar to those he used to kill kids and teachers. At home he had plenty of access to computers and games. Authorities are holding back on revelaing more information until they issue an official report in several months.

Despite 50 years of research correlating media violence with aggressive and violent behavior, in 2005 the USA Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Mental Health

The American debates about mental health care neglect revolve around funding. The Yanks refuse to copy Canada's universal health plan because lobbyists argue it is socialism, one step closer to God-less communism. The fact is that more than half of their sick citizens do not get services, and jails are their default mental hospitals. The USA has the largest number of total people in jails and prisons of any country, more than 23% of all people incarcerated in the world.

Scholars report that the lack of mental health support in the USA plus an abundance of guns creates a deadly environment. See: After Newtown: PBS Special addressing gun laws, mental illness, science of violence, community reaction (PBS TV, 56 min., Dec. 21, 2012). Beginning at minute 16, three scientists list risk factors significantly correlated with committing a violent act (youth, male gender, substance abuse, paranoid view of the world, hostility, difficulty controlling anger, pre-occupation with weapons). For rampage killers, add a desire for fame and notoriety. Though tens of thousands meet the criteria, few will actually kill people. So screening for these factors is not a quick solution.

What To Do?

There is no easy remedy except to educate yourself and take action in your family, neighborhood, then expand to community, etc. A first step recommended, but opposed by many USA gun owners, is to remove personal weapons of mass destruction (automatic guns, dangerous bullets).

The politically insurmountable problems in the USA are too many guns among too many untreated mentally ill, in a country with abundant computers, mostly controlled by independent big business, including a "military industrial complex" and health care sector, with 26 lobbyists per congressman.
In this holiday season when Christians around the world send greetings of "Peace and Goodwill," I wish for them to mean it. Please, invest in people not war, health care not soldiers.

Society would be much safer if we converted weapons to nonkilling education. Francisco Gomes de Matos, a peace linguist and human rights educator from Brazil, posted this poem: Nonkilling Lessons from the Connecticut Killings.

Along with the Right to Peace and to Nonviolence, the Right not to be killed should be globally known
and in all languages and, cultures, principles and applications of the Nonkilling Approach be sown

From the Connecticut killings other lessons may be taught
but now, life-protecting-supporting actions should be sought

To know about Nonkilling, the Center for Global Nonkilling site please access
and ways to overcome violence and killing you will creatively be able to profess
While I wrote from the perspective of a Doukhobor, Andrei Conovaloff edited from his perspective as a mental health advocate. I would tend to agree that killings, wars and terrorism could be looked at as largely a mental health problem requiring a whole shift in thinking from the culture of war and militarism to that of the Culture of Peace. Getting rid of most guns would be a good start.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Year-end Newsletter 2012

From Koozma J. Tarasoff and Kristina Kristova

Dear Friends,

Like last year at this time, Ottawa had only a trace of snow and seasonal temperature. With warmth again we are glad to greet you with the best of the holiday season and wish you and your family good health, happiness, joy, and peace throughout the New Year 2013.

Kristina has again been busy Saturday mornings working as a Site Administrator of the International Languages Program in one of Ottawa’s schools. She supervises 14 teachers and classes in Traditional Mandarin, Dutch and Tigrinya. In July she was very busy as Site Administrator of the 5-week Chinese Summer School.

As volunteer, Kristina has continued to be active with the cultural health of the greater Ottawa Bulgarian Community, in the capacity of President of the Bulgarian Association and the Bulgarian Foundation. In October and November, she spent seven weeks in Sofia, Bulgaria, visiting her son Orlin and helping him renovate his apartment. She met many of her friends from her 27 years as a professional TV anchor person for the National TV as she enjoyed cultural life in the European city. Her daughter Milena (a flute and piano teacher in Ottawa, and Manager of a doctor’s office) had earlier spent two months in Europe visiting friends and exploring new places.

With Kristina away, Koozma renovated his study and that of Kristina’s with a subtle suggestion to his partner and friend to get on with her biography. Otherwise, as he did throughout the year, Koozma was active writing on his website and blog. Some of the themes that brought interest across the miles were the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, the 6th Ottawa Peace Festival, the nonkilling paradigm, media and democracy, the Cold War, book reviews, and internal debates amongst those in his Doukhobor-Tolstoyan heritage.

With his webmaster Andrei Conovaloff in Arizona USA, Koozma has continued to explore hidden parallels between Doukhobors and Prygunyespecially how minority zealots in each branch have hijacked the identity of the majority. When Koozma’s co-publisher Legas had no room for his major book (Spirit-Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies of Living, 2002) Andrei purchased most of the remaining inventory as gifts for supporters of his project: Spiritual Christians Around the World.

In February the Bulgarian community in Ottawa along with friends celebrated Koozma’s 80th birthday with messages from home and abroad. A new Sony digital camera was one of the gifts which he now proudly uses in documenting stories of peace, ethnicity, and human interest around him. For his volunteer work, Koozma — the photographer, writer, and bridge-builder — was honoured in September by Ian Prattis’s organization with a Friends of Peace Award at Ottawa’s City Hall.

Koozma’s son Lev is a glaciologist and professor at Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland. Earlier this year he was honoured for his work by being provided with a budget for five more years as head of a Science Chair in Glacial Dynamics Modelling. In July he astonished all of us with his 650 km. gruelling trip along the north Atlantic coast, in a kayak, with a team of two other men. (Seakayaking Adventure in Northern Labrador)

Dorothee Bienzle (Lev’s wife) continues to be busy as professor and researcher at Guelph, University. Their children, Jaspar (aged 17) and Katya (aged 13) are good students active in sports. Katya has just earned a place on the U14 provincial team in Soccer.

Koozma’s daughter Tamara, her husband John, and children Nicholas (aged 15) and Elena (aged 11) are all well and active in sports and in their community. Besides being good students in school in a bilingual program (English and French), Nicholas is especially active in hockey. In his work, John this year has made trips to St. Petersburg, Russia, Korea and India. Tamara has shown how democracy works by actively helping to organize the local Wakefield, Quebec community to overturn a political decision that would pollute the pristine Gatineau River. It took three years, many meetings and 134 blog postings to make this happen. (Tamara Tarasoff Awarded for Volunteerism)

Kristina and I had several occasions during the year to host visitors from Canada and abroad. One of these was a delightful visit in June by Nona Kucher and Tammy Verigin-Burk of the interior of British Columbia. They are daughter’s of friends Elmer and Marilyn Verigin of Castlegar. In September, Konstantin Romanov, the young Russian professor from Moscow, stayed with us for three weeks as he got ready to begin his one year post-doc work in Canadian Studies at Carleton University.

The email, telephone and Skype continue to be the common mode of communications with friends and relatives across the country and abroad. However, we are always aware that there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. We therefore strive to meet with relatives and friends directly whenever we can.

As the old year ends and the New Year begins, we join together to wish all of you our friends the best of health, creativity, joy and good works in 2013.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Peacemaker Murray Thomson at 90

His passion to rid the world of atomic weapons of mass destruction was the theme of Murray Thomson's birthday Celebration 90 held December 4th at the Cartier Place Hotel, Ottawa.

In the afternoon a peace panel session 'Getting to Zero Nuclear Weapons: How?' was held. The serious discussions were followed by a gala dinner, good humour and a variety of music, highlighted by Murray on violin. See my 108 photographs with more details.

Dennis Gruending, a former Member of Parliament also attended and posted his excellent tribute: Murray Thomson peace activist at 90. Here I add from my personal recollections of Murray.

133 people attended, including heads of major peace organizations:
Since graduating from the University of Toronto more than 60 years ago, Murray has worked tirelessly to get rid of war. He is a Quaker, a co-founder of Project Ploughshares, a founder of Peace Brigades International and of Peace Fund Canada, and has received the Order of Canada, the Pearson Peace Medal, and other awards.

We first met in the 1950s when Murray worked as an adult educator in Saskatchewan, when a government led by CCF, the forerunner of the NDP, had come to power. He also worked at Qu'Appelle Valley Centre, which had been opened by Father Moses Coady, the founder of the Antigonish Institute in Nova Scotia, and a pioneer in the Canadian co-operative movement.

We met briefly again in the 1970s at the Grindstone Island Peace Education Centre, where Murray was one of the founders. Here my colleague Dave Haggarty and I organized four weekend summer workshops on family, community, and peace.

It was at the end of June 1982 that Murray and I met in Castlegar, British Columbia, at the first International Doukhobor Intergroup Symposium featuring Doukhobors, Molokans, Mennonites and Quakers. As one of the signers of a petition to the United Nations, Murray Thomson set out the task of peacemakers today — a view that was very much in the spirit of what he would say 30 years later in Ottawa on his 90th birthday. In 1982, he stated:

What is our task today? It is to make every effort to work both on the inside (policy changes, government budgets) and on the outside (mobilizing, sensitizing the public), knowing that our time is limited. To work both for disarmament and for social justice, Brad Morse, UNDP head, said: "To live, the world must disarm; to live decently, it must develop."


'First, we need to conceive, formulate and promote alternative systems of security, for Canada and the world. This involves:
  1. Strengthening the UN processes of conciliation, peace keeping, conflict resolution.
  2. More emphasis on environmental, economic, political security; less on military security.
  3. Explore new forms, such as Non Violent Social Defence. Here's an idea, being examined seriously in Europe which Doukhobors, Mennonites and Quakers might develop together.
'Second, we need to help our governments, and the UN, to move away from existing policies and budget towards alternative ones.
  1. Campaigns for a Freeze on Nuclear Weapons production, testing and deployment.
  2. Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Campaigns.
  3. Reductions of military budgets, of military research and technology of conventional arms production, and of arms transfers.
  4. Conversion from Military to Civilian industries.
Outside (Public Mobilization)

'Equally, perhaps more important, is to intensify our efforts outside, in mobilizing the public.

'First, there is in Canada the Global Referendum campaign, which Jim Stark has presented so effectively, and all of the opportunities for public education.

'Second, there is the Ploughshares Campaign for making Canada a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone....

'Third, there is the Peace Tax Campaign...[which] is looking for support....

'Fourth, there are the efforts to enable large numbers of people to work on the problems of peace — both on the inside and outside kinds. One way is to persuade our government, to support the Waldheim Proposal for 1% of our Defence Budget for disarmament research and education. Another related way is to persuade Canada to pledge one million dollars to the newly launched World Disarmament Campaign....

'In Conclusion,...we need a revolution in our way of thinking about the world, new attitudes for the Atomic Age and new methods for solving the technical problems of the late 20th century....' [Koozma J. Tarasoff (Co-ordinator and editor), Symposium Proceedings..., Grand Forks, BC: 1983: 58-59).]

Today in 2012, after 65 years in the peace movement, Murray Thomson has expressed the following urgency on his 90th birthday:
  • Abolish nuclear weapons NOW! To survive, we must never use them. Murray has mobilized over 600 officers and companions of Order of Canada to sign a petition that Canada impliment a nuclear weapons convention.
  • Work to rid the world of land mines, cluster bombs, automatic weapons, arms technology, drones and all weapons of mass destruction.
  • Challenge NATO's nuclear policies and the existence of NATO itself.
  • We need BIG IDEAS if we are to give hope to world citizens. Build bridges of understanding towards a one-world community. 'We are our brothers and sisters keepers!
  • 'If NGOs want a world without war, then we have to work hard to organize it.' 'Find the means to coordinate efforts, pool financial, human and spiritual resources and speak with one voice.'
  • Advocate for a Canadian Department of Peace Initiative.
  • Remember: 'Action inspires action.' 'Never give up.' 'It can be done!'
Murray, you are an inspiration to all of us! 
See my 108 photographs with more details.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Q52: Tell me about your 1960s experience

asks: From: Carl Stieren, Ottawa, Ontario

Introduction: This question was asked at the Launch party November 3rd, 2012 for Carl Stieren's board game 'It Happened in The 60s'. The event took place at HUB Ottawa as a fund-raiser for the production of a new game. See photos.

Carl is a writer, editor, former journalist, web content developer and trilingual communications specialist (English, French and German) with experience in government, business and NGOs. For some five years he worked as Co-ordinator of the Canadian Friends Service Committee and for eight years was Associate Editor of Federations magazine at the Forum of Federations. Recently, he was Communications Co-ordinator at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

To play Carl's game, you roll the dice and travel back to the 60s, visiting 31 states and 6 Canadian provinces — plus an offshore square, because what's a 60s game without the Beatles and the Rolling Stones? If you land on a Karma square or a Trickster square, your life could go sideways just like in the 60s.


To gain a flavour of the fascinating 1960s as I recall, I need to go back two decades earlier.

In the late 1940s when I was a high school student at the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate Institute (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), I often went to the Ukrainian Labour Temple where I took gymnastic lessons. On one of these evenings, the Temple hosted a special visitor — a young master banjo player and singer from the USA. We all gladly joined in singing peace and freedom songs. The musician was the famous Pete Seeger whose songs became popular in the 1960s.

In 1957, I attended the War Resisters International Triennial Conference in England just prior to going to the 6th World Festival of Peace and Students in Moscow, USSR. At the Society of Friends House in London, my roommate was Quaker Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr., A. Phillip Randolph (1889-1979), and A.J. Muste (1885-1967). Later, in 1963, Rustin organized King's March in Washington where the famous speech 'I have a dream' was presented.

In the early 1960s, I was one of the core organizers with Peter G. Makaroff (1894-1970) of three peace demonstrations on the Canadian prairies. We titled them: "A Manifestation for Peace." Peacemaker A.J. Muste from New York spoke at one of these gatherings in Suffield, Alberta, urging governments to cease research and production of chemical, biological and radiological weapons. Another gathering for peace was held at Orcadia, Saskatchewan. The following year, on June 27th, 1965, 1,500 people stood or sat in the rain for four hours in a bid for non-violent approach to peace. International peacemakers Mulford Q. Sibley (1912-1989) and Frank H. Epp (1929-1986) appeared at the Canadian Air Force Radar base, Dana, Saskatchewan, in a peace demonstration co-organized by Doukhobors, Mennonites, and Quakers with a common concern for the survival of the human race.

Singing was part of all of these memorable 60s events with many popular songs coming from Pete Seeger and friends. Such as 'Where Have All the Flowers Gone?'; 'Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream'; 'We Shall Overcome'; 'If I Had a Hammer'; 'May There Always Be Sunshine'. My ancestors, the Doukhobors, participated at Expo in Montreal in 1967. Since then Doukhobor choirs have appeared throughout Canada and the USA as well as the USSR at other expositions and festivals stressing the desire for harmony in human relations analogous to the harmony in their choral art.

Yes, the 1960s was a busy time. Hopefully we have all learned something from that era about the need for peace, equality, respect for nature, honesty and compassion in human relations. Indeed, let's accept the wisdom and 'Give Peace a Chance'! Otherwise, 'When Will We Ever Learn?'

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