Less a part of the conversation, than a conversation piece. Volunteers greet people at the door of a Doukhobor cultural center in Castlegar for the 63rd annual Union of Youth Festival. Poznikoff grew up speaking Doukhobor Russian, but lost it later, she says.
Peace Magazine v11n5p Tolstoy and Christian pacifism
I'm making friends, socializing, things like that, so I just didn't pick it up again. The communal Doukhobor residence here at the Discovery Center in Castlegar is actually a replica. The real villages all burned down decades ago. Even for those who remained, like Flo Hadkin, a Doukhobor who went to school in Castlegar during the '50s, the language began to disappear.
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- The Doukhobors are Canadian-born but they sing in the Russian dialect of their grandparents;
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By the s, with the number of native Doukhobor speakers in steep decline, a group of concerned parents lobbied the local school board to add Russian to the district curriculum. But they also faced a dilemma: What kind of Russian to teach? The Doukhobor dialect — or the standard Russian spoken in the country their great-grandparents had fled? I just don't. Doukhobors on whole, except for maybe the odd one, have realized that we're no longer living in a bubble.
And from the s to the s, they received the majority of their teaching materials from Communist Russia. Some of those young people have gone on to become teachers in the local Russian bilingual program. Fifteen-year-old Anika Cheveldave, a fifth-generation Doukhobor, has been studying in the program since kindergarten, which surprises other Canadian kids. Your school does Russian class?
Tolstoi et les Doukhobors by J. Wladimir Bienstock (2015, Paperback)
There are, however, scholars who question whether one can really be a Doukhobor without understanding the dialect even though much Doukhobor doctrine has been translated into English. Evdokimoff believes language was never the thing binding the Doukhobors together. It was all about their credo: Toil and Peaceful Life. And on the day I visited the Doukhobor prayer home for their 69th annual youth festival, the place was bustling: Men in suits and women in kerchiefs, piling tables high with vegetarian dishes.
Granted, many were older, but word was a new family in town — non-Doukhobors, non-Russian speakers — had just asked to join the congregation. At the turn of the last century in America, the Jews arrived with their Yiddish, the Italians with their Italian, the list goes on. Today, how many of those kids still speak those languages? But here in Castlegar, years later, the Doukhobors are still singing their language.
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