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CCUB Response to the Premier

Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Ltd.

(Copy sent to Hon. Mr. Sloan April 20th)

April 16, 1925

John Oliver,
Premier of British Columbia,
Victoria, B.C.

Honourable Sir:-

[...] We describe in this letter exact treatment of cruel educated men towards our people at Grand Forks on April 11, 1925.

On April 10th the Police at Grand Forks was noisely getting ready to raid the Doukhobors, their neighbors a peaceful people, because the Doukhobors children were not attending English School. About ten o'clock on 11th of April creating a lot of dust like a hurricane, a lot of Automobiles and motor trucks filled with people were speeding towards the Doukhobor settlement. Ahead of the Automobiles were some horsemen like calvary. They all quickly got around the Doukhobor warehouse, which is situated on the outskirts of the town. In this warehouse were stored eatable products, it was also used as an Office. This mob of executioners armed with revolvers, blacksnakes, pieces of rubber hose and pick handles, about one hundred and fifty men under leadership of Inspector Dunwoody, started to raid warehouse and Office taking everything as it came: all kinds of merchandise, potatoes and other eatable products, furniture, typewriter, safe, books, business letters and documents. [...] This warehouse and Office was raided for four hours, over twenty motor truckloads were taken out and sent to Grand Forks. They took not only eatable products, but empty glass jars used for preserving.

Three o'clock in the afternoon on same day the same mob went to the Doukhobors settlement situated about two miles from town and started to raid the Doukhobor Flour mill, where Doukhobors had stored a small reserve of wheat and flour to feed their children. Here the women and children peacefully tried to save the toil of their men and parents and their meager subsestance. With tears they begged this cruel mob not to take away their last piece of daily bread. This did not help, and in answer to their cries, the mob started to treat them rough and unmercifully beat them with whips and trample with horses. The women and children with heart breaking cries were begging for mercy. One woman was hurt so badly that she had to be carried to the house. After the women and children were chased away some distance from flour mill, then executioners break door and then begin to their work, taking from the flour mill wheat and flour.

Before this mob came to Doukhobor settlement they seized five carloads of Railway Ties, which were ready to ship to Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Also they seized two motor trucks and other machinery.

According to the inventory, they took away over $20,000.00 worth of Doukhobors chattels, to satisfy about $4,000.00 worth of fines.

This destruction was made at the command of the higher Officials from Victoria, because the Doukhobor children were not attending English School. [...]

Doukhobors do not want to send their children to English School because they want to save their faith for which their ancestors suffered hundreds of years, and because they wish to save their Russian Language.

We can see the mistake our brothers made in Saskatchewan, when they sent their children to English School to full age limit. Their children do not want to use Russian language while speaking with their parents. On which language will they profess the faith of their fathers in future? Quite a few of their daughters without the consent of their parents have married men of other faith. Besides, the School education reflects on the children and they do not honor their parents as they should, but tempts to easy labor and getting away from the honest toil of agriculture. If all the people will get high education and will live in cities, who then will work on the land and raise foodstuff?

The local Government and the people are blaming the Doukhobors for not obeying Canadian Laws. Let us answer you on this: where are there on the Globe higher Laws than which the Doukhobors are obeying? Not to carry firearms, to live in peace, not to kill animals, not to use meat as food, not to drink whiskey, not to use tobacco in any form. Living here in Canada for twenty-five years, we did not do any damage either to the Government or to the people of this land. [...]

We beg you, kind Sir, to take serious notice on our plea, and take necessary steps to stop prosecution of Christians. Force and violence at this time — the time of knowledge and progress are not of place and do not bring good results to the present Government and citizens of this country.

We are repeating again that in this civilized land we lost our beloved Leader Peter Lordly, for whom we are still mourning and continuously praying God. We beg you in the name of Jesus Christ to let us live in peace.

With sincere respect to you.
The Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood, Ltd.
Per [signed] W.G Sherstobitoff, Director

Source: BC Archives, GR 441, Vol 246, File #7; Premier – 1925 — Doukhobors, W.G Sherstobitoff, April 16, 1925 CCUB Response to the Premier, April 16, 1925.

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