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L. Verigin Letter to John Oliver Regarding Community Split

[ Verigin and Holobova, in buggy, inspect steam threshing machine, Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan, Unknown, Plakun Trava p. 95 ]

The Lordly Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood

Brilliant, BC March 25th, 1926

The Hon. John Oliver,
Prime Minister of British Columbia
Victoria, BC

Honourable Sir:-

After the death of our worthy leader, Mr. Peter Verigin, the Doukhobor Community has splitted on religious grounds into two parties. The bigger party had considered itself too weak to run the Community affairs therefore selected two delegates to go to Russia for a leader living at Don who unfortunately does not conforms with the Doukhobor faith, chief reason of which is a true Doukhobor does not eat meat as food, neither smoke or chew tobacco or use any intoxicating liquors but their selected leader is a worldly man who possesses no Christianity. The smaller party had declared that all the Community principles are known to us all which we could carry on on same basis as founded by late Mr. Verigin and to have a woman as spiritual leader which has been trained for twenty five years for such work, but as all could not agree on the difference of the opinion a true division was formed – spiritually and materially as well.

Early in the year of 1925 a mass meeting was held at Brilliant at which the smaller party requested for a separate settlement, any of the following three places, such as Grand Forks, Brilliant or Shoreacres. According our membership the Shoreacres settlement would be more suitable for the smaller party because by allowing us this settlement the bigger party has nothing to lose as all the grain lands as well as the choicest orchards would belong to them. The smaller party agreed to take their share of the capital and whatever indebtedness against this property would also be undertaken to carry out. The Directors of the Community at this meeting and the members at large had agreed to give us a separate settlement with all the necessary implements, horses, houses, etc., but they refused to make a final agreement stating that they expect their leader from Russia within a short time and as soon as he comes then everything will be arranged and in meantime everybody should remain in same places and houses, to which request was agreed.

More than a year had passed their leader has not arrived and even the delegates which were sent to bring him have returned without anything. In fact do not say when he is coming, for this reason we gain requested for a separate place where we all members of the smaller party could live peacefully without the undue oppression, as we all know from the passed experience that the two parties shall no be able to join each other. At this last meeting held at Ooteshenia?? (across the river) on 5th, of March, 1926, we requested again the separate settlement together with complete farm implements in the name of Jesus Christ, because the accumulated property was due to hard labour by all the people of which we happen to be members, or else if they would not agree to this proposition, then in such case for the sake of peace, we would be willing to leave [ilegible] settlement, providing however that they would not disturb us for few years until such time as we will be in a position to get the necessary land on the Prairies and moreso till we will be able to build the dwelling houses for our families, but they absolutely refused to give us any assurance in this respect and in fact have said that “if you do not agree with us we will remove you all forcefully and you can go wherever you desire”.

During the season of 1925 the bigger party had taken away all the rights and privileges from us, they did not allow us team of horses to perform any home work. The flour supply from our own mills, as well as other provisions had been cut off, notwithstanding the fact that we actually paid in cash for half year supply. Our members had been helping harvesting the grain, fruits, etc., but nothing has been given to us.

It must be admitted that more efforts has been established by late Mr. Verigin towards the Doukhobor cause than any one else, as he was exiled in cold Siberia for sixteen years as well as his six blood brothers, besides many others who went through lot of suffering in conflict with the Russian Government in defending a moral freedom not only for themselves but for the future generations. Many were obliged to leave their wives and children and their property and even sacrificed their own lives for the cause and now the younger generation such as Joseph Shukin, who was brought up on account of the working people hard labor, and spends more of his time in Office, who could be termed as thin-veined, new offers us to leave the dwelling houses without anyhting and begins to explain to the public that they can do this on account of corporated by-laws, who knows nothing about the Christs corporation in whose name we had joined, do unto others as you would do unto yourselves. This only could be understood by the people who actually under the labour of an honesty but to Shukin a greenhorn this is unknown and therefore he talks like this. At other times he says the Sheriff maybe here any time and all those who do not agree with the bigger party shall be thrown from their houses without any further notice.

Just recently at a meeting in Kylemore, Sask., Mr. Cazakoff, had publicly exclaimed in profanity, that if the smaller party will not join them, then he will not only sell their personal belongings but will also sell the women. George Hadikin, Treasurer of the main Office at Brilliant, also declared openly with threatening at last meeting held at Brilliant, that now the time had arrived and the power is with the majority of the people and if you (meaning smaller party) do not vacate the dwelling houses in three months time you will see what the workers will do. We must remark that the general behaviour of the people is very serious and not too good.

In conclusion we wish to say that the bigger party has taken the entire control of the community properties, and our party is left helpless without anything absolutely. We have no money to seek any lawyers help to act for us this means that if the Canadian Government will not see that the justice is done then hundred families will be left at the mercy of the providence.

We respectfully appeal to you Honourable Sir, to appoint the Commission to investigate this serious matter and settle the ungodly actions which the British Justice does not approve, until the destruction will be started and we trust that you will take the necessary steps immediately you will receive this communication.

The Appeal has been written in the presence of three hundred people, for which the following members signed and authorized.

L. Verigin

Source: BC Archives / Selkirk College Special Collections KCIR Cabinet, Premier – 1926 Doukhobor, GR 441 vol 255 File B, L. Verigin, L. Verigin Letter to John Oliver Regarding Community Split, March 25, 1926.

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