Spirit Wrestlers

September 3rd, 2020 1 Minutes
Doukhobor Gathering ca. 1920. Collection #0131.0314. Image courtesy of Kootenay Gallery of Art, History & Science

Spirit Wrestler is the original meaning of the term Doukhobor – one who wrestles with the spirit. It depicts one who stands to account in the face of temptation, material corruption, and military power.

One cannot read or research the Basin records without encountering statements and articles that vilify the Doukhobors. They were seen as strange and peculiar people who did not contribute to Canadian society.

On reading carefully, these were always views from afar. The Doukhobors were an agrarian people who cultivated much of the abandoned or ignored marginal farming areas of western Canada.

Many today think that Doukhobor culture and commerce were confined to the Boundary – West Kootenay region. A look in any Basin newspaper will, however, soon disabuse one of that view. From Valemount to Revelstoke to Roosville, Doukhobors have been historically present and verbally berated.

An ad featured in the Cranbrook Herald issue dated Nov. 19, 1925, provides evidence that the Doukhobors were a strong agrarian community at that time.

The Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood was a multi-million dollar enterprise that grew, produced, and marketed the best fruits and jams the Basin had to offer.

The Doukhobor community, historically and currently, is one of the strong threads that comprise our Columbia Basin cultural tapestry. Take the opportunity to visit the Doukhobor Village in Grand Forks or the Doukhobor Discovery Centre in Castlegar. The history of this hard-working group of people is part of what makes the Columbia Basin so unique.

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