February 29th, 2024

B.C. attorney general apologizes to Doukhobors, offers $10 M ‘compensation package’

By The Canadian Press on February 1, 2024.

B.C. Attorney General Niki Sharma responds to questions outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Monday November 27, 2023. British Columbia's attorney general is set to formally apologize to children who were removed from their homes more than 70 years ago, largely due to their families' religious and political beliefs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

CASTLEGAR, B.C. – British Columbia’s attorney general has formally apologized to members of the Doukhobor religious group, including those who were forcibly taken from their parents more than 70 years ago.

Niki Sharma’s apology came with a promise of $10 million for community programs and education aimed at providing “lasting recognition of historical wrongs” committed against the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor and their families.

Sharma made the apology and announced what she called a “compensation package” at an event attended by survivors in Castlegar, B.C.

She says the province recognizes the stigma and trauma experienced by the Sons of Freedom and the broader Doukhobor community.

In the 1950s an estimated 200 children were taken to a former tuberculosis sanatorium, in part because their parents opposed government rules and refused to send them to public schools.

Sharma acknowledged the children were “mistreated both physically and psychologically” and that the government’s actions caused anxiety for the broader Doukhobor community.

The Sons of Freedom were a small group within the Doukhobor community, an exiled Russian Christian group, and were once known for naked protests and periodically burning down their own homes as a rejection of materialism.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2024.

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