The Doukhobors, Sons of Freedom and the Canadian Government

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The “Sons of Freedom” are a small radical group that diverged from a religious sect known as the Doukhobors. This zealous and revivalist subsect evolved from the Doukhobors only to gain the government’s attention for their extremely radical acts. They have initiated bombings, arson, nudist parades, and hunger strikes, all in protest to the land ownership and registration laws of Canada. Such obscene and violent demonstrations have caused a great deal of conflict between the Sons of Freedom and the Canadian government’s legal system and have also generated much public resentment. However, should the State of Canada have imposed laws upon this minority group that blatantly conflicted with their religious beliefs?

The Doukhobors originally emerged in Russia during the mid-eighteenth century when a group of Russian peasants renounced the practises of the Orthodox Church. Perhaps the most vital rejection of the Orthodox Christian belief was the refusal to accept the Holy Bible as the main source of inspiration; rather they replaced it with their own “Living Book”. Other dismissals included churches, priesthood, and baptism. It was in 1785 that the religious group was actually termed the “Doukho-borts”, meaning “Spirit Wrestlers”, and they pledged to struggle for an improved life using spiritual love, denouncing violence. However, it was the Doukhobors denial of the church, and more importantly the state, to have any authority over their lives that brought them into much conflict with the government. As the sect developed into agrarian communal societies and engaged in endogamy, its introversion was seen as resistance to the state. The Doukhobors were thus oppressed in Russia and even after migrating to Canada they failed ...

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... to comply with the legislative requirements, both the Sons of Freedom and the Doukhobors have defended themselves from enforced assimilation by the government. However, preserving their culture and religious values in such a way did cause the government to respond accordingly. Nevertheless, in taking such action multicultural differences must be considered along with law and order.


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Canadian Museum of Civilisation Corporation. Doukhobors. 15 Oct. 1996

Androsoff, Ryan. Home page. 1999
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