My Doukhobor Cousins, 2002

2002, 72 minutes.

This is a story about a clash of freedom versus authority, about the pressures to conform versus a stubborn will to stand up for your beliefs, and about the human cost of this hundred-year struggle played out in the deep, green valleys of British Columbia.

As Canada searched for new immigrants to populate the West and keep the Americans out in the early 1900s, a special group of people answered the call. They were the Russian Doukhobor community, deeply religious pacifists persecuted by the Czarist authorities. With the help of Leo Tolstoi, 7000 arrived in Canada, only to find that their new homeland also placed restrictions on its citizens.

The desire to fit in led many to drift away, and to conceal their origins. And when their children and grandchildren begin to ask questions, games of hide-and-seek commence.

When Janice Benthin’s aunt insists that her delicious borscht is only “vegetable soup”, Janice enlists her cousins Marilyn and Lance to go back and find out “who we really are”. Their quest leads to dark moments and funny episodes, and a discovery of astonishing human courage.

3 Responses to “My Doukhobor Cousins, 2002”