5  Corrections for National Defence website

From: "Tarasoff" <tarasoff@spirit-wrestlers.com>
Subject: Corrections to website
Date: Wed, 12 July 2006
To: <information@forces.gc.ca>

General Inquiries Office
Dept. of National Defence

Dear Sir or Madam:

Recently, while surfing the Internet, a friend of mine came across your webpage: Religions in Canada — Doukhobors.

May I offer the following corrections:
  1. In the 4th paragraph: "By the 1960s, individual members of the sect ... " Today the Doukhobors are not a sect, which meant heretics, Russians who were not Orthodox under the Tsar. In 20th century Canada, Doukhobors considered themselves a social movement or a way of life.

  2. Under Scriptural and Doctrinal Sources, the Doukhobors do not use the Holy Bible.

  3. Under Devotional Practices and Services, Doukhobors do not use readings from the Bible.

  4. Under Major Celebrations and Observances, yes the Doukhobors do observe some holidays. One of these is St. Peter's Day or the Annual Doukhobor Peace Day which commemorates the 1895 arms burning in Tsarist Russia on the night of June 28-29, as a signal to the world to get rid of the institution of militarism and wars. Also contemporary Doukhobors in Canada observe Easter and Christmas. Doukhobors in Russia also follow some of the Russian Orthodox holidays.

  5. Under Death and Burial, Doukhobor burials are accompanied by prayers, hymns and a meal.
Thank you for listing my website: www.spirit-wrestlers.com. I have been studying the Doukhobor movement for over 50 years. You might also wish to consult my latest book: Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living (Ottawa: Legas Publishing and Spirit Wrestlers Publishing, 2002). I have the book available in Ottawa at $69.65.

Koozma J. Tarasoff

Sent: Thursday, 14 September, 2006
To: Soucy Maj RJ@CMP DHRD@Ottawa-Hull
Subject: FW: Corrections to website

Dear Mr. Koozma J. Tarasoff,

       Thank your for your comments concerning our publication Religions in Canada. This book was developed primarily to assist Canadian Forces commanding officers and supervisors to understand and respond to requests from our soldiers for religious accommodation. It is not the definitive guide to all religions in Canada. As you may have seen, it contains a description of major religious and spiritual requirements and tenets, including celebrations and observances, as well as dress, dietary, medical and health requirements. Since its publication, many government agencies, police forces, hospitals, banks and educational institutions have requested copies of this book in order to better serve their public.

       When our contractor researched the material, he basically looked at the information contained on the World Wide Web and did meet with some religious leaders. In two specific cases, where the information was not available on the web, the respective religious or spiritual leaders gave it to us. Once we had a final draft of the publication, our interfaith Padres did have a look at it so that the information in it could be as accurate as possible. Unfortunately a few minor errors did manage to make their way into the published text, and were corrected on our Internet and Intranet sites as they were identified. As new information is given to us and proven correct, we will update our web-based sites accordingly.

       Whenever I receive comments such as yours, I do take them very seriously and do my own research based on what the contractor has given us, what references are provided by whomever sent me the comments and then branch out from there.

       In the case that you bring up, you've made it very difficult for me to disprove what you are saying, as you are not only referred to in our book but in many of the references that I came across in verifying your points.  However there is one point that I don't agree with you and that is the very first one where you state that "the Doukhobors are not a sect".  The Webster's Dictionary defines a "sect" as: "a way of life,"..."a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader".  This definition is also consistent with that of other dictionaries. As for your points 2, 3, and 4 I have found sufficient material that supports your statements.  On the latter, I would ask for some clarification.  You call the June 29 celebration "St-Peter's day" while another writer specifically refers to it as "Peter's day".  Which one should be used?

       Having said all of this, I will make the changes to our web sites, including the amendment to reflect what you state in point 5.  However, due to the program used to create the files before they were placed on the web and the fact that we don't have it, it may take a while before the changes are actually reflected on the net.  I can assure you that I will make every effort to make the changes as quickly as possible.

       I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have cause you and the Doukhobor followers.


 R. Soucy

 Major R Soucy
 Canadian Forces Desk Officer Employment Equity -
 Communications & Training /
 Officier d'état-major pour l'équité en matière d'emploi des
 Forces canadiennes - Communications & Instruction
 DHRD / DDPD 3-4
 * (613) 996-2468
 *  (613) 992-1049
 * soucy.rj@forces.gc.ca

September 21, 2006

Major R. Soucy,
Canadian Forces Desk,
Officer Employment Equity
Communications & Training,

Dear Major Soucy:

Thank you for acknowledging my letter and commenting on the suggested corrections to the text in your publication Religions in Canada.

Concerning the use of the word 'sect', this does NOT apply to the Doukhobors today. They neighter have a distinctive doctrine nor a universally-recognized spiritual leader.  Their new mindset reflects a universal train of throught rather than the more closed, inward-looking, tribal views that were once espoused by its adherents.

However, there are some people (such as those in the sensationalistic media, scholars who have not taken the time to look at the wider picture, and zealots seeking an advantage to hijack the group) who want to continue using the label 'sect' as a lazy-man's way of looking at the Doukhobors. However, this practice is not only inappropriate, but it does a disservice to the mass majority of the group.

The June 29th event commemorates the arms burning in Russia in 1895, as a message to the world to get rid of the institution of militarism and wars. Today this commemoration is popularly known as Peter's Day or St. Peter's Day. Generically, however, it is best known as the Peace Day of the Doukhobors.

In due course, I will appreciate it you would make the necessary changes in your website to reflect the new realities about the Doukhobors. Thank you very much.

Koozma J. Tarasoff

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