Examining the Sons of Freedom

The Group of Friends choir will perform on June 12 at 7 p.m. at Touchstones. - Submitted photo
The Group of Friends choir will perform on June 12 at 7 p.m. at Touchstones.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Enjoy the harmonies of the Group of Friends choir performing in the beautifully resonant gallery space at Touchstones Nelson tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The choir, led by Jasmine Popoff, will sing traditional Doukhobor hymns that depict the values of pacifism, love and kindness. Some English songs will also be featured. The performance is happening in conjunction with the exhibition Sons of Freedom Doukhobors: Photographs from the Stevens Studio.

While the exhibition focuses on the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, the choir members in Group of Friends were raised in the orthodox Doukhobor community. This younger generation is moving toward healing the rifts that have separated the reformed and orthodox groups in the past, in the hopes of ushering in a new time of understanding and respect.

Selected from the larger Stevens Studio collection in the Touchstones Nelson Archives, the photographs in this exhibit document a compelling chapter in the history of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, as well as our community.

The Sons of Freedom, a distinct group of reformed Doukhobors based mainly in Krestova, gained worldwide attention during the early 1950s.

They burned their own houses to demonstrate their rejection of material wealth and private property, and marched naked as a form of spiritual cleansing and protest. When a public demonstration was planned, photographer Jane Sloan often showed up before the police. A trusted outsider, she was invited by the Sons of Freedom to document their cultural activities and protests, and her evocative photographs quickly spread throughout Canada and parts of Europe via newspapers and publications such as Life Magazine. The exhibition runs until September 7.

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