Director: Dorothy Dickie
Dorothy Dickie's A Doukhobor Story is a personal journey into the fascinating
life experiences of her Russian great-grandfather. In April of 1899, Vany
and Loosha Perverseff came to Canada with 2,300 other Doukhobors, the
third and final wave of Doukhobor immigrants to Canada.
Simple, devout, mostly illiterate peasants, the Doukhobors were pacifists,
and refused to join the Czar Nicholas II's military. For this, and their
rejection of the authority and corruption of the Russian Orthodox Church,
many Doukhobors, including members of Vanya's family, were forced from
their land, arrested and tortured. The Perverseffs settled in Saskatchewan
and started a new life as farmers with the assurance of freedom, but eventually
the community experienced radical differences of opinion and splintered
into three separate groups.
The Perverseffs chose the way of progress. Although Doukhobors were mostly
illiterate, Vanya pursued a life-long love of learning and helped to establish
the first school for Doukhobor children in his district. He passed on
his love of learning to his children and his eldest son later become one
of the first Doukhobor medical doctors to graduate in Canada.
Dickie leads us through the mystery of early Canadian Doukhobor life with
an evocative mix of first person reminiscences, archival footage and lovely
scenic landscapes. A labour of love, Wrestling with the Spirit was inspired
during the centennial year of the Doukhobors arrival in Canada when Dorothy
attended the funeral of her grandmother in Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan,
where the original family homestead still stands.