Svoboda
Thistledown Press / 17 July 2008

Svoboda by Bill Stenson Published by Thistledown Press Review by Chris Istace $ 18.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-30-0 Svoboda, by Victoria, B.C. author Bill Stenson, is a story of assimilation, providing a strong overview of how one Doukhobor family came to be as Canadian as their neighbours. Vasili Saprikin grew up in the midst of the tumultuous early history of the Doukhobor’s struggle to maintain the way of life they wanted to bring to Canada from Russia. A communal people, their settlements in both Saskatchewan and British Columbia were being assaulted by governmental attempts to assimilate the Doukhobor people into the Canadian culture of the 1950s. The Doukhobor’s response to this pressure developed into a pacifistic faction and a violent one. Learning from his grandfather, Alexay, Vasili stood outside these two factions while being taught to be proud of his heritage, regardless of how the circumstances of his culture changed. This was a challenge after the boy was whisked away from his single mother, Anuta, to residential school, where he was introduced to a conventional North American education and lifestyle. Vasili came to enjoy being educated and living the life of a standard teenager, however negative his experience at the residential school…