This is the story of Tatyana Maloff, a Russian member of the Doukhobor religious sect. It will be your story during this activity.
My name is Tatyana Maloff. My age is 25. I live here in the village of Slavianka, in the province of Tiflis, Russia. My people, the Doukhobors, have lived in this province for generations, sometimes peacefully. But only sometimes peacefully. Like the other women, I work in the fields, I help care for the chickens and help with the cooking and cleaning. It's a good enough life, but lately things have been going wrong.
Let me explain.
We are Doukhobors. We are the People of God-Christians who believe Christ is within all of us. We do not follow the ways or the laws of the Russians or their government or their church. We have our own ways and beliefs. We live communally. That means we all work together and share what we have. There are no landlords getting rich among our people. Because we know that God is within all people, we cannot kill any person, ever. Even in war.
Sometimes the Russians accepted our ways and let us live in peace. At other times they have persecuted us-sent their police to attack our meetings, beat and arrest our people.
Then they changed their laws, forcing us to join their army. Three years ago, our leaders decided we could not agree to this forced army service. We burned all Doukhobor weapons in a huge fire. Disaster struck-mounted Russian police attacked a group of our people as they sang and prayed. Some of our leaders and many young men who would not join the army were sent to prison. My brother Michael is among the brave young men suffering now in a prison because he would never serve in the Russian army. Our people searched for a solution to this crisis.
We have been promised land in western Canada. And no military service. Our leaders have visited that far-off land to arrange the resettlement of our communities. We can go to the Saskatchewan country, to Yorkton. We will be free to farm, to worship and to live without fear and persecution. Is this the solution we seek?