Skip to content

Personal compensation missing from B.C.’s Doukhobor apology: Ombudsperson

Premier Eby apologized to Sons of Freedom Doukhobors on Feb. 27
B.C. Premier David Eby talks with people who came to hear his apology to the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors in the Provincial Legislature on Feb. 27. Photo: Wolfgang Depner

Following B.C. Premier David Eby’s apology to Sons of Freedom Doukhobors in the Provincial Legislative Assembly, B.C.’s ombudsperson is calling on the government to reconsider the compensation package offered to survivors.

“The Doukhobor community deserves a meaningful commitment from government to right this long-standing wrong and trauma that continues to this day,” said Jay Chalke in a Feb. 27 statement.

“That’s why I remain frustrated that the individual compensation our office has been recommending for more than 20 years, has still not been clearly promised.”

The government apologized for the detention of Doukhobor children in the 1950s and acknowledged the children had been abused both physically and psychologically.

Approximately 200 children were removed from their homes and placed at a former tuberculosis sanatorium in New Denver between 1953 and 1959.

“Their parents, Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, were protesting government regulation and their children became the innocent victims of government’s response to those protests,” Chalke said.

The apology came with a $10 million compensation package designated for a legacy fund, an archival fund and a health and wellness fund. It did not give any money directly to survivors.

“I welcome the Premier’s commitment in the legislature today to work with the Doukhobor community to, as he said, ‘make this right’ and I call on him to give priority to individual compensation,” Chalke said.

“Such compensation would allow survivors and their families to, in the Premier’s words, ‘access the support they need, however it looks’ to support their healing.”

The Office of the Ombudsperson says it will continue to hold government to account as it follows through on the Premier’s commitments.

RELATED: Survivors and families say Doukhobor apology compensation falls short

Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
Read more