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VICTORIA – Attorney General Geoff Plant issued a statement of regret in the legislature today to Sons of Freedom Doukhobor children who were removed from their parents in the 1950s to attend residential school in New Denver.
“We’ve recognized that a chapter in this province’s history needs to be acknowledged. More than 50 years ago, 104 Sons of Freedom Doukhobor children were removed from their parents during a period of protest in the West Kootenays,” said Plant.
The Sons of Freedom Doukhobor parents were of the view that publicly funded education would expose their children to a Canadian patriotism contrary to their beliefs, so they refused to send their children to school. The government of the day removed the children by using a section of the Protection of Children Act designed, in part, to ensure that all children receive a provincially sanctioned education.
“These were children who were not allowed to return home during Christmas or summer breaks for the years that they were living in the New Denver dormitory. Visits by parents were restricted to two weekends a month. I have no doubt the New Denver experience affected these children and their families in profound ways since they were kept from their parents for lengthy periods of time,” said Plant.
Discussions about methods of healing and reconciliation with the former residents of New Denver are ongoing. The Ministry of Children and Family Development provides a counselling program to those affected by offering family therapy and individual counselling to former residents, their siblings, spouses and children. This program has been in place for approximately two years.