The descendants of a European persecuted religious minority have set up a display showing their community’s history in Canada.
The Saskatchewan Doukhobor Living Book Project launched on June 28 and is aimed at preserving the oral history and spiritual traditions of the community.
The project’s director said with a lot of the older generation passing away, he was looking at a way to archive Doukhobor history.
“There was this real limited window for us to be able to preserve some of this history and these traditions and be able to use modern technology and approaches that do it in a way that we could bring it to a wider audience,” Ryan Androsoff said.
Ryan and his cousin Ashleigh are descendants from the Doukhobor community that arrived in Canada in the early 1900s.
They teamed up to create the project, which is being housed at Saskatoon’s Western Development Museum (WDM).
Ashleigh, who is also an assistant history professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said the Doukhobor story is one that many Canadians are able to relate with.
“It’s our hope that in exhibits such as this, it not only tells people about what the Doukhobor were about, but makes them think about what the more broad experience is for ethno-religious minorities that come to Canada as newcomers,” she said.
As well as having items on display, the exhibit features a soundscape that captures singing that takes place during a religious service.
About two dozen speakers have been set up in a side room each playing a different member of the choir singing as a five-part acapella harmony.
“It’s something that most people in Saskatchewan, even if they’ve heard of the Doukhobor, have never experienced firsthand. So the vision behind the soundscape was not just to record the singing and the prayer service, but to actually create this immersive experience so it would be like you were there,” Ryan said.
A film was also released as part of the project.
It looks at the more than 7,500 people in the Doukhobor community who settled in Saskatchewan and how they have adapted to living in Canada since fleeing persecution in Russia.
The WDM exhibit is open until Oct. 20.