Every loaf of bread that Harvey Kazakoff bakes has a long heritage.
“I hope my great-grandparents and my grandparents would be really proud of us (for) still carrying on (our) tradition and the culture, because they know what they wanted to do when they left Russia,” he said.
Kazakoff is a Doukhobor. More than a century ago his ancestors fled Russia to escape oppression by the Tsar and the Russian Orthodox Church. They were persecuted because of their religion — they practice their own creed of Christianity — and because of their pacifism.
The Doukhobors, farmers in Russia, settled in Saskatchewan. Now they work to keep their culture alive.
The Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon bread booth, at the Saskatoon Exhibition, is a way to do so. Different generations work side-by-side to produce the popular baked good.
WATCH: (Aug. 10, 2017) With 200-year-old recipe, Doukhobor bread booth a staple at Saskatoon Ex
Mich Ozeroff has been baking bread for seven decades and said it’s a good way to teach young people about their heritage.
“Everybody says, ‘Where are the young people in your church?’”
“This is the program that seems to always bring more young people to participate,” he said.
He’s referring to young people like Ainsley Jaeschke. Today, she is working at the concession at the front of the booth. But the teenager learned to bake from her grandma when she was seven-years-old.
“I feel like it’s kind of good for us all to do it this way and… (to) still use the clay oven instead of just using a normal oven,” she said.
She says the baking helps her understand, and stay connected to, her roots.
“I think it’s just a great community to be in.”
The Doukhobors use the baking to practice their culture and remember their history, which reminds them, says Kazakoff, that they were once refugees. Ozeroff said that the society frequently donates some of the proceeds from the bread sales to charity.
According to Kazakoff, the Doukhobors believe that it is wrong to possess more of something than one person needs.
“You should be able to share your wealth with other people,” he said.
He hopes the baking continues to attract young Doukhobors.
“I’d like to see more people get involved with us,” he said, “so they can carry on this culture and the bread making.