The Freedomites, also known as the Sons of Freedom, were a radical sect of the Doukhobors, a community of Spiritual Christians who began a mass migration from Russia to Canada in 1898. The Freedomite movement first appeared in 1902 in Saskatchewan, and later in the Kootenay and Boundary Districts of British Columbia.
The Freedomites were led by Peter Verigin, who had been exiled from Russia in 1895. Verigin preached a message of radical pacifism and communal living. He urged his followers to reject all forms of government and to live a simple life based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Freedomites soon came into conflict with the Canadian government. They refused to pay taxes, to send their children to school, or to register their births, marriages, and deaths. They also burned their own homes and property in protest against government authority.
In 1908, the Canadian government arrested Verigin and deported him to Russia. The Freedomites continued their protests, and in 1919, they were forcibly removed from their homes in Saskatchewan and interned in a camp in British Columbia.
The Freedomites were released from the camp in 1925, but they were still subject to government restrictions. In 1932, they were again arrested and interned, this time in a camp in Alberta.
The Freedomites were released from the camp in 1939, but they were still subject to government surveillance. They continued to live a communal life, and they continued to protest against government authority.
In the 1960s, the Freedomites began to relax some of their more radical practices. They began to send their children to school and to register their births, marriages, and deaths. They also stopped burning their homes and property.
The Freedomites are still a small group, but they continue to live a communal life and to practice their radical form of pacifism.
- Berg, T. L. (1999). The Freedomite Doukhobors: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
- Cave, R. K. (1975). The Doukhobors: A Religious Sect in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
- Hiebert, P. G. (1951). The Doukhobors in Canada. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada.
- Kealey, G. S. (1995). A People Apart: The Doukhobors in Canada. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
- Penner, J. E. (1992). The Doukhobors: A Journey to Community. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.