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Local long-time Doukhobor village supporters honoured

After a two-year hiatus, the National Doukhobor Heritage Village at Veregin celebrated Museum Appreciation Day with approximately 50 guests attended the event, including a traditional service held in the Prayer Home,

After a two-year hiatus, the National Doukhobor Heritage Village at Veregin celebrated Museum Appreciation Day on June 5.

Approximately 50 guests attended the event, which began with a traditional service held in the Prayer Home, said Linda Osachoff of Canora, secretary for the Village. The service was led by members of the Saskatoon Doukhobor Society, who have kicked off the museum season for many years.

The choir was greatly enhanced by the Saskatoon singers and Mae Popoff and Jeannette Stringer, who provided the inspirational messages.

The Village partnered with the East-Central Newcomer Welcome Centre, co-ordinated by Shanley Allard, who brought new Canadians from Mexico and Poland to share in the culture of the community.

Following the service, guests were served an ethnic lunch in the Veregin Community Centre. The borsch, perihi, and perishki were prepared by Nadia Reiben’s crew of Veregin volunteers. Bread baked in the village oven by volunteers completed the meal.

The program focussed on the honoring of five Village board members who have contributed many years to the preservation and enhancement of the Doukhobor culture, Osachoff said. They are: Bill Zbeetnoff and Tannis Negrave of Kamsack; Sonia Tarasoff of Saskatoon, and Lucille Dergousoff and Mellvina Dergousoff of Canora.

Bill Zbeetnoff, a lifetime member of the Kamsack Doukhobor Society, and a Village board member since its inception in the 1980s, has been active on the board until quite recently. He served in many capacities, most recently heading up the Memorial Fund.

“Bill’s gentle and considerate nature were recognized, as was his musical talent,” she said. “Bill continues to play guitar with the Polka Pals and recently performed at Eaglestone Lodge.”

The next engagement of the group was to be at the Kamsack and District Nursing Home.

Tannis Negrave of Kamsack has been a constant driver at the Village, Osachoff said. “She has volunteered and made numerous contributions to the board for more than four decades. She can be most often found in the kitchen, ensuring all guests are served good food.

Negrave was the initiator of the blini brunch at the Village Heritage Day, an event that has become the most popular and well-attended fundraiser, and has served on executive positions for the Village, the Doukhobor Cultural Society of Saskatchewan, and the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood. She’s contributed to Doukhobor publications and sung in the Heritage Choir.

Sonia Tarasoff, of Saskatoon and formerly of the Canora area, was a staunch supporter of the Village with her late husband, Keith.

“Through Sonia’s efforts, Village bread baking reached new levels and the teams that were trained continue to produce 40 to 50 loaves per session for baking,” Osachoff said. “Sonia was an instrumental part of the Canora Doukhobor Society choir and participated creating the two CDs initiated by the group.”

Lucille Dergousoff has volunteered in many capacities, for the Village, and for both, the Saskatoon and Canora Doukhobor societies.

“Known as the ‘starter’ in the Canora choir for many years, Lucille, who has taken part in fundraising activities, has given her voice to the Heritage Choir and the Centennial Choir, along with the CDs produced in the community.

Mellvina Dergousoff is a lifelong Canora Society Doukhobor and the historian of that society.  She recalls early days of families gathering in homes, before the prayer home was built in Canora, and a time when there were three choirs in Canora, along with history and psalm classes.

“Mellvina was in charge of memberships and circulation of The Dove in Canora for countless years.”

Following the presentations, which were made by Village directors Fred and Eileen Konkin and Linda Osachoff, the group reconvened for an impromptu sing-song of well known Russian melodies and hymns.

The Village will hold the Peter’s Day service on June 29 at the prayer home in Veregin. The service will be at 11 a.m. and participants are asked to bring a bagged lunch for fellowship which will follow.