MLAs Katrine Conroy, Roly Russell, Brittny Anderson working with community to plan apology

The following Op Ed was issued to local media on December 8, 2023:


Seventy years ago, a deep injustice was committed by the provincial government against children and families from the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor community.

Between 1953 and 1959, more than 200 children were seized from their parents by the police, and forcibly confined – leading to lasting trauma for the victims, as well as their families and their descendants.

Community members who were confined at the New Denver institution as children have shared stories of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, in addition to the trauma of being separated from their families, their language, their religion, and their culture.

The impact of these experiences is still carried by many to this day. These lasting scars should be a constant reminder that no child should ever experience what these children endured.

We have heard about the trauma from so many survivors in the area, who talk about being as young as six or seven years old when the police came to their home and took them away. They have shared how they were only allowed brief visits with their parents, and only through a chain link fence they were forced to build themselves.

Our government is committed to delivering a formal apology to all those community members harmed or traumatized by this travesty, for the role that the provincial government played. This apology will be delivered in the new year. While we had hoped to have the apology delivered before the end of this year, it was more important to ensure it was done right.

It’s crucial that any apology also includes a real opportunity for healing. We are working with members of the community as it is very important for them to be able to participate and commemorate the occasion in a way that feels right to them.

As MLAs for the Kootenay and Boundary regions, we are working on ways to bring people together to witness this important moment, to ensure that it’s both meaningful to the community and make sure that appropriate support is available for community members who may need it.

We are grateful for the members of the community who have taken the time to share their thoughts and perspectives with us over the years, and we anticipate having more details to share with the community soon. A commitment to a formal apology is one more step in our work to repair some of the intergenerational trauma of the past, and to support healing for all.