The year 1999 represents one hundred years of living in Canada for the Doukhobors. Comparing the past and present conditions in Russia, the country from which our ancestors emigrated, we are indeed a fortunate people. The migration to Canada could not have happened without the courage and determination of our ancestors, but, who basically relied on Lev Tolstoy to use his reputation as a humanitarian to influence people and Governments to his request for assistance to make possible our move to Canada.
During this historic era of Centennial celebrations it is also an important time to reflect on our good fortune, and, the opportunities given us here in Canada and pay our respects to those who made it possible for us to live here and enjoy such wonderful amenities as compared to those in Russia or other parts of the world where we could have been born. This, of course, will be done in several ways by members of local Doukhobor communities. However, all these activities may not be within the reach of all Doukhobor descendents.
We are hereby providing an opportunity for all descendants of Doukhobor ancestry, whether they are practicing Doukhobors or not, to be able to pay their respects to Lev Tolstoy by contributing to a useful and a most worthy project. That is to construct a bakery-cafe at Yasnaya-Polyana to help sustain the Tolstoy Family Memorial Museum by providing a service to the thousands of people who visit the museum annually and also by providing employment to the people of the local village. Not only would it acknowledge Tolstoy's assistance to our people in a meaningful substantive manner, it would be a lasting contribution to our benefactors memory on our part as Canadian Doukhobors and it may in turn bring benefits to future generations of Doukhobors.
Vladimir Ill'itch Tolstoy, the great-great grandson of Lev Nikolievitch Tolstoy, recently appointed Director of Yasnaya Polyana is the first member of the Tolstoy family to hold such a responsibility since the ownership and administration of Yasnaya Polyana was taken over by the former Soviet and now the Russian government. In the spring of 1998 Vladimir Ill'itch and a recognized Russian architect came to Canada to discuss this initiative with a group of interested people headed by Alex Jmaeff, who is an experienced and successful baker from Creston, B.C. Tolstoy, a dynamic and a clear thinking young man wants to transform Yasnaya Polyana into a beacon of hope in a country currently facing grave social, economic, political and even spiritual challenges. Vladimir Ill'itch wishes to resurrect Yasnaya Polyana in the spirit of his great-great grandfather and at the same time make it a self-sustaining sanctuary for contemplation and inspiration. This bakery-cafe could help provide the income to realize his dream.
Vladimir Ill'itch intends to place an appropriate acknowledgement to the donors, to be displayed in a place of honour at Yasnaya Polyana. This would show the world that we Doukhobors are indeed a forgiving people, "forgiving the wrongs" done unto us by the Russian State and Church when they adopted the severe program of "religious intolerance" after the "burning of the arms". As a people of sincere spirituality, as professionals and successful business people we would be helping to establish a role model for other business people of Russia to adopt and to develop a country of freedom justice, equality of opportunity and a good quality of life for all its citizens just like we enjoy in Canada. Two great countries working together for the common good of all people would become exemplary role models for other countries to follow and perhaps eventually attain the Doukhobor vision of "World Peace & Global Harmony".
A century of residence in Canada, in itself, suggests an appropriate donation per person of $100.00. That is $1.00 for every year that the Doukhobors lived in Canada from 1899 to l999. Larger or smaller donations will be gratefully accepted from Doukhobors Friends of Tolstoy and others who may be sympathetic to our cause, and will be acknowledged by an income tax exempting receipt . Vladimir Ill'itch and his partners in Russia are in the process of raising $1.2 million US for the construction of the actual building. As Canadian contributors in this Centennial/New Millennium project we have set ourselves a goal of raising $400,000.00 for the purchase, delivery and installation of good modem equipment when the building is completed. In the mean time all monies collected by us will be held in a trust account. We sincerely request that you share this message with anyone whom you know that may be interested in helping with this most worthy cause.
Donations may be made by cheque or money order payable to the "Yasnaya Polyana Bakery-Cafe Fund" and submitted to either:
Alex A. Ewashen at: email@example.com or
Larry A. Ewashen at: YP <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Visit the Friends of Tolstoy web site at http://www.tolstoy.bc.ca/
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