Sons of Freedom

The Sons of Freedom had a troubled history in Western Canada. Known for their nude protests and for setting fires, members of the breakaway Doukhobor sect also had their children taken away from them.

Posted March 6, 2013

First Nations children were not the only ones seized from their parents and forced into residential schools. In the early 1950s, provincial authorities in British Columbia took about 175 children whose parents belonged to the Sons of Freedom religious sect and incarcerated them in a boarding school in New Denver, B.C.

The action came after decades of conflict — Freedomites had engaged in mass public demonsrations of nudity, as well as arson and sabotage. The school operated for six years but the impacts on the children were longlasting. Some reported being beaten and sexually abused. As Global News reported in December 2012 (see video below), efforts to obtain an apology continue into the present day.



Larry Hannant’s article entitled “Sons of Freedom,” which was published in the February-March 2013 issue of Canada’s History, will be available in the Canada’s History Archive in 2018.

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