The Doukhobors: “A Singing Community”

The USCC Talent Night is an annual Doukhobor cultural event held at the Brilliant Cultural Centre in Castlegar. Jenna Semenoff of IntheKoots went to this year’s event on March 12.

Jenna Semenoff (Photo by Melissa Welsh)

“I attended or participated when I was younger. I used to be in a choir and sing,” she says. “That’s what the whole community is about, is song.”

For Jenna, this Talent Night was special because it was her first in ten years—she has recently returned to the West Kootenay from living in Vancouver.

“I get goose-bumps listening to the singing. I grew up listening to a capella singing, and a lot of the songs I have heard before. I love it. I really enjoyed the youth choir and watching the little kids on stage.”

Groups appearing that night included the Russian Bilingual Program from Twin Rivers, the Castlegar Children’s Sunday School, the Slocan Valley Choir, the Grand Forks Men’s Choir, the Vision for Peace Youth Choir and the Castlegar Men’s Choir.

“There is something particularly about the men’s choirs,” says Jenna. “Their voices just fill the entire hall. There is such power in their voices.”

Here is Jenna’s video from the evening:

“A conductor from Victoria who came here to work with the Vision for Peace Youth Choir referred to the Doukhobors as ‘a singing community’, says Jenna. “I feel like that is very accurate.”

These talent nights are more informal than many Doukhobor events, says Jenna. For that reason, non-Doukhobor people should feel welcome to attend. “This is more of an informal night where they tell jokes on the stage and people put on little skits and they sing folk songs as opposed to more traditional songs.”

A similar night of entertainment will be held on Saturday, May 28th at 7:00pm at the Brilliant Cultural Centre as part of the annual USCC Union of Youth Festival. Tickets will be available at the door.


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