Echoes from the past: January 27,1966

A look back at local stories from 50 years ago in the Agassiz-Harrison community

I.O.O.F. Sponsors Mother’s March

Cheam Lodge I.O.O.F. has once again, undertaken to conduct the Mother’s March on behalf of the Rehabilitation Foundation of B.C. in the Agassiz- Harrison area.

A daytime canvas for Saturday, February 5th , weather permitting, is planned.

Campaign Chairman Lloyd Tranmer particularly requests that the householders be mindful of the date and arrange to have someone home when the call is made thus eliminating a lot of call backs.

 

Doukhobour Prisoners Being Freed on Parole

For the first time in the history of their long struggle with society, Freedomite Doukhobour prisoners are being released from a federal penitentiary on individual paroles-and so far with excellent results.

In the last three months 11 prisoners have been released on parole from Mountain Prison, most of them going to jobs in Vancouver, among the younger ones, some have gone into schools both academic and vocational.

None has recorded even a minor parole violation.

Carl Stevenson, regional representative for the National Parole Board, explains that the Freedomites are being treated exactly like any other inmates.

When they were refusing to work they were ineligible for parole, but since they have been co-operating with penitentiary authorities they have been able to apply individually in the ordinary way.

An investigator then checks on the inmates plan to live in the Agassiz area or in the Kootenays or the Okanagan has been approved but otherwise the men can go anywhere in Canada.

Some of those already paroled had families living in the shack town outside the prison at Agassiz, and these have also moved away.

It takes about four months for a parole application to be dealt with.

In some cases approval has come when the prisoner had only a few months left to serve, but they have taken parole even though it meant being under supervision for a considerably longer period than if they had completed the sentence.

Of the 48 Freedomites still in prison only half a dozen have not yet applied for parole.

Some of these have indicated they are not interested, but about a dozen have not served long enough to be eligible.

An inmate must serve one-third of his sentence or four years, whichever is less, before he is eligible to apply.

A large number of parole applications are coming up in the spring and summer, while other prisoners are due for release.

If the plans submitted by inmates are satisfactory the prison could conceivably be almost empty of Doukhobours in a few months.

Already the main wing is used for other prisoners, and facilities are being expanded to handle more.

In former years when large groups of Freedomites were imprisoned, large numbers have been released early on tickets of leave, but never on an individual basis.

With the departure of more than half the inmates from the prison during the past two years the population of the camp outside the gate has also been reduced.

At one time there were about 550 people there. A count late last fall showed only 375 still in residence, and a number of them have since left.

No acknowledged leader has emerged at the camp since the death of Big Fanny Storgoff in 1964, but a number of diehards with no close relatives in prison are still there.

Bulk of the population, however, is the immediate families of inmates.

School attendance from the camp has not dropped in proportion to the over all change in population.

There are still 61 Freedomite pupils in Agassiz schools, only about 20 less than the maximum.

 

From the Agassiz-Harrison Rosedale Advance, compiled by Heather Doerksen