Fructova School reunion this weekend is about both the past and the future
The Fructova School isn't just part of the past to Anne and Cecil Plotnikoff of Grand Forks. It is also part of the future for the generations of Doukhobor children to come.
The school, which was opened from 1929 to 1949, was meant to teach Doukhobor children how to speak, read and write English. What it does now his house the history of the entire region and enlighten others about the Doukhobor culture and influence in our region.
Cecil attended the Fructova School for several years as a youngster, while his wife Anne attended elementary school in Grand Forks.
Cecil has some fond memories of the few years he spent in the school -- including some wild sled rides down the hills above the school that nearly took him to the present-day Highway 3 -- both he and Anne are more grateful for what the school has become today.
"We want to say how very impressed we are with the museum and the grounds -- we're actually quite ecstatic," said Anne. "I remember when (Fructova School) stood there pretty ratty it was so run down. Now it is just amazing ... It is very dear to my heart that it wasn't left run down and in shambles. It is now a heritage building that is a part of my background."
To celebrate the Fructova School, the Boundary Museum is hosting a reunion at the schoolhouse, for the second year in a row, on Saturday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"Anyone can come," said Sue Adrian, Boundary Museum archivist. "(The event) is particularly for people who attended school there ... It will be a great opportunity for people to learn and share stories."
Adrian said in recent years the youngest generation of Grand Forks Doukhobors haven't taken much interest or time to explore their heritage. But those who do, have found it inspiring.
While this is a reunion, it is also an opportunity for the younger generations to learn about their past.
Alia Popoff, a Grand Forks graduate, is a Fine Arts student at the University of British Columbia Kelowna campus. This summer she is working as an archival assistant at the Boundary Museum. The experience has been an enlightening one for her. Both her grandparents attended the Fructova school, but only until Grade 1.
"The school is really amazing," said Popoff. "It helps me learn about my grandparents and their history ... It helps me learn about my community."
Popoff said the Doukhobor teachings and history influence her work and her outlook on life.
"As Doukhobors we call ourselves the spirit wrestlers and we believe to do unto others as you would have done to you. If you treat people well they will treat you well back," she said.
One particular art project she was doing in school this past year gave her an opportunity to celebrate her Doukhobor heritage.
The photo assignment was to do a self portrait. Popoff decided to wear a traditional Russian Doukhobor outfit.
"I told people about my religion, heritage and culture. They though it was really neat."
"I have a lot of hope for the next generation -- they are both educated and worldly," said Anne.
Adrian said it is hard to say how many will come. As the years go by there are fewer former students with us, which makes the event that much more important. It's a chance for people to tell their stories
Refreshments and snacks will be served. There is a group photo scheduled for 2 p.m.