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|It is pretty hard to image what it must be like living in what seems like an isolated
cultural island. No doubt over the years the people of Zenon Park like those of
Verigin have had to accept the responsibility for the advancing and preservation
of their culture in what must seem like an overwhelming onslaught.
Long time residents point out that this recent struggle is really very similar to the tensions in the community in 1979 or at other times when there have been economic threats which are as formidable as cultural ones. Others explain that there is almost a vital need for some outward struggle to be ongoing, otherwise there are some who feel they are actually loosing ground in their efforts to maintain their language and all that relates to it and the long term struggle their families have endured.
|It is significant to compare Zenon Park to Verigin because the followers of Peter Verigin who came to Canada had themselves experienced generations of persecution and felt they had no alternative but to continue to struggle even when the Canadian environment was in no way what they had faced in Russia. So it was that through the years the Doukhbor community went through cycles of calm leading to uprisings of radicals within the community who were branded as "mad" while they in turn regarded the complacent and less radical neighbours as "bad" because they were not true to the cause. There are striking parallels in Zenon Park with this siege mentality and perhaps the struggle is the way a threatened society has of defending itself.|
|Perhaps we should even expand the situation in Zenon Park to Quebec and we would
realise how a minor thing like a "for sale" sign in a department store
is reason to create a major crisis over and issue threats of boycotts and dire consequences.
Clearly, minorities that identify themselves as being encroached upon, or threatened,
will find ways to protect what they feel is an element of what they are, individually,
not just in a collective sense.
People who have absorptive flexible ever changing language lack the same connection with their culture and the words they use. The French language is not adaptive and encompassing and by its restrictive nature is much more intrinsically connected to the religion, folkways and lifestyle of the people who speak the language.