Forging a link with the past

Ancestors of Germans from Russia unite this weekend

Diana Dobson is on a quest to put a face to the past.

She’s gone to great lengths to do that, having travelled to Russia to retrace her family’s roots, and established a Victoria group that can help others connect with their Germans-from-Russia heritage.

Many German families relocated to Russia in the mid-1700s. But as the political climate worsened, many picked up and left for a fresh start in the United States and Canada.

Since then, generations have been on a journey to understand and connect with the religions, culture and language of the Germans from Russia – reason why Dobson founded the Victoria Germans from Russia Historical Society 15 years ago.

Members have come and gone over the years, and at present there are about 30 involved.

“They’re tracing that ancestral history,” said Dobson, the society’s president.. “It’s excting to help them too, to get them on the road to discovery.”

Over the years, the group – part of the larger American Historical Society of Germans from Russia – has helped people find answers by linking them with a treasure trove of genealogical resources, from books to obituaries to online titles.

Helena Rouleau’s experience as a society member and director went one step further, when she learned she was related to another person in the group.

“She just aced it,” Dobson said. “She had an interesting connection with her heritage.”

The chapter is holding a heritage celebration on Saturday (May 14), as a way of reaching out to residents in Greater Victoria who share a cultural connection.

“We all have our own stories,” said Dobson. “We need to document those to put a face to our history.”

Jerome Siebert, president of the American society, will speak at the event, which includes a performance by the Victoria Edelweiss Club Harmony Choir, and a screening of the documentary, It’s All Earth and Sky. There will also be a genealogical book sale.

The event is from 2 to 4 p.m. at Gordon Head United Church, 4201 Tyndall Ave. Admission is by donation.

For information, please contact 250-721-3405 or email dianad@telus.net.

emccracken@vicnews.com