My name is Shannan Laktin, or Shara Koozmichna Lahtina. My family, on both sides is of Russian descent, more specifically from a group of Russian Emigrants known as the Doukhobors. My childhood was an odd blend of Russian language and traditions more than a century old, and rural Canadian life. Consequently I spent just as much time hiking, camping and fishing as I did learning my pasalmi (prayers), which we sang and read everywhere we went. I still dream sometimes in Russian. When I am angry, you can hear my grandmother, I speak with her accent anytime emotion carries me away. Even my best English carries the threads of my inheritance; I forget how to arrange my words. The haunting a cappella music of my people is not simply the soundtrack of my life, but the rules by which I live.
The picture of the two women is my great grandmother, and her best friend, and they are singing one of my favorite songs.
Photography by: Ed Chernoff
Recorded by: Peter Offerman
Singing: Nora Laktin and Gertie Konkin
Canadian Journal for Traditional Music
Doukhobor Village Museum