My latest column in the Ottawa Citizen discusses the expulsion of the Circassian people from Sochi and the surrounding region in 1864, which resulted in the deaths of at least 600,000 people from massacre, starvation and the elements. Although the Olympic Games in Sochi will take place on the 150th anniversary of these events, which the government of neighbouring Georgia has deemed a genocide, Russia has downplayed the bloody history of the region. Russian recognition of the death and displacement of the Circassian people in 1864 would transform the controversial Winter Games into the beginning of a process of reconciliation.
Dear Dr. Carolyn Harris,
It was quite refreshing reading your article today. I am part Circassian myself from both sides of my family albeit being raised only with this knowledge and not much else, and although I am fascinated by my heritage, it is quite rare to find anyone especially in Canada who knows about it. Thank you for your article it was quite illustrating and illuminating to people not familiar with the Circassians I’m sure but to me as well, whenever I read about the history of Circassians I cannot but sympathize and hold on to that distant side. I think most Circassians feel like a forgotten people especially the ones I’ve met, that final suggestion about including them in the Olympics seems to be quite a good suggestion.
Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments – I am pleased that you enjoyed the article. Hopefully, there will some recognition of Sochi’s Circassian history over the course of the Olympic Games. All the best — Carolyn