Bountiful, British Columbia

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Coordinates: 49°02′N 116°27′W / 49.033°N 116.450°W / 49.033; -116.450

Bountiful, British Columbia
Unofficial Settlement
Location of Bountiful in British Columbia
Location of Bountiful in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°02′30″N 116°27′00″W / 49.04167°N 116.45000°W / 49.04167; -116.45000
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Region Kootenays
Regional district Central Kootenay
Population (2007)
 • Total 1,000 estimated
Time zone MST[1] (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 250, 778
Flag of Canada.svg

Bountiful is a settlement located in the Creston Valley of southeastern British Columbia, Canada, near Cranbrook and Creston. The closest community is Lister, British Columbia.

Bountiful is made up of members of two polygamist Mormon fundamentalist groups. The settlement is named after Bountiful in the Book of Mormon.

History[edit]

The first member of the group that bought property near Lister was Harold[2] (aka) Micheal Blackmore, who moved there with his family in 1946.[3] Other members of the church who believed in the principles of plural marriages soon followed. After Winston Blackmore became the bishop in the 1980s, the group took the name of Bountiful.[3]

In 1998 the estimated population was 600 and has since grown to about 1,000. Most of the residents are descended from only half a dozen men.[4]

The Mormon fundamentalists in Bountiful have divided into two groups: about half are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church), and the other half are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Inc.,[5] an FLDS-offshoot based on the teachings of Winston Blackmore, who split with the FLDS Church after concluding the president of the church, Warren Jeffs, had exceeded his authority and become too dictatorial. The current FLDS bishop is James Oler.

Allegations of abuse[edit]

On April 19, 2005 Bountiful's leaders held an extensive press conference in an effort to dispel many of the allegations of abuse that had surrounded their community.

Bountiful has come under intense scrutiny for its involvement in the polygamous sect. Warren Jeffs, who was considered one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, is thought to have visited a dozen or so times in 2005. The Vancouver Sun on January 28, 2006, released information stating that Utah's Attorney General is collaborating with British Columbia's Attorney General in attempting to deal with polygamy and the alleged abuse in these communities. Jeffs was captured by the authorities outside Las Vegas during August 2006 during a routine traffic stop. On September 25, 2007 Jeffs was found guilty of being an accomplice to rape. Prosecutors said Jeffs forced a 14-year-old girl into marriage and sex with her 19-year-old first cousin.[6] Jeffs faces five years to life in prison on each of two felony charges. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said, "Everyone should now know that no one is above the law, religion is not an excuse for abuse and every victim has a right to be heard."[7]

Winston Blackmore's family invited the media to visit on May 16, 2006 in response to a recent visit by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, indicating that they feel persecuted. Three of his wives may face deportation, as they are US citizens and would not be considered legally married to a Canadian.[8]

On June 6, 2007, the province of British Columbia announced the appointment of high-profile Vancouver criminal lawyer Richard Peck as a special prosecutor to review the results of a police investigation into possible polygamous activity or other offences by members of the community.[9] On August 1, 2007, Richard Peck concluded that there isn't enough evidence to charge the group with sexual abuse or exploitation charges as it has been extraordinarily difficult to find victims willing to testify and the defendants are likely to claim "religious freedom" as a defence.

Peck suggested that British Columbia ask the courts whether the current laws concerning polygamy, specifically Section 293[10] of the Criminal Code, are constitutional. Peck said that it's time to find out once and for all if Canada's laws against polygamy will stand. He stated that, "If the law is upheld, members of the Bountiful community will have fair notice that their practice of polygamy must cease."[11] The Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld Canada's polygamy laws in a 2011 reference case.[12][13]

YFZ Ranch Raid[edit]

The settlement has close ties to the YFZ Ranch in Texas, which was the subject of a child abuse investigation and mass removal of its children due to speculation of a culture of underage marriage similar to those rumoured in Canada. Two Canadians from Bountiful travelled to Texas shortly after their daughter was removed in the raid of 2008. They told authorities that their 17-year-old daughter was visiting her grandmother, and wanted to take her home. An observer who has compiled genealogical maps of the families says that her father helped build the YFZ compound in Texas, but her grandmother does not live there, and speculates she might have been placed in a "spiritual marriage".[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Google Maps route between Lister and Creston
  2. ^ Woods, Daniel (August 4, 2001), Bountiful, B.C.:It's a remote town in an idyllic valley where polygamy is the norm and the neighbours don't seem to mind. But are there darker secrets lurking within?, Saturday Night . Unauthorized reprint by CultEducation.com
  3. ^ a b Perrin, Dave, Palmer, Debbie (2004). Keep Sweet:Children of Polygamy. Dave's Press Inc. pp. x–xv. ISBN 0-9687943-3-5. 
  4. ^ Religious Tolerance. "Polygyny in Bountiful, British Columbia, Canada". Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  5. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (21 June 2014). "Mormon church sues Canadian polygamist over trademarked name". Reuters. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Wall, Elissa and Liza Pulitzer (2008). Stolen Innocence. New York: Harper. 
  7. ^ "Warren Jeffs". CBC News. September 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  8. ^ "B.C. polygamists claim persecution". CBC News. May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  9. ^ Canadian Press (June 6, 2007). "Prosecutor to probe B.C. polygamists". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  10. ^ Section 293, Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46), Criminal Code of Canada
  11. ^ Canadian Press (August 1, 2007). "Not enough evidence to charge Bountiful members: Prosecutor". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  12. ^ "Canada's polygamy laws upheld by B.C. Supreme Court". CBC News. November 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  13. ^ "Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada", 2011 BCSC 1588, CanLII 
  14. ^ Globe and Mail Questions raised about why girl was in Texas compound ROBERT MATAS May 19, 2008

Further reading[edit]

  • Bramham, Daphne (2008). The Secret Lives of Saints:Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect. Random House Canada. ISBN 978-0-307-35588-1. 
  • Perrin, Dave, Palmer, Debbie (2004). Keep Sweet:Children of Polygamy. Dave's Press Inc. ISBN 0-9687943-3-5. 
  • Krakauer, Jon (2004). Under the Banner of Heaven:A story of Violent Faith. Anchor Books. p. 337. ISBN 1-4000-3280-6. 
  • Wall, Elissa and Pulitzer, Lisa (2008). Stolen Innocence. Harper. 

External links[edit]