Bountiful, British Columbia

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Coordinates: 49°01′06″N 116°25′46″W / 49.01833°N 116.42944°W / 49.01833; -116.42944

Bountiful, British Columbia
Unofficial Settlement
Location of Bountiful in British Columbia
Location of Bountiful in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°01′06″N 116°25′46″W / 49.01833°N 116.42944°W / 49.01833; -116.42944
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
RegionKootenays
Regional districtCentral Kootenay
Population
 (2007)
 • Total1,000 estimated
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST[1])
Area code(s)250, 778
Flag of Canada.svg

Bountiful is a settlement 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 (aka) Michael Blackmore, who moved there with his family in 1946.[2] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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 (Original Doctrine) Inc.,[4] 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 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 was 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 in 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.[5] Jeffs faced 5 years to life in prison on each of 2 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."[6]

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 felt persecuted. Three of his putative wives could face deportation, as they are U.S. citizens and would not be considered legally married to a Canadian.[7]

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 offenses by members of the community.[8] On August 1, 2007, Richard Peck concluded that there was not enough evidence to charge the group with sexual abuse or exploitation charges, as it had been extraordinarily difficult to find victims willing to testify, and the defendants were likely to claim "religious freedom" as a defense.

Peck suggested that British Columbia ask the courts whether the current laws concerning polygamy, specifically section 293 of the Criminal Code,[9] are constitutional. Peck said that it was time to find out once and for all if Canada's laws against polygamy would 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."[10] The Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld Canada's polygamy laws in a 2011 reference case.[11][12]

In July 2017, two men from the FLDS community, Winston Blackmore and James Oler, were convicted of one count each of polygamy.[13] Blackmore and Oler are the third and fourth people in Canada history to be convicted on charges of polygamy.[14] Blackmore was found to have married 24 women and fathered 149 children.[14] In June 2018, both men were given house arrest as a result of their convictions.[15] Blackmore received 6 months house arrest followed by 18 months probation, while Oler received 3 months house arrest and 12 months probation.

In August, 2017, Brandon James Blackmore and Emily Ruth Gail Blackmore were convicted of removing an underage girl from Canada for marriage in the United States. They were sentenced to 12 months and seven months in jail respectively, followed by probation of 18 months, for transporting a 13-year old girl to the United States in 2004 for marriage to Warren Jeffs.[16] James Oler was a third defendant in this case and was acquitted, which was successfully challenged by the Crown. In August, 2019, in a new trial, Oler was convicted of the same child removal charge and sentenced to 12 months in jail and 18 months probation.[17] During the trial, records revealed that Oler had been directed by Warren Jeffs on June 23, 2004 to bring a 15-year old to the United States for marriage. As of August, 2011, Jeffs had been sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers taken as brides.[18]

YFZ Ranch raid[edit]

The settlement has close ties[citation needed] 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[vague] in Canada. Two Canadians from Bountiful traveled 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 said that her father helped build the YFZ compound in Texas, but her grandmother does not live there, and speculated she might have been placed in a "spiritual marriage." [19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Google Maps route between Lister and Creston
  2. ^ a b Perrin, Dave, Palmer, Debbie (2004). Keep Sweet:Children of Polygamy. Dave's Press Inc. pp. x–xv. ISBN 0-9687943-3-5.
  3. ^ Religious Tolerance. "Polygyny in Bountiful, British Columbia, Canada". Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  4. ^ "LDS Church wins, Canadian polygamist loses in fight for 'Mormon' name". Salt Lake Tribune. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015. Finally giving up the fight, Blackmore has agreed to change his group's corporate name to the "Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine) Inc.
  5. ^ Wall, Elissa and Liza Pulitzer (2008). Stolen Innocence. New York: Harper.
  6. ^ "Warren Jeffs". CBC News. September 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  7. ^ "B.C. polygamists claim persecution". CBC News. May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
  8. ^ Canadian Press (June 6, 2007). "Prosecutor to probe B.C. polygamists". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
  9. ^ Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s 293.
  10. ^ "Not enough evidence to charge Bountiful members: Prosecutor". The Toronto Star. Canadian Press. August 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  11. ^ "Canada's polygamy laws upheld by B.C. Supreme Court". CBC News. November 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  12. ^ "Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada", 2011 BCSC 1588, CanLII
  13. ^ "Two Canadian men sentenced to house arrest for having multiple wives". Newshub. 2018-06-27. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  14. ^ a b "Canadian man with 24 wives, 149 kids sentenced to house arrest". syracuse.com. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  15. ^ "Two men guilty of polygamy given conditional sentences, to be served as house arrest". The Star. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  16. ^ "Couple jailed for luring child bride to US". BBC News. 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  17. ^ "Year in jail, 18 months probation for ex-B.C. polygamist leader in child bride case". Global News. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  18. ^ "Warren Jeffs gets life in prison". BBC News. 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  19. ^ Matas, Robert (May 19, 2008). "Questions raised about why girl was in Texas compound". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on May 19, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]