EL Survivor woman, wife of Canadian member recounts her ordeal with the 12 Tribes in Nelson

EL tells the story of her involvement with the Twelve Tribes into which she followed her husband from Togo to Canada.

I am an African woman and I grew up in a 7th day Adventist family. I have survived my experience with the 12 tribes and I married a Canadian man in Africa in 2010. My husband Shai Massot sponsored me to come to Canada and live with him. I arrived the 9th of May 2012. Upon arrival I was faced with the fact my husband was living as a member of a sect in the 12 tribes of Israel community in Nelson.

The community did not recognize our marriage as valid in spite of the Canadian government doing so. They did not want to recognize it as their intention from the beginning was to separate us. Isaac Dawson, the top leader started influencing my husband. (Teaching him) that we blacks are slaves and that we have an evil spirit. Shai started mistreating me, physically attacking  me, pressing me against the floor and door. The following day I reported what happened that night to Isaac, only to be told by him to go and apologize to my husband for him abusing me.

Isaac cut me off from everything: to go to English classes, to work outside. He even prevented my husband from helping me fill the forms to get my permanent residency and my social health insurance cards and other things. My husband’s personality changed for the worse and he became what he had never been: violent, aggressive, a liar, manipulator, an accomplice…

“Isaac Dawson separated Shai and I”.

It is the group who has authority over me. I couldn’t speak English, French is my native tongue. They took full advantage of my isolation.

Life in this community is truly burdensome, especially for women and children.

My husband was loyal and totally dependent on the group. He wasn’t getting paid and so couldn’t support me. They didn’t take care of my needs nor was my husband. He also had become very neglectful…

This was around the month of June when I talked to my husband about my plan to find work to take care of my own needs. He strongly reacted saying if I did he would divorce me.

From May until August I worked at the 12 Tribes Café full-time. I felt lonely and I hardly saw my husband. Shai was working at the café. So in order to see him I chose to work at the café too, instead of working at home.

I found work very near at the local hotel. To appease the situation with my husband and the rest of the community I kept on working at the café before and after my job at the hotel. That lasted 3 months. Then in September it started getting dark and cold and I decided to come straight home after my hotel job. They were greatly displeased and I was told to go and see Isaac. He didn’t not want to understand my point of view and wanted me to keep working during the evening at the café.

Unhappy, he suggested I should start sharing my wages with the community. It seems he might have had in mind to have my wages go directly into his bank account! So I said: No, I’ m not under contract with you, I work voluntarily, I am not a beast of burden at your disposal.

Shai and I woke up between 5 and 5:30 am. Shai had to look after the cows very early and milk them, before going to work at the café. He shared the chores with other members. He was one of them who were giving the hardest tasks while other members were treated like princes and princesses.


“I worked at the Cafe in Nelson”


At 6 am everyone wakes up.

6:30 I was ready to go to work at the café

7:00 the café opened its doors

I either would get a ride with the morning team or I would stay for the morning gathering, which started at 7 am.

I would work until 7:50 and then walk 1 or 2 minutes to the hotel Best Western Plus. I had a job as a cleaner.

I would work at the hotel for 4 to 5 hours depending of the needs, and 5 days a week. Work was seasonal; in autumn it would go down and stopped in November for the winter season.

Until August I worked every day at the café while the morning gathering was on.

After work I would go straight to the café, I felt like I had chains on.

I would take my lunch at the café, as it was very close to the café. I earned very little and since I worked for the community for nothing I thought it was only fair that they would feed me at least… But their food wasn’t always to my taste and I couldn’t take all my meals at the café. So back at home often I would come back hungry. But I wasn’t allowed to help myself in the kitchen and I was supposed to wait for dinner, after the evening gathering, at 8 pm.

On Sundays I did a bit of everything, I would take care of my own things and also contributed to household chores such as doing the dishes for example, with the other ladies. Sometimes I worked at the café. When I would take the opportunity to have a nap on Sundays, the women would criticise me. They would go as far as calling directly my husband at work to tell on me and what they considered laziness on my part…

I participated in all the needs of the household on a regular basis including helping with Sabbath preparations.

I was made to come to every gathering, morning and evening.

There you constantly hear derogatory comments aimed at Christianity as a religion but also more personally aimed at Christians. All Christians are part of a devilish system and none of the Christians on the earth are really saved nor have the Holy Spirit, only they the members of 12 Tribes are obedient to God really and are saved and know God and Jesus. Day after day I felt insulted by their Isaac Dawson and the other leaders and their remarks that, as a Christian, I couldn’t help but take to heart.

They were always on my back demanding for me to stop working on my job and to go to my church.

After work I would go to the café and would work and come back with the other café workers.

Rosemary Cruzado continues to tell the story of this woman who wants to be called by the pseudonym  EL Survivor Woman

 Forbidden from practising her religion

EL was raised and still is a Christian and is part of the 7th Day Adventist Church. When she arrived in Nelson she found a church she felt comfortable in and would spend 3 hours every Saturday morning. This took place between 9 am and 12 pm, at a time where back at the 12 tribe’s community it was between the morning gathering and lunch time, a time when members enjoy their “free time”. But this caused a lot of problems for EL and she was criticized for taking too much liberty and being a bad example for others. This would be because it is strictly forbidden for members to leave the premises except to go on a walk with others and their families. Also members are forbidden attending any events outside the community. The only events they might attend would be as part of a proselystising effort and having been sent/ authorized to go by leaders.

And so the wife of Isaac Dawson whose name is Dada ordered her to stop going to church every Saturday morning. EL told her that Shai and she already had discussed this matter and he didn’t see any problems with her doing this. Shai thought that since EL didn’t miss the Saturday morning gathering and that she was back for lunch afterwards that they took together, he had agreed to her going.

Isaac’s spouse insisted EL would stay with her husband on Saturday mornings. EL challenged her: “OK, try and stop me then!

“I couldn’t understand, says EL Survivor woman, why when someone would want to get saved they would all take off to the river, even on a Saturday, and baptize that person, why can’t they let me go for 3 hours a week to go to church?. I wanted to have a good time with other 7th day Adventists and make friends, get some fresh air, spiritually speaking and see something different than their religion with no mercy nor charity!”

You need to be saved!”

One of these Fridays, as usual, EL comes back from her double labour and not having had a chance to eat a snack gets home and goes to the kitchen hoping to eat something discretely. As she is not allowed to help herself and she is supposed to ask her husband, she asks him if he could get her a glass of milk. This is a good compromise she thinks, as a glass of milk is not a meal. She was supposed to wait, as everybody else was, until dinnertime. This was during the hour of preparation, hour before the gathering which starts at 7 pm and marks the beginning of the Sabbath for the members of the community. Nothing was being served during the gathering and dinner might be delayed and start well after 8 pm. Her husband is busy entertaining guests. Friday nights are prime occasions for the communities to have their life on display and invite people. There is celebration, a nice big dinner, live music, dancing. Everyone is wearing their festive attire. Her husband is reluctant and tells her with impatience a sentence EL has come to hear too many times: “You need to be saved”.

Her patience wears out, she is exasperated. She is only asking for a glass of milk so her stomach doesn’t hurt and to keep going until dinner! For the love of God! What does asking for a glass of milk have to do with being saved or not! For EL it is the ultimate insult!

With everything that happened and all the mistreatments I endured there, I was very smart. I recorded the way in which I was treated, in particular by their brain, their guru, Isaac Dawson (click here to go to Transcript of recording)

EL Survivor Woman continues her story

Isaac Dawson had ordered me to leave the premises. I asked him “Where do you want me to go? I am a foreigner in this country and I live with my husband, not you. Then we had the meeting when he gave me an ultimatum and demanded I’d give him an answer the day after. That is the meeting I recorded.

Of course I wanted to stay and live with my husband.

After the meeting, my husband was sent to another household for 2 days. When he came back as it had been reported I had missed gatherings he was upset with me.

It was the month of December and my health started to deteriorate, a result of my life in the 12 tribes. My husband had neglected me, no care. As for them they thought it was the great god who had condemned me.

And so I was a good example of someone who doesn’t obey their rules and others could go to hell like me!

My health gradually got worse. I had stomach aches.

Isaac and the group were trying to find a way to separate us, Chai and me. They transferred us to the café, Yellow Deli in Nelson, to the basement of the café. This had no amenities, no heating. It was freezing. Shai only spent 4 days with me in the basement and had returned to the community, telling me to return also. I became ill during the night of the 24 Th of December 2012. I called the community, no one answers. I call Isaac’s cell phone and ask him to pass me my husband. I told my husband I needed him urgently, I was ill. He hung up on me. I called back, this time another cell phone number of the community and this person didn’t answer as they knew it was me. Hours go by and my husband hasn’t called nor showed up.

I left in hope of getting help, no one in the street, everything is quite. I spot a police car and I get closer and ask them directions to the hospital and they show me on the map. On my way there, very weak, traumatised, frozen, I could barely walk up the hills of Nelson. It was worse in winter, it was slippery. To my surprise a black car stops at my level and someone asks if I need help. I said sure, I’d like to go to the hospital and I feel sick. I was a bit scared but when I got in the car I realized it was a policeman.

He helped me a lot until I was taken care of. Today I give thanks to God for him because he saved my life. I left hospital on the 25th to come back to the basement of the café. The nurse had prescribed some drugs for me. It was 10 am when I finally saw the face of my husband. He wanted to know what had happened to me. After, I handed him the prescription asking him to buy my medicines. He sees me there lying on my bed suffering and asks me to give him some money to buy them…hummmm…what negligence!…A few days later my husband tells me in front of my pastor that he gives me until the end of the month of January to vacate the room and go elsewhere. I asked him where elsewhere? To that he had no answer.

This is my life in Canada in my 8th month in the middle of winter. After kicking me out, a week later Chai calls to tell me Dada, Isaac’s wife is asking if I need crockery. What an insult. I don’t have anywhere to go to have a roof over my head…huugrrr….how am I going to manage all on my own and they don’t lift a finger to help me, not even my husband and they are not ashamed to ask if I need plates!

EL Woman Survivor concludes

Today I wish for the Government to regularise sects. In the 12 Tribes there is no adequate education. There is a lot of abuse. And we are in Canada where Human Rights are in place.

I am not an object.


11 Comments On “EL Survivor woman, wife of Canadian member recounts her ordeal with the 12 Tribes in Nelson”

  1. Well, this woman definitely had issues with the 12T.
    But realistically, they have their way of life & if you can’t leave the so called World behind, don’t think you will somehow change them.
    It’s simple
    If you are new, you wash dishes, peel yams in their delis and do whatever is asked without question even being told “pack up – you leave for another community in 15 minutes.”
    If you are an “elder”, a Wife, Son or Daughter of an elder then you might go shopping, drive/have access to a car, go to events outside and generally have a pretty good life, computers, cameras, travel and other Worldly things included.
    If you are a woman & down on the pecking order then its cook, clean & be a baby factory. Forget about doing anything regarding the businesses, that’s for the privileged class.
    YES there are those who rule and those who are ruled and a lot more of the latter.
    Any woman joining this group better leave her will, intellect, emotions and any previous abilities at the door & Come on in Sister , we NEED you, hallelujah you’re saved from the World!

  2. Twelvetribesexmember

    This woman story I find very interesting and I believe she is telling the truth about Shai abusing her. I am an ex member of the 12 tribes in Nelson and I witnessed a lot of excessive child abuse. They whip their babies and children with rods all day long for the littlest reasons. They teach that the child needs to be “disciplined on the first command.” That means they get whipped if they don’t respond the way their parent wants them to the first verbal command. Their parent “commands” them to do something, they teach that the children absolutely have no will, their only will is their parents until they are an adult. If they say no or resist in any way on the first command or direction given they get taken to either the bathroom or an upstairs room where no one can hear the whippings with the rods. I would hear them get whipped so unbelievably hard my stomach would turn, it made me absolutely sick how hard they would whip children under 5 years old. The whipping gets harder and harder as they get older, they get disciplined so much that the children are numb to it. When the babies or young children would come out of the bathroom or room they were disciplined in, i watched to see what their reaction to it was. To my surprise I would barely ever see them shed any tears, sometimes they would even be smiling. That disturbed me very much so. It is because they teach that the children need to “receive their discipline with a positive attitude” or they will get whipped until they stop crying or resisting.

    The last thing I wanted to say is that I knew Shai, I lived with him and his NEW wife Levah. I was at their wedding, and I held their new baby girl too. I just want to say that I observed the way that Shai would treat Levah and I was not impressed. He is abusive and a very oppressive man towards his new wife by not treating her with real love that she deserves. She is a very nice woman and I care about her a lot but I do not care for the way Shai treats her. He treats her like she is less then him, that she is just getting in his way or something and it REALLY shows in his actions towards her. I do not believe that it was right for him to divorce EL and remarry just to mistreat another woman.

    The elder men that live at the 12 Tribes who are married, they are perverted and they need to learn to keep their eyes off of other woman and only on their wives!

    I also agree with EL about the 12 Tribes constantly insulting Christians. They think they are the only ones saved in the whole world. Give me a break, what a joke they claim to be. Everyone there is totally brainwashed and constantly contradicting scriptures.

  3. That prior statement above is pretty funny if compared to the first church in the book of Acts 2:42-44 where it says that they had all things in common and if anyone had anything they laid it at the Apostles feet. Im a ex member so my experience was pretty sad considering the elders separated me from my wife which ended in divorce when I was sent away after trying to Repent for things, which to me contradicted Luke 17:4 That says if a brother says i repent you shall forgive them. So according to Acts 3:22-23 and 1 Timothy 6:3 all it takes to be cut off is disobedience to one commandment, like women being able to talk at the gatherings in the Tribes even though the Apostle Paul said that they should be silent, and their belief that they can separate marriages like they did to me and my wife when Ephesians 5:24-27 teachs the wifes to be submissive to their husbands. The biggest concern I had with many of their thousands of teachings is many of them add to the word which is forbidden in Proverbs 30:6 and other scriptures, exspecialy concerning the judging of others. For example in one teaching they condemn to hell everyone who retires in the last year’s of their life and it’s no where to be found in the bible, another stated if one did not decipline their child in such a way so hard as to cause Blue marks then they Hate their child, and in one they interject the word Christians as being condemned when stating the book of revelation which is dangerous considering the warning not to add or take away from the book of Revelation. So if one wise to heed the Messiah’s warning when He said, “Watch out for many will come in my name and decieve many” really rings true in these days as much if Christianity do not do His will fully either by Obeying all His commandments. Best wishes…

  4. These people are filthy and unjust. We know Yoneq by his fruit.

  5. I was living in this community with my family at the same time as this woman. It is every bit as true as she says. She was given shit mostly for the reason that it was an interracial marriage which is technically forbidden in the cult. I felt terrible for her but I couldn’t do much because for one I was only a kid and two because I as well as my family were being harassed by Issac(aka Edward Dawson). Last I heard her husband Shai had remarried.

  6. I personally lived through this with EL and with no partiality would say that it is not accurate. EL was going through separation issues after changing cultures. Just moving from Africa was very hard . She tended to want to be with locals from her own country more than her husband . So the extra stress of the community was overwhelming. I do think they lacked sensitivity. But on her part she needed to be with her husband more if she wanted her marriage to work.

    • dear kay, when you defend a cult that has all the evidence it does on this web site, 50 years of documented abuse, clearly you didn’t read or research anything here, dont spend 10 minutes, spend 20 hours, then u will hear the voices that you help to still supress and drown out. but the tide is turning, because others like this fine lady are telling the truth, they have courage. i expect kay ellison, that you are a member of the twelve tribes now, please contact me if you are, espeically if you are active twelve tribes elder. they broke up this womens marriage like they do every marriage they can to serve their psychotic purpose. ex ttc people need to ask themeselvs why they keep defending the ttc when they leave ? or as i said you are a active twelve tribes person/elder and u come on this web site to create confusion and insults , as other ex ttc members have clearly stated they used to do when they lived there. but finally , the lies are breaking apart.

  7. Just gonna put this out there. I don’t care what the “circumstances “ were or if they were spending enough time together, Edward Dawson is the one who fucked up their marrige. This treatment towards women and kids in that group is fundamentally wrong. The way they treat the women in the cult is as if they’re a piece of property or something and have no mind of their own. I know it destroyed my family as it caused my mom a lot of health issues. I’m not going to get to deep into this,but I stand with El on this one. This abuse in the Twelve Tribes needs to stop.

  8. Does anyone know where this lady is now? I hope she got help and is able to support herself and is having a good life. It is hard to believe that people can be so cruel. I live less than a 100 miles from Nelson – the people seem very friendly when I visit. I have also eaten at this restaurant a few years ago.

  9. old friend of shai

    Finding this last night was a shock and im still trying to process some of the information. I came across this site after a neighbour gave me some tea he purchased at the Yellow Deli. He mentioned that he’d been to the Chilliwack location twice and it was good; this time he bought some tea to take home. I decided to google them as the box of tea was very inviting so I wanted to check out the menu. Upon my search, I came across a ton of information about Yellow Deli being a cult. I found this site when I was looking for local information. Upon reading I was in shock when the name Shai Massot came up. We have been wondering for years what has happened to him. It makes sense now why we couldn’t locate him and why he’s not on any social media platforms. I am so sorry to know this has happened to you, EL. I wish I knew at the time that all this was happening as so many of us in the community would’ve wanted to reach out. We know Shai. The old Shai. Not this person that has been brainwashed. The Shai we all know was very kind and thoughtful. He was truly a gentle soul and use to help so many people and was especially good with all the little ones. This was all heartbreaking to find out. I wish we could find a way to get through to him somehow. I hope El was able to find the help she needed, as difficult as this experience was as a new comer to this part of the world. We will hold El and the real Shai in the light and pray that he remembers who he is again, Sending much love, prayers and healing for all. May Shai be awakened from his deep sleep. Bless!

  10. It is very clearly put, thank you for going through the difficulty of expressing this

    I see that SOME of us who’ve left still have a voice, GOOD!

    but also, it is our life, however broken, to get to live ;)

    yes, i have a personal 7 year story of Mr Dawson, himself specifically

    once again- thanks for the site boss~~!!



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