An interactive blanket exercise on Missions Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, shows members of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., a different way of looking at Canadian history. Indigenous representatives had participants—including Pastor April Yamasaki, front left—stand on blankets representing the land of North America in the years before European settlers came.
God at work in the World
People who want to love their indigenous neighbours must first learn to love themselves, according to Dr. Patricia Vickers, a psychotherapist and Tsimshian theologian. Vickers spoke at an event organized by Mennonite Church Manitoba on how churches can respond to the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
She is a novelist and world traveller, speaks Mandarin and has a brown belt in karate. Shaimaa Kraba also wears a hijab and is a Sunni Muslim. At the third annual Christian-Muslim dialogue in Edmonton on Oct. 17, 2015, emcee Miriam Gross humorously addressed the issue of stereotyping when she quipped, “There is more to her than a ‘scarf-clad’ girl. After all, it’s a hijab, not a halo!”
Forty years after refugees fled Vietnam and communist oppression for Canada’s shores, the Vietnamese community in B.C. expressed gratitude to God at a celebratory evening on Aug. 30, 2015.
The event was co-sponsored by Vancouver Mennonite Church and Abbotsford’s Emmanuel Mennonite and Vietnamese Christian churches, and was hosted by Emmanuel.
Participants and instructors at NARPI’s summer peacebuilding training session in Mongolia gather for a group photo. Scott Kim is on the far left, wearing a light blue shirt, and Cheryl Woelk is standing behind the banner, holding her infant son. For more photos, visit facebook.com/narpipeace or narpi.net.
“Conflict isn’t something we should avoid,” says Cheryl Woelk, “because there are good things on the other side.”
Recently, Woelk and her husband, Scott Kim—members of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon—served as instructors at the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) annual Summer Peacebuilding Training.
A Mennonite World Conference delegation attended a worship service at the Mennonite Brethren church in Majé, Panama, in February 2015. (Mennonite World Conference photo by Henk Stenvers)
This household in a remote village in Panama hosted the Mennonite World Conference delegation. (Mennonite World Conference photo by Henk Stenvers)
With the future of the Wounaan indigenous people of Panama being chopped down before their eyes, the largely Mennonite leadership of the group is asking the global Mennonite community to stand with them, and kneel with them in prayer for fair treatment.
The Wounaan indigenous people of Panama, renowned carvers of cocobolo wood, are fighting the incursion of outsider loggers into their territory. About 600 of the roughly 15,000 Wounaan in Panama are Mennonite. See the main story, “Mennonites in Panama oppose clear-cutting, request prayer.”
Marcel French’s tanned complexion and dark hair easily identify him as Anishinabe. Which is why he likes to drop a Low German word or expression into his speech and watch the surprise on his listeners’ faces. “When I go to Jake’s Restaurant in Steinbach, I always ask for Gnurpel,” he says with a chuckle.
Mennonite Central Committee B.C.’s offices and thrift shop may be closed on Sunday, but two Sunday afternoons a month there is plenty of activity in the back parking lot of the MCC Centre. Here homeless and low-income people meet with volunteers for a hot meal, friendship, and free clothing and groceries.
A group of children visited a greenhouse on the last day of Bread for Success, an after-school project in Saskatoon supported by Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Global Family education program. The kids are learning about how vegetables are grown, and Chris Buhler, co-owner of Floating Gardens Ltd., showed them around where tomatoes and eggplants twist their way toward the ceiling.
April Yamasaki speaks about fasting from the Christian perspective at the Abbotsford interfaith symposium on July 6, 2015. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)
An interfaith symposium on July 6 at Abbotsford’s Garden Park Tower found Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs reflecting on fasting and peace and then eating together with a meal around formally set tables.
Ziauddin Yousafzai (left) chats with Susan Schultz Huxman about a new peace scholarship that will allow a female student from a region of the world experiencing conflict to study at Conrad Grebel University College in the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program. Also part of the conversation are Mohan Kendall and Ahmad Shah.
Conrad Grebel University College is offering a $10,000 scholarship to a female Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) student, thanks to a partnership with Ziauddin Yousafzai, the Global Peace Centre Canada (GPCC) and the Women’s Executive Network. Yousafzai is the father of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
Northeast Thailand is the poorest region in the country. Democracy is uneven, and peaceful protests can land protesters in barred cells overnight. Since a military coup in 2014, poor and landless subsistence farmers are reportedly being evicted from national reserve lands they have farmed for decades.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools released its final report on June 2, 2015, after five years of conducting hearings and gathering thousands of witness statements from former students and their families across Canada.
Panelist Marie Wilson, TRC commissioner, expresses kind words to Mike Cachagee, spokesperson for residential school survivors, as he recalls his childhood in a residential school. (Photo by Dennis Greunding)
Along with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and other organizations, Kairos invited children and youth from across the country to create Heart Gardens. These gardens honoured memories of students who did not return from residential schools and pointed to dreams for a reconciled future. A Heart Garden was planted at Rideau Hall during the last TRC events in Ottawa. (Photo by Dennis Gruending)
While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hosted events in Ottawa leading up to the release of its summary report, the ecumenical justice coalition Kairos organized a complementary gathering called Time for Reconciliation.
Lorraine Clements holds burning sage for Gerry Shingoose, a residential school survivor, as she smudges at the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Winnipeg. (Photo by J. Neufeld)
“Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem. It is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.” Justice Murray Sinclair spoke those words on June 2 at the closing ceremonies of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa. I watched a live feed of Sinclair’s speech at the University of Winnipeg, among tens of thousands of Canadians who tuned in to witness the historic event.
“And when you send a slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you” (Deuteronomy 15:13-15a).
Members of the Mennonite community and other citizens of Abbotsford, B.C., raised more than $25,000 in a benefit concert at Emmanuel Mennonite Church on May 17 to aid survivors of the earthquakes that ravaged Nepal in April and May.
Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Neighbours Program Coordinator, Leonard Doell (left), tells students at Rosthern Junior College what MCC has been doing to help the Young Chippewayan people in their land entitlement claims against the Canadian government. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Four ratepayers of the Rural Municipality of Laird signed a petition to include the Cree name, Opwashemo Chakatinaw, on the road sign leading up to Stoney Knoll. The four signers are descendants of the original Mennonite settlers in the area and members of MC Saskatchewan congregations. Left to right, they are Eldon Funk, Allan Friesen, Wilmer Froese, and Ray Funk. George Kingfisher, hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation, is seated at the table. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Rosthern Junior College student Madi Davis (in the red hooded sweatshirt) awaits her turn as her fellow student, Matthias Thiessen adds his name to the petition urging the Rural Municipality of Laird to add the Cree name, Opwashemo Chakatinaw, to road signs leading up to Stoney Knoll. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Looking west from the top of Stoney Knoll, one can see the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The gently sloping hill, once home to the Young Chippewayan First Nation, is some of the best farmland in Saskatchewan. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Should the petition that Rosthern Junior College students signed be successful, this sign will be changed to include the Cree name, Opwashemo Chakatinaw, which translates into English as Stoney Knoll. Over time, the original English name was further changed to become Stony Hill. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
“I feel like a refugee in my own country,” said George Kingfisher. The hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation was at Rosthern Junior College (RJC) to tell students how his people lost their land.
Mennonite Church Canada is working to develop entrepreneurship in Burkina Faso so that young Mennonite Christians can support their families and churches. (Photo by Siaka Traoré)
“I love everything about farming,” Abram says. That passion—and his generosity—led him to empower the self-sufficiency of a farmer on the other side of the world.
It’s time for some uncomfortable conversations about climate change and poverty, says Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada.