Village News (April 4, 2019)
By Gary Dyck
A Journey of Honour
Recently some Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) staff had the privilege of attending a Winnipeg Foundation event that included two high-profile Indigenous speakers. We listened to hopeful words and examples of how reconciliation can happen in our country. “The first step can be as simple as becoming friends”. I was impacted by how they honoured their parents and culture. They used some common words from their mother tongue in their speech. Often the source of their quotations was their parents or grand-parents. Defining moments in their lives happened when a family elder or friend spoke their true identity over them.
I know self-depreciation is part of our Mennonite culture (e.g., the enjoyable and ever popular dailybonnet.com). However, I wonder if sometimes we don’t have enough esteem for our culture and our elders. When I was young it was not cool to speak Low German (plautdietsch). My parents didn’t speak it to me and I didn’t seek it either. In one generation we lost a lot of language and culture. However, we can still learn from and take joy in our culture. We can still discover ways our identity has been shaped by our cultural roots.
On Wednesday, April 17, MHV will be hosting a Plautdietsch tribute. There will be music, funny idioms and past stories shared. Jack Thiessen will be launching the second edition of his well-researched Plautdietsch–English dictionary. We will also have a lesson on ‘how to learn 15 Low German words in ten minutes.’ I hope some of you who don’t know Plautdietsch will join me too.
The MHV will also be offering a Low German primer; a five week course that will cover some languaculture basics and more. Anyone can learn a bit of Plautdietsch so that we can get a feel for it and pass some on to our children. With a feel for a language comes a greater enjoyment and appreciation for the culture that comes with that language. Encourage your children, your grand-children to put this event on their ‘to-do-now bucket list’.
It’s good to appreciate and learn from our heritage and become conversant with it. Mennonite heritage and language is something to esteem and enjoy.
The First Nations are on a journey to be reconciled with this young country of Canada. To recover their identity in this ever-changing world. To no longer be ashamed, but to honour their heritage and offer the world what they have learned. Let’s learn from them.
Calendar of Events
April 17, MHV Low German Teaser
April 19, MHV closed for Good Friday
April 23, Volunteer Orientation – 7:30 PM
April 26, MHV Auxiliary Fashion Show ‘Something Old, Something New’
May 1, Village Grounds and Livery Barn Restaurant open for the season
May 11, Manitoba Day celebrations
May 25, Fundraising Dinner for Village Centre Roof