by Gary Dyck
It is wonderful to see the support that has been coming in since the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) went public about our disappointment in Manitoba museums and galleries remaining closed despite most other businesses being allowed to reopen June 26th. In the meantime, our Village Books & Gifts is open seven days a week and our Livery Barn Restaurant is open for lunch Thursdays to Sundays.
In addition to our ‘Mennonites at War’ exhibit, I hope you can see our annual photo essay exhibit produced by Paul Reimer and the Steinbach Regional Secondary School photography class. This year their photo essays were based on keywords from this exhibit, such as refugees, racism, trauma, violence, peace and safety. As a Mennonite from Steinbach, I found Andrielle Dela Paz’s panel very stirring. He was born in the Philippines in 2003 and his family moved to Steinbach once they had earned enough money. This is Andrielle’s story:
After the declaration by Donald Trump that COVID was an Asian Flu, hatred towards Asians skyrocketed. Racism not only affects US citizens, but it affects me, my family, friends and more who have nothing to do with COVID, but we are now often treated as if we are the plague. Caucasians worry and panic or entirely resist COVID regulations, but worst of all is the way we Asians are treated, which is horrible and inhumane. I’ve personally seen and heard hatred directed toward me and my family, which is a serious and painful reality for us. It seems like some whites just don’t get what they are doing and saying…
The reason why my family left the Philippines is because of our horrendous living conditions due to how our money is very cheap and we aren’t paid a good amount for the labour that we do in the first place. We hurt, bleed, and love and I wanted to take these pictures to show that we still are people the same as you. Even if our skin colour or culture is different from another, we are no different from you. We came to places like Canada and the USA to improve our lives, to contribute to Canada’s rich heritage of immigrants (that’s pretty well most of us!), and to provide better relief to our families in poorer countries who simply struggle to make enough money for food and provide shelter for their loved ones.
But most of all, I want to show us like family. We aren’t aliens nor are we something unknown and hidden to the rest of the world like a secret. We don’t have any strange way of being family or of being humans…, Please get to know people before labeling or accusing other races of stuff that is ridiculous. Mennonites have run from war, from bad economies, and have searched for equal rights and freedoms. We are doing the same thing right now… and we want to help make Canada a better place, but it requires people to live and act like we are all brothers and sisters, which I believe we are.
- Village Books & Gifts remains open seven days a week! Museum grounds and galleries are closed until further notice.
- Livery Barn Restaurant open Thursday to Sunday starting at 11am for lunch. Dine-in, patio or take-out are all available.
- Mennonites at War Exhibit Premier and Fundraiser is cancelled. Please donate online. Currently, the exhibit is unable to open due to Manitoba Health restrictions.
- Mennonites at War Speaker Series, July 20, 7:30 p.m. Dr. Aileen Friesen will be presenting “Revisiting the Mythologies: Russian Military Service and Mennonite Migration” in this online event. Join on our website, www.mhv.ca/events