Mennonite Heritage Village

From Cancel Culture to Engaged Culture

July 7, 2022

By Gary Dyck

Did you know that your identity and your culture are always changing? Sometimes for the worse, but often for the better. The current exhibit “Leaving Canada: the Mennonite Migration to Mexico” provides visitors to Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) a close-up view of a pivotal moment when 8,000 Mennonites decided to leave Canada in the hopes of preserving their autonomy and culture. In the early 1900s the Dominion of Canada was pushing for all its citizens to be loyal British subjects, especially the next generation of young people who were required to attend public schools. 

In this exhibit, you will see the image of a notebook cover from a Mennonite student of that era. If you look closely, you will see that there were numerous Union Jack flags at the 1915 grand military parade in Winnipeg. The Canada flag had yet to be developed. You will also read this quotation on the chalkboard (see the following image from our gallery) from a writer of a magazine that was the predecessor to Maclean’s:

“One of the great problems confronting Canada is assimilation: how to take the crude material constantly flowing into the country and make loyal, self-helping, self-respecting citizens out of them. (Alfred Fitzpatrick).”

Alfred Fitzpatrick, Maclean’s

Mennonites were part of that ‘crude material’ that Fitzpatrick was derisively writing about. 

This past week MHV hosted a Canada Day celebration, and with nearly 5,000 visitors, it was one of our highest attendance numbers to date. MHV staff and volunteers worked hard throughout the day to keep the lines and activities humming. There was also a land acknowledgement poem, a prayer for peace and an exhortation to take time to reflect on where our nation is at. We like to rejoice with those who rejoice but also need to mourn with those who still mourn. 

Canada Day was only developed in 1982, before that it was Dominion Day, which highlighted the British Empire. Many people at that time opposed the change. Ironically, many of those same people, 40 years later, would probably oppose any change to Canada Day. Some of us have trouble with change and the on-going development of culture. Sometimes we are quick to call attempts at reform ‘cancel culture’. Ultimately, what we want to see is ‘engaged culture’. People across this land who take time to really learn the good and bad of our shared history, to listen to each other and reflect on what those who are in mourning need. We celebrate, we grieve, we learn, we change – for we are human. May we also be an engaged culture. 

Upcoming Events:

MHV’s grounds and Livery Barn Restaurant are open seven days a week. The restaurant is open 11 am to 4 pm, and the grounds are open 9 am to 5 pm. Thursdays we are open 9 am to 8 pm. Sunday we are open 11:30 am to 5 pm.

Heritage Classic Car Show July 9, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Our car show is back! Check our website for more details and to register your car.

Pioneer Day Camps July & August Come experience pioneer Mennonite life with a week at the Mennonite Heritage Village. Our education staff are excited to provide a fun, safe and experiential week of crafts, baking, making tools, gardening, games and much more. All camps run from 10am to 4pm during the week. Register today as spaces are filling up! 

Leaving Canada Speaker Series: July 26, 7:00PM “Putting Down Roots in Mexico,” by Kevin Dyck, Curator at Museo Menonita in Cuauhtémoc, Mexico. Free event, click to register here.

Pioneer Days: July 30 to August 1 Relive the experience of the early Manitoba Mennonites during our annual Pioneer Days festival! From July 30th to August 1st, enjoy traditional Mennonite food, activities for kids, live demonstrations, music, guided tours, and more! For a full list of activities and entertainers, visit our website at

August 20 – Peace Trek 2022: Together with the Eden Foundation, Mennonite Heritage Village is proud to be hosting our first annual cyclathon and marathon! Choose to bike, run, or participate in a relay on the Peace Trail; a newly established route that passes waypoints of history and nature in south-east Manitoba that you won’t want to miss.