Mennonite Heritage Village

Like the South Saskatchewan River

February 2, 2023

By Gary Dyck

Last month I had the privilege of attending the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada conference in Saskatchewan. Representatives from six provinces, archivists, professors, and heritage leaders were all there. Each year they present an award of excellence to a deserving candidate. This year, the award was presented to Leonard Doell, who has done a lot of research for his area, advocacy, and has published several articles. The following text was Leonard Doell’s testimony to the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Panel in Martensville, Saskatchewan in the fall of 1980 when they wanted to develop a uranium plant. Leonard was 25 years old and was opposed to the building of anything that could be used for nuclear warfare. His testimony is one of the finest descriptions of what it means to be a Mennonite.

two people standing by the saskatchewan river
Mennonite historians taking in the long view of the North Saskatchewan river.

“Our Mennonite people are like the South Saskatchewan River… we take our strength and our wisdom and our ways from the flow and direction that has been established for us by our ancestors we never knew, ancestors of hundreds of years ago. Their wisdom flows through us to our children and our grandchildren, to generations we will never know. We will live out our lives as we must, and we will die in peace because we know that our people and this river will flow after us. We know that our grandchildren will speak a language that is their heritage, that has been passed on from generation to generation. We know they will share their wealth, and not horde it to themselves. We know that they will look after their old people, and will respect them for their wisdom. We know that they will look after this land and protect it, and that 500 years from now they too have a place in the universe and they will thank the same God that I thank, that our ancestors have looked after this land well, and they will be proud to be Mennonites.

By these statements and the ones we have heard these last three weeks, our people have affirmed their belief in themselves, their past and their future, and the ideals by which they seek to live. These are the values and the principles that must underlie the development of our valley, and I am still opposed to the refinery.”

Upcoming Events:

Winter in the Village, Now till March Bring your friends and family to see the festive lights at MHV! You can skate along our trail or outdoor rink. We will also rent out skates, snowshoes and kicksleds for you to try out in the village. Then end the night with some hot chocolate. Our warming hut (located at the back of the General Store) will be open for visitors.

MHV Village Books & Gifts and Galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday. Currently MHV has two new exhibits for you to enjoy: “Resurfacing: Mennonite Floor Patterns” by Margruite Krahn and “Beauty in the Ordinary” by Southeast Artists.

Winter Carnival, February 18 to 20 A weekend full of outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, skating, snow sculpting, and more! Explore winter in a replica Mennonite Village or peruse our indoor galleries to escape the cold. Witness the Village transform overnight as a dazzling light show illuminates the skating rink and trails. More information to come.

Pier 21 the Musical, March 18 (7pm), March 19 (3pm) This musical utilizes a blend of Celtic and swing music to tell the stories of those who fled from Europe and arrived at Pier 21 – the gateway to Canada. Witness the adventures, hopes, dreams, and heartaches of immigrants, orphans, and war brides as they navigate their arrival to this new land. Tickets are $25 and include coffee & dessert.