Mennonite Heritage Village

Reconciling History

September 22, 2022

By Gary Dyck

Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.

Georges Erasmus

This year Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) has started a new initiative called ‘All My Relations’. ‘All my relations’ is a common Indigenous phrase that emphasizes the value of family relations and the relationships we share with all human beings and the earth.  

On the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, MHV will be providing free admission to our grounds as well as a handout for a self-guided reconciling history walking tour. The tour can be done with friends, with school age children or alone. Its purpose is to revisit our history from specific touching points in the village and build a deeper connection with Indigenous culture and experience of the last 150 years. Each waystation on the MHV grounds will be an opportunity to learn about common places and events that influence Indigenous relations with settlers.

May we not be ambivalent about our history and the biases we hold today because of it. Dr. Joseph R Wiebe writes about how the German Mennonite paper the Mennonitishche Rundschau “included an update of the historic 1885 Northwest Resistance in present-day Saskatchewan in every issue from the rebellion’s inception through to the trial, execution, and burial of the rebellion’s main protagonist, Louis Riel, between April and December of that year.” However, not once in those updates did it share what the Metis cause was about or the injustices against them. Dr. Wiebe does mention that there was a time when Klaas Peters, a leader of a Mennonite delegation, warned their government host William Hespeler that if they keep treating the Metis inhumanely that they would consider leaving. Today, we are still here, but many of the issues remain. Please join MHV and the Hanover Teacher’s Association for the All My Relations series to strengthen our common memory, to strengthen our community.

Upcoming Events:

Our Climate Quest Exhibit, September 17 to October 1MHV will be hosting a national interactive exhibit about how small steps can lead to big change. It promises to be an engaging experience for the whole family.

Leaving Canada Speaker Series (online), Die Steinbach Post, September 27, 7pmFor the fourth installment, Andrea Klassen, Senior Curator of MHV, will explore the interactions between Mennonite colonists in northern Mexico and their Mexican neighbours as depicted in the immigrant newspaper Die Steinbach Post. Klassen will describe how Mennonite encounters with their neighbours – in the marketplace, in conflicts with thieves and the state, and through informal relationships between individuals – had the effect of creating a cohesive religious and cultural identity and strengthening Mennonites’ self-perception as an ethnic minority living on foreign soil. This is a Zoom webinar. Please click here to register.

All My Relations series, Unpacking the Doctrine of Discovery with Josh Dueck, September 29, 7pm – The Doctrine of Discovery has become a buzzword in the media and in conversations connected to Truth and Reconciliation. This evening’s conversation will unpack this and better equip Settler-Canadians in more thoroughly understanding how historic wrongs (including the church) have created present barriers for Indigenous people. It will challenge us to consider what our next steps are towards meaningful reconciliation.

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, September 30 There will be free admission and handouts for a self-guided reconciling history walking tour. Visitors are also encouraged to visit the Dirk Willems Peace Garden and take time to reflect and pray for the healing for our nation throughout the day.

Outdoor village buildings close, October 3rd The indoor museum as well as outdoor grounds remain open throughout winter. Your last chance to enjoy the Livery Barn Restaurant buffet and outdoor buildings is Sunday, October 2nd.