April 20, 2023
By Gary Dyck
Dorota Blumczyńska was born in Poland; six months later, martial law was declared, food was rationed, personal freedoms were suppressed, and an uprising took hold of her country. As a child, she witnessed her family struggle under an oppressive regime, eventually fleeing to eastern Germany. While living in a refugee camp for over a year, her family held onto hope that they would be chosen for resettlement. On October 27th, 1989, they landed in Canada as Privately Sponsored Refugees.
Just over 30 years later, Blumczyńska is now the CEO of the Manitoba Museum and was the Executive Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba Inc. (IRCOM), one of Manitoba’s largest and most dynamic settlement and community development organizations. “The Manitoba Museum holds a very special place in my heart and an important chapter in my story,” says Blumczyńska, “returning here is an opportunity to contribute more towards celebrating our province; sharing ancient and contemporary Indigenous stories, newcomer stories, as well as the beautiful landscapes and majestic prairie skies and all the forms of life that flourish within them. I’ve been entrusted with the profound responsibility of supporting a dynamic team, cultivating curiosity, and encouraging discovery, all while building bridges beyond our walls and beyond the present. It is truly humbling.”
On Friday, May 12, Blumczyńska will be the guest speaker at Mennonite Heritage Village’s Spring Gala. She has much to share from her astonishing story as a refugee child, and the role museums have for all Manitobans today. There will also be a special Mennonite quartet, a sumptuous banquet, and the grand opening of the Russländer exhibit hosted by Senior Curator Andrea Klassen.
Every year MHV needs to fulfill at least two renovations on our 30+ heritage buildings and monuments. In 2023, our main goal is the ‘Village Street Renewal’ project. The project plan includes scheduled improvements for the Livery Barn Restaurant, Printery, Reimer Store, and the General Store. The total cost for this project is approximately $110,000. The Spring Gala fundraiser will focus on resetting the sinking foundation of our precious Printery. The Printery with its historic platen printer is used for demonstrations on event days and provides unique non-digital experiences for school groups. Any donation you contribute today is greatly appreciated. This project will freshen up our village street for the world to see.
The Power of Story, All My Relations series, Tuesday April 25, 7pm – A film screening with award-winning Cree/Ojibwe film producer Erica Daniels. Come at 6:30pm to first enjoy some free dessert, coffee, and tea.
Volunteer Orientation, Thursday, April 27, 7pm. Time to get ready for a new season! An informational evening for new and current volunteers in the MHV Auditorium.
Spring Gala, May 12 A fundraising banquet with VIP access to our new Russländer exhibit, a Mennonite quartet, and speaker Dorota Blumczyńska (CEO of Manitoba Museum) that is sure to inspire you. Tickets are $75 and will help MHV restore the foundation of our sinking Printery.
An Evening with the Authors, Tuesday, May 9 – 7pm. Authors Charity Schellenberg, Faith Eidse, and Mitchell Toews will share from their new books with refreshments to follow.
MHV Village Books & Gifts and Galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday. The heritage village and Livery Barn Restaurant will reopen May 1.