Mennonite Heritage Village

What Mean These Stones?

June 23, 2022

By Gary Dyck 

“What mean these stones” is a poetic phrase that looms large across the doorway to our galleries at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). The first reference to this phrase is in Joshua 4:21 when God told his ancient people to not forget how he had parted the Jordan river for their safe passage, which was reminiscent of the earlier Red Sea crossing. Here they were. They had miraculously crossed another river to safety, and now God was wanting them to go back into the river and collect twelve stones from the middle. The event was complete, but the memory of it was to continue as they piled those rocks within their encampment. Monuments in the midst of communities to remember times of faithfulness and mercy. To remember that we did not get here on our own.

These stones are all around us, including museums. This week in the Interlake region of Manitoba, I saw stones rising as if from the grave in fields that sustain us. Farmers pile them to the side, not sure what to do with them. Then I saw another ancient people take them and put them into a sacred fire. And as the stones left the fire and entered the womb of the sweat lodge they were welcomed as grandmother and grandfather. ‘Boozhoo Nookomis. Boozhoo Nimishoomis.’ Who knew rocks could burn and cleanse? What mean these stones?

At MHV we will be providing free admission and some extra activities this Canada Day. We know that Canada and its settlers have a lot of work to do in honouring and reconciling with our Indigenous hosts. Beginning in September the plan at MHV is to host several events towards this end. We have much to learn together and look forward to doing it with you. It is important to be curious and compassionate about the pain and trauma still experienced by Indigenous people. What do their rocks say? What does your pile say? I now close with a short poem.


Curious, inquiry, wanting more


Living, essence, to retain


A specific, plural, presence


Solid, forever, will remain

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.

Leaving Canada Speaker Series begins online June 28. The spring of 1922, one hundred years ago, marked the beginning of a mass migration of nearly 8,000 Mennonites from Canada to Mexico and Paraguay. From June to November, the Plett Foundation, CTMS and MHV are hosting a series of webinars about this history. In the first, “Pulling up Roots in Canada,” Dr. Aileen Friesen will examine how it came to this: how Mennonites migrated from Russia just a half-century earlier, how they became established on the Canadian Prairies, and how they came to find the pressures to conform to the wider world so intolerable they opted to leave it all. Follow the link to register today!

RocketRez Canada Day Celebration Free admission on July 1st! Free admission and a variety of activities, guided tours, hayrack sale, waffles, and more! 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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.

MHV Summer Day Camps 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 the day camps run from 10am to 4pm during the week. August 8-12 is FULL.