Manitoba

Oh ya! Parliament declares Mennonite Heritage Week

The notoriously humble Mennonites will soon have their own week to mark their achievements.

Motion brought forward by Abbotsford MP Ed Fast

This photo shows Mennonite conscientious objectors who were sent to work camps for refusing to fight in the Second World War. (Refuge 31 Films)

The notoriously humble Mennonites will soon have their own week to mark their achievements.

Parliament recently passed a motion declaring the second week in September as Mennonite Heritage Week.

The motion, introduced by Abbotsford MP Ed Fast, was carried on May 29. It was supported by Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen, who is a Mennonite as well.

"When the member from Abbotsford talked about bringing this forward, we sort of chuckled because we really weren't sure if he was fully serious because we're Mennonites after all,  we don't have Mennonite Heritage week," Bergen said in the House of Commons.

"But you know what, I'm so happy, he was serious and we very much support him in this motion. "So even though Mennonites are humble people I'm really happy that we can talk about Mennonites to the extent that we are today."

Bergen finished her comments by reading out headlines from the Mennonite humour website "The Daily Bonnet."

Humility, simplicity are aspirational values

Royden Loewen, Mennonite studies professor at the University of Winnipeg, recognizes the irony of setting aside an entire week to focus on Mennonites.

"As a scholar of Mennonites and as a practicing Mennonite, it's nice if people say nice things about us," he said. "On the other hand...since [the times of] Menno Simons almost 500 years ago, humility or service or simplicity are values that the Mennonites aspire to.

"So how can Mennonite members of Parliament stand up and ask the nation to recognize Mennonites?"

Mennonites make up about seven per cent of Winnipeg's population, making it the largest Mennonite city in the world, Loewen said.

With files from Cory Funk

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