I live in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, not a place you might typically look for nature photos, but we have lots of natural beauty here. My friend Suzanne nominated me for a photo challenge on Facebook. I was to post nature photos for seven days. I decided to cheat a little and post seven pictures all at once on my blog. To narrow the field I only chose photos taken in my neighborhood.
Spring Leaves on Rorie Street
Icicles on the Royal Albert Hotel
Prairie grasses on the bank of the Red River
Canada Goose in Steve Juba Park
October trees on Bannatyne Avenue
Winter Pines at the Goldeyes Stadium
Fall colors at the end of McDermot Avenue
I’m Happy My Taxes Are Paying For This
Wisdom on a Tree
Couples in the Library
At one time there were about 25,000 Wendat First Nations people in North America. Wendat lived in 18 to 25 villages, some with up to 3,500 people along the shores of Lake Ontario. Between 1634 and 1642 they were reduced to about 9,000 by a series of epidemics, measles, influenza and smallpox brought by the French. The French called the Wendat, the Huron. After a war with the Iroquois a remnant of the Wendat people dispersed to different places in North America. One group ended up not far from where Quebec City is located today. We visited a Wendat village set up for tourists when we were in Quebec. Dave and his cousin John had a long talk with one of the members of the tribe who was acting as a guide.
The present population of the Wendat, near Québec City, is about 3,000. The majority are Catholic and use French as their first language.The Wendat once lived in long houses which were up to 7 meters wide and 90 meters in length and housed extended families that traced a common descent to the same mother or grandmother.
High palisades around the villages offered protection.
The Wendat traveled in birch bark canoes along the St. Lawrence River. Story telling was important to the Wendat and they often used art to tell those stories.
The Wendat were one of the most important suppliers of furs to the French exchanging their furs for goods from the French. The Wendat have lost their original language. At the site of their reconstructed village near Quebec City they are doing their best to preserve at least a part of their culture and heritage and share that knowledge with those who come to visit.
Hopi at the Heard
Killing a Bison is Hard
Dave’s Vision Quest
Sam and Alex are on a hunger strike at their church. Both teenage girls have attended Dove Mennonite since they were born. One Sunday they remain after the service and ‘occupy’ the sanctuary vowing not to leave or eat again till the congregation’s directors allow members of the LGBTQ community to fully participate in congregational life.
That’s the starting point of This Will Lead to Dancing, a drama by the Theatre of the Beat Company. It was presented at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg for three nights last week. The play shows the audience how families and individuals have been impacted by the church’s refusal to accept members of the LGBTQ community. We hear from Henry, the church janitor, who tells a moving story about his son who died from AIDS. Henry rejected his son when he announced his homosexuality and now is remorseful about that decision. At the time, several decades before, he felt he needed to choose between his own faith and accepting his son.
We discover Sam, one of the play’s main characters is gay. She finally admits this to her church pastor. The pastor’s whole attitude changes once the issue takes on a personal face. This isn’t some stranger asking to be fully welcomed, but an active member of the congregation who has been part of the church family since childhood. The pastor is hopeful the church board will make a decision to be inclusive but they do not. We meet Sam’s parents. Although they love and support their daughter they wish she’d kept her sexuality a secret and not ‘come out’ to the church community. They are wise enough to realize the heartache that will result for their daughter. They know how important her faith is to her, and they realize the church will no longer be able to embrace her fully now that she has shared her secret. A local television station interviews Sam and Alex. Soon the story about their hunger strike goes viral, drawing national attention. The evening I saw the play I came home to a breaking story in the American media about the plans of the Lancaster Conference to withdraw its 175 churches from Mennonite Church USA over the homosexuality question. In March of 2015 the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly ran a cover story called Gay and Mennonite describing how the issue of accepting LGBTQ people is dividing and damaging the Mennonite church.
The play addresses this too, suggesting that divisiveness over the issue may eventually destroy the Mennonite church but from its ashes will emerge a new church whose closed door will transform into a table around which everyone can share communion and serve God together. Perhaps the most humorous and tender moments of the play emerge when Sam, weak from hunger, has a dream where Menno Simons, the founder of the Mennonite Church visits her. Menno is bewildered about the homosexuality question. The word homosexuality isn’t even in the Bible. We find out that’s because the word was first used in a 1946 English translation of scripture. Menno also wonders why a church governing body is dictating what people must believe. That isn’t the Anabaptist way.
The play ends with Menno and Sam dancing together. They stumble and trip and hurt each other at first, but eventually they learn how to move together in harmony as they dance and sing the hymn We are People of God’s Peace. It is a beautiful metaphor for the hope that someday people will be able to be honest and open about both their sexuality and their spirituality without having to leave the Mennonite Church.
Letter From the Mother of A Gay Son
Some Mennonites But Not All of Them
My husband Dave’s grandparents Abram and Margaretha Driedger were refugees who arrived in Canada in 1924
I am from a refugee family. My grandparents and my husband’s grandparents were refugees who came to Canada from Ukraine. Having just lived through the violence of a World War, a civil war and raids by ruthless bandits on their homes and communities many were traumatized. They came to Canada without money and only a few belongings. The Canadian Pacific Railway had to finance their trip. They had survived a recent famine in Ukraine so their state of health was less than ideal.
My husband Dave’s grandparents Heinrich and Gertrude Enns were refugees who arrived in Canada in 1925
They were Mennonites, a religious sect often misunderstood by their new Canadian neighbours. Here was a group of people who insisted on speaking German, wanted their own private schools and refused to serve in the military.
My grandparents Diedrich and Margareta Peters refugees who came to Canada in 1923
Yet they were accepted into Canada and their descendants have served and enriched this country by making outstanding contributions in almost every area of Canadian life and culture.
My grandparents became prosperous Canadian farmers whose fifty-four descendants serve their country as school administrators, speech therapists, nurses, media personalities, pharmacists, professors, physicians, professional musicians, agriculturalists, journalists, service managers, postal workers and teachers.
I’m so glad the government of Canada accepted my family when they were refugees. What if they hadn’t?
On My Grandparents’ Farm
School for the Deaf- My Father-in-Law’s Birthplace
Statue of Gutenberg by David d’ Angers photographed at the The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
I bumped into Johannes Gutenberg at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec City and was reminded of some of the interesting stuff I’d learned about Gutenberg when I visited the Gutenberg Museum in Johannes’ home town of Mainz Germany.
Gutenberg was born in Mainz in 1395 but when a revolt against the nobility happened there in 1425 Gutenberg’s family moved to Strasbourg France where legal documents indicate Gutenberg was involved in a broken engagement with a young lady from Strasbourg.
Before inventing the printing press and printing the Gutenberg Bible Johannes was involved in manufacturing metal mirrors designed to capture holy light emanating from religious relics. These mirrors were sold to pilgrims on journeys to holy sites.
Mural at the Gutenberg Museum showing Johannes at work on his printing press
A businessman named Johann Fust loaned Gutenberg the funds to build his printing press. In 1455, Fust took Gutenberg to court, claiming Gutenberg had mishandled his loan. The court ruled in favor of Fust, leaving Gutenberg bankrupt. But guess who was one of the witnesses during the court case? Johannes’ former assistant Peter Schoeffer, who proceeded to take over Gutenberg’s former shop and help Fust run the printing press and turn it into a profitable business.
Poor Johannes. He never got credit for inventing the printing press in his lifetime and there were no known images made of him while he was alive. Maybe he’d be happy to know he is famous now and there are images of his likeness all over the world including in his hometown of Mainz Germany and in a museum in Quebec City Canada.
A Face for Champlain
I made my film debut in Hong Kong when my husband Dave asked me to appear with him in a reenactment of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #138. Dave was giving his high school English class an assignment to write a modern-day version of a Shakespearean sonnet and he wanted to perform one himself as a sample for the students.
I was a little hesitant to give it a try but I think I didn’t do too badly in my first screen role. See for yourself by clicking on the photo below. There are some breaks in the film but do watch till the end where Dave does a great recitation of the sonnet.
My Modeling Debut
So Proud of Them- Visiting My Students in New York
Multi- Tasking- Wisdom From A Former Student
She’s Done It Again- Proud of my Former Student
They had very different beliefs about what it means to be a peacemaker and serve your country. Last weekend we drove out to Winkler and my cousin Al took us to see a history park in the community’s downtown. Since Canada had just celebrated Remembrance Day the cenotaph in the park which honors Winkler’s war dead was covered in wreaths. The memorial contained only a handful of names. Perhaps this is because Winkler was primarily a Mennonite town during World War I and II, so not many citizens volunteered or were conscripted into the military. A key distinguishing tenet of the Mennonite faith is pacifism. Those who did not participate in military service because of their religious beliefs are also recognized in the park in a memorial directly across from the cenotaph. This wall contains 3021 bricks because that is the number of people who were religious conscientious objectors and were given an exemption from military service in Manitoba during World War II.
A plaque on the wall explains that these men served in the province’s hospitals, mines, remote school districts, lumber camps, national parks and farms during the war learning a new vision for service and peacemaking as a result.Etched on a rock on the wall are key scriptures from the Bible that support non-violence and pacifism.
Canadian citizens served their country in many different ways during World War II. The memorials in the Winkler Heritage Park recognize this.
Autographs from a Conscientious Objector Camp