Tag Archives: family

Life, Liberty and Family

When The Carillon, the newspaper I work for, posted my latest column on Facebook I received lots of feedback. My column questioned the wisdom of Canadian politicians showing public support for former President Trump. I was called delusional, leftist, a liar and someone who should be ashamed of herself by various people making comments.

One respondent said he would vote for any politician who defended life, liberty, and family even if that government leader’s personal conduct wasn’t always moral. He implied he could forgive someone like Donald Trump his outrageous behaviour because the former president was a defender of life, liberty, and family.

This photo was taken at a family celebration some fifty years ago with my Dad’s extended family. Family is an important value for me.

I said I agreed life, liberty, and family were very important values. And…… that got me thinking about what exactly those values meant to me. At first, I was going to articulate that by making a list of all the ways I believed President Trump had caused considerable damage to those ideals, but then…….. I decided it might be more helpful instead to figure out what I thought a country would look like if life, liberty and family were truly valued.

Celebrating our son’s university graduation. Post-secondary education should be available to all.


Life is respected by making sure affordable housing, clean drinking water, universal child care, good schools and free post-secondary education are available to everyone.

Life is protected when fair laws are enforced in the community by a highly-educated, sensitively trained, scrupulously vetted, mature group of individuals. These wise and experienced professionals serve in a just manner that is equitable for every person no matter their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or income level.

Life is enriched by well funded public spaces like parks, libraries, museums, art galleries and sports facilities. The arts receive public funding as do amateur athletics and there are accessible opportunities for everyone to further their education and skills in a variety of ways.

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr


People have the liberty to marry the person of their choice, apply for the job of their choice and live in the neighbourhood of their choice regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Capital punishment is a thing of the past and steps are in place to reduce and perhaps even eliminate the prison population.

Women have the liberty to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

People have the liberty to make their own end of life decisions.

Four generations by Pitaloosie Saliaone of my favourite pieces from the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection depicting a family


All jobs pay a fair living wage that makes it possible for someone who works eight hours a day to provide adequately for the needs of their family. If for some reason no one in a family is able to work at some point that family would still be guaranteed a basic living income.

Families are supported by free health care that addresses their medical needs no matter at what stage of life their family members may be.

Workers have employment agreements that allow them to provide necessary care for their infant children, sick family members and elderly parents.

The painting The Scream by Kent Monkman shows Indigenous children being taken from their families and sent to residential schools. Life, liberty and family have not always been respected in Canada. Those are values we still need to work at.

The values of life, liberty and family will mean different things to different people. What are some values you would add to my list or change about the ones in my list?

Other posts………..

The Scream

Pride in Steinbach

A Very Personal Story


Filed under Canada, Politics

Auntie Millie

Last week I ran into Mildred Schroeder at the Folio Cafe on the grounds of Canadian Mennonite University. It was the second time that week we had bumped into each other. I asked the friend who was with me to take a picture of me with Auntie Millie. When I was a child growing up you didn’t refer to your parents’ friends just by their first name. It wasn’t considered polite. But using their last names seemed too formal so we referred to them as aunts and uncles even though we might not be related to them in any way. Mildred was a dear friend of my mother Dorothy’s so I grew up calling her ‘Auntie Millie’ and I still do.

My mother and Auntie Millie as young women

Auntie Millie and my mother spent their childhoods on farms across the road from each other in Drake Saskatchewan. They went to the same elementary school in Drake, both attended a private Mennonite high school in Rosthern Saskatchewan, and both came to Winnipeg in the late 1940s to attend Canadian Mennonite University. They both married in the early 1950s and had families but always kept in contact with one another.

My Mom with her friend Millie at my parents 60th wedding anniversary

I just took their relationship for granted as a child but realized as I observed Millie and my Mom near the end of my mother’s life how unique and special it is to maintain a life long friendship like my mother and Millie did.
Auntie Millie is 95 years old and is still very active. She attends an exercise class regularly, goes out with friends for coffee and is pretty savvy with social media. She is my Facebook friend, reads my blog faithfully and often comments on my writings.
Whenever I see her it’s like getting a glimpse of my mother who died in June of 2013 and each time we do Auntie Millie mentions how much she misses my Mom. Seeing Auntie Millie always makes me just a little emotional and makes me miss my mother too, but I am always glad when we meet. 

Other posts……..

My Mom Starts School

My Mother’s Friends

My Mother’s Button Box

My Mother’s Childhood Christmases




Filed under Family

Grateful For Mom’s Support

dorothy marie peters 1My aunt called me yesterday. She knew it was the sixth anniversary of my mother’s death and she wanted to know how I was doing.  I told her that while I still think of my mother every day, my grief over her death is gradually being replaced with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for her presence and influence in my life.  

My aunt told me she was looking forward to attending her granddaughter’s university graduation this coming week. That reminded me of my own university graduation. After high school, I attended college for two years and then completed another year of studies to receive an education certificate so I could start teaching in 1974. But I still needed seven more courses to get my Bachelor of Arts degree.  

I took all those classes by correspondence, or during summer school sessions or by enrolling in evening courses.  While I did that I was teaching full time and also parenting my young son.  I finally finished my last course in 1980 and was eligible to take part in commencement exercises at the University of Manitoba to receive my degree.  I decided it would be too much trouble to attend.  

But my mother insisted I go.  “You’ve worked so hard for that degree MaryLou.  You need to celebrate it. I’m going with you and you are going to walk across that stage and get your diploma.”   And so that’s exactly what I did. Version 2I’ve kept this photo my Mom took of me that day. She was so proud of me. My Mom was my number one cheerleader. I am so grateful for her endless support, her pride in my accomplishments and her constant affirmation. 

Other posts………

Get Smart,

Crokinole and Ping Pong

International Day of the Girl

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Filed under Education, Family

Getting Nostalgic and Just a Little Sad

cousins peleeThis is my favorite photo from our family reunion weekend on Pelee Island in Ontario. One night as the sun was setting our children and their cousins made their way  down to the lake front to sit by a large inukshuk someone had built.  Watching them silhouetted against the sinking sun I got kind of nostalgic and sad.  I remembered all the happy times these thirtysomething adults had as kids… playing together, celebrating holidays and having fun on their grandparents’ farm.

Their grandparents have died now, all these cousins have families of their own, and several live in other provinces, so it will be harder and harder to bring everyone together. Our reunion this summer was a whole year in the planning. 

cousins peleeLater looking at this photo I thought of how lucky the Driedger cousins were to have been part of a family where they were loved so unconditionally by their grandparents and where aunts and uncles and cousins cared about them and were interested in them.  One of the purposes of inukshuks is to act as direction markers so people can find their way.  They are like northern compasses. I hope as our children look back on our many family gatherings over the years, they will have a sense that our time together served as a kind of marker or touchstone that helped them navigate through life. pelee island sunset

Other posts………

The Path of Life

The Driedger Amazing Race

Name That Driedger

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Driedger Top Chef Junior

Spectators and contestants gather for the top junior chef hot dog contest.

Who would be the top chef? Another contest during our family’s Pelee Island reunion was designed specifically for the great-grandchildren. They each picked a mentor from the next generation to help them create and name a gourmet hot dog.

My husband Dave tests the Nacho Dog.

Our senior generation acted as judges which meant we got to taste each of the culinary creations and grade them on creativity, taste and presentation.  

The Hot Taco Doggie team wore sombreros and had Mexican music playing during their hot dog presentation

The junior chefs and their mentors had used hot dogs in so many different ways.  The Candy Crusher dog featured chocolate sauce and hard candies.  The EggsZactly hot dog was served on a waffle with a poached egg on top and the Big Mac hot dog featured macaroni and cheese. After each hot dog had been tasted and graded the teams appeared one by one in front of Judge Uncle Dave who provided commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Here the creators of the Raging Oma hot dog receive their feedback from the judge. In the end the Holy Chipotle team was the champion because the taste of their hot dog with its homemade chipotle sauce just couldn’t be beat. 

A team hugs as they await the judge’s verdict on their hot dog

The contest was lots of fun but also a great exercise in team spirit and cooperation as partners worked together in the kitchen to create their hot dogs, shared ingredients with other teams and cheered on their opponents. 

Other posts………..

The Amazing Race Driedger Style

A Dog Ate the Cabbage Rolls

Name That Driedger Family Game

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Filed under Family, Food

A Tipped Caboose, A Black Eye and A Wedding

The caboose tipped over!  I was visiting my 94 year old Aunt Viola in Saskatoon on the weekend and she told me a story about a time her family was in an accident on the way to a wedding.  

mom and her sisters

My aunt Viola and my mother Dorothy. Mom is on the right.  

My aunt and my mother were asked to sing a duet at the wedding of their hired girl Tina.  Tina was a recent immigrant from the Soviet Union.  My grandparents had a farm in Drake Saskatchewan and my grandfather often offered to go to the train station in nearby Humboldt or Lanigan to pick up new immigrants from Mennonite communities in Russia when they first arrived in Canada. If they didn’t have relatives or friends to stay with he would bring them home till they could find work and a place to live.  This happened with Tina, but she stayed on for quite some time and my grandparents gave her a job helping with the housework and yardwork.  Besides her own four children my grandmother was also caring for her aging mother and blind brother-in-law, so Tina’s help was appreciated. 

Eventually Tina met a man whose last name was Buhler and they decided to marry.  My mother and my aunt were both very musical and Tina asked them to sing at her wedding.  My Aunt Vi said this was a little unusual because normally their parents sang duets together while my mother accompained them on the piano, but Tina wanted Viola and my mother Dorothy to sing so they agreed. My grandmother would accompany them on the organ. 

mom' s family sleigh

The Schmidt family poses beside their caboose. My Aunt Viola is to the left of her youngest sister Leila and my mother Dorothy is to Leila’s right. Behind them is my Uncle Earl and my grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt.

The Schmidt family set off for the wedding in their horse drawn caboose, although my aunt said they usually referred to it as ‘the bus.’  The weather had warmed a bit and the roads were slushy and muddy and a real mess so my grandfather decided to go cross country across the land of their neighbor Hugo Bartel because his fields were still quite snow covered.  As they sailed across the field the thin runner of the caboose cut into snowbank and the caboose tilted and then tipped right over.  Everyone was thrown from their seats. No one was hurt too badly but my mother bumped her eye and it quickly became bruised and swollen. 

north star mennonite church

The North Star Mennonite Church where the wedding took place.

The family righted the caboose and continued on to the North Star Church. My mother and my aunt still sang at the wedding, although my mother was sporting a black eye during the performance.  Aunt Vi remembers that Tina had requested the song Keep On the Sunny Side  a popular hymn written by Ada Blenkhorn in 1899 so that’s what they sang.  

Later when the family looked back on the accident they remembered it with humour and often laughed about how they tipped over so suddenly and how my mother sang such a positive and upbeat song with a black eye. 

Other posts………

A Passport of Her Own

Wash Day Tragedy

Family Blueprints


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Late Again

This is the third year in a row I’ve been a day late in recognizing my siblings for International Siblings Day.   I love my siblings and they greatly enrich my life.  I know just how lucky I am to have their support and friendship.  At my mother’s funeral the four of us gave a speech together to share the story of our Mom’s life. At the end we promised to do our best to maintain the strong family ties Mom had worked so hard to nurture.  I think we’re doing pretty well so far.

Mark and me Amanda's wedding




Other posts……..

I Love My Siblings

One Day Late


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I Held You Before Your Mother Did

“I held you before your mother did,” my aunt reminded as she hugged me goodbye.

auntie-mary-and-marylouOn our way home from Arizona we stopped in Kansas to spend time with my Auntie Mary.  I love visiting with Auntie Mary.  She is such a good listener and interesting conversationalist. She is also a veracious reader. When I visit her I always leave with a stack of books she has already read and thinks I would enjoy. This visit was no exception.  My nightstand is now piled high with books from Auntie Mary. Auntie Mary is an artist as well and one of her watercolors which was a wedding gift from her decorates our home. Auntie Mary is also a memory maker and creates the most beautiful books of photos and memorabilia that document the history of her family. She did extensive interviews with my grandparents before they passed away and her notes along with family photos she collected were such a valuable resource when we made our trip to Ukraine to discover our family roots.

I learned some new things about my aunt on this visit.  She follows NBA basketball!  She and my husband Dave had a great discussion about the various teams and players. She is right up to date. She says some of her grandchildren are basketball fans and following the sport makes it fun to text with her grandkids during games. Auntie Mary is also very tech savvy for someone in her eighties.  She texts and e-mails and shops online.

mary holding meHer comment that she held me before my mother did refers to the fact that Auntie Mary was in the delivery room with my mother.  This was in the days before fathers were allowed in the delivery room and my aunt was a nurse at the hospital where Mom was having me. She provided Mom with support during the birth.  While the doctors finished caring for Mom, Auntie Mary held me in her arms in the delivery room. My mother was so appreciative of Mary she named me MaryLou and told me the ‘Mary’ was for my Auntie Mary. 

I was so glad I got to visit Auntie Mary. Like my other aunts she has always been caring and supportive. 

Other posts…….

I’m Her Namesake

Great Aunt Marie’s Books

High Drama at the Christmas Family Gathering


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Pyjamas All Day

If you think being on vacation means lazing around, reading for hours on end and lying in the sun, you obviously have never been on vacation with my husband.  He’s a man of action and a social butterfly who isn’t anywhere very long before he’s made new friends, found old ones to connect with, and become involved in whatever is going on in his current location.

dave-ball-team-organ-stopSince coming to Arizona we have already rendezvoused with numerous Manitoba acquaintances who happen to be holidaying here as well. Dave has joined a pickle ball league at the nearby community court and spends two hours out there with some new buddies almost every morning. As I’ve written before, he’s a member of slow pitch team here in Arizona too.  

A couple of days ago I couldn’t find him anywhere.  His bike was in the garage, our car was on the driveway but he was gone.  Turns out he’d wandered into a neighborhood happy hour on a driveway down the street and made four new friends. One of them has already been over with a set of kid’s golf clubs for our grandson to use when he visits.

Dave and Hans ready for the hike.

For the next ten days or so we don’t have any company coming to stay with us so I’ve been looking forward to just napping  on our patio, coloring in my new coloring book, working on my novel and maybe one day even staying in my pj’s all day. Dave promised me we’d take it easy but so far this week he’s organized a golf date and supper with friends, purchased tickets to a blue grass concert, made a booking for the two of us to do nine holes one afternoon, arranged a breakfast date with Steinbach connections and has been throwing out movie suggestions.

I don’t really mind. While he was on the links on Monday with a golf buddy from Steinbach I got to spend the afternoon hiking and drinking wine with his golf partner’s wife, a fascinating and interesting woman I didn’t really know very well before.

When we golf as a couple we are usually partnered with interesting people. During our last round I met a school social worker, and a university football player. The concert we are going to tonight features Ryan Shupe and the Rubberbands.  They promise to take you on an entertainment roller coaster.  Should be good.  And the breakfast date is with a couple who just like us taught on the Hopi Indian Reservation in the past so we are sure to be able to do some good reminiscing.  

Most of the time I am glad to be married to a social butterfly who is on the go all the time and introduces me to new experiences and new people but I have put him on notice that one day before we leave Arizona I am going to spend the whole day in my pyjamas.  We’ll see if that happens. 

Other posts……

I’m Married To A Social Butterfly

Batters Up At Dawn

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Filed under Arizona

Showing Off Our City

We had family visiting us from Ontario this week and it was fun showing them places in and around Winnipeg. 

On the Provencher Bridge Winnipeg's most photographed landmark

On the Provencher Bridge Winnipeg’s most photographed landmark

One morning I took my brother-in-law Paul and sister-in-law Shirley on a long walk to the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden, across the Provencher Bridge, past the Human Rights Museum and then after a bowl of soup at Winnipeg’s famous Stellas restaurant we went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery where I gave them a quick tour of the current exhibitions. 

Checking the history of our province on the huge Manitoba mural at Upper Fort Garry

Getting a historical overview of Manitoba on the huge mural at Upper Fort Garry

We explored the Upper Fort Garry site and learned about the history of the fort that once stood there. 

shirley and the bison fort whyteOne day we visited Fort Whyte and went on the Bison Safari. 

Dinosaurs Alive exhibit at Assiniboine Park

Dinosaurs Alive exhibit at Assiniboine Park

We all thought the Dinosaur exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo was great, although we wished we’d had our grandchildren along, because we knew how much they would have liked it. Unfortunately the polar bears weren’t swimming in the Journey to Churchill exhibit but we did enjoy the video presentation about Canada’s north through the seasons. 

the-family-at-royal-canoeWe took in the performance by Royal Canoe at the classic Burton Cummings theatre and had a family dinner at Corrientes Restaurant before the show. toasting-bucky-before-the-showThanks to Paul and Shirley for being such a supportive aunt and uncle and flying out for their nephew’s new album release. 

My sister-in-law Shirley had four pars in a row on the back nine

My sister-in-law Shirley had four pars in a row on the back nine at Quarry Oaks

We spent one afternoon golfing eighteen holes at Quarry Oaks which is just beginning to show its beautiful fall colors. 

Posing with Gandhi statue

Posing with Gandhi statue

We enjoyed a breakfast that included squash cakes, bannock and bison at the Feast restaurant on Ellice and saw the movie Florence Foster Jenkins at Grant Park. 

Dave and I hosted a dinner party and invited our daughter-in-law and some long time friends of Paul and Shirley’s.

In front of the Human Rights Museum

In front of the Human Rights Museum

We played four matches of euchre during the visit and the ladies and the men won two matches each.  We play euchre whenever we get together and the men usually end up champions so Shirley and I felt quite good about the tie this time. 

We loved having Paul and Shirley in Winnipeg and hope they will come again. 

Other posts…….

Heidelberg Project

Having a Feast For Breakfast

Terrified Times Three

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Filed under Family, Winnipeg