Tag Archives: Steinbach

Good-Bye Lot Sze

Dave and I were so sad to hear this week of the death of Lot Sze.  He was a student at the highschool in Steinbach from 1976-1979 . Although we lived in Steinbach at the time we never met Lot.  When we first moved to Hong Kong in 2003 one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Peter Dick e-mailed him to let him know some Steinbach folks were arriving in the city where Lot worked as a radio broadcaster, movie actor and documentary director. That was all Lot needed to know.  He rolled out the red carpet for us.  He told us people in Steinbach had been so kind to him when he lived there that befriending us was a way to pay that kindness forward. 

Lot orders ox tongue, sweet dumplings and souflee for us at a 150 year old eating establishment in Hong Kong called Tai Ping Koon Restaurant.

Lot took us out for gourmet meals at top restaurants in Hong Kong and gave us a tour of the radio station where he hosted a regular program featuring his legendary movie reviews. He gave us gifts.  He took us to movie premieres.  Lot  was a television director and had made two documentaries about Bruce Lee. He had acted in more than a hundred movies and served as the Chinese voice of characters like Robin Hood and Pinocchio in Disney films. Lot planned a weekend jaunt for us to the city of Guangzhou to see theater shows. He often talked to us about the kind and caring teachers he had in Steinbach and the many friends he made as he served as the organist for Husky hockey games and ran a judo club in town.

Visiting with Lot in our Hong Kong apartment

Lot’s parents encouraged him to move to Canada because they were fearful of the consequences of the takeover of Hong Kong by China. Lot had an uncle who was a minister in a Chinese church in Winnipeg so Lot headed there. His uncle recommended he study at Steinbach Bible College and live in the dorm but Lot chose to go to the SRSS and board with local families. He often talked fondly of Mennonite foods, like farmer’s sausage and vereneki.  He remembered especially the wonderful meals made by Margaret Friesen, the mother of his good friend Kevin.  It was Kevin who contacted us a few days ago to tell us Lot had passed away.  

Jim Peters and Lot enjoying Menonite food

When one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Jim Peters and his wife Bonnie were coming to Hong Kong to visit we told them how much Lot missed Mennonite food so Bonnie and Jim smuggled a couple rings of farmer’s sausage into the city in their suitcase.  Together Jim and Dave figured out a way to make vereneki using Dave’s Mom’s recipe and Chinese dumpling wraps.  We invited Lot for supper and after tasting Dave and Jim’s vereneki Lot provided an evaluation of their efforts using a Low German phrase he had learned in Steinbach, “Schmeckt Gut.”

Lot treats us to a night out at the gala movie premiere of the documentary Bruce Lee My Brother

After we returned to Canada in 2011 Lot continued to keep in touch with us periodically but we had not heard from him in quite awhile.  We knew his health was precarious already when we left Hong Kong and things were difficult for him because his entire family lived in San Francisco and so although he had a thriving career in Hong Kong he had no family support. 

This week Kevin Friesen e-mailed to tell me Lot had passed away and his sister Elizabeth was looking for any memories people might have of her brother.   I sent her the four Carillon articles I had written about Lot as well as my sincere condolences. 

We used to call Lot our Hong Kong Santa Claus because he was so incredibly generous to us during our years in Asia. Whenever we thanked him he said he was only repaying the kindness he had received during his three years in Steinbach. 

We were so sorry to hear of Lot’s death.  He was a talented and well known media personality in Hong Kong but we knew him as a kind and caring friend who made us feel at home when we were far from our home and family. 

Other posts……

The Swimmers of Tolo Harbor

Hong Kong Inspiration

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Images of Steinbach

This week a Facebook friend who is working on a project connected to my hometown of Steinbach asked me if I could send her some photographic images of the community.  I wasn’t sure I if I had many but when I started looking I was surprised to find quite a few.  Here are five I sent to my Facebook friend.

church mennonite heritage village museum

Church at the Mennonite Heritage Museum. When I was a little girl my grandparents’ attended a church like this where men and women sat on different sides of the sanctuary.

love for learning sculpture steinbach

Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre- site of the first public library in Steinbach with a sculpture that pays tribute to learning and education in the community. The centre was once the site of the Steinbach high school. I attended junior high there.

bridge ad penner park steinbach

Bridge at AD Penner Park. On my early morning walks in Steinbach I always stopped at this beautiful spot to think about my family and pray for them.

kornelson school mural- steinbach - davey penner

Mural in downtown Steinbach of Kornelsen School. I attended grade three and four there.

windmill

Windmill at the Steinbach Mennonite Heritage Village Museum. When the original mill was destroyed by fire the community rallied together quickly to build a new one. 

I haven’t lived in Steinbach for over a decade but it is where I grew up, where I raised my children, where I spent the bulk of my teaching career, where I continue to write for the local newspaper and where we still have so many friends. Finding these photos reminded me of that!

Other posts…….

A Lovely Day in Steinbach

Steinbach Pride- Homecoming, Forgiveness and Hope

 

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Filed under Canada, Childhood

Hopeful Diversity- An Elementary School Class So Different From Mine

kornelson school steinbach grade three class mrs. kihn

My grade three class at the Kornelson School in Steinbach

I was guiding a group of students from a school in my hometown through the Winnipeg Art Gallery recently. At one point during the tour I watched the children busy making clay sculptures. Suddenly it struck me how very different this class looked than the classes I’d been part of in that same community as a child. Check out the photo above of my grade three class taken on the steps of Steinbach’s Kornelson School in 1962. All forty students in the photo are white. I can still remember the surnames of almost every child in my class. Virtually ever one was of Mennonite heritage.

The group I was touring at the art gallery fifty years later was incredibly more diverse.  The children came from a wide variety of racial, cultural and religious backgrounds.

I’m glad the community I grew up in has become much less homogenous in some important ways. Children are receiving a more realistic, balanced view of the world right in their own classrooms as they interact with youngsters who come from very different backgrounds than their own. That gives me hope for the future of our country and our world.

Other posts……..

Kornelson School

The Children Are Watching and Listening

Skin Color

 

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Filed under Education, WInnipeg Art Gallery

There are People in Provencher Who Aren’t Hateful, Unsavory and Ignorant

The people in the political riding of Provencher  are “hateful, unsavory and ignorant!”  That’s what you might think if you read the second page feature in Tuesday’s Metro newspaper.  I had a copy of the Metro handed to me as I boarded the bus early Tuesday morning. I opened it up and read the piece during my transit ride.  I found the article unsettling. It describes a video posted by Provencher member of Parliament Ted Falk on his Facebook page.  In the video Mr. Falk suggests refugees who cross the border into Canada at Emerson are taking advantage of kind-hearted Canadians. Falk calls on the Liberal government to make their stance on the issue clear.

I had watched Mr. Falk’s video prior to reading the Metro story. I thought there would have been better ways to address the concerns of his Provencher constituents in Emerson.   I wished Mr. Falk had adopted a more welcoming and open-minded tone. While expressing his opinion that additional information and a clear policy from the federal government was required in the Emerson situation, he could have also talked about the many concrete ways we can all provide practical assistance to people from war-torn countries. Mr. Falk could have reminded his constituents  that at one time most of their families had been refugees too.

The Metro writer says hundreds of people have written accolades about Mr. Falk’s video on his Facebook page and that is true. I scrolled through the nearly four hundred responses and many are written in a fairly reasonable tone. There are some that remind Mr. Falk he needs to be more compassionate. They speculate as to how Jesus might have acted towards ‘the least among us’  who are crossing the border at Emerson. There are also some comments that say very disrespectful and unkind things about Muslims, the prime minster and refugees in general. I agree with the Metro writer that having provided a platform for these kinds of comments Mr. Falk might respond to them in some way. He could  delete or moderate inappropriate comments and remind his Facebook followers that informed, rational dialogue is the path to understanding.

One line in the Metro piece stood out for me. “Sadly, Falk’s views are in tune with those held by many of his constituents.”  That line makes it seem like the people in Provencher don’t care about refugees or their plight. I know that isn’t true. To balance their reporting on the Falk video the Metro might also have published a photo of the huge sign outside Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach that  welcomes all people as neighbours in both Arabic and English.  They might have reported on the refugee families that are currently being sponsored by groups in southeastern Manitoba or have been sponsored in the past.  I personally know of many such stories.

Last summer in the coverage leading up to the Pride Parade in Steinbach the media largely ignored the efforts of the people in southeastern Manitoba who have welcomed their LGBTQ neighbours for years and worked hard to make their communities more accepting. Instead they chose to focus on the less supportive comments and actions of local political leaders. Now they are doing the same thing with the refugee situation. 

I lived in Mr. Falk’s riding for some four decades. I know it is home to many people who are open-minded, welcoming, well-informed, thoughtful and compassionate. They need to be featured in media reports about Provencher as well in order to provide more  balanced coverage.

Other posts…….

Pride in Steinbach isn’t Something  New

Thoughts on Refugees

My Former Church and the Pope

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Filed under Media, Politics

Steinbach Pride- Homecoming, Forgiveness and Hope

At the Pride Parade in Steinbach I was walking with my brother. My brother grew up in Steinbach and experienced some of  the same kind of discrimination and bullying speaker Chris Plett described in his moving address to the crowd. Having the opportunity to march proudly in his hometown with his family and his same sex marriage partner meant a great deal to my brother.  

At the parade I met other members of the LGBTQ community who grew up in Steinbach and had returned, some from quite a distance just for the occasion. The opportunity to walk through their childhood home in support of something so integral to their identity was very significant and a kind of coming full circle sort of experience. 

Some comments in the media say the crowd at the Steinbach Pride Parade consisted mostly of people who live outside of Steinbach, and while that may be partly true, I would say that a large percentage of the people at the parade had some connection to Steinbach.  Every time I turned around I saw people I knew who either live in Steinbach now or have lived in the Steinbach area in the past. It was a day of homecoming for many. 

Speakers Chris Plett and Tyrone Hofer particularly impressed me.  As they described their experience of being gay, they firmly stated how strong their religious faith remained and clearly demonstrated what forgiving attitudes they had. They were willing to give the people in their faith communities another chance even after they had been treated so badly. They had hope for change in their churches and in the city of Steinbach.  

I think marching in the parade was a way to extend, ask for, and receive forgiveness for many. One woman I met said she had gone to high school with my brother and she wanted him to know that if she had ever said or done anything to hurt him during that time she apologized. And if I am honest marching in the parade was a way to ask my brother for forgiveness too, because while I have always accepted and affirmed his sexual orientation in a private family setting, there were many years when I did not do so in a public way out of fear of what people would think. I am sorry for that.

It made me feel so hopeful to see all the children in the crowd. I noticed many families represented as mine was, with three different generations. I dreamed as I walked that there would be a time in the future when there would be no need to have Pride Parades anymore because everyone in Canada would feel safe and secure in publicly sharing their gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The Facebook post of Phil Campbell- Enns my Winnipeg pastor, who grew up in Steinbach, reflects well the spirit of the parade for many. I share it here with his permission.

Today all were loved, and all were safe.
Honest words were spoken.
Stories of pain and resilience were shared.
Optimism and joy filled the air.
Politicians and educators were called to look after everyone.
The church was challenged, and faith was declared.
What a great day for my home town!
So glad I was there to celebrate.

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

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

I’m glad I was there to celebrate too!

Other posts…….

Pride in Steinbach Isn’t Something New

Responding to Changing Understandings of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Take Time to Listen

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Filed under Canada, Politics, Religion

Rockin For A Reason

     Alan once made a six- figure income but when he lost his job his life spiraled out of control and it wasn’t long before he found himself living in the back seat of an abandoned Mercedes Benz in a junkyard lot. Ironically Alan had once driven a Mercedes himself.

     We heard Alan’s story last Saturday night at an event organized to raise funds for Today House, a non- profit community program based in Steinbach that offers emergency shelter to people who find themselves homeless. We were there courtesy of Canadian Biosystems.

The nearly full house in attendance saw a film explaining the work of Today House. It featured interviews with founding board members Irene Kroeker and Simone Penner. We also listened to the story of a young woman with two children whose family was helped by Today House. Then Alan told us about his difficult journey trying to find the help he needed to slowly turn his life around after he became homeless. Alan now works as an advocate for homeless people in Winnipeg trying to help others who find themselves without a safe place to stay due to job loss, abusive family situations, illness or other circumstances.

The Today House fundraiser took place in the Neufeld Garage in Randolph which like Alan has had it’s life turned around. A family owned and operated business since the 1940s the building has been transformed into an event centre and community space that features elements chronicling the garage’s history, but also has a kitchen, dance floor, movie screen and stage.

  R.B.B a local music group sponsored and planned the Saturday night event called Rockin for a Reason. One of the band members told us the story of why they had decided to host the fundraiser for Today House. R.B.B was practicing one night when a young man wandered into their rehearsal space and asked if he could listen to them play. Later some of the band members chatted with him and found out he was homeless. They took him out for a meal, heard his story, and then contacted Irene Kroeker to see if Today House could be of service to the young man. Irene was able to arrange for assistance. The experience gave the group the idea of connecting their next local performance with Today House and raising funds to help other people like the young man they had encountered.

 An experience with a homeless man had also left a lasting impression on radio personality Karen Black of Country 107 who hosted the Rockin for a Reason event. She began the evening by telling us the story of her encounter with a homeless man at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg.

 Today House board member Irene Kroeker is a high school teacher. She said she had first been made aware of the problem of homelessness in Steinbach when a student walked into her classroom and told her he had not eaten for days and had no where to go for the night.

  Simone Penner who has volunteered at Today House, talked about some of the things she learned as she listened to the stories of the guests. It was clear her volunteer experience had left a lasting impression on her own life.

A theme throughout the Rockin for A Reason event was that while you may have preconceived ideas about homeless people, when you meet them personally and listen to them talk about their experiences stereotypes disappear. You begin to understand their unique situations, realize that homelessness can happen to all kinds of people, and become inspired to do something positive to help those who find themselves in that difficult situation.

Other posts……..

An Alphabet for my Hometown

A Lovely Day in Steinbach

Kornelson School

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They Never Made It to the Manger- Christmas 1994

they never made it to the mangerI found a program in one of my journals for the Elmdale School 1994 Christmas concert. They presented a drama called They Never Made It to the Manger. It was a play written by my husband Dave who was teaching grade five at Elmdale School in Steinbach at the time. The entire school was involved in the performance and each child manipulated a hand held puppet they had created. My husband’s version of the Magi story included a fourth wise man named Henry and a wise woman named Gertrude who didn’t make it to Bethlehem. I noted in my journal there were gigantic camel puppets for the Magi to ride. they never made it to the manger

The show’s music was arranged and conducted by teacher Craig Cassils. The Elmdale student performers staged a lively party in King Herod’s palace with the puppets dancing and singing Twist and Shout by the Beatles. My husband played the harmonica for one of the songs in the show- Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight. It won the Academy Award for best song in 1994 as part of the soundtrack for the movie Lion King.

My son's grade four school class that performed with the angel puppets in the musical They Never Made It To the Manger

My son’s grade four school class that performed with the angel puppets in the musical They Never Made It To the Manger

Proud mama that I was, I wrote in my journal that our younger son who was a grade four student at Elmdale that year, used a Marlon Brando voice to play the role of King Herod’s advisor. He accompanied a song on an Orff instrument. He maneuvered one of the angel puppets and sang a duet at the end of the concert.

This all happened twenty years ago but I can still remember sitting in the audience and marveling at the talent and creativity of both my husband and my son and the enormous amount of work done by the Elmdale School staff to create such a memorable Christmas experience for both the children and the audience. 

Other Christmas Memory Posts………

My Mother’s Childhood Christmas

This Christmas Will Be Different

Christmas Eve

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Filed under Education, Holidays