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A misunderstood people

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Many U.S. and Canadian Mennonites think of German-speaking Mennonites in Mexico as a backward people in a Wild West country. We read of Mennonites involved in drug trafficking and ask ourselves, “Can this be?”

Unfortunately, it can, and this negative image is reinforced by the conduct of fringe Mexican Mennonites who appear in Canada, some for seasonal employment.

Hope through lament and loss

Randell Neudorf, pastor of the Commons church in Hamilton, Ont., speaks in favour of the resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. Neudorf spoke of wanting his son, who has an Ojibway background, to grow up in a land that sees him and his people as full members of the human family. The Doctrine of Discovery is a historical belief that lands without Christian inhabitants were empty and open to the predation of Christian princes. The Doctrine continues to influence the law about Indigenous Peoples in Canada (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Mennonite Church B.C. moderator Lee Dyck, left, and executive minister Gary Janzen suggest changes to the Being a Faithful Church recommendation on July 9 at MC Canada’s Assembly 2016, before discussion and the vote to approve the amended recommendation. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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Harry Lafond of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, left, chats with Ben Pauls during a tour of the Saskatchewan first nation on July 9, during Assembly 2016. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Larry Redpath of Trinity Mennonite Church in Mather, Man., takes part in a smudging ceremony in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation on July 9. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

“A season of change,” lament, fear, anxiety, confession, uncertainty, safe space, brave space . . . hope.

The lucky struggle

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Fortune and misfortune can look the same in a world of incomprehensible inequality. Each year, many thousands of Jamaicans apply for coveted temporary jobs on Canadian farms. The lucky applicants will work mostly on fruit farms and greenhouse operations under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). They can stay for up to eight months, but their families must stay at home.

Clean or unclean?

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I was driving from Calgary out to Rosemary, Alta., to attend Bill and Bob Janzen’s mom’s funeral. As I drove I recalled hearing of times when everyone lived in large homes in long rows in Russian villages, each on five-acre plots. The farming was done all around the village and the Mennonites became very prosperous.

The shepherd

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I still think of myself as a shepherd. Every day, actually every night, I’m out there. I look for the lost, the wanderers and the weary, and I bring them home. It’s a living. At times, it’s easy; they know the way and I just help them along. Other times, it’s dark and cold, and I worry about predators in the shadows. My lost ones might—or might not—be in good shape.

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