God at work in the World

Ontario indigenous woman awarded Sattler Peace Prize

James Jakob Fehr of the German Mennonite Peace Committee, left, presents Judy da Silva, a member of the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario, right, with the 2013 Michael Sattler Peace Prize for her environmental advocacy work against multinational logging companies in her community.

Judy da Silva, a member of the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario, was this year’s recipient of the Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee.

Talking to the regime

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, centre, who will leave office this month as Iran’s president after serving two terms, is pictured at a February 2007 meeting with members of a Mennonite Central Committee-led delegation.

After Iranians replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a two-term president, in this month’s elections, much of the world will remember him as an enigmatic hardliner from a far-off place. They will remember a stern, blustery man whose nuclear dabbling and inflammatory rhetoric about Israel and America seemed to invoke George W. Bush’s inclusion of Iran among the “Axis of Evil.”

Faith and megawatts

Madeline Spence of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House, Man., says ‘Our land used to be so good; the shorelines used to be so different.’

Herb Cook of the Misipawistik Cree Nation at Grand Rapids, Man., surveys a shoreline littered with logs from eroding shorelines on the Cedar Lake hydroelectric reservoir.

Photographer Matt Sawatzky at the May 3 opening of ‘A Sad Sort of Clean,’ an exhibit of his photographs.

The director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba at the time told me two issues stirred up the most flak from constituents: MCC’s work in Israel-Palestine and its involvement with hydropower issues in the north.

That was a dozen years ago. I was MCC’s hydro guy.

Small congregation draws big talent

A group of young teenage musicians are a highlight at the Mather Coffeehouse on April 13. Zach Tiessen, Tyler Rempel, Myles Tiessen, Brianna Hildebrand and Daria Hildebrand are from Trinity and Crystal City Mennonite churches and Cornerstone Ministries Church.

The tiny hamlet of Mather in southwestern Manitoba is home to about 100 people, but for one night of the year the population burgeons. On April 13, the Mather community held its annual coffeehouse at the community hall, drawing about 130 people from far and wide.

A cross bears witness

This cross was carved out of a downed tree after a deadly tornado struck Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011. At a celebration to commemorate two year’s of rebuilding efforts, Kevin King, executive director of Mennonite Disaster Service, said of the carving, ‘It is now weathered and cracked from the drying sun, proclaiming the injury of the past.’

Nearly two years after an EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) closed its project site in Joplin with a celebration.

‘Where oil flows beneath our feet’

A crowd of about 60 people of various ages, almost all from Mennonite congregations, gathers outside the chain-link fence of the Enbridge pumping station near Gretna, Man., for a service of lament on Holy Saturday.

At the end of the service of lament, participants are invited to place pieces of sackcloth on the wooden cross. Neill Von Gunten, former Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministry co-director, places his strip along side the others as a symbol of lament.

Will Braun, one of the organizers of the Holy Saturday service, offers words of lament for the oil beneath his feet.

A cross in the ditch is a common marker for tragic events, so on Holy Saturday, March 30, a wooden cross is planted in the snowy ditch just outside the chain-link fence of the Enbridge oil pumping station near Gretna.

Ottawa gets more ‘strategic’ about foreign aid

Jim Cornelius, left, Foodgrains Bank executive director, presents a glass grain elevator—an “image of what the Foodgrains Bank has stood for and meant across the country”—to CIDA president Margaret Biggs and Julian Fantino, federal international cooperation minister. At right is Don Peters, the Foodgrains Bank’s board chair.

Helping people in need overseas is not only a “tangible expression of Canadian values,” but also a “critical instrument for advancing Canada’s long-term prosperity and security.”

Student hospitality transcends borders

Mar Elias High School students Sally Dabbah, left, and Miyas Nassar, right, are pictured with Westgate Mennonite Collegiate student Avery Letkemann during a recent visit from Israel/Palestine. Letkemann and other Westgate students will be making a return visit to Israel later this year.

The hallways at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate in Winnipeg were abuzz with excitement. Eight students and their teacher, Emil Haloun, had arrived from Mar Elias High School in Ibillin, Israel, to spend two weeks with the Westgate students and their host families.

‘We need more’

Syrian refugee children take shelter against the cold shortly after arriving in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan, early in the morning of Nov. 26, 2012. Mennonite Central Committee has delivered 900 comforters, 350 relief kits and 3,520 school kits to the camp so far. For story on the worsening crisis in Syria.

Firewood collection is destroying a forest of old trees in northeast Syria as people facing poverty and conflict struggle to cope with harsh winter conditions.

The crisis in Syria is rapidly spinning out of control.

Zehr Institute named after ‘grandfather of restorative justice’

Howard Zehr, widely known as the ‘grandfather of restorative justice,’ will co-lead the Zehr Institute of Restorative Justice at the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Harrisonburg, Va. Zehr will step aside from his teaching responsibilities at EMU following the spring 2013 semester.

Howard Zehr, widely known as the “grandfather of restorative justice,” will step aside from his teaching role at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) after the spring 2013 semester and begin co-leading the newly established Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice.

Mothers and daughters learn about HIV in Tanzania

Dinah John (left) and Angel Mathew are part of an intergenerational team of women learning and sharing information about HIV and AIDS in Arusha, Tanzania.

Tears flow freely at Binti Mama (daughter/mother) gatherings as mothers and their teenage daughters talk openly about issues such as HIV and AIDS. Led by an intergenerational team of students, teachers and women, the gatherings provide a safe setting for listening and learning across generations.

New assignment in Burkina Faso

The Frey Yoder family, from left to right: Deborah, Nancy, Jeremiah and Bruce.

Nancy Frey and Bruce Yoder are building a new home in Burkina Faso with their children Jeremiah and Deborah. In the capital city of Ouagadougou, the Frey Yoders connect with and help support the Foyer Evangélique Mennonite de Ouagadougou (FEMO), a congregation primarily comprised of young adult university students, 24 of whom live in the FEMO residence.

Bethany College takes classroom on the road

Students from Bethany College, Hepburn, Sask., learn about First Nations culture by helping to put up a tipi at the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation, Duck Lake, Sask.

Kaeli Fineday and Randy Klassen enjoy the camping experience.

Bethany College students had the privilege of participating in a First Nations Culture Camp in September.

Students from Bethany College, Hepburn, Sask., spent Sept. 19-27 learning outside the classroom. While first-year students learned about poverty and homelessness by working in food banks and shelters in various cities, second-year students visited three Cree communities in Saskatchewan.


Subscribe to RSS - God at work in the World