Public school teachers

A moment from yesterday

July 15, 2020 | Opinion | Volume 24 Issue 15
Laureen Harder-Gissing | Conrad Grebel University College
Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Public school teachers Samuel B. Nafziger, Dick Neufeld, Sara (Lehn) Harder, Martin Goerzen, Grace Harder, John C. Harder and C. Boldt, are pictured in the most northerly Mennonite farm community in the world, at Fort Vermilion, Alta,. in 1958. Their presence was controversial, as some Old Colony Mennonite settlers resisted the development of public schools, fearing their “worldly” effect on children. To build trust, the superintendent recruited Mennonite teachers from the more modern Mennonite Church. Young teacher Sara Lehn won over the bishop’s wife by conversing with her in Low German; the wife then introduced Sara to her husband as “one of our kind.” The schools also included Indigenous and Métis students.

Laureen Harder-Gissing, with reference to Dawn S. Boden’s “Resistance, acquiescence and accommodation,” Mennonite Quarterly Review, 2010.

Photo source: For more historical photos in the Mennonite Archival Image Database, see

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Photo: The Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

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