Readers write: March 18, 2019 issue

March 13, 2019 | Opinion | Volume 23 Issue 6
Various Contributors |


Should Thrift Store purchases be ‘designated’ to First Nations communities?

Re:MCC Canada cuts Canadian programs to focus on advocacy,” Feb. 4, page 14.

This article raises some serious concerns regarding Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada’s Indigenous programming.

Executive director Rick Cober Bauman indicates that less Thrift Store income and more money designated overseas combine to result in less money spent in Canada on Indigenous programming.

Ironically, many of the Thrift Store customers in Altona, Man., happen to be First Nations customers. Perhaps they could request that the benefits from their purchases be designated to be spent nationally, or perhaps provincially, or, who knows, perhaps even on specific reserve projects, if there are any. This would make the Thrift Store purchases less of a slush fund, and more of a focused initiative—perhaps a better bang for their buck. 

A resulting problem then might be that the “mission” aspect of MCC Canada might have less impact overseas, and we, as conscientious, faithful Mennonites here in southern Manitoba, would perhaps lose the “feel good” effect generated by the “overseas mission efforts” of MCC Thrift Stores. 

As it stands now, MCC Manitoba representatives, led by director Darryl Loewen, have engaged in a recent mission to Zimbabwe, to understand more clearly, I suppose, the “lay of the land” and MCC’s presence there.  Seems to be a ratcheting up of the typical “overseas mission” initiatives.

There are likely a dozen or more legitimate reasons for an MCC Zimbabwe Africa mission; however, it seems that our overseas efforts come, at least in part, at the expense of the Indigenous people here at home. It seems we do not have an appetite here in Manitoba, or Canada for that matter, to help our First Nations neighbours because the African initiative is a more glamorous one.

—Peter Reimer, Gretna, Man.


Who are we?
Re:Sharing life with your tribe,” Feb. 4, page 12.

Troy Watson’s thoughtful article made me think of what my tribe may have passed on to make me who I am. I am responsible for my actions, but to what extent could I thank or blame my ancestors for the outcome?

I did some research about the genealogy of my ancestors and made interesting discoveries about my tribe. I learned about some of their quirks, their gifts and skills, their failures and successes, spiritual insights and contributions that they had made to their Mennonite environment. What has rubbed off on me?

I, too, went back to the place of my birth, now in Poland. I found no ruins to sit on and meditate, like Troy. Everything of the past was erased. Where the family farm had been, thistles had sprouted. They had the freedom to grow and had grown head-high. The thistles were in bloom, little thorny purple flowers providing beauty in the wilderness. Nature had taken back its place. Things end and give way to new life.

I will soon be added to the list of ancestors. Standing there before nothing, I tried to imagine where I would fit into my tribe. What will I have contributed to the life of my tribe that my descendants may carry on, appreciate or regret, and will recognize in their makeup?

God has created us in his image, unique in a way but part of a tribe.

—Helmut Lemke, Vancouver

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