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Conference to foster understanding

Greg Vandermeulen

Dr. Royden Loewen will present the keynote address and will host a workshop at the event.

Dr. Royden Loewen will present the keynote address and will host a workshop at the event.


The annual networking conference for service providers hosted by MCC Low German Mennonite Services will take place in Winkler, May 31.
The event, which features a variety of workshops, and a keynote address, is held every year in communities where Low German Mennonites tend to live.
“Those are the Mennonites who are coming from Latin America, otherwise sometimes known as Mexican Mennonites,” program coordinator Tina Fehr Kehler said.
Past conferences have been held in Winkler, Morris and Steinbach.
Fehr Kehler said the goal is to foster understanding.
“To help service providers, those who are working directly with Low German speaking Mennonites understand where they are coming from, understand their culture, their history, and hear stories from them so they can serve their clients with a fuller, broader understanding of who these people are, and the particular challenges that they face because of their life in the colonies in Latin America,”  she said.
Four workshops are being offered.
Ed Zacharias will offer Low German 101 Plautdietsch Raden un Lasen. “It’s an introduction to people who want to pick up some Low German and understand the culture better, because language is so intertwined with culture,” she said. Zacharias is best known for translating The Bible (De Bibel) into the Low German language. He also wrote Ons Ieesctet Wieedabuak, a Low German dictionary with over 17,000 words.
Rev. David Wiebe will present a workshop called Mennonite Addictions Services.
He will share his work over the last decade counselling the Low German speaking Mennonites of Manitoba. The program is a partnership between Eden Health Care Services and four conservative Mennonite churches, breaking down linguistic, cultural and religious barriers for those seeking help from any type of addiction.
Tina Fehr Kehler will offer a workshop called Unscrambling Low German Mennonite Names.
“Ever been confused by why Mrs. Neta Friesen’s paperwork and identification says ‘Aganetha Dyck Wall’ and why she says her middle name is ‘Wall’ when it appears to be her last name? And why her son Benny’s name is listed as ‘Bernhord Friessen Dyck’ on his identification?” the brochure asks.
“Anybody who has had to work on the front line with Low German speaking Mennonites and trying to register them for anything, are really confused about the answers a person will give them about their name,” Fehr Kehler said.
She explained that the Low German tradition, Spanish tradition and Canadian rules are often mixed up in the names.
Dr. Royden Loewen will present the keynote address called “Village Among Nations” and will also host a workshop called “Further Exploration of the Low German Mennonites in a Transnational World”.
Loewen has conducted extensive research with the Low German Mennonites of Latin America, is the chair of Mennonite Studies and a Professor of History.
“He’s able to tell their stories in a way that’s really accessible,” Fehr Kehler said.
George K. Catering will offer an enchilada lunch. Those who register can also choose an option that does not include lunch.
To register simple go online to or contact Tena Klassen at 204-325-7907.
The conference runs May 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Days Inn Conference Centre in Winkler.