Four storytellers gathered at Mount Royal Mennonite Church on Saturday morning, November 9, 2013, to share their encounters with peace and conflict. Just over 50 people attended this event where Peace Stories were told to inspire the audience.
Ninety year old Don Regier, until recently a long-time resident of Laird and member of Laird Mennonite Church, shared that he was called up to enlist and serve in the Second World War. He was ridiculed and humiliated, especially by Judge John Embury who had served in World War One. Don was sent to work in several places, including bush camps. A portion of any money he made was sent to the Red Cross. Don passionately stressed the importance of following the words of Jesus that command us to love and not kill. Don’s fervent belief that violence is not the way to solve problems has remained a constant belief of his. Don has been a merchant all his life.
Charlie Clark, now a Saskatoon City Councillor, spoke about his great grandfather (WW1) and his grandfather (WW2) who were military officers. His grandfather, Fred Ritchie, now 95 and living in British Columbia, had a close encounter with a German officer where each could have shot the other. Neither acted.
Fred left the war as a tank commander and changed his war message to one of "Never Again." He began to wear the white beret that symbolized his opposition to nuclear weapons. He was criticized for this and on Remembrance Day parades was told to march at the back.
Charlie was highly influenced by his grandfather and sought out a life of mediation studies at Menno Simons College in the 1990s. He had never heard of Mennonites before and was soon a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer at which time he also met Sarah Buhler. Charlie and Sarah now have 3 young children. They attend Osler Mennonite Church.
Barb and Wilmer Froese, pastors and farmers in the Laird-Rosthern area, told a gripping story that began in the 1980s. A group of First Nations people came to the Laird area to announce that a number of Mennonites and Lutheran farmers were farming land that had once belonged to the Young Chipewyan Band. But because the band was starving, they left their lands to look for food elsewhere. Through an order-in-council, the Federal Government cancelled the Young Chipewyan Reservation and sold the land to Mennonites and Lutherans. Wilmer and Barb were troubled. But with many efforts by Leonard Doell of MCC, descendants of the Band and local farmers like Barb and Wilmer came together to reconcile misunderstandings.
MCC is now raising money for a genealogist to trace the descendants of the band so that the Federal Government would have cause to compensate them.
David Neufeld was an MCC volunteer in Quang Nghai, Vietnam, in the early 1970s. There he saw first-hand the violence of an atrocity-filled war. Upon his return David studied to become a pastor.
David and his wife Sue served in a number of locations including North Battleford where they began to work with First Nations people.
David described a time-altering experience where his VW car broke down en route to Herschel. As in the story parallel of the Good Samaritan, the good cars passed him by and only a beat-up vehicle stopped to help. David described the driver as someone with a "reddish face and a braid."
David made it to Herschel where he and Sue live today and operate The Herschel Retreat Center. David acts as a guide and interpreter of the near-by ancient 2000 year old Herschel petroglyphs. He chairs the Ancient Echoes Interpretation Center that boasts a dozen of Jo Cooper's progressive paintings that depict the disappearance and the resurgence of the buffalo.
David ended his impassioned presentation with the singing of Joseph Naytowhow's song "We are All One People."
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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
Room 900 - 110 La Ronge Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 7H8
Archive Hours: Monday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Wednesday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. & 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.