Encouraged by Jake Buhler's suggestion that, "Not all was lost." when MCCS was advised that the Provincial Government was not able to declare a "Mennonite Central Committee Day" to recognize our 50th Anniversary, arrangements were made to have MCCS officials meet with Government and Opposition officials on November 19, 2014.
To that end MCCS Chair Peter Guenther, Executive Director Claire Ewert Fisher, Scott Siemens and Peter Peters had opportunity to meet with Opposition Leader Cam Broten in the forenoon and with Justice Minister Gordon Wyant and former Education Minister Rob Norris in the afternoon. In advance of coming to the Legislature, both Government and Opposition officials were provided with background information on MCC that would serve as material appropriate for introducing the MCCS visitors to the afternoon's Legislative sitting.
It was clear in our meeting with Mr. Broten and his Assistant Linsay Martens (grandson of the late Aeltester John D Reddekopp of the Bergthal Mennonite Conference) that they were very familiar with MCCs work in Saskatchewan, nationally and internationally.
Never-the-less, during our conversation we were able to highlight areas which have been at the top of MCCS's agenda most recently. In particular the need to follow-up on efforts initiated through the national Truth and Reconciliation process is vital. It was agreed that while the "truth" portion has, in and of itself, been difficult, the process of "reconciliation" is a work that has just begun and will be paramount in order to realize the benefit we all desire. Reconciliation of necessity must be handled in an extremely sensitive, open communicative manner where "listening" is key. MCC's history and work in establishing the current Foods Grain Bank was highlighted.
Additionally, the ongoing prison work through P2P, and work with released individuals who are considered high risk to reoffend through Circles of Support and Accountability was well received. It was also opportunity to emphasize MCC's appreciative partnership with the Saskatchewan Council on International Cooperation (SCIC) and our desire that provincial support for SCIC remain in place.
Following our formal meeting, Mr. Broten took time to give the MCC visitors a brief and focused tour of the actual Legislative Assembly Chamber and the nuances of functioning within the established framework of the Legislature.
Unfortunately, meeting with Government officials was structured around other meetings and Government agenda and was less conducive to in depth conversation. However, it was clear the Government MLAs with whom we met were familiar with MCC and praised the dedication of the organization and our volunteers.
We were provided with passes to the "Speakers Gallery", where we joined a number of other groups including a high school class. Visitors were introduced and welcomed to "your Legislature" by the Minister of Justice & Attorney General Wyant, and the Leader of the Opposition Broten. Both of these Members referenced the work of MCC at the provincial and international level and invited the MLAs to join in thanking MCC and our volunteers for 50 years of dedicated service "In the name of Christ". Visitors were then treated to 30 minutes of Question Period, which once concluded, the Legislators moved to the important work they undertake for which we are all thankful.
While MCCS's initial desired was for Government to declare an "MCC Day", MCC visitors concluded the expressions of appreciation heard today for the 50 years of MCCS service was much appreciated.