Mennonite Heritage Week

Barnraising by Peter Goetz

In 2019, the Canadian Parliament declared the second week in September to be Mennonite Heritage Week. This occasion offers Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo an opportunity to share about Mennonite history and culture.

It is not unusual to hear Mennonites described as both a religious body and an ethnic group. Mennonites themselves debate this identity issue, and there is good reason to see it both ways. First and foremost, their origin as a radical movement within the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century clearly defines them as a religious group. Learn more about Mennonites in Ontario and Canada.

Mennonites are often described as a quilt with many pieces or a tree with many branches, each group having its own unique outward practices as well as historical development, yet holding in common certain foundational religious beliefs. Visit Mennonite World Conference's site for more information about Mennonite beliefs.

Mennonite Heritage Week 2022

In recognition of Mennonite Heritage Week in Canada, Mennonites in Ontario are highlighting the bicentennial of Amish immigration to Canada. The Amish were one of the first Anabaptist groups to settle in Canada, beginning in 1822, so this year marks 200 years since Amish from Europe first arrived in Canada. To commemorate this occasion, the Amish Bicentennial Committee of the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario has planned several autumn events to mark the 200th anniversary of the Amish in Canada. Read more about Mennonite Heritage Week 2022.

Mennonite Heritage Week 2021

Mennonite Heritage Week 2024

Mennonite Heritage Week recognizes Mennonite resilience, cultural production, and peacemaking efforts. The designation encourages deeper public appreciation of Mennonite contributions to building Canadian society. This call comes alongside increasing acknowledgment among some Mennonites of all that past and current participation in nation-building has entailed prominently, white settlers involvement in the states varied colonialist projects targeting Indigenous peoples. This year, we mark Mennonite Heritage Week by drawing attention to an upcoming conference, to be held at Conrad Grebel University College in May 2022, that invites reflection on these parts of Mennonite history, in Canada and in other contexts. We also offer a list of resources that provides a variety of starting points to learn more about the intersection of Mennonite and Indigenous histories in Canada. Read more about Mennonite Heritage Week at Grebel.

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Mennonite Heritage Week 2020

For Mennonite Heritage Week 2020, we offered content that spoke to pressing issues in 2020:

  • a selected list of articles about Mennonite relations with Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour primarily in the Canadian and Ontario context
  • a selected list of recent articles about how communally-oriented Anabaptist groups in Canada have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Professor Marlene Epp moderated a panel conversation on Conservative Anabaptist Groups and COVID-19, hosted by the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies. This panel explored the ways in which conservative Anabaptist groups in Canada, such as the Old Order, Hutterites, and Low German-speaking Mennonites, were affected by and were responding to the challenges of the pandemic.
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Grebel offers a Mennonite Studies Minor at the University of Waterloo 

Mennonites in Canada and around the world represent a fascinating diversity of religious expression and cultural practice. Exploring the past and present lives and thought of Mennonites, in all their variety, allows a glimpse into the place of ethnic and religious minorities in our society. Mennonite Studies is an interdisciplinary program of study which may be taken in conjunction with many existing programs in Faculty of Arts and other faculties.  This program is designed to provide an overview of Anabaptist-Mennonite history, culture, thought and practice from the early 16th century to the present.

MENN 125 - Who are the Mennonites?
Grebel offers a course "Who are the Mennonites?" that is open to University of Waterloo students as well as community members.The course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the range of Mennonite identities, beliefs, practices, and cultural expressions locally and globally. Themes such as Mennonite history, cultural diversity, theology, religious life, peacemaking, community development, music, literature, and artistic expression are explored.

Visit the Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario

The Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario are together the primary research facility for Mennonite Studies in eastern Canada. The Library strives for a comprehensive collection of books and periodicals published by and about Mennonites and related groups. The Archives holds unique records of Mennonite people and organizations of local, national and international significance.

Current Mennonite Art Exhibits at Grebel

Mennonite Archives of Ontario Gallery

What They Carried: The Archives of Russlaender Mennonite Immigrants, May 2024-April 2026

Accompanying digital exhibit: Russlaender Immigrants to Ontario: Sources & Stories

Conrad Grebel University College Art Collection

The College is the home to over 150 works of art by Mennonite artists and/or on Mennonite themes. Many are on display in the Milton Good Library. Artists include Woldemar Neufeld, Jo-Anne Harder, Peter Goetz, Henry Pauls, and David Hunsberger.

Tour Brubacher House

Located on the University of Waterloo North Campus, and once home to Magdalena and John E. Brubacher and their fourteen children, Brubacher House is an important piece of Waterloo history. Today, the farmhouse operates as a museum and serves to educate and interpret the Pennsylvania German Mennonite way of life to interested visitors.

Mennonite Lecture Series

Each year, Grebel hosts the Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonites Studies. This lecture series provides a forum through which the core meaning and values of the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith and heritage might be communicated to a diverse audience and be kept relevant and connected to the rapidly changing world of our day. Watch past Bechtel Lectures.

The J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship in Mennonite Studies invites visiting scholars to engage in research, teaching, and relationship building with faculty and students at Conrad Grebel and the University of Waterloo, as well as the local community, around Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies themes. Watch the most recent Fretz Lecture.

Grebel has hosted several Mennonite/s Writing series, Canadian writers spoke about how their writing sensibilities, their careers, and their Mennonite heritage intersect. Watch recordings of the sessions featuring authors such as Miriam Toews, Rudy Wiebe, and Carrie Snyder.

Articles about Mennonite Heritage Week

Resources for more information about Mennonites

10 Things to Know about Mennonites in Canada from Canadian Mennonite
You may have seen traditionally dressed Mennonites at farmers’ markets or on TV, but you may not know that these are only a segment of the Mennonite population in Canada. There are several varieties of Mennonite and Amish groups in Canada, and—although they all share the same roots—each group practises its faith in unique ways. Here are some things you should know about your Mennonite, Old Order and Amish neighbours..

Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
This online encyclopedia provides reliable information on Anabaptist-related topics, including history, theology, biography, institutions and local congregations. Secular topics from an Anabaptist perspective are also included.

Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario
The Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario encourages and supports a variety of projects which interpret Mennonite Heritage to Mennonites and non-Mennonites alike through periodicals, workshops and seminars, public meetings, historical sites and publications.

Visit The Mennonite Story
Located in the village of St Jacobs, The Mennonite Story explores the cultural and religious history of Mennonites in Canada and around the world. The centre features thoughtfully crafted exhibits of photos and artifacts to tell the story of Mennonites and generate respectful conversation and reflection about these people.