Mennonite Heritage Week 2021

Monday, September 13, 2021

Quilt section

In 2019, Canada’s parliament designated the second week of September as Mennonite Heritage Week, granting special recognition to 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 state’s 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.

Indigenous-Mennonite Encounters in Time and Place is an academic conference and community education event that will bring together stories and analyses of encounters and relationships between Indigenous peoples and Mennonite settlers from points of contact to the present. The intent of this event is to advance understanding on the part of Mennonites and other participants in their colonial histories, and is an effort to advance reconciliation and bring justice to Indigenous-settler relations. The event will include scholarly presentations and feature storytelling, art, and both Indigenous and Mennonite ceremony. For a foretaste of next year's event, please watch the virtual preview video below. Whether you are an academic, activist, or artist, the organizers heartily invite you to submit a proposal by September 30, 2021. We anticipate a time full of listening, hearing, conversation, and silence.

Remote video URL

Learn more about Indigenous-Mennonite Encounters in Time and Place conference, happening May 13-15, 2022.


The list of resources below provides a variety of starting points to learn more about the intersection of Mennonite and Indigenous histories in Canada and the work of Mennonite organizations and individuals to address their implication in colonial violence against Indigenous peoples. Some of these are available online; others are available in print in libraries or online through institutional access. This list does not include the numerous articles in denominational periodicals. May these work to prompt deeper and fuller consideration of Mennonite action in the past.

Reading List

  • Epp, Roger.  “There was no one here when we came”: Overcoming the Settler Problem. 2011 Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies. The Conrad Grebel Review 30, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 115-35.
  • Driedger, Leo. "Native Rebellion and Mennonite Invasion: An Examination of Two Canadian River Valleys." Mennonite Quarterly Review 46, no. 3 (July 1972): 290-300.
  • Good, E. Reginald. “Colonizing a People: Mennonite Settlement in Waterloo Township.” Chapter 9 in David McNab, ed.  Earth, Water, Air, and Fire: Studies in Canadian Ethnohistory. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1988.
  • Good, E. Reginald. “Mississauga-Mennonite Relations in the Upper Grand River Valley.” Ontario History 87, no. 2 (1995): 155–172.
  • Friesen, Jeffrey, and Steve Heinrichs, eds. Quest for Respect: The Church and Indigenous Spirituality. Winnipeg, MB: Mennonite Church Canada, 2017.
  • Heinrichs, Steve. Ed. Wrongs to Rights: How Churches Can Engage the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Winnipeg, MB: Mennonite Church Canada, 2016.
  • Heinrichs, Steve, and Esther Epp-Tiessen, eds. Be it Resolved: Anabaptists & Partner Coalitions Advocate for Indigenous Justice, 1966-2020. Winnipeg, MB: Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee Canada, 2020.
  • Hyejung, Jessie Yum. “Unsettling the Radical Witness of Peace: A Decolonizing Investigation of Mennonite Migration from Russia to Manitoba in the 1870s.” Anabaptist Witness, 7, no. 2 (October 2020).
  • Journal of Mennonite Studies. Special Issue on History of Aboriginal-Mennonite Relations. Volume 19 (2001).
  • Klassen, Shelisa. “’Heroes of a Flat Country’: Mennonite Life, Agriculture, and Mythmaking in Manitoba Newspapers, 1870s-1890.” Journal of Mennonite Studies 39 (2021): 175-91.
  • Klippenstein, Lawrence. “Manitoba Metis and Mennonite Immigrants: First Contacts.” Mennonite Quarterly Review 48 (1974): 476-48.
  • Leitch, Brad, director. Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies. Produced by Rebel Sky Media with Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan and St. John’s Lutheran Church (Laird, Sask.), 2016.
  • Littlewolf, Erica, and Pam Peter-Pries, compilers. Overcoming the Doctrine of Discovery. Intersections: MCC Theory & Practice Quarterly, 6, no. 1 (Winter 2018). Includes several Canada-focused articles.
  • Neufeld, Henry. “’Never a Teacher’: Henry Neufeld and His ‘Indian Day School’ Experience.” Mennonite Historian 44, no. 2 (June 2018): 2-5.
  • Neufeldt, Reina C. “Settler Colonial Conscripts: Mennonite Reserves and the Enfolding of Implicated Subjects.” Postcolonial Studies 24, no. 2 (June 2021).
  • Siegrist, Anthony. “‘Part of the Authority Structure’: An Organizational History of Mennonite Indian Residential Schools in Ontario.” Mennonite Quarterly Review, 93 (January 2019): 5-38.
  • Steiner, Sam. “Mennonites and First Nations Relations at the Grand River.” In Search of Promised Lands (blog), April 6, 2015.
  • Steiner, Sam. “Ontario Mennonites and Aboriginal Residential Schools,” In Search of Promised Lands (blog), June 8, 2015.
  • Wiebe, Joseph R. “On the Mennonite-Métis Borderland: Environment, Colonialism, and Settlement in Manitoba.” Journal of Mennonite Studies, 35 (2017): 111-26.

Other Mennonite Resources:
Mennonite Heritage Week
2020 Reading List
Who are the Mennonites?
Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies