Another Immigration to Canada?
by Ken Reddig
Are we witnessing what may become yet another immigration of Mennonites to North America? In September of 1997 the first families of Mennonite immigrants from Germany began arriving in southern Manitoba, specifically to the Winkler area. These immigrants, often referred to as Umsiedler or Aussiedler (labels they do not like) first emigrated from Russia to Germany in the early 1970s via family reunification programs. Now, some 20 years later, some are moving once again. Prompting this move are issues and concerns often loosely defined as freedom.
Presently they come to the Winkler area, because of the preparatory work of a local resident, Adele Dyck. Adele is also an immigrant to Canada. She and her family (husband and seven children) emigrated from Paraguay in 1985.
Working with employers in the Winkler area, Adele began securing job offers and matching them with potential immigrants. She facilitates and completes the necessary applications for immigration status.
As of the end of January 1999, over 500 potential Mennonite immigrants have visited the Winkler area to check out immigration possibilities. Already some 150 people have immigrated and many more are scheduled to immigrate this spring and summer when their children finish the current German school term. Adele says there will be a large group of Mennonite immigrants to the Winkler area between April and July of 1999.
Will this small beginning turn into a major tide of immigration? It is too early to tell. But Adele certainly thinks it will. She notes that there are thousands of Mennonite immigrants in Germany willing to make the move to Canada. And while southern Manitoba has received the first trickle, other Mennonite communities throughout Canada will certainly be recipients of many more of these immigrants in years to come.
This article is used by the permission of Rhubarb magazine.
Ken Reddig is the Director of the Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg.