[Attachmnet III]

Proposal to MHSC from MMHS Dec 6, 2003

Two years ago (2001) the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society (MMHS) forwarded a recommendation to the MHSC to establish a monument to conscientious objectors (COs) in WWII. A feasibility study committee was struck to study the idea. Members included Jake Peters, David Schroeder, J .M. Klassen, Esther Epp- Thiessen, Leonard Doell, and me. The committee reported back the following year in Abbotsford with a number of recommendations, which included creating a web site, establishing a monument, and holding a symposium dealing with COs of WWII. None of the recommendations were acted upon at that time by the national Society. Since then MMHS has a committee working on a provincial monument, the Mennonite Heritage Centre is working on an educational web site for public school children, and the HPCCC (Historic Peace Church Continuing Committee) has been contacted to consider erecting a national monument to Canada's COs.

I believe that the actions of our predecessors can continue to impact people today if we are educated about them. The story of Canada's COs is one of faith, determination, and standing up for what is right in the face of adversity. Their story can influence us today. For example the actions of the COs in WWII have been an influence for some members of the CPT (Christian Peacemaker teams) in Baghdad. But this story cannot have an impact if the story is not told.

Last summer I visited Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park where my grandfather spent time as a CO in 1941. I took a guided historic tour of the area. The tour guide pointed out many points of interest about Clear Lake and its development from the 1920s to the present. I asked him where the CO camps were. He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and asked what a CO was. I felt sheepish; I shouldn't be using abbreviations in a context like this. I asked again - where were the camps where the conscientious objectors worked during WWII. The guide asked what a conscientious objector was. I explained to him that COs were people who objected to the war on religious grounds and worked in labour camps or other industries during the war. There was no awareness of the COs work or even what they were.

The COs are now in their late 70s to mid 80s and they are disappearing. Aspects of the CO story will be lost if research is not done soon. Did you know that CO teachers taught Japanese internees? Did you know that COs help build a top secrete war ship made of ice? (see handout for research topic suggestions)

The Chair of Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg has agreed that this topic is one Of importance and is willing to be involved in planning a symposium about COs. Because the CO experience was on a national scale involvements of the provincial and national societies is important.

Therefore I move that:

1. A symposium on Canadian Conscientious objectors in WWII be supported by MHSC.

2. That provincial societies encourage and promote this symposium and topic in their constituencies.

3. That funds of $1000.00 be made available for the planning and carrying out of such a symposium.

Conrad Stoesz Dec 6, 2003

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Topic idea for research dealing with Canadian Conscientious Objectors. Conrad Stoesz June 5. 2003.

William Lyon Mackenzie King, Alternative Service and the Mennonites

B.B. Janz negotiating on his own terms

Kanadier and Russlaender differences leading up to WWII

CO work in the National Parks

Societies responses to Mennonite COs

2 churches burned in Vaxhall, Alberta

Rev. Jacob Janzen's house in Vineland searched by RCMP Mennonitische Rundschau printing front and back in English (1940) Vineland United Church ransacked

Niagra United Mennonite church searched for munitions and Nazi youth materials.

German teacher in Drake forcibly removed by legionaries.

Teaching certificates revoked eg. Gerhard Ens, John Bergen.

Search of the Hershel Mennonite Church for munitions.

Defending the peace position before a judge.

CO work in hospitals.

CO work with native peoples.

- There is information at the United Church ( Winnipeg) archives.

CO work in factories.

COs in prison.

CO work in mines.

Ramifications of young men being away from home.

- They only got 25 cents a day, those in the military got $1.25

Women without men

How the church supported the COs advocating before the judge visiting the COs

Writing letters

Help to the CO families


The Habakkuk project and the COs.

- there is some material on this but very little about how the COs were involved in building this ice battle ship in Jasper National Park in 1943.

Lasting legacy
Native Ministries
Health care
Bible Camps
Lumber - Menno Wiebe

It has been suggested that one of the reasons 50% joined the military is because Mennonites no longer controlled the education of their young people (Were the Old Colony that wrong in moving to Mexico?). True or false.

The Ontario Peace Committee.

Swiss Mennonite churches in Ontario seam to have much more information and on top of things more than in western Canada

CO Reunions and the ongoing teaching of Peace

Relationship between different COs. Mennonite denominations, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hutterites, Doukhabours, "Main line" people, Irish, English German, Russian etc.

Rev. J.B. Martin and Erb Street Mennonite Church's support of their COs.

Herman Rempel war vet, later in life turned CO.

Peter Loewen war vet, brother Abe Loewen CO.

Peter Brandt war vet, brother Ed Brandt CO teacher in Northern Manitoba.

Panel discussion. Have a CO from the camps, farm, health care, non combatant all on one panel give background, audience ask questions.

Compare Canadian COs and USA CPS.

Theological basis for pacifism - Harry Huebner, Helmut Harder, J. Denny Weaver.

Conscientious objection today - Matt Schaff, Lisa Martens

Did Kanadier and Russlaender have proportionally the same number men with CO status.

Peace teachings since WWII.

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