- 1982 - 2006 (Creation)
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MCC’s initial relief and development work with Low German Mennonites in Mexico began in the 1950s following a drought. Relief work was handed over to other Mennonite missions and service agencies in the Cuauhtemoc area until 1973 when MCC Canada formed the Mexico Concerns Advisory Committee (1973-1975), later renamed the Kanadier Mennonite Colonization Committee (1975-1977). The Committee was active in Low German Mennonite Communities in Mexico.
In 1977, the Kanadier Concerns Program was initiated under the direction of Arthur Driedger, Overseas Director and former MCC Manitoba director, under the umbrella of MCC Binational. The program’s mandate was to address the challenges of social, economic and cultural change in Low German Mennonite colonies, support community projects and education initiatives, and to assist migrant families from the colonies as they adapted to cultural and social realities in Canada. In 1981, MCC Canada assumed control and responsibility over Kanadier programming in northern Mexico in addition to the work of the program that occurred in Canada. MCC Canada’s Kanadier Concerns Program became more independent of the Binational Kanadier Program although it continued to work under the Binational Overseas Services Department.. MCC Canada’s program’s relationship with the Akron office gradually took on a more consultative nature in the 1990s.
An early initiative of the Kanadier Concerns program was the publication of Die Mennonitische Post, a German-language newspaper printed bi-weekly in Steinbach, Manitoba, and distributed in Mexico, Bolivia, Belize, Argentina, Paraguay, Canada, and the USA. The first issue was published on April 21, 1977 with Abe Warkentin as editor, under a separate board responsible to MCC Canada. A supplemental monthly publication for children and youth titled Das Blatt Fur Kinder und Jugend was added in 1989.
The Kanadier Concerns Programs were renamed Low German Programs following a 2001 program review. Following 2012 restructuring within MCC Canada and the dismantling of MCC Binational, Low German Programs in northern Mexico became the responsibility of MCC in Mexico, and MCC Canada's National Program Department became responsible for Low German programs in Canada.
Low German Programs continue to provide services to Low German-speaking Mennonites internationally and through the provincial MCC’s in Ontario and Alberta (the MCC Manitoba and MCC Saskatchewan Low German programs ended in June 2019 and March 2020 respectively). MCC Canada’s Low German Program continues to publish Die Mennonitische Post and Das Blatt from Steinbach and distribute it around the world in Low German Mennonite communities.
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MCC Canada is a peace, relief, and service agency of Canadian Mennonites and Brethren in Christ. It was founded in December of 1963 through the merger of seven regional Mennonite and Brethren in Christ service organizations: the Non-Resistant Relief Organization (NRRO), the Canadian Mennonite Relief Committee (CMRC), the Canadian Mennonite Relief and Immigration Council (CMRIC), the Conference of Historic Peace Churches (CHPC), the Historic Peace Church Council of Canada (HPCCC), Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), and the MCC Binational Kitchener Office. This merger into one national inter-Mennonite body in Canada was intended to allow for more effective use of time, volunteers, and resources in conducting relief work.
Upon establishment, MCC Canada worked closely with MCC Binational (also known as MCC International); MCC Canada conducted most of its overseas relief and development work through MCC Binational, while all Canadian programs were administered by MCC Canada. MCC Canada was given a broad mandate to work in the areas of peace education, relief and development, voluntary service, immigration, government lobbying, and other areas of concern. Provincial MCC offices were also established to work alongside but independent of MCC Canada in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, MCC Canada’s activities expanded, especially in terms of the number of national programs administered across the country. MCC Canada’s Canadian Programs Department established programs to raise awareness on peace and other social issues, to advocate on behalf of Indigenous communities, to bring reconciliation into the justice system, to assist people with disabilities, to bring attention to women’s concerns, and to provide resources for those experiencing economic hardship. In 1976, MCC Canada established a Food Bank as a means of channeling surplus grains grown by Mennonite farmers to countries around the world. In 1983, this Food Bank became the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Since 1969, MCC Canada has received matching grants from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) of the Canadian government to administer its many programs.
In the late 1970s, conversations began between MCC Binational and MCC Canada regarding responsibility for MCC international programs. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, some MCC international programs were transferred from MCC Binational to MCC Canada; these included the Kanadier Concerns program, USSR Mennonite program, Refugee Sponsorship program, some control over the delivery of material aid overseas, and the Ten Thousand Villages program in Canada.
Beginning in 2008, MCC began a process of consultation and discussion concerning the purpose and structure of MCC Binational, MCC Canada, and MCC U.S.; this process was called New Wine/New Wineskins. The goal was to more effectively and efficiently administer MCC’s international programming. At the conclusion of the New Wine/New Wineskin process in 2012, MCC Binational was dissolved and ceased to be an MCC entity, leaving MCC Canada and MCC U.S. to jointly administer a single MCC International Program.
MCC Canada continues to provide national programs within Canada and deliver international programs jointly with MCC U.S. The MCC Canada Canadian Programs Department offers programs that address social and economic issues in Canada and form the core of MCC Canada’s mandate. MCC Canada’s commitment to international programming continues through the Shared International Program’s material aid, peace work, and assistance in economic development.
Since 1976, MCC Canada has regularly deposited records at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives. The records in this series were created and maintained at the Mennonitische Post office in Steinbach or in MCC Canada's central files in the Winnipeg office until they were transferred to the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives in regular intervals throughout the years.
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This series contains records created by MCC Canada’s Low German Programs, dating from 1982 to 2006. The records within the series consist of program and project records including meeting minutes, activity and administrative reports, publications, and research material. This series also includes records relating to programming in Mexico, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Canadian provinces, Die Mennonitische Post records, and records of the Kanadier Mennonite Colonization Committee.
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Further accruals to this series are expected.
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The records in this series are arranged according to volume and file numbers which usually correspond with the year of the record’s creation.
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Restrictions to materials may apply. Contact Archivist for further information.
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A note for researchers: Initially, in 1963, all the work of MCC Canada was done by the MCC Canada Executive Office. In the years that followed, departments and program offices were formed, dissolved, merged, and restructured, and projects and areas of responsibility shifted within the organization. This means that multiple record series may contain relevant material detailing MCC Canada's work with specific areas, programs, and projects.
For example, if researchers wish to examine all of MCC Low German Program activities, they should consider MCC's Low German Program series, Executive Office series, Indigenous Neighbours Program series, Information Services Department series, Ottawa Office series, and International Program Department series.
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Created by Jared Warkentin, March 24, 2020