Canadian Mennonite University by Beth McLean Wiest
There are many Mennonites in Winnipeg and in southern Manitoba (and southern Saskatchewan). Mennonites follow the teachings of Menno Simons, an Anabaptist religious leader in the early 1500s (hence the name Menno-nites). They are a people who fled persecution before ending up in Canada. I don’t know what you know about Mennonites, but (as a gross generalization) they are wonderful people who highly value peacemaking, social justice and living out faith in every moment. They try to live very frugally and simply.
I had the privilege of teaching in a Mennonite school for 5 years and my sons now attend that school. While my husband and I are not Mennonite by heritage or by Christian denomination, we share the same core values. We love that the values our sons are taught at school are the same as those they are taught at church and that we teach at home. When we decided to take Harmony through Harmony to Winnipeg, we spoke with some of our Mennonite friends for suggestions of accommodations… and that led us to choosing Canadian Mennonite University to be our headquarters for our stay in Winnipeg.
CMU is a very bare bones campus. It was an excellent economic decision for us to stay there. We rented out apartment suites giving us the option of making breakfasts and bag lunches instead of eating out all the time. We were able to rent a classroom for our day with Marcel Hadisty and Steve Bell and with Ovide Mercredi. The staff worked to accommodate our every request.
From the start, we viewed the trip across Canada as a “ground tilling” trip to make connections and build relationships. As such, we didn’t book any venue for an HtH concert. Our one big pre-booked performance in Winnipeg (May 30th) was a fundraiser at a venue with an audience that always meets at that venue at that time- a sure audience. We figured God would open doors for us to sing wherever and we would step through those doors whenever they opened.
Once we arrived in Winnipeg, there ended up being friends and family who couldn’t attend the May 30th event but wanted to see our group perform… so we approached CMU to see if it would be possible to rent their chapel facility for a performance.
To our surprise, not only was it available but it was very economical!
With a 48-hour window, we decided to put on a concert. We let our connections know, sent a few notes home to people in Calgary for their connections, Steve Bell posted it on his site and we waited in faith for an audience.
We were thrilled to have a very attentive audience of about 20 people show up. They were family, friends and two Steve Bell fans! Our audience of 20 ended up giving us over $300, covering the cost of the facility rental. Perfect! Next time we are in Winnipeg we will hope to plan a concert at CMU and encourage our new Winnipeg HtH fans to help us fill the house!