Monday, May 7, 2018 - 8:00am to 3:45pm

Exploring Beyond the Surface 

An opportunity to explore cultural practices, perceptions and values.

  • Informative and interactive sessions
  • Choice of bus tours of panel
  • Facilitated discussions
  • Cultural food

This annual networking conference is particularly helpful for services providers to understand the religious and cultural differences that distinguish this traditional Mennonite group from others.


  • 8:00 AM Registration and refreshments
  • 8:45 AM Welcome and introductions
  • 9:00 AM Values, Perceptions and Current Trends within Low German communities presented by James Schellenberg, Low German Program Coordinator for MCC Canada.
  • 10:00 AM Tours or Interactive discussion panel or Legal Matters for Service Providers workshop (see details below)
  • 12:30 PM Lunch
  • 1:30 PM Beliefs and Assumptions presented by Kerry Fast, editor and academic. Kerry will present an exploration of her own journey to better understand the Low German culture and beliefs through her experiences interacting with people in Canada, Bolivia and Mexico
  • 2:45 PM Facilitated discussion
  • 3:10 PM Closing and evaluations

Tours (Sorry the tours are full - there is still space in the interactive discussion workshop and the legal workshop)

Low German Businesses in Action: A tour of area businesses that are owned and operated by Low German speaking employers. Topics such as preferred occupations, work ethic and entrepreneurship will be included. Led by Will Enns- owner of Advanced Stainless Steel

Mystery at the Mennomex: Participate in a scavenger hunt in an area store to cater to the Low German speaking population bringing “a taste of home” from Mexico to southwestern Ontario. Explore traditional foods and household items as you try to match labels and respond to clues.

Exploring Mennonite Community Services (MCS): Information on specialized services that address the settlement and integration needs of the Low German population. An overview of each program- family support (women and children’s program), outreach, employment, settlement services. Learn how the radio station, “De Brigj” provides programming in the Low German language and also is reaching out to the younger population.  Note: Accessing the site requires climbing 25 steps.

High School: ASPIRE and Turning Point are two flexible and creative alternative education program for Low-German speaking student to earn their high school diploma.. Participants in this tour will have an opportunity to learn about policy and procedures, program delivery, and much more as they tour the ASPIRE program.  Participants will have an opportunity to meet and talk with students and teachers currently in the program.  Tour and information provided by ASPIRE Vice Principal Abe Wall, ASPIRE Department Head, Catarina Vindasius and Turning Point Department Head Gloria Thomas."

Elementary Private Schools: Low German families have a number of alternatives to public school for their children’s education that align with their beliefs and values. Join this tour to visit two local private schools and meet their principal, visit classrooms, and develop a better understanding about these educational practices.

Interactive Discussion

Learning along the way: What is it like when you are an “outsider” and your role is to serve members of the Low German Speaking Mennonite community - a group of people you may have very little knowledge of or experience with? Hear from those who work in a variety of roles - public health, police services, educators and others- their successes, failures, and frustrations.  Become informed of what they are ‘learning along the way’. Facilitated by Frank O'Connor, Program Director, Norfolk Community Help Centre.

Legal Workshop

Helping your clients find good legal information: Accessing the legal system is very difficult, particularly for marginalized people. This session, presented by Community Legal Information Ontario (CLEO), will explain CLEO's mandate, the difference between legal information and legal advice, increase knowledge of CLEO's legal information resources, help identify sources of reliable information, increase knowledge of affordable legal services and explain the CLEO's Steps to Justice website.


  • $60 Early bird Registration Deadline: April 20
  • $75 Registration Deadline: May 1