Monday, May 6, 2019 - 8:00am to 3:45pm
Friday, May 10, 2019 - 8:00am to 3:45pm

An opportunity to explore cultural practices, perceptions and values.

  • Informative and interactive sessions
  • 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.

May 6 in Aylmer

Bradley Street Church of God
5 Bradley Street, Aylmer, Ontario, N5H 2Y4

May 10 in Leamington

Meadow Book Church
219 Talbot Road East, Leamington, Ontario, N8H 3V6


Building on Strength: Traditional Transnational Mennonite Women

What are their routines and what roles do women fulfill in their families? This keynote address will explore strengths and some possibilities of these becoming a foundation for our conversations.  

Keynote Speaker: Elisabeth Harder Shrock, MA, Peace and Conflict Studies

Elizabeth’s experience includes working with Mennonite Central Committee in Bolivia, editing the Menno Bote newspaper, and as a community health promoter for Low German speaking farm workers and their families in central Kansas.


Storytelling from the perspective of parents: In this workshop, participants will learn of the experiences of children attending public school as told through the stories of their parents. The importance of obtaining an education while continuing to be an active participant in the faith community will be shared in hopes that attendees will gain an understanding of the challenges for children, and the accommodations that parents make to support their children. Led by Tina Fehr, Outreach Worker, Chatham Kent Community Health Centre

Low German (Plautdietsch): During this workshop we will briefly review the history of the Low German language during the last 600 years or so; how it relates to High German; where it is spoken in 2019; Low German resources available and a few phrases helpful to service agency workers. Led by Anita Harms, Founder of Low German Language Academy

Culture, History and Faith of the Low German speaking Mennonites: An overview of Mennonite history, discussing the foundations which unite all Mennonite groups. We will explore issues including pacifism, education, gender roles and the impact of cultural values versus faith-based doctrine. Also addressed are the distinctive beliefs and sensitivities to be aware of when working with the Low German speaking population. It is recommended that first time attendees register for this session.  Led by Anne Wall, Kinship Finder, Family and Children Services of St. Thomas and Elgin County

What’s with the double surnames?: Participants will learn about the complexities of names in the Low German culture including the history of the double surname and challenges with misidentification. The presenter will share tips and tricks in using a name and preferred surname and to ensure that records and official documents are accurately recorded. This is an essential session for anyone who creates or accesses client records, or assists Low German Mennonite clients in completing applications. Led by Helen Bergen, Settlement Worker/Radio host, Mennonite Community Services

Being a Transnational Student: The migration story of the presenter, Amanda Sawatzky, as a Mennonite child and young adult illustrates the barriers and challenges in adjusting to different education systems. Participants in this session will hear how the narrator overcame those obstacles to pursue higher education and become a trusted professional. Led by Amanda Sawatzky, Child Protection Worker, Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society​

A Situational Assessment:  Assessing Health and Social Services for Low German Speaking Mennonites in Elgin, Oxford and Norfolk Counties: This workshop is directed towards service providers and organizations seeking to gain a better understanding of how health and social services are perceived by the Low German speaking Mennonites community. Learn about Southwestern Public Health’s asset-based study and ways to demonstrate a respectful approach in serving this community. Led by Linda Funk, Southwestern Public Health


8:00 Registration and welcoming refreshments
8:45 Opening
9:00 Keynote speaker
10:15 Resources
10:30 Refreshment break
11:00 Workshops
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Workshops
2:00 Refreshment break
2:15 Large group session
3:30 Closing

$60 Early bird registration

Deadline April 12

$75 General registration

Deadline April 29

Registrations are transferable. If you are unable to attend, please encourage a colleague to take your place.

Please remember to bring a reusable water bottle and dress in layers as some rooms will not have air conditioning and the temperature is difficult to control.  

Displays and resources will be available for purchase. Only cash and cheques are accepted. 

Register Today


Prior to attending this forum, visit, a useful website providing online resources and videos for service providers working with Low German speaking Mennonites from Latin America.